Uncommon Knowledge
Empowering Students through School Choice, with Betsy DeVos

Empowering Students through School Choice, with Betsy DeVos

June 3, 2019

Recorded on May 15, 2019.

What’s wrong with public education in the United States? Betsy DeVos, US secretary of education, analyzes the role of government in the US education system and the changes she’s making to the Department of Education. She discusses her proposal to overhaul the federal education system by rolling back government overreach from the previous administration. She argues that states and parents need to be empowered to make better informed and flexible decisions for where students attend schools. Her plan is to offer states the opportunity to enroll in an optional tax-credit program that would enable more parents to choose where their children go to school, including charter schools.

Secretary DeVos briefly touches on Title IX. She argues that, even though one sexual assault on a college campus is too many, better protections need to be put into place for the accused to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Peter Robinson and Secretary DeVos also discuss the trials of working in her current position and her dedication to serving the parents and students of the United States.

Thomas Sowell on the Origins of Economic Disparities

Thomas Sowell on the Origins of Economic Disparities

May 17, 2019

Recorded on April 1, 2019

Is discrimination the reason behind economic inequality in the United States? Thomas Sowell dismisses that     question with a newly revised edition of his book Discrimination and Disparities. He sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss the long history of disparities among humans around the world and throughout time. He argues that discrimination has significantly less of a role to play in inequality than contemporary politicians give it credit for, and that something as incontrovertible as birth order of children has a more significant and statistically higher impact on success than discrimination. He discusses why parental attention is the most important aspect of a child’s intellectual development.

Sowell goes on to break down different minority groups around the world who went on to have more economic and political success than their majority counterparts, such as the Indians in East Africa, Jewish people in Eastern Europe, Cubans in the United States, and the Chinese in Malaysia. He argues that there is an underlying assumption that if discrimination was absent equality would prevail, which historically has been proven wrong.

Sowell goes on to discuss changes in crime rates and poverty since the expansion of US welfare programs in the 1960s and how this has had a huge impact on the success of African Americans. He talks about his own experience growing up in New York, how housing projects used to be considered a positive place to live, and his experience as the first member of his family to enter the seventh grade. Robinson asks Sowell his thoughts on the case for reparations currently being made in Congress, and Sowell presents an argument about why a plan for reparations is not only illogical but also impossible to implement, with so many US citizens’ ancestors arriving long after the Civil War. He also explains that slavery was common throughout the known world for thousands of years and that abolition movements didn’t begin anywhere in the world until the late 18th century. He reminds us that the United States was not the only country guilty of participating in slavery and yet is the only country debating reparations.

Victor Davis Hanson on “The Case For Trump”

Victor Davis Hanson on “The Case For Trump”

May 6, 2019

Recorded on April 1, 2019.

How did blue-collar voters connect with a millionaire from Queens in the 2016 election? Martin and Illie Anderson Senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson addresses that question and more in his newly released book, The Case for Trump. He sits down with Peter Robinson to chat about his motivation to write a book making a rational case for those voters who chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Hanson and Robinson, the Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow, discuss how voters connected with Trump’s “personal authenticity” during the campaign and how the media has a “historical amnesia” of the bad behavior of past presidents when talking about President Trump. The president, Hanson argues, was always an outsider from elite society in Manhattan, which helped him to better to connect with voters who felt like outsiders. He analyzes President Trump’s platform agenda, which was composed 80% of traditionally conservative views with the remaining 20% being radical ideas that fit with many of the views of the midwestern states. He breaks down why, in the end, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich didn’t appeal to voters in the way that Trump managed to.

Hanson turns to talk about his background and life growing up in California’s Central Valley and how different the area feels now compared to when he was younger. He talks about seeing the majority of the family-run farms being steadily replaced with large commercial operations and how that’s drastically impacted the workforce and economics of the region. He goes on to discuss issues of water protection and water quality in the Central Valley and how Bay Area elites prioritize their water quality over that of the rural farmers.

For further information:

https://www.hoover.org/profiles/victor-davis-hanson
https://www.hoover.org/research/diversity-illegal-immigration

Heather Mac Donald on How the Delusion of Diversity Destroys Our Common Humanity and Open-Minded Curiosity

Heather Mac Donald on How the Delusion of Diversity Destroys Our Common Humanity and Open-Minded Curiosity

April 22, 2019

Recorded on February 25, 2019.

Is the dedication to diversity undermining American culture? In her book The Diversity Delusion, Heather Mac Donald argues that the focus on race and gender diversity is harming society. Mac Donald and Peter Robinson discuss how she was protested off of school campuses by students because of her ideas. They discuss the collapse of free-speech ideals on college campuses in the United States and how the dedication to diversity doesn’t extend to a diversity of thought.

Mac Donald also breaks down issues of gender and racial equality. She talks about how affirmative action has not had the impact that was intended and has in fact made attending college more difficult for minorities who are accepted to schools they are not ready for. She also goes on to analyze rape culture on college campuses and posits her theories as to why discussions of sexual violence have become more prevalent now than in the past.

Getting Work Done in Congress, with Josh Hawley and Michael Waltz

Getting Work Done in Congress, with Josh Hawley and Michael Waltz

April 8, 2019

Recorded on March 5, 2019.

Freshman members of Congress senator Josh Hawley and representative Michael Waltz talk about their recent experiences working in Congress and their desire to push for less politics and more accomplishments that will help strengthen the United States. The two congressmen discuss why they chose to dedicate their lives to serving the American people and how they are asking tough questions and bringing fresh ideas to jump-start a stagnant government.

Hawley and Waltz discuss their goals for their first terms in Congress and how they want to streamline the federal budget, fight for the working people, and serve their constituents by honoring the ideas and ideals in the US Constitution. Peter Robinson leads their discussion of addressing and resolving problems with special interest groups, an inefficient polarized Congress, President Trump’s national-emergency declaration regarding the border wall, and his goal to pull the troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.

Jason Riley On “False Black Power?”

Jason Riley On “False Black Power?”

March 18, 2019

Recorded on February 21, 2019.

What is “false black power?” According to Jason Riley, author of False Black Power?, it is political clout, whereas true black power is human capital and culture. Riley and Peter Robinson dive into the arguments in Riley’s new book, the history of African Americans in the United States, and welfare inequality in black communities. 

Riley discusses the Moynihan report of 1965, which documented the rise of black families headed by single women in inner cities and how this report was something black sociologists had already been writing about for several years. He argues that there was clearly a breakdown of the nuclear family and that this is a result of the “Great Society” welfare programs of the 1960s rather than the legacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws.

In the 1960s, Riley posits that the black activist community’s shift towards political engagement was misguided. He argues that the idea of black political clout leading to black economic advancement was misplaced. Other impoverished communities (i.e. Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrant communities) at various times in American history focused on economic advancement first before trying to achieve political clout, and they were successful. Instead, the black community focused first on electing black politicians, which ended up doing very little for the economic advancement of the community as politicians typically put their own interests first, above their communities’. Riley points out that the economic data shows that black communities became more impoverished under black leadership.

Riley proposes a solution of advocating for more school-choice vouchers, which allow black parents to take better control of their children’s futures and place them in the best schools for them. He also argues for reducing social safety nets, making them a more temporary form of welfare rather than the multigenerational welfare system currently in place.

Other resources

https://www.amazon.com/Please-Stop-Helping-Us-Liberals/dp/1594038414/ref=pd_bxgy_14_2/147-2230119-8429907 Please Stop Helping Us, by Jason Riley

https://www.hoover.org/research/discrimination-and-disparities-thomas-sowell - Discrimination and Disparities, with Thomas Sowell

https://californiaglobe.com/fr/stanford-hoover-institution-economist-targets-socialism-fears-we-may-not-make-it/ Stanford Hoover Institution economist targets socialism, fears ‘we may not make it’

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUvQxcVYQlY - Sowell: Politicians using race as their ticket to whatever racket they're running

Cost-Effective Approaches to Save the Environment, with Bjorn Lomborg

Cost-Effective Approaches to Save the Environment, with Bjorn Lomborg

March 11, 2019

Recorded on February 11, 2019.

How much will it cost to slow climate change? Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, performs cost-benefit analysis on the Green New Deal and the UN’s Climate Report, analyzes the economic impact of climate change in the next century, and proposes economically feasible alternative plans to reduce climate change.

Is climate change the rapidly impending apocalypse it seems? Bjorn Lomborg discusses climate change as depicted in doomsday films like The Day after Tomorrow and breaks down why it will not be an instantaneous apocalypse as often portrayed. He talks about the economic impact climate change will have on the global GDP in the next one hundred years if not solved and the impact on the global GDP if money is spent towards resolving it. He details the reasons Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is not feasible in the ten-year timeline she has proposed and why, even if it were feasible, it would be prohibitively expensive. He discusses the reality of reducing the amount of energy used in developing countries and how it’s unlikely that those countries will be willing to give up on things like electricity now that they have it.

Lomborg suggests that the best way to resolve climate change is to put money now towards research and development for new, cleaner sources of energy that are cheaper than coal and natural gas, because countries will be much more likely to adopt a new energy resource if it is the cheapest option. Finding cheaper energy solutions will have a positive impact on global GDP, and people will be much more willing to adopt it. He also suggests implementing a modest carbon tax, which would have a great long-term impact on reducing climate change.

Related Resources

Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II: The Partnership that Changed the World

Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II: The Partnership that Changed the World

February 19, 2019

Recorded on September 26, 2018.

Did President Reagan and Pope John Paul II have a secret alliance or simply an aligned foreign policy strategy that helped to end the Cold War? Former attorney general to President Reagan, Edwin Meese III, answers these questions and more in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge.

Edwin Meese III discusses Reagan’s unique background and suitability for handling the Cold War as president because of his experience with communism attempting to infiltrate Hollywood’s unions while he was an actor. He understood Stalinism’s propaganda spread and had already spent several years defeating communism in Hollywood, long before it was asked of him as President.

Religion in particular was an anathema to Stalinism and President Reagan’s personal protestant faith and his mutual admiration and respect for Pope John Paul II enabled the two world leaders to form a cooperative geopolitical relationship. According to Meese, President Reagan and Pope John Paul II had similar goals in ending the oppressive influence of the Soviet regime in Eastern Europe, Poland in particular as it was Pope John Paull II’s native country. The two leaders were able to coordinate their efforts to put increasing political, economic, and information pressure on the Soviet Union and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which in the end helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Meese stresses the importance of understanding history for younger generations, particularly the history of the Cold War and the oppressive influence of communism during that time. It was important to end the oppressive regime’s hold behind the Iron Curtain and free the captive nations.

Are There Limits on Emergency Powers? With John Yoo and Richard Epstein

Are There Limits on Emergency Powers? With John Yoo and Richard Epstein

January 25, 2019

Recorded on January 17, 2019.

Can a sitting president be indicted? What emergency powers does President Trump have to build a border wall and stop the government shutdown? Richard Epstein and John Yoo sit down with Peter Robinson to answer these legal questions and more regarding the constitutional powers of the presidency, the state of the Supreme Court, the Mueller investigation, and the legality (or lack thereof) of indicting a sitting president.

As the country continues to deal with a partial government shutdown, Epstein and Yoo address the shutdown, the likelihood of its coming to a timely end, and what kind of bipartisan compromise could end it. Yoo suggests that one potential outcome would be that Democrats require the legalized status of DREAMers in exchange for border-wall funding. Epstein argues that President Trump will have to cave if services like TSA screening begin to shut down from lack of funding. They both agree that the longer the shutdown goes on, the more likely citizens are to get increasingly frustrated with both parties, regardless of the moral stances the party leaders are taking.

For what and when can a president declare a national emergency? Epstein and Yoo dive into the history of national emergencies and presidential emergency powers. They discuss which presidents have declared national emergencies in the past and for what reasons, who has the standing to stop a national emergency, and the fact that no court has ever reversed a national emergency. (In 1952, during the Korean War, President Truman issued Executive Order 10340, which ordered US steel mills to operate despite a nationwide strike because Truman wanted to keep materiel flowing to the front. The court concluded that seizing the mills was a legislative act that could only be authorized by Congress.)

Epstein and Yoo discuss William Barr, President Trump’s newly appointed attorney general, and his congressional-hearing questions about the Mueller investigation. They discuss Barr’s legal background, his personal relationship with Mueller, and the likelihood that he would fire Mueller if asked to. Yoo argues that the best course of action for the Mueller investigation is to allow Mueller to clear Trump of any wrongdoing, which would put a stop to any Democrats’ arguments to the contrary.

 

Related Resources: 

Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny

January 15, 2019

Recorded on December 7, 2018

How did Winston Churchill defend the British Empire throughout his life? Andrew Roberts, the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, brings keen insights into the life of Winston Churchill with the book Churchill: Walking with Destiny.

Roberts was given exclusive access to extensive new material: transcripts of war cabinet meetings, diaries, letters, and unpublished memoirs from Churchill's contemporaries. The royal family permitted Roberts to read the detailed notes taken by King George VI in his diary after his weekly meetings with Churchill during World War II. 

Roberts analyzes the life and policies of Winston Churchill and how he worked to save the British Empire and the world, with the help of the Allies, from the evils of Nazism. The Allied victory in WWII was in large part because of Churchill’s brilliant strategy as well as his conviction to never give in and to defend the British Empire at all costs.

Roberts talks about Churchill’s personality as an intensely passionate man who was known to burst into tears in the middle of Parliament. Roberts notes that Churchill’s long military career made him indispensable and the ideal wartime prime minister.

In addition to having saved the British Empire from Nazism, Churchill has much to teach us about the challenges leaders face today—and the fundamental values of courage, tenacity, leadership, and moral conviction.

Roberts said the key thing to remember about Winston Churchill is that he never gave in. This sentiment was expressed by Churchill himself in 1941 at Harrow School, where he said, “[S]urely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”