Uncommon Knowledge
Questioning Conventional Wisdom in the COVID-19 Crisis, with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

Questioning Conventional Wisdom in the COVID-19 Crisis, with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

March 31, 2020

Recorded on March 27, 2020

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a senior fellow at both the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute. His March 24, 2020, article in the Wall Street Journal questions the premise that “coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines.” In the article he suggests that “there’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” In this edition of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson we asked Dr. Bhattacharya to defend that statement and describe to us how he arrived at this conclusion. We get into the details of his research, which used data collected from hotspots around the world and his background as a doctor, a medical researcher, and an economist. It’s not popular right now to question conventional wisdom on sheltering in place, but Dr. Bhattacharya makes a strong case for challenging it, based in economics and science.

The Corona Economy with John B. Taylor

The Corona Economy with John B. Taylor

March 27, 2020

Recorded on March 25, 2020

In this first of a new series of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson conversations done via webcam, Peter Robinson talks to John B. Taylor, the Hoover Institution’s George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics. They discuss the huge impact of the COVID-19 virus on the US and world economy, the likely impact of the federal government's multitrillion-dollar relief efforts, and what the economy might look like as we get to the other side of this crisis.

The Great Society: A New History  with Amity Shlaes

The Great Society: A New History with Amity Shlaes

March 24, 2020

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, a conversation with author and historian Amity Shlaes on her new book, Great Society: A New History. Begun by John F. Kennedy and completed by Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society was one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation ever enacted in American history. On its surface, the Great Society was a plan to reduce rural and urban poverty, but at its roots were the socialist and communist movements of the 1930s. Shlaes shares the history of those movements and lays out how they influenced the post–World War II generation of American politicians, including lesser-remembered figures such as Sargent Shriver, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Walter Reuther. In addition, the Great Society was a harbinger of many of the policies and ideas that are in vogue today, including Universal Basic Income and Medicare for All. Shlaes also argues that what the Great Society’s marquee policy initiative, the War on Poverty, and the new flood of benefits actually achieved “was the opposite of preventing poverty—they established a new kind of poverty, a permanent sense of downtroddenness.” Shlaes proves that, once again, policies and laws with the best of intentions often have the opposite effect.

A  Conversation with Vice President Mike Pence

A Conversation with Vice President Mike Pence

March 9, 2020

Recorded on February 24, 2020

This week, Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson travels to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the nation’s capital for a special one-on-one interview with Vice President Mike Pence. In a wide-ranging conversation, they discuss Senator Bernie Sanders’s statements about Fidel Castro, the killing of Iranian major general Qassim Soleimani, the current situation in Venezuela, the US relationship with China, the effect of the Trump tax cuts, the growing popularity of socialism amongst the nation’s youths, and yes, the formation of the Space Force. Robinson ends the interview by asking the vice president to speculate on his and President Trump’s chances for re-election this fall (spoiler alert: he likes them).

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