Books

"The Conservative Way Forward?"

Arnold Kling reviews a forthcoming book by Yuval Levin, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism.  Kling likes it but . . . 

In his important new book (forthcoming, May 24, 2016 from Basic Books), Yuval Levin offers a diagnosis of America's illness and a prescription for a cure. His diagnosis blames both the left and the right for promulgating an untenable vision of an individualistic society under the umbrella of the central government. . . . 

For me, Levin offers an appealing vision. However, I wonder if it can ever attract broad public support. In 2016, it appears to me that Americans do not value freedom as much as they used to. If President Obama represented the nostalgia for the era of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, then currently his party seems to be moving even further to the left, with many believing that some form of socialism is the answer. On the Republican side, it seems ironic that the candidate who gained ascendancy by promising to wall off our southern neighbors would appear to wish to run the United States like a Latin American strongman. And on college campuses, many students and administrators prefer "safe spaces" to free speech.


"Chrissie Hynde on artistic expression and the sexual revolution"

Ms. Hynde, speaking her mind.

You write pointedly about the sexual expectations of the 1960s. What do you think the sexual revolution has done for women?

I think it’s very convoluted. I’ve heard this kind of feminist argument a lot, there was a big sexual revolution and we took our lives into our own hands. It wasn’t like anyone took charge. I’m not saying whether that’s good or bad, but I think it confuses people. The idea of being promiscuous was cool in the sixties, because it meant you were free and you weren’t hung up. But that spreads a lot of disease. We could get rid of those diseases, so nothing seemed to matter. All people cared about was that you weren’t hung up. I mean, it’s very nice if you don’t want to have to be a stay-at-home housewife, but I’m not sure that was the choice people were making. I think they were putting that off as long as they wanted to and having as much sex as they could. I think it probably fucked up some people’s heads. You could bastardize what I’m saying, because I’m not making it very clear. But I’m not sure it was as liberating as it was almost enslaving. What’s liberation? That’s the real question. I’m still wondering myself.


"Solving the Poor"

A review of Robert Putnam's book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, by Amy L. Wax.

I also highly recommend her "Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure," Family Law Quarterly, Fall 2007, the sort of article that gets her branded a "racist" at one of our finer institutions of higher education.

See also "Family Structure Matters — Science Proves It". (And as Glenn Reynolds often cracks, we don't want to argue with science now do we?)


"Study shows college textbook prices up an insane 1,041% since 1977"

Yeah, yeah, but how does this fit with my experience? I have one observation to report. I purchased my undergraduate econometrics text, Jan Kmenta's  Elements of Econometrics, which I struggled with and grew to dislike intensely, but for unaccountable reasons have kept all these years (maybe as a reminder to stay humble, very humble), for spring semester of my junior year, so early 1977. The price--not stamped, not stickered, and, of course, not bar-coded--is written in pencil on the inside, first sheet after the cover: "$19.95". 

While a second edition of Kmenta is, apparently, still in print, I will ignore that. I can't imagine any university professor assigning it in 2015 given that there are many better choices available. One such better option is Stock and Watson's Introduction to Econometrics. Amazon quotes a list price of $260, but they'll sell it to you for $185.37. 

So at the list price, there's been an increase of 1203%; at the preferable transaction price, the increase is 829%. Either percentage is reasonably close to 1041%, or as they say in D.C., "close enough for government work". 

But--and this is an important "but"--Stock and Watson is a much better text. Is it eight times better than Kmenta, 1st edition? It's hard to say, but probably . . . close enough.