15 years ago
"Reality TV has many lessons to teach us, but there is one it reiterates with a frequency even parrots can't match: If you want people to behave badly, stick a camera in their faces….Still, the symbolic utility of surveillance cameras is unimpeachable. Install hundreds of deliberately conspicuous cameras—many of Chicago's are topped with flashing blue lights—and you have a highly visible, all-purpose metaphor that you can apply to the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and the never-ending struggle against public nose picking. So get ready for your close-up. New York is installing surveillance cameras on 450 buses. Houston's police chief believes apartment complexes should be required to install cameras. Mayor [Richard] Daley believes the same thing about Chicago's bars."
"Smile, You're on the Telescreen"
20 years ago
"[Charter schools'] pitch is simple: If we succeed in running good schools, we'll attract students and make a profit. If we fail, take back the school and try something else. That's not the way things are usually done in the public school system. Traditionally, nothing succeeds like failure. Failure is rewarded with more money for more programs, more specialists, and, of course, more failure. Success, on the other hand, is a risky business. It destroys excuses. It raises expectations."
"Threatened by Success"
25 years ago
"One of the most frequently overlooked dimensions of assimilation is the extent to which it depends more on the behavior of natives than of immigrants. Most conventional definitions and analyses of the subject assume that assimilation involves affirmative acts or choices that immigrants alone must make. But the real secret of American assimilation is that the native-born Americans—not the immigrants—have made it work. Since independence, a majority of Americans, all of whom once were immigrants themselves or the descendants of immigrants, have been instilled with the assimilationist ethos and have, in turn, instilled it in each new generation of immigrants.
Americans have accorded immigrants (and their children) their legitimacy. They have done so by letting them come, letting them quickly become citizens, according them a full complement of American civil rights, and treating them in myriad ways, both large and small, as equals. Americans, through their faith in individual achievement, have given immigrants the chance to prove themselves."
"Assimilation, American Style"
40 years ago
"The creation of the welfare state coincided with a most extraordinary phenomenon: the longest period of sustained economic growth in history, the one we have had since the last world war. And that enabled the welfare state to live up to its political image. People felt that, despite the increasing pressure of taxation, they still got more out of the welfare state than they put into it.
Also, at this point cause and effect became muddled. Many welfare politicians actually believed that the welfare state should be credited with the economic growth. They saw the welfare state as the cause of economic prosperity, while in actual fact, it is economic prosperity that is the indispensable condition for being able to afford welfare services. It was like Robin Hood telling the poor that, not only did they benefit from his robbing the rich, but his robberies actually produced wealth, with a net benefit for people as a whole."
"Which Way Norway?"
50 years ago
"One of the more sacred of Washington's sacred bovines has long been the Food and Drug Administration. Only in recent years, with the rise of health-food advocates and of the NAS-NRC drug efficacy studies, has there begun to be direct challenge of the agency's right to dictate what substances shall or shall not be on the market. [The drug] DMSO has been tested and found effective both as a pain-killer and as a transfer agent for other medicines. It has been used safely in Europe for years but, because of political hyper-caution, the FDA refuses to license it here. This situation has so incensed the medical profession and Congress that Representative [Joseph] Wyatt and Senator [Mark] Hatfield have introduced a bill to remove drug testing completely from the FDA, transferring it to a 'nonpolitical, scientific body,' so as to 'protect the public from its protector,' according to Senator Hatfield."
"Do We Really Need the FDA?"