2012 Policy Matters: Scholarly and Practical Perspectives on Contemporary Problems
With the country just beginning to emerge from its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the need for carefully crafted public policy has never been more critical. The Public Policy Center joined with the UI History Department to offer its third annual series of public forums featuring nationally recognized experts sharing their perspectives on pressing domestic policy issues. Topics included the economy, productive democracy, political organizing in the digital age, and many others.
Each session, UI faculty and other experts provided a background introduction to the topic of the week, followed by a discussion involving policy practitioners, legislators, and advocates, and questions from the audience. Course resources such as PowerPoint presentations and audiocasts are available on this website.
Classes took place every Wednesday from 6:30-8:20 in Shambaugh Auditorium at the UI Main Library.
January 19, 2012
With the country still emerging from its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the need for carefully crafted public policy has never been more critical. The Public Policy Center is joining with the UI History and Political Science Departments to offer its third annual series of public forums on pressing domestic policy issues. We open this year’s “Policy Matters” series with three introductory lectures. These are designed to provide a baseline understanding of American political institutions, and to set the broader historical context and background.
Our first lecture, “What Does the State Do?” traces the basic premises of representative democracy, and the evolving role of the state.
January 26, 2012
We continue our introductory lectures with a whirlwind historical survey of American public policy. Major policy innovations, as we shall see, have often come in response to economic challenges—including patterns of growth (industrialization), moments of national crisis (World Wars I and II), and economic downturns (most notably the Great Depression). We will consider patterns of constitutional change (including the shifting definition of the “commerce clause,” as well as key historical moments (especially the “big bang” of policy innovation during the New Deal of the 1930s).
February 2, 2012
The recession that began in 2007 not only posed (and continues to pose) immense public policy challenges, but it has opened (or re-opened) fault lines in the political landscape. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has the role of the state been so fiercely contested. This week we will focus on the causes and consequences of our most recent economic downturn, and the concern with economic inequality that has emerged in its wake.
February 9, 2012
Perhaps the most important and telling consequence of our current political circumstance is the emergence of two new political movements: the “Tea Party,” and “Occupy Wall Street.” This week, we will open with a brief historical survey of political dissent in American history, and then hear from local voices from each of these movements.
READINGS FOR THE TEA PARTY
- Tea Party Primer, Washington Post
- Jill Lepore, The Commandments: The Constitution and its Worshippers, The New Yorker (January 17, 2011)
- Conor Friedersdorf , Why the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Should Cooperate, The Atlantic (October 2011)
- Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman, The Strange History of Tea Party Populism, Salon (May 2010)
- Ben McGrath, The Movement, The New Yorker (February 2010)
READINGS FOR OCCUPY WALL STREET
- David Boaz, Editorial: Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue, Cato Policy Report (January/February 2012)
- Nicolaus Mills, Occupy Wall Street: A Primer, The Guardian (November 2011)
- Marco Deseriis and Jodi Dean, A Movement Without Demands? Social Science Research Council (January 2012)
- Joe Lowndes and Dorian Warren, Occupy Wall Street: A Twenty-First Century Populist Movement? Dissent (October 2011)
- George Packer, All the Angry People, The New Yorker (December 2011)
February 16, 2012
Last years’ emblematic showdown in Wisconsin touches on a number of themes important to this course, including civil discourse, state budgeting, collective bargaining, and money in politics. We will draw on a brief presentation from last fall’s political discourse symposium to introduce the key issues, and then consider the broader implications.
- Michael Gousha, Wisconsin 2011 (Civil Discourse Symposium keynote, November 2011)
- Ben Calhoun, “War of Northern Aggression” (This American Life podcast, July 2011)
- William Cronon, “Wisconsin’s Radical Break," New York Times (March 21, 2011)
- Nelson Lichtenstein, “The Long History of Labor Bashing” Chronicle of Higher Education (March 2011)
- Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Wisconsin’s Middle Class and the Jobs Crisis (June 2011)
- Andrew Biggs, "Why Walker is Right," US News and World Report (February 2011)
February 23, 2012
- Karen Mossberger and Carolien Tolbert, Digital Excellence in Chicago: A Citywide View of Technology Use (July 2009)
- David Perlmutter, The Daily Show Interview (May 8, 2008)
- David Perlmutter, "Political Blogging and Campaign 2008: A Roundtable" (The International Journal of Press/Politics, 2008; 12: 160)
- Malcolm Gladwell, "Small Change", The New Yorker (October 4, 2012: 42)
Resources for this topic include a short roll of local and Iowa political blogs:
March 1, 2012
Tulane Professor Sally Kenney discussed her forthcoming book, Gender and Justice: Why Women Judges Really Matter, on the February 29th lecure of the Spring 2012 Policy Matters session.
Sally J. Kenney has been with Tulane University since 2010. Prior to joining Tulane, she served from 1995-2009 on the faculty at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, where she also directed the Center on Women and Public Policy. From 1989-1995, she held a joint appointment in Political Science, Women's Studies, and Law at the University of Iowa.
Professor Kenney is a founder of the Infinity Project, which works to increase the number of women on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. She also served on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Gender Fairness Implementation Committee, is the co-founder and co-chair of the Law & Society’s Collaborative Research Network on Women Judges, and runs a blog on gender and judging. An expert on women and law, Dr. Kenney has served on the judicial-academic network of the National Association of Women Judges. In addition, she has served on the boards of the court monitoring organization Watch, the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund, and the University of Minnesota Press.
She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, a B.A. and M.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Magdalen College, Oxford, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Iowa.
University of Iowa Charles M. and Marion J. Kierscht Professor of Law, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, joined Ms. Kenney and discussed a few points in addition to leading a discussion, as well.
- "It Would be Stupendeous for Us Girls," by Sally Kenney in Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945-1985.
- "If You Care About Justice, Demand More Female Judges," by Sally Kenney in Iowa City Press-Citizen.
*Note: This event was free and open to the public. In conjunction with the Public Policy Center, the UI History Department, and UI Political Science Department, the Iowa Women's Archives, UI Libraries, and also Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies and UI College of Law were co-sponsors of this event.
March 8, 2012
Robert Edgar, President and CEO, Common Cause
Bob Edgar presented a lecture on the influence of campaign financing, the Citizens United case and the rise of SuperPACs on our political discourse.
Mr. Edgar has been president and CEO of Common Cause for almost five years. Common Cause is a national nonpartisan, non-profit ‘citizens’ lobby working to make government at all levels more honest, open and accountable, and to connect citizens with their democracy. Mr. Edgar is a former member of Congress, having represented the Seventh Congressional District outside Philadelphia, PA, for six terms. He received a BA from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pa., and a M.Div from the Theological School of Drew University, Madison, N.J. He has also been president of the Claremont School of Theology and general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ. He holds five honorary doctoral degrees.
- "Money in Politics" on Common Cause Website
- "Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of SuperPACs and 2012 Election" by Adam Lioz and Blair Bowie
- Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court Case
- "Legislating Under the Influence: Money, Power, and the American Legislative Exchange Council," Common Cause
- "FAQs: Fast Answers to Common Questions about Amend 2012," Amend 2012
- "Protecting the Vote in 2012," Common Cause Education Fund (November 2011)
*Note: This event is free and open to the public. In conjunction with the Public Policy Center and the UI History and Political Science Departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences the UI College of Law is also a co-sponsor of this lecture event.
March 21, 2012
The floods of 2008 (in the Cedar and Iowa River watersheds in eastern Iowa) and 2011 (in the upper Missouri in western Iowa) call to mind the lament of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner: “Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every here, Nor any drop to drink.” Behind the catastrophic abundance of flooded rivers lies an economic and political challenge of real scarcity—including the uneven distribution of water (nationally and globally) and the substantial cost and complexity of managing water as it is consumed and disposed by urban, agricultural, and industrial users. This week, we focus on watersheds—the hydrology that sustains our population and our economy, even as it flows through both to affect those hundreds of miles from Iowa. Our panel, drawn from the UI Engineering College and the Iowa Geological Survey, examines these challenges.
- Teresa Galluzo and Andrea Heffernan, Scum in Iowa’s Waters: Dealing with the Impact of Excess Nutrients (Iowa Policy Project, 2009)
- Iowa Geological Survey, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Budgets for Iowa Watersheds (2004)
- Iowa DNR, Social Dynamics of Water Quality (2004)
- Iowa DNR, Water Quality Impairments in Iowa
- Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, River and Stream Valuation Survey
- "Water Quality: An Iowa Priority," Iowa City Water Project
March 28, 2012
One of our most pressing policy concerns—before and during (and presumably after) the recession—is growing income inequality in the United States. Earlier in the semester (Februray 1st), we took a close look at patterns of inequality in the United States. Today we turn our attention to the policy response. Income security or antipoverty policies offer a "safety net" for those who—due to unemployment, disability, low education attainment, personal crises, or other hardship—cannot support themselves or their families. This session will offer an overview of poverty in the United States (a wealthy but unequal society), and perspectives on national, state, and local policies.
- Kevin Leicht, “Borrowing to the Brink: Consumer Debt in America” in Katie Porter, BROKE: HOW DEBT BANKRUPTS THE MIDDLE CLASS (2012, Stanford U. Press)
- Kevin Leicht, selections from Post-Industrial Peasants: The Illusion of Middle Class Prosperity (Worth, 2006), Chapter 2 and Chapter 7
- Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger, "Changing poverty and changing antipoverty policies," FOCUS (University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, Fall 2009)
- Daniel R. Meyer and Geoffrey L. Wallace, "Poverty levels and trends in comparative perspective," FOCUS (University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, Fall 2009)
- Mary Jo Bane, "Poverty Politics and Policy," FOCUS (University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, Fall 2009)
- Robert Haveman, "What does it mean to be poor in a rich society?" FOCUS (University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, Fall 2009)
- Andrew Cannon and Molly Fleming, The Cost of Living in Iowa (Iowa Policy Project, 2010)
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership, EITC: A Hand Up to Working Families (February 2012)
- Iowa Policy Project, Making Work Pay in Iowa (January 2011)
April 4, 2012
Fifty years ago, organized labor claimed nearly 40 percent of the private labor force and substantial political clout. Today, labor represents barely 7 percent of the private labor force and has been relegated to just another “special interest” in party politics. This week we will trace the causes and consequences of this dramatic reversal in fortune—looking not only at the impact on American workers and American politics, but also at the international context of workers rights with guest lecturer, Lance Compa.
- "U.S. Workers’ Rights Are Being Abused,” Washington Post Op-Ed, October 30, 2000
- “A Human Rights Problem on Campus,” Washington Post, April 2, 2002
- “Meatpacking’s Human Toll,” Washington Post, August 3, 2005
- Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants, Human Rights Watch (2004), Read Sections I and II, pp. 1-16
- A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations, Human Rights Watch, Read Sections I-III (pages 1-16), and then the Kongsberg Automotive case study at pp. 100-107
- “A Question of Timing: the United States and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98,” International Union Rights, Vol. 14, Issue 3 (2007)
Federal labor policy is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board.
Important national labor organizations include the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), UNITE HERE! and the Change To Win coalition.
See also the work of the Interfaith Worker Justice Network, Labor Beat; the American Labor Studies Center at Cornell, the National Employment Law Project and American Rights at Work.
University-based labor centers are also an important resource; see UI Labor Center, the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, the UC-Berkeley Labor Center.
The leading resource for policies curtailing organized labor are the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the National Institute for Labor Relations Research; and, in Iowa, the Iowa Policy Institute.
April 11, 2012
- New York Times, A History of Overhauling Health Care (July 2009)
- Colin Gordon, History and Health Reform (Princeton University Press Blog, September 2009)
- David Cole, Why Obama’s Health Care law is Constitutional, The Nation (March 7, 2012)
- Roger Vinson, ObamaCare is Unconstitutional, Cato Policy Reports (March-April 2011)
- Mary Carey, Two Years In, a Consumer Guide to Health Reform, Kaiser Health News (March 2012); The Kaiser Foundation’s Kaiser Health News, is an excellent resource, students should also browse material under the “health reform” tab
- Commonwealth Fund, Implementing the Affordable Care Act: State Action on Early Market Reforms (March 2012); The Commonwealth Fund's Health Reform page is also an excellent resource
April 18, 2012
- Stephen M. Wheeler, Sustainability in Community Development. In, An Introduction to Community Development (2009), Rhonda Phillips and Robert H. Pittman, Eds. New York: Routledge.
- A Worldwide Car Culture: Can It Be Sustainable? (2008). TR News, 259 (Nov-Dec).
- "Residential Water Demand Management: Lessons from Aurora, Colorado," Journal of the American Water Resources Assocation (February 2008), Douglas S. Kenney, Christopher Goemans, Roberta Klein, Jessica Lowrey, and Kevin Reidy.
- "U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find" by Roger Showley for UT San Diego (February 2, 2012).
- "Welcome to the Anthropocene" video.
April 25, 2012
- Michael Ettlinger, Budgeting for Growth and Prosperity: A Long-term Plan to Balance the Budget, Grow the Economy, and Strengthen the Middle Class (Center for American Progress, May 2011)
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Strengthening State Fiscal Policies for a Stronger Economy (February 2012)
- Brookings Institution, What States Can, and Can’t, Teach the Federal Government about Budgets (March 2012)
- Andrew Cannon, Getting Public Value out of our Public Dollars: Do Iowa’s Spending Choices Represent Iowa’s Values? (Iowa Policy Project, 2010)
- Cato Institute, Do budget shortfalls mean states must raise taxes? (September 2011)