Uncommon Knowledge

Oct 28 2020 46 mins 2.4k

For more than two decades the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz. “Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.” The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For more than two decades the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz. “Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.” The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.











































































Jim Mattis on Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
Sep 03 2019 43 mins  
For more than two decades the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz. “Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.” The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For more than two decades the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz. “Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.” The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



Why Here, Why Now? Why Did United States Enjoy Dramatic Improvements in Living During the Last Century?
Aug 26 2019 73 mins  
Recorded on April 18, 2019 Peter Robinson opens the session by discussing the major improvements that happened over the last one hundred years in the United States, between 1919 and 2019. For example, the GDP per person rose by 760 percent, life expectancy improved from 59 to 79 years, and various other automotive, technological, medical, and quality-of-life advances were achieved. Robinson then starts the discussion with former secretary of state George Shultz, who encourages a broader vision as we look for the reasons for prosperity. Shultz discusses some of the major events that occurred during the 20th century, e.g., the Great Depression, currency manipulation, World War II, and the Holocaust, whose negative impacts framed the mindset of Americans to question the institutions underlying society. Robinson then asks John Cogan about these institutions—private property, the rule of law, free markets—and the importance of these for prosperity. Cogan explains those institutions are necessary for sustained prosperity, which demands conditions that are stable in order to fuel economic growth. Robinson asks Terry Anderson about the importance of property rights. Terry says that property rights are the key to providing people with incentives to care for and maintain the property they own. Anderson notes that nobody washes rental cars, because they don’t own them. Robinson asks Lee Ohanian about the role of immigration in prosperity. Ohanian says that the United States has been fortunate in attracting the best talents from all over the world, which has played a major role in sustaining prosperity. Ohanian notes that having an inflow of immigrants like Sergey Brin from Soviet Union, Elon Musk from South Africa, and others has helped the United States stay on the cutting edge of innovation with new and fresh ideas.


David Kennedy, Andrew Roberts, and Stephen Kotkin Discuss the Big Three of the 20th Century: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin
Aug 05 2019 74 mins  
Recorded on July 18, 2019 What did Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin want at the beginning of the Second World War? Peter Robinson starts the discussion by why the “big three” came together as allies in response to Operation Barbarossa during the war. What did the leaders of the “grand alliance” of Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union want? What were their national interests? Robinson asks Roberts if Churchill aimed to preserve the British Empire. Roberts explains that Churchill’s interests were just in national survival. As Britain was under the threat of massive invasion from Germany, he wanted to make sure that the Russians stayed in the war until the Germans were wiped out completely. Roberts also notes that Churchill wanted Russia to ensure that the Americans, when they did finally enter the war in December 1941, were guided toward a Mediterranean strategy. Kennedy discusses Roosevelt’s motive for joining into an alliance in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa, before officially entering the war. Kennedy says that Roosevelt wanted to make the world safe for the democratic practices and institutions that had already been established, but he did not seek to expand democracy throughout the world. Next, Robinson asks Kotkin about Stalin’s aim for allying with Britain and United States as well as why Stalin did not quickly respond to Hitler’s actions in Soviet Union despite having one of the biggest armies in the world. Kotkin replies that there was misinformation that made Stalin think that Hitler would not actually attack, that Hitler was only amassing the troops to blackmail Stalin into giving up Ukraine and other territories without actually having to fight. Lastly, Kotkin explains, Stalin also joined the grand alliance for national survival. Robinson then continues the discussion with Roberts, Kennedy, and Kotkin by asking how things turned out for the three allies after the war. They examine who won and who lost over both the short term and the long term, as well as how the postwar world set the stage for the emergence of new strong powers, particularly China. This event addresses these and many other important lessons and questions: What happens when an international system that is supposed to keep the peace among nations breaks down? How do nations deal with the breakdown and rebuilding of international order? How can Western civilization remain strong? What are the defense resources required to protect free countries from unpleasant predators in the world?


Mathematical Challenges To Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution, With David Berlinski, Stephen Meyer, And David Gelernter
Jul 22 2019 57 mins  
Recorded on June 6, 2019 in Italy. Based on new evidence and knowledge that functioning proteins are extremely rare, should Darwin’s theory of evolution be dismissed, dissected, developed or replaced with a theory of intelligent design? Has Darwinism really failed? Peter Robinson discusses it with David Berlinski, David Gelernter, and Stephen Meyer, who have raised doubts about Darwin’s theory in their two books and essay, respectively The Deniable Darwin, Darwin’s Doubt, and “Giving Up Darwin” (published in the Claremont Review of Books). Robinson asks them to convince him that the term “species” has not been defined by the authors to Darwin’s disadvantage. Gelernter replies to this and explains, as he expressed in his essay, that he sees Darwin’s theory as beautiful (which made it difficult for him to give it up): “Beauty is often a telltale sign of truth. Beauty is our guide to the intellectual universe—walking beside us through the uncharted wilderness, pointing us in the right direction, keeping us on track—most of the time.” Gelernter notes that there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin successfully explained the small adjustments by which an organism adapts to local circumstances: changes to fur density or wing style or beak shape. Yet there are many reasons to doubt whether Darwin can answer the hard questions and explain the big picture—not the fine-tuning of existing species but the emergence of new ones. Meyer explains Darwinism as a comprehensive synthesis, which gained popularity for its appeal. Meyer also mentions that one cannot disregard that Darwin’s book was based on the facts present in the 19th century. Robinson then asks the panel whether Darwin’s theory of gradual evolution is contradicted by the explosion of fossil records in the Cambrian period, when there was a sudden occurrence of many species over the span of approximately seventy million years (Meyer’s noted that the date range for the Cambrian period is actually narrowing). Meyer replies that even population genetics, the mathematical branch of Darwinian theory, has not been able to support the explosion of fossil records during the Cambrian period, biologically or geologically. Robinson than asks about Darwin’s main problem, molecular biology, to which Meyer explains, comparing it to digital world, that building a new biological function is similar to building a new code, which Darwin could not understand in his era. Berlinski does not second this and states that the cell represents very complex machinery, with complexities increasing over time, which is difficult to explain by a theory. Gelernter throws light on this by giving an example of a necklace on which the positioning of different beads can lead to different permutations and combinations; it is really tough to choose the best possible combination, more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. He seconds Meyer’s statement that it was impossible for Darwin to understand that in his era, since the math is easy but he did not have the facts. Meyer further explains how difficult it is to know what a protein can do to a cell, the vast combinations it can produce, and how rare is the possibility of finding a functional protein. He then talks about the formation of brand-new organisms, for which mutation must affect genes early in the life form’s development in order to control the expression of other genes as the organism grows. “Intelligent design” is something only Meyer agrees with, but Berlinski replies that as a scientific approach, one can agree or disagree with it, but should not reject it. Meyer talks about the major discovery in the 1950s and ’60s concerning the DNA molecule, which encodes information in a somewhat digital format, providing researchers with the opportunity to trace the information back to its source. Gelernter argues that if there was/is an intelligent designer then why is the design not the most efficient, rather than prone to all sorts of problems, including the mental and emotional. Robinson quotes Gelernter: “Darwinism is no longer just a scientific theory but a basis of a worldview, and an emergency . . . religion for the many troubled souls who need one.” Gelernter further adds that it’s a fantastically challenging problem that Darwin chose to address. How difficult will it be for scientists to move on from Darwin’s theory of evolution? Will each scientist need to examine the evidence for his or herself? These are some of most important questions facing science in the 21st century.


Uncommon Knowledge with David Berlinski on “The Deniable Darwin”
Jul 08 2019 58 mins  
David Berlinski is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, a contributing editor at Inference: International Review of Science, and author of many books. Berlinski discusses his book The Deniable Darwin and lays out how Charles Darwin has failed to explain the origin of species through his theory of evolution. Berlinski explains that change in biology is not continuous—it’s radical, something which Darwinian theory fails to explain. He discusses how Darwinian evolution is blind to the future as there is no fidelity to the facts. He gives examples of amino acids and dogs and explains why there cannot be just one species. He further strengthens his statement by saying that everything cannot be accounted for as being random: there should be some scientific evidence to support it. Berlinski responds to Peter Robinson’s question about Razib Khan’s statement to the effect that, “The seeds of both tyranny and democracy were sown by the evolutionary pressures that shaped humans over millions of years.” He argues that the deepest aspects of our nature are not formed by evolutionary pressures because evolution is relatively neutral. He also replies to Robinson’s question about a remark of Pope Benedict XVI to the effect that Western thought, by its very nature, “excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question.” He explains that it is not right to argue that physical theories imply that the conclusion is antitheist, as mere exclusion in these theories does not imply that. Robinson further asks Berlinski’s views about the growing population of Islam and decreasing population of Europeans in Europe. Berlinski explains that Muslims take religion seriously, but theology/religion has more or less disappeared from the Western habit of thought. He states that faith and religion should come together. Berlinski further talks about how Albert Einstein’s comments disprove God, not because he is an antitheist, but because Einstein wanted to push quantum theory and his belief in the rational universe. Finally, Robinson asks about Europe’s survival in terms of economy, population, and growth, and Berlinski says that the nation-state is an idea that is no longer there and that patriotism is disappearing.


David Davenport on How Public Policy Became War
Jun 24 2019 36 mins  
Recorded: Recorded on May 15, 2019 David Davenport, Hoover fellow and coauthor of How Public Policy Became War, analyzes how presidents have too readily declared war (on terror, drugs, poverty, you name it) and called the nation into crisis, partly to tackle the problem and partly to increase their own power. Davenport explains how policy options have been left behind because the war metaphor reduces the constraints and expands the power of what a president can do. Davenport discusses how Franklin Roosevelt used the declaration of war to expand government and shift the balance of power in the United States in a new direction, away from Congress and the states and toward a strong executive branch. Davenport notes that Roosevelt exchanged the founders’ vision of deliberation and moderation in the federal government for war and action. Davenport explains how, through the course of time, Congress has lost its ability to deliberate, negotiate, compromise, and draft bills, which results in giving more power to the executive branch. Davenport says that members of Congress are sent to Washington to represent us, and they need to be statesmen rather than party loyalists and step up to their proper constitutional role. Davenport also discusses executive orders that permit the president to issue an order on his own without any congressional legislation. He talks about the number of executive orders that have been used by presidents throughout history and how they have impacted the nation. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers. Finally, Davenport says he believes that President Trump is on the right track when he takes measures to limit the administrative state.




Thomas Sowell on the Origins of Economic Disparities
May 17 2019 46 mins  
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”
May 06 2019 59 mins  
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-hansonhttps://www.hoover.org/research/diversity-illegal-immigration







Jason Riley On “False Black Power?”
Mar 18 2019 48 mins  
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
Mar 11 2019 48 mins  
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 Free-Market Environmentalism Carbon Taxes: The Most Efficient Way to Reduce Emissions Energy Efficiency: Our Best Source of Clean Energy Identifying Smart Climate-Change Policies Statement Backing Hoover Fellow and Stanford Professor’s Carbon-Tax Proposal Garners Record-Setting Support from Economists The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends


Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II: The Partnership that Changed the World
Feb 19 2019 34 mins  
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
Jan 25 2019 53 mins  
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: Actual emergencies come and go, but federal emergency declarations endure The courts won’t stop Trump’s emergency declaration or his border wall The Burger Kings


Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Jan 15 2019 52 mins  
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.”





Remembering President George H. W. Bush with Chase Untermeyer and Andrew Ferguson
Dec 17 2018 44 mins  
Recorded on December 5, 2018 On November 30, 2018, forty-first president George H. W. Bush passed away. Andrew Ferguson and Peter Robinson both served as speechwriters for Bush during his tenure in the White House as both the vice president and president. Chase Untermeyer served as the ambassador to Qatar under the forty-first president. The three men gather to remember the man they knew and the legacy he left behind. Untermeyer, Ferguson, and Robinson reminisce about their experiences with George H. W. Bush. Robinson relates a fond memory he has of meeting with Bush, who was vice president at the time, to discuss Robinson’s career as a speechwriter or as a law student. They discuss Bush’s amazing military career as a pilot in WWII. Bush postponed his university studies at Yale after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and enlisted at age eighteen. By the age of twenty, Bush had flown fifty-eight combat missions and had been shot down once. After the war Bush finished his education and went on to become an expert in foreign policy as ambassador to the United Nations and then as director of Central Intelligence. Bush was president during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and oversaw the nonviolent transition period from the Cold War to peacetime. They remember the former president’s graciousness, kindness, humility, and desire to help others (and not hold grudges), and they discuss how those qualities translated into his life and political career. Did you like the show? You can rate, review, subscribe, and download the podcast on the following platforms:Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | RadioPublic | Overcast |Google Play | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS


Thomas Sowell on the Myths of Economic Inequality
Dec 03 2018 53 mins  
Recorded on November 15, 2018 Thomas Sowell discusses economic inequality, racial inequality, and the myths that have continued to falsely describe the system of poverty among different racial and economic classes. He explains the economic theories behind these pervasive myths and proposes fact-based solutions for seemingly intractable situations. Sowell discusses his early life as a high school dropout and his first full-time job as a Western Union messenger delivering telegrams. He admits to flirting with Marxism in his early twenties as he first tried to grapple with the housing inequality he saw across the neighborhoods of New York City. Marxism, he says, was the only explanation he could find at the time. He went on to serve in the Marine Corps before continuing his education in economics at Harvard and earning a master’s at Columbia and a PhD at the University of Chicago. Sowell’s first job after his receiving his PhD in economics was working for the Department of Labor, and he says it was there that he realized Marxism was not the answer. He argues that the government has its own institutional interests in inequality that cannot be explained through Marxism. He began to be discouraged by Marxism and the government in general and began searching for better economic ideas and solutions (the free market). Robinson and Sowell discuss Sowell’s written works, his ideas of racial and economic inequality, the state of the United States today, and much more.






How the World Recovered: The 2008 Financial Crisis Ten Years Later
Oct 17 2018 51 mins  
Recorded on September 28, 2018 Ten years ago, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression hit the United States and spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom. Here to discuss what happened then and where the world is now are former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh and former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne. Kevin Warsh and George Osborne discuss the 2008 financial crisis, how they dealt with it at the time, what they would have done differently, and whether the economy is headed toward another downturn. Warsh discusses how the United States failed to realize how bad the crisis was until it was already too late. The crisis had a huge impact on Europe and the United States and set off a global panic. However, within two years the economy was already growing by 2 percent and the quantitative easing used by the Fed was no longer needed as the world changed. Warsh and Osborne analyze the state of the US and UK economies today and the trade war with China. They argue that there are two ways to approach China: either try to contain it or co-opt it. Innovation and growth in the United States are necessary to prevent China from gaining more purchasing power and greater influence on the international market. Osborne analyzes the effects Brexit could have on the single market and trade with the UK’s geographically closest trading partner, France, and airs his concerns about what Brexit means for the UK’s future. He argues that Margaret Thatcher, who helped create the single market in the EU, would never have voted to leave it. While a future financial crisis is always possible, Warsh and Osborne end on optimistic notes: that there is still room for growth in the two countries’ economies and that a better financial future for many Americans and British is still possible through good economic policies, including lower taxes and less regulation.




Judging Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court with John Yoo
Sep 05 2018 54 mins  
Recorded on August 28th, 2018. Is Brett Kavanaugh ready for the Supreme Court? John Yoo, Yale Law alumnus and Hoover Institution visiting fellow, breaks down Kavanaugh’s law career in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Yoo argues that the United States has concentrated too much power in the Supreme Court since the New Deal era legislation and that the Supreme Court is now more powerful than Congress and the President. Based off of Kavanaugh’s past career, Yoo predicts that Kavanaugh will help reign in the power of the Supreme Court and give it back to the states. Yoo argues that based off of the Constitution, power to decide social issues should reside with states rather than the court. According to Yoo, prior to the New Deal era, the Supreme Court focused on regulatory issues rather than social issues. He argues that momentous social legal decisions like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges are meant to be left to the individual states to decide. Yoo analyzes the records of the current conservative justices and predicts that Kavanaugh will side more often with Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch, interpreting the Constitution as it was written by the founders, rather than by the changing will of the people. About The Guest: John Yoo is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a professor of law at the University of California Berkeley school of Law. Additional Resources: Hoover Scholars Analyze Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Influence Adam White: After Trump Taps Textualist Brett Kavanaugh For Supreme Court, The Confirmation Fight Ahead And Potential Impact On Midterm Elections Adam White Discusses The Background Of Brett Kavanaugh Brett Kavanaugh's Possible Impact On The Supreme Court Area 45: The Supreme Court and Judge Brett Kavanaugh The Libertarian: Judging Brett Kavanaugh


Russia, China, and the Future of Democracy
Aug 20 2018 44 mins  
Recorded on June 22, 2018 In a special edition of Uncommon Knowledge at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Peter Robinson interviews former presidents and prime ministers on one subject: democracy. Following a unique format, Robinson asks each of the guests the same questions to get their distinctive perspectives on issues such as the rise of authoritarianism in Russia, communist China, and the prospects for democracy. The guests include the former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg; former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón; former president of Estonia and current Hoover visiting fellow, Toomas Henrik Ilves; and former prime minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The guests analyze economic growth in China and how that growth did not lead to the democratic country predicted by economic experts in 90s. They dive into why China does not truly have a free market, nor does it follow traditional Leninist/Marxist communism’s disdain for material goods. The guests go on to analyze changes in Russia in the last thirty years under President Putin and how foreign policy with Russia has affected their respective countries. They discuss the future of Russian and Chinese relations and how they believe those two countries are trying to shape the world. About the Guests: Nick Clegg was the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015. Felipe Calderón was the president of Mexico from 2006 to 2012. Toomas Henrik Ilves was the president of Estonia from 2006 to 2016. He is currently a Hoover visiting fellow. Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. He was the Secretary General of NATO from 2009 to 2014. Additional Resources: Uncommon Knowledge in Copenhagen: Revitalizing Democracies Around the World https://www.hoover.org/research/uncommon-knowledge-copenhagen-revitalizing-democracies-around-world The Copenhagen Democracy Summit http://www.allianceofdemocracies.org/initiatives/the-copenhagen-democracy-summit/the-summit/ America’s Will to Lead With Anders Fogh Rasmussen https://www.hoover.org/research/americas-will-lead



Uncommon Knowledge in Copenhagen: Revitalizing Democracies Around the World
Jul 26 2018 50 mins  
Recorded on June 22nd, 2018 At the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Peter Robinson moderated a panel discussion featuring prominent politicians from some of the world’s leading democracies as they discussed why democracy is declining around the world and what the prospects for democracy are in the future. They discussed how we can build friendships that will support our ambition of bringing together an international alliance of democracies for a freer and more prosperous world. Participants include José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain; Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico; Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada; and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia and Hoover Institution fellow. For many citizens around the world they do not feel that democracy is working, that there is too much corruption, too much nepotism, and too much bad behavior for democracy to survive. The 2008 crisis and the technology revolution created continued suffering, and citizens feel that democratic systems are not working and that the citizens are burdened with the consequences. The weaponizing of social media has further exacerbated the pain as bad actors can quickly mobilize and cause more confusion and problems. So what can be done? Countries need to work together and act super-nationally to give their citizens as well as citizens of other countries security, prosperity, and sustainability. Countries need to use technology to implement coordinated responses to quickly stop the misleading attacks that are causing disruption, disinformation, and decentralization. Democracies need free and fair elections, an independent judicial system, an independent legislature, freedom of speech, property rights, and an immigration system that works for everyone especially the citizens of a country. Populism and disagreements are expressions of democracy, and disagreements do not mean we should delegitimize and reject unconventional choices for leaders and label them undemocratic. When we do that, we are heading in the wrong direction. Instead we should ask: what are our citizens telling us and why are they unhappy? How can we offer citizens democracies with better solutions? As a world, we need to provide security together, but strength comes from within. Countries need to address the shortcoming of how democracies are developed socially, economically, and politically in their own countries first. Democracies must be able to adapt and innovate and they must be allowed the freedom to thrive. The strength of democracies over time is resilience. Countries also need to promote free trade while respecting borders, which are not incompatible especially when using the United States and Canada as examples. If we go towards a Chinese style of government there will be no more Facebook or Twitter and fewer freedoms. One man ruling for life almost always ends up with stagnation, tyranny, or both. Part of the problem democracies are having is that people do not remember what it is like to live in a country where you do not have democratic rights and freedoms. People really need to understand technology and history and to remember what communism and authoritarianism were like in order to avoid those forms of government in the future. With all of the technologies, ideas, and access to information that we have today, we have greatest possibilities for human life ahead of us if we embrace free and fair elections, an independent judicial system, an independent legislature, property rights, and freedom of speech. If democracies do those things then the force of freedom will be unstoppable and democratic societies will thrive.


How to Get the Best from Brexit with Daniel Hannan
Jul 12 2018 36 mins  
Recorded on June 22, 2018 Will the United Kingdom really follow through on Brexit? British politician Daniel Hannan believes that Brexit is happening and cannot come soon enough. As a staunch proponent for the “Vote Leave” side, Daniel Hannan has been ready for Brexit since the referendum vote in 2016. He sits down with Peter Robinson to chat about what Brexit means for the UK, how soon it’s coming, and the likelihood of compromise between the now polarized British parties. The United Kingdom became a member of the European Union in 1973. In June 2016, in a close 52 to 48 vote, UK citizens voted to leave the EU. Two years later and the UK is less than a year away from their deadline to leave by March 2019. Guest Daniel Hannan explains that while Brexit will ultimately be a good thing for the UK, arguments in Parliament have dragged out the question of if Brexit will happen, even though it’s already been settled by a referendum. Hannan argues that polarization amongst parliamentary parties is preventing real negotiations from taking place that will allow the UK to find the best compromise and regain their voting powers that citizens feel were diminished by membership in the EU. Hannan explains where the Brexit process is at in Parliament and what he feels is the best course of action for the EU moving forward. About the Guest: Daniel Hannan is a British writer, journalist, and politician. Since 1999, he has been a Conservative Member of the European Parliament for South East England. He is the founding president for the Initiative on Free Trade. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.


Joseph Stalin: Waiting For Hitler
Jun 25 2018 29 mins  
Did you miss part one? Listen to part one of the episode here. Recorded on January 25, 2018. “If you're interested in power, [if] you're interested in how power is accumulated and exercised, and what the consequences are, the subject of Stalin is just unbelievably deep, it's bottomless.” – Stephen Kotkin In part two, Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941, discusses the relationship between Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler leading up to and throughout World War II. Kotkin describes what motivated Stalin to make the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler and the consequences of his decision. Kotkin dives into the history of the USSR and its relationship with Germany during WWII, analyzing the two leaders' decisions, strategies, and thought processes. He explains Stalin's and Hitler’s motivations to enter into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact even without the support of their respective regimes. Stalin’s goal was to defeat the West and he saw the pact as an opportunity to do so by driving a wedge between Germany and the capitalist West. Kotkin analyzes Stalin’s decisions leading up to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the disinformation Germany was feeding soviet spies to prevent Stalin from moving against Hitler first. Additional resources: Why Does Joseph Stalin Matter? Stalin: Waiting For Hitler, 1929–1941 The Past Isn’t Even Past Communism’s Bloody Century When Stalin Faced Hitler




Defending the Nation With Secretary of Defense James Mattis
May 14 2018 46 mins  
Recorded on Friday, May 11, 2018 in Washington DC. In his first televised interview in almost a year, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss a wide range of issues facing the United States Armed Forces at home and across the globe. Earlier this year, Secretary Mattis published the National Defense Strategy, the first such document in a decade. Secretary Mattis describes why the document is an important blueprint for the Armed Forces and what he hopes to accomplish by publishing it. After a moving story about a captured Iraqi suicide bomber, Secretary Mattis describes the complicated nature of our relationship with China and the possible flash points in the South China Sea. A discussion follows about Europe and how political controversies with Russia affect our military relationship and why Secretary Mattis believes NATO is not a threat to them. Moving on to the Middle East, Secretary Mattis defines our mission in Syria, comments on the use of chemical weapons, and explains why that theater is the most complex security conundrum he’s seen in his forty-year career. He says that the refugees coming out of Syria are more traumatized than refugees he’s seen anywhere else in the world. He discusses the need to work with the international community on the refugee crisis as, “It is a tragedy much worse than anything BBC or CNN can show.” In the Far East, Mattis describes how a coordinated effort across different departments of the US federal government and allied countries have achieved a dialogue that may lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. Secretary Mattis also makes the case that the Iranian regime and the Iranian people are different constituencies with different priorities and agendas. He relates how he is reforming the Pentagon’s provisioning and spending policies and why it’s important for the military (the seventeenth largest economy in the world) to be a responsible steward of the nation’s tax dollars.


Discrimination and Disparities with Thomas Sowell
May 02 2018 40 mins  
Recorded March 14, 2018 Rich or poor, most people agree that wealth disparities exist. Thomas Sowell discusses the origins and impacts of those wealth disparities in his new book, Discrimination and Disparities in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge. Sowell explains his issues with the relatively new legal standard of “disparate impact” and how it disregards the American legal principle of “burden of proof.” Sowell and Robinson discuss how economic outcomes vary greatly across individuals and groups and that concepts like “disparate impact” fail to take into account these variations. They chat about the impact of nuclear families on the IQs of individuals, as studies have not only shown that children raised by two parents tend to have higher levels of intelligence but also that first-born and single children have even higher intelligence levels than those of younger siblings, indicating that the time and attention given by parents to their children greatly impacts the child’s future more than factors like race, environment, or genetics. Sowell talks about his book in which he wrote extensively about National Merit Scholarship finalists who more often than not were the first-born or only child in a family. Sowell and Robinson go on to discuss historical instances of discrimination and how those instances affected economic and social issues within families, including discrimination created by housing laws in the Bay Area. They discuss unemployment rates, violence, the welfare state in regards to African American communities, and more. Related Resources: • Discrimination and Disparities• Wealth, Poverty, and Politics• Thomas Sowell Brings the World into Focus through an Economic Lens• Thomas Sowell discusses his newest book, Intellectuals and Race• Thomas Sowell discusses his essay “‘Trickle Down’ Theory and ‘Tax Cuts for the Rich.’”• Thomas Sowell on the second edition of Intellectuals and Society


George F. Will is the umpire on politics and baseball
Apr 19 2018 48 mins  
Recorded on March 29, 2018 Washington Post columnist and author, George F. Will, sits down with Peter Robinson in Austin, Texas to chat about the current administration and America’s favorite pastime—baseball. They discuss politics in the age of polarization and the future of America. Will argues that Americans need to stop looking at presidents as moral exemplars and instead focus on the president as the head of the executive branch. Will and Robinson discuss a quote from his 1984 book, Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does, “The United States acutely needs real conservatism, characterized by a concern to cultivate the best personas and the best in persons. It should express appreciation for the ennobling functions of government.” They use this quote as a launchpad to discuss the future of American politics. The discussion turns to young adults and teenagers, and Will argues why history should be a required class for all college students. They also discuss the rise in birth rates of illegitimate children and what that means for society. They talk about family as the transmitter of social capital and that when the family fails, free society fails too. In the end they discuss baseball as America’s favorite pastime, and George Will argues it is the sport of America’s future as parents stop letting their children play football because of the dangers of lifelong head and body injuries. Did you like the show? Please rate, review, and subscribe! (Playing time: 48:37)





Senator Portman on Why the New Tax Bill Helps the Middle Class
Mar 30 2018 46 mins  
Recorded on February 25, 2018 “On Election Day in 2016, Donald Trump carried Ohio by eight percentage points. Our guest today carried the state by twenty-one. Senator of Ohio Rob Portman joins Peter Robinson at a special live taping of Uncommon Knowledge. They discuss the 2018 tax bill, the opioid crisis, the Parkland shootings, North Korea, and much more. Senator Portman stands by his decision to vote for the new tax bill as he has seen the benefits right in his home state. He recounts several anecdotes of his constituents who have already seen benefits from the new tax bill. He tells the story of one small-business owner who is finally able to offer health care to her full-time employees because of the tax breaks for small businesses. He also discusses meeting with microbrewers who are now able to expand their facilities and grow their businesses because of the tax cuts. Portman also discusses how the new federal budget helped the Department of Defense and the US military to build out their forces in order to project strength abroad. He explains ways that the Republicans and Democrats were able to compromise on increasing domestic discretionary spending so that they can also spend equally on defense. He recounts examples of bipartisanship in order to help Congress get work done. Senator Portman goes into great detail about the opioid crisis a huge issue in his state. Portman is working hard to increase treatment programs for addicts to end the crisis. He tells a story about one young man he met who will be able to become sober and regain his life back because of the new treatment programs. Peter Robinson takes the interview into a lightning round near the end of the program, asking Senator Portman quick questions for quick answers about his thoughts on the situation with North Korea, the Parkland shootings, conservatives and Donald Trump, and why Portman continues to be in public service. Portman ends the interview by explaining why public service matters to him more than making significantly more money in the private sector. Did you like the show? Please rate, review, and subscribe! (Playing time: 46:14)








Enduring Vietnam with James Wright
Dec 21 2017 44 mins  
Recorded April 11, 2017 Historian James Wright, author of Enduring Vietnam: An America Generation and Its War, joins Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss the challenges and successes of the Vietnam War. They discuss why the Vietnam War mattered, how the United States entered the war, the changing feelings of Americans at the time of the war, and much more. Wright expands on how the Vietnam War fit into the greater strategy of the United States in the Cold War and why the United States entered it. He argues against the common idea that the baby boomer generation was the “Me Generation” in that 40 percent of them enlisted or were drafted into combat. He argues that we need to recognize that the baby boomer generation served our country in this war because most people today have not had to deal with the challenges faced by many during the draft. Wright interviewed more than one hundred people for the making of this book; in it, he discusses some of the stories he learned from the many soldiers who fought in the war. He tells the story of Hamburger Hill and how the Americans fought to take and then hold the A Sau valley in South Vietnam. He writes how he believes this was an important battle in the Vietnam War even though many professors he’s talked to at West Point and the Army College do not teach it. Wright discusses the changing attitudes of Americans toward the war after four years, and how as the number of people drafted and the number of casualties increased, Americans began turning against the war. He goes into detail about the strategies Nixon began to implement a phase-out for Americans in the war and start handing more combat and control over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. In the end, Wright argues that, even though Americans pulled out of the war because communist Vietnam did not prove to be a threat afterward because of their long-standing mistrust of China, the United States didn’t fully lose. (Playing time: 44:30)




Part I The Second World Wars with Victor Davis Hanson
Nov 28 2017 27 mins  
Recorded on October 23, 2017 How were the Axis powers able to instigate the most lethal conflict in human history? Find out in part one of this episode as military historian, editor of Strategika, and Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow, Victor Davis Hanson, joins Peter Robinson to discuss his latest book, The Second World Wars. Victor Davis Hanson explains how World War II initially began in 1939 as a multitude of isolated border blitzkriegs that Germany continued to win. In 1941, everything changed when Germany invaded their ally, the Soviet Union, and brought Japan into the war. He argues that because of the disparate nature of World War II, it’s much harder to think about as a monolithic conflict. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history with approximately sixty million people killed. Victor Davis Hanson argues that World War II and the many lives lost was preventable, but due to a series of missteps by the Allied forces, Germany believed they were stronger and their enemies weaker than the reality. He argues “it took Soviet collusion, American indifference or isolation, and British or French appeasement in 30s” to convince Germany that they had the military capabilities to invade western Europe. In the aftermath of World War I, the allies believed the cost of the Great War had been too high, while Germany bragged about their defeat as no enemy soldiers had set foot on German soil. Great Britain and France both chose appeasement over deterrence, which encouraged rather than deterred Hitler and Germany from moving forward with their plans. (Playing time: 27:41)


The High Cost of Good Intentions Featuring John Cogan
Nov 16 2017 45 mins  
Recorded on October 24, 2017 How old are entitlement programs in the United States? Entitlement programs are as old as the Republic, according to John Cogan, former deputy director of the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and a Hoover Institution senior fellow. Cogan joins Peter Robinson to discuss his latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions,on the necessity for entitlement reform in the United States. Currently there are a bevy of entitlement programs in the United States, each costing a large percentage of the federal budget each year. These programs are open-ended and hard to estimate into the budget because people with the average number of benefits vary greatly from year to year. These programs have become complex and bloated over the many years since they’ve been instated and are in dire need of reform. According to John Cogan, entitlement programs such as pensions, Medicaid, and Social Security have been a part of US history since the Revolutionary War when Congress first created pensions for all the soldiers who had served the Republic during the war. Congress then went on to expand entitlement programs after the Civil War to include soldiers who had fought in the war. Entitlements remained restricted to only those who had served the Republic until the New Deal when entitlements were extended to all citizens above a certain age (Social Security). This was the first time that entitlements were given to citizens who had not served. This was also the first time that entitlements were granted to everyone until the end of time. Additional Resources • Blueprint for America: Entitlements and the Budget • Pension Pursuit • The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of US Federal Entitlement Programs • America the Fixer Upper • Finding the Money for America the Fixer Upper About John Cogan John Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a faculty member in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University. Cogan is an expert in domestic policy. His current research is focused on US budget and fiscal policy, federal entitlement programs, and health care. He has published widely in professional journals in both economics and political science. His latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of US Federal Entitlement Programs was published in September 2017. The book traces the history of US federal entitlement programs from the Revolutionary War to modern times. His previous books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System, coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle (with Timothy Muris and Allen Schick). Cogan has devoted a considerable part of his career to public service. He served as assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985 he served as associate director in the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and was appointed deputy director in 1988. His responsibilities included developing and reviewing all health, housing, education, and employment training programs and policies. Cogan has served on numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions. He served on the California State Commission on the 21st Century Economy and the California Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission. He has served on President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the US Bipartisan Commission on Health Care (the Pepper Commission), the Social Security Notch Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance. Cogan received his AB in 1969 and his PhD in 1976 from the University of California at Los Angeles, both in economics. He received his MA in economics from California State University at Long Beach in 1970. He was an associate economist at the Rand Corporation from 1975 to 1980. In 1979 Cogan was appointed a national fellow at the Hoover Institution, in 1980 he was appointed a senior research fellow, and in 1984 he became a senior fellow. (Playing time: 45:59)



Genocides: A World History featuring Norman Naimark
Oct 11 2017 49 mins  
Recorded on February 14, 2017 Norman Naimark, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an expert on Eastern Europe and genocides throughout history, brings his considerable expertise to Uncommon Knowledge to discuss the history of genocides from ancient to modern times. Peter Robinson sits down with Naimark to discuss his latest book, Genocide: A World History. Naimark argues that genocides occur throughout history, from biblical to modern times across the world. He considers genocides to be “the crime of crimes, worse than war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Naimark defines genocide as “intentional killing of a group of people as such,” meaning that the intention is to eliminate that group completely. He stresses the difference of this definition from warfare, as in war two sides are killing each other with the intention of subjugation rather than extermination. He goes into detail about a few incidents that he considers genocides, including but not limited to Nazi Germany, Stalin’s genocide of the kulaks, the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s, the Carthage genocide in 146 BC, the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, and the Yuki genocide in California in the 1850s. Naimark argues that as genocides occur in contemporary society, sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their citizens; if they fail to do so the international community has a moral and civic obligation to step in to stop those genocides from occurring. Granted, he argues, that the cost of intervention needs to be assessed before stepping in but that overall each country has a national obligation to prevent the systematic extermination of people. Interested in buying Norman Naimark’s latest book, Genocide: A World History? You can buy it here. About the guest Norman M. Naimark is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is also the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies and a senior fellow of Stanford's Freeman-Spogli Institute. He currently serves as the Sakurako and William Fisher Family Director of the Stanford Global Studies Division. Naimark is an expert in modern East European and Russian history. His current research focuses on Soviet policies and actions in Europe after World War II and on genocide and ethnic cleansing in the twentieth century. Naimark is author of the critically acclaimed volumes The Russians in Germany: The History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949 (Harvard, 1995), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe (Harvard, 2001), and Stalin's Genocides (Princeton, 2010). He is also author of the volumes Terrorists and Social Democrats: The Russian Revolutionary Movement under Alexander III (Harvard, 1983) and The History of the "Proletariat": The Emergence of Marxism in the Kingdom of Poland, 1870–1887 (Columbia, 1979). Naimark earned a BA (1966), MA (1968), and PhD (1972) in history from Stanford University. Before returning to Stanford in 1988 Naimark was a professor of history at Boston University and a fellow at the Russian Research Center at Harvard. He also held the visiting Kathryn Wasserman Davis Chair of Slavic Studies at Wellesley College. (Playing time: 49:08)


How to Fail at Almost Everything with Scott Adams
Sep 15 2017 43 mins  
Recorded on July 12, 2017 The Dilbert comic strip artist and political philosopher Scott Adams sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. He discusses with Peter his theory of “talent stacking,” the idea that rather than being an expert in one particular skill (i.e., Tiger Woods and golf), one can become successful by stacking a variety of complementary nonexpert skills. Adams demonstrates how talent stacking has been beneficial in his life because he has stacked comic artist skills with his MBA and experience in corporate environments to create a wildly successful comic strip that resulted in spin-off books, a television series, a video game, and merchandise. His business skills gave him the tools to create a business satire comic strip and the skill set to manage the business that evolved from that strip. Adams also discusses how he uses his Dilbert blog to discuss his political philosophies and observations about the Trump administration. He wrote blogposts about the 2016 election and predicted that Donald Trump would win based on President Trump’s talent stack as a media mogul and businessman who had spent significant time in the public eye so was immune to scandals and thick-skinned enough to handle what the media and other politicians would throw at him. Adams argues that President Trump is one of the best branders, influencers, and persuaders he has ever seen, in that the president uses persuasive techniques in debates and on social media as a way to get people to do what he wants. Adams contends that President Trump’s persuasive techniques will help solve the problem of North Korea because he has already set up China to get involved by intimating that it tried and failed. Adams believes this will cause China to get involved to save face. Scott Adams and Peter Robinson finish by chatting about Adams’s views on the story arc of life. Adams says that he believes he started intentionally selfish so that by the end of his life he can give away all of his wealth, knowledge, and wisdom, a process he says he has already begun. They also briefly discuss his new book, Win Bigly, about the persuasive strategies of Donald Trump. Scott Adams is releasing his new book, Win Bigly, in October 2017. (Playing time: 43:32)


The Speech That Defined a Presidency
Aug 23 2017 50 mins  
Recorded on July 23, 2017 Thirty years after Ronald Reagan’s famous denouncement of the Berlin Wall, Peter Robinson reflects on writing the Brandenburg Gate speech and why it was so important to include the now memorable words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, turns the tables on Uncommon Knowledge’s host, Peter Robinson, sitting him down in the interview chair to discuss that famous speech and his journey to becoming Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter. Peter Robinson's journey to becoming Ronald Reagan's speechwriter began in Oxford as he was trying his hand at becoming a novelist. After a year of writing a book Peter wasn't thrilled with, William H. Buckley advised him to try to become a speechwriter in Washington, DC. Peter left Oxford and. after a series of interviews, was given the task of speechwriting for then vice president George H. W. Bush and eventually became a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. Five years after Peter Robinson became President Reagan's speechwriter it was Peter's turn to write one of the president's important speeches of the year to be delivered in Berlin during the height of the Cold War. To get the speech right, Peter spent a day and half in West Berlin researching the points of view of diplomats and politicians, all of whom all made it seem as though the Berlin Wall was something people hardly noticed any more. This view turned out to not be shared by the citizens of West Berlin, as Peter discovered later that evening when he sat down to dinner with citizens of West Berlin, where the dinner host said if Mr. Gorbachev is serious about perestroika he'd get rid of this wall. Peter’s dinner hosts went on to talk about how much they missed their families whom they hadn’t seen in decades because, though they lived just a mile away, the wall stood between them. That statement and the sentiments of the people of West Berlin struck Peter; after a series of drafts he came up with the now well-known line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" That line, however, almost didn’t make it into the final draft of the speech as various advisers counseled against it and tried to persuade Peter and President Reagan to remove it. In the end, though, President Reagan insisted, and the line was kept in and remains to this day one of his most famous statements. (Playing time: 50:39)


Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the West, Dawa, and Islam
Aug 08 2017 42 mins  
Recorded on July 12, 2017 Ayaan Hirsi Ali joins Peter Robinson to discuss her new book, The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Contain It, and her views on the challenges facing Western civilization in regards to political Islam. She argues that Islam needs to be separated into two different parts, one part of religion and the other part, political philosophy. She concedes that many aspects of the religious part of Islam are peaceful but argues that the political side is much more concerning due to its focus on Dawa, which means “to plead or to call non-Muslims to Islam.” This call to convert people to Islam is what she argues was a driving force behind the spread of Islam throughout history. Hirsi Ali argues that American political philosophy and classical liberalism are young philosophies in comparison to the fourteen centuries of Islamic political doctrine and that its age and layered-ness are often underestimated by Western minds who are more familiar with younger political philosophies. She discusses the critiques of the philosopher Karl Popper of communism and fascism and how they relate directly to the ideologies of Islam. She argues that the language of appeasement often used toward radical Islamic terrorism is too gentle and that discussions of how to deal with Islam need to be considerably franker. Earlier this year Ayaan Hirsi Ali was called before Congress to testify on her book The Challenge of Dawa. She discusses her testimony and that although she was invited by a Democrat senator to speak “about the ideology of radical Islam,” the Democrats present didn’t ask her a single question because they were likely uncomfortable with what she had to say about Islam. She argues that just as Western civilizations have defeated dangerous ideologies in the past, she is optimistic that Western civilization will succeed against political Islam for, as she says, “[Jihadis] can’t destroy us without permission.” She says if we take the fight to the “battlefield of ideas” we can defeat radical Islamic ideologies with Western beliefs. About the Guest Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1969. As a young child she was subjected to female genital mutilation; as she grew up she embraced Islam and strove to live as a devout Muslim. But she began to question aspects of her faith. One day, while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn't resist asking, "Must our husbands obey us too?" In 1992 Hirsi Ali fled to the Netherlands to escape a forced marriage. There she was given asylum and in time citizenship. She quickly learned Dutch and was able to study at the University of Leiden, earning her MA in political science. Working as a translator for Somali immigrants, she saw firsthand the inconsistencies between liberal Western society and tribal Muslim cultures. From 2003 to 2006 Hirsi Ali served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament. While in parliament, she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and on defending the rights of Muslim women. In 2004 Hirsi Ali gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest. In 2006 Hirsi Ali had to resign from parliament when the then Dutch minister for immigration decided to revoke her citizenship, arguing that Ayaan had mislead the authorities at the time of her asylum application. The Dutch courts, however, confirmed that Hirsi Ali was indeed a legitimate Dutch citizen, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, she subsequently moved to the United States. In 2007 Hirsi Ali founded the AHA Foundation to protect and defend the rights of women in the United States from harmful traditional practices. Today the foundation is the leading organization working to end violence that shames, hurts, or kills thousands of women and girls in the United States each year and puts millions more at risk. Hirsi Ali is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Hirsi Ali is currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam. She must live with round-the-clock security, as her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith have made her a target for violence by Islamic extremists. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2005, one of the Glamour Heroes of 2005, and Reader's Digest's European of the Year for 2005. She is the best-selling author of Infidel (2007) and Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now (2015). (Playing time: 42:24)


How to Be a Conservative
Jul 19 2017 44 mins  
Recorded on February 27, 2017 In the latest episode from Uncommon Knowledge, Sir Roger Scruton, a formally trained political philosopher, talks about his life and the events he’s witnessed that led him to conservatism. He first embraced conservatism after witnessing the leftist student protests in France in May 1968. During the ensuing riots in Paris, more than three hundred people were injured. Scruton walked away from this event with a change in worldview and a strong leaning toward conservatism. Visits to communist- controlled Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1979 cemented his preference for conservatism and his distaste for the fraud of communism and socialism, initiating a desire to do something about it. From thereon he dedicated himself to helping organize underground seminars for the young people oppressed behind the iron curtain. Sir Roger examines a brief history of conservatism in the twentieth century of England in regard to Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. Although he appreciates what Margaret Thatcher stood for, he argues that she had many conservative ideals but never used the conservative framework to organize her overall political strategy. Instead she organized around market economics, which was not always effective in the social, cultural, and legal areas. Peter Robinson argues that Winston Churchill did a much better job of organizing around conservative ideals but eventually lost an election because he didn’t have the vocabulary or the focus on free markets. They discuss the tenuous relationship between free markets and conservative ideals that have not mixed well together in British politics. Robinson and Sir Roger discuss the 2016 political upset of Brexit in the United Kingdom and how the political analysts failed to predict the vote outcome, much like what happened in November 2016 in the United States. They deliberate how the issues around immigration from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom contributed to Brexit, in addition to general dissatisfaction with the European Union. Thus, in the cases of both the United Kingdom and the United States, the media and intellectuals ignored the will of the “indigenous working classes” who made their voices known through their votes. About the Guest: Sir Roger Scruton Sir Roger Scruton is an English writer and philosopher who has published more than fifty books in philosophy, aesthetics, and politics. His book discussed in this episode was How to Be a Conservative; it was published in 2014. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches in both England and America and is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington. DC. He is currently teaching an MA in philosophy course for the University of Buckingham. Sir Scruton was knighted in 2016 by Queen Elizabeth II for his “services to philosophy, teaching and public education.” (Playing time: 44:46)




The Budget Crisis in the Land of Lincoln
Jun 24 2017 30 mins  
Recorded on June 10, 2017 The forty-second governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, joins Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Illinois’s budget crisis. With the end of the fiscal year deadline (June 30) looming ever closer Governor Rauner and House majority Democrats will have to come to an agreement to get the budget passed and prevent Illinois’s bond rating from being downgraded to junk, causing Illinois to lose investment-grade status. Peter Robinson and Governor Rauner discuss this financial crisis and Rauner’s goals for the budget. He insists that no budget will be passed unless it is a balanced budget that includes, but is not limited to, term limits, consolidating the government, and pension reform. Governor Rauner talks about why he chose to enter politics after a successful business career and how he plans on fixing the state that is his home. He details out how Illinois has historically dealt with thirty-five years of deficits and how it ended up in the current financial mess. He also discusses the difficult opposition he's facing with a Democrat-controlled state legislature. The GOP governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature have reached an impasse several times during his tenure as governor, as he refuses to pass a budget that will increase the deficit further than in 2015 and 2016. Background on the Illinois Budget Crisis: Illinois has been operating without a budget for two years now, as the state legislature has been unable to pass a budget up that will not increase the deficit and also satisfy the requirements of Governor Rauner. The Illinois legislature has managed to keep the state running through temporary stopgap measures, but as the state’s debts continue to rise to more than $150 billion, stopgap measures and the lack of budget will no longer be able to keep the state running. Illinois has been plagued with financial issues during the last several years, even being unable to provide lottery winners with their winnings. The state has been running a deficit for thirty-five years now. If a new budget isn’t passed by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the Illinois bond rating will be downgraded even more than it already has, and Illinois stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding. To pass a new budget, the plan will have to be passed by a three-fifths majority vote in the Illinois House. As it stands, if Illinois’s bond rating is downgraded, Illinois will be the first state since 1970 to lose investment-grade status. (Playing time: 30:14)


The Vanishing American Adult
Jun 13 2017 38 mins  
Recorded on June 2, 2017 Senator Benjamin Sasse joins Peter Robinson to discuss his book The Vanishing American Adult and the growing crisis in America of prolonged adolescence. Senator Sasse argues that children are growing up, entering adolescence, and becoming stuck in the transitional stage to adulthood as they fail to become financially independent from their parents. He argues that because this generation of children is growing up during a time of relative peace and prosperity, it has allowed millennials to grow up without the issues of previous generations that were raised in war time. In this era of consumption and material surplus, he argues that adolescents are leading age-segregated lives and not developing a work ethic and that both their parents have an obligation to teach their children to grow up. Furthermore, he stresses the importance of intergenerational learning by allowing children to be raised around their grandparents and other adults to help them learn that the trivial trials of youth don’t matter in the long run. Senator Sasse believes that there are certain virtues that American children have to learn to become productive and happy adults. Part of that is by teaching children the distinction between production and consumption and how to find happiness and self-worth through jobs that make one feel like a necessary part of the company/society. This, he argues, will help raise peoples’ self-worth and lead them to happiness and fulfillment in their everyday. Senator Sasse finishes by stressing the importance of building children’s identities as readers to help foster the growth of ideas and active learning over the passive activities of sitting in front of screens. He notes that sedentary life is not fulfilling and that by encouraging people to participate in production over consumption will lead to more fulfilling lives. He ends on the optimistic note, that while our youth may still need guidance, overall America’s best days still lie ahead. (Playing time: 38:10)





Sowing the Seeds of Growth
May 25 2017 38 mins  
Recorded on May 11, 2017 John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, director of the Office of Budget and Management, sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss the complex process of budget reform by having to blend President Trump's budget proposal with the realities of dealing with Congress. Mulvaney explains the need for bipartisanship in budget negotiations within the Senate to get the budget passed, which means getting at least eight Democrats to vote for the proposed budget (to get to the magic number of sixty votes) and keeping Trump's promises to his base. Mulvaney talks about the unique opportunity for the Republicans to reform the federal budget five months ahead of schedule as a result of the Obama administration’s inability to get a twelve-month budget passed. Furthermore Republicans have been able to invoke old laws that allow them to undo many policies enacted in the late days of the previous administration. That loophole allowed them to confirm several appointments and to pass the proposed budget without the requisite sixty votes but with fifty votes. But the Republicans need sixty votes in the Senate to pass the appropriations bill. The Democrats wanted a shutdown, but the Republicans were able to move money around to satisfy the Democrats and get the votes necessary to pass the appropriations bill and avoid a shutdown. For example, there was/is no money for new bricks and mortar construction of the “Wall,” but Republicans moved money around and funded their priorities for border security via a virtual wall with money already available for technology and surveillance. Mulvaney notes that the budgeting/appropriations system is set up so the House and Senate pass twelve appropriations bills every year. Those are the spending bills, which are the end process of the budget. The budget is the start of the process, authorizations go in the middle, and appropriations go on the end, which is how money gets out to be spent. Mulvaney was in Congress for six years, in which time Congress should have approved seventy-two appropriations bills but only approved three. Mulvaney says that the system is broken because of the sixty-vote rule to approve appropriations bills in the Senate. Therefore instead of small manageable appropriation bills that Congress could negotiate and pass, Congress ends up with large unwieldy bills that no one knows what is in them and thus punts with a resolution to continue with what done earlier. Mulvaney says that the system is not even close to what the Founding Fathers created and/or what is needed for a manageable and functioning government and society. Mulvaney describes his vision for the future of the American economy, noting that the way to reduce the deficit isn't necessarily cutting spending or raising taxes but creating room in the American economy for growth. He argues that the lack of new businesses and jobs, because of regulations and taxes, has prevented the ideal three percent growth necessary to eliminate the deficit and grow the economy. He also argues that regulatory reform can have twice the impact on economic growth that tax policy can. Mulvaney ends the interview saying that he loves his job and loves going to work. The eighty-plus-hour workweeks go by in the blink of an eye because the work is engaging and invigorating and because he feels he has a golden opportunity to change things for the better and get the United States, especially the economy, on a better trajectory. Mulvaney said that he is working at the highest levels on complicated but wonderful ideas, ideals, and issues with the leader of the free world and that President Trump is a great boss. (Playing time: 38:21)




Carly Fiorina on the Future of the United States
May 11 2017 40 mins  
Recorded on March 16, 2017 Although many people have heard of Carly Fiorina, former presidential candidate and first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, few have had the chance to sit down and speak with her. In this special live taping of Uncommon Knowledge, at the National Review Institute’s Idea Summit, with guest host Michael Franc, director of Hoover’s Washington, DC, Programs, Fiorina discusses the 2016 presidential election, her personal path to conservatism, and her beliefs about the future for US and global politics. She opens up about the often-brutal criticisms she received during the election, her choice to become conservative, the loss of her stepdaughter to drug addiction, and the ways in which she believes conservatives are fighting to help people help themselves by giving them the tools and resources necessary to change their own path. Fiorina goes on to analyze the current state of the union, the disenfranchised Americans she’s met, and the solutions she believes in for the future of the United States. Special Guest Host: Michael Franc is the Hoover Institution’s director of DC programs, where he oversees research and outreach initiatives to promote ideas and scholarship in our nation’s capital. He holds a dual appointment as a research fellow. Mike Franc is a longtime veteran of Washington, DC, policy making. Before joining Hoover, Franc served as policy director and counsel for House majority leader Kevin McCarthy. He also served as the vice president of government relations for the Heritage Foundation from 1997 to 2013. During that time, he managed all the think tank’s outreach with Capitol Hill and the Executive Branch. He also completed a tour of duty as communications director for former House majority leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and worked for the US Department of Education and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has been quoted widely in the print and broadcast media and was a regular contributor to the National Review Online and other publications. Franc has a BA from Yale University and a JD from Georgetown University. (Playing time: 40:04)


How JetBlue Does It
Apr 25 2017 40 mins  
Recorded on February 14, 2017 CEO Robin Hayes and Hoover Institution board member Joel Peterson talk to Peter Robinson about how JetBlue has remained successful, despite all the regulations, competition, and pitfalls of running an airline. Peterson and Hayes argue that consolidation and the limited number of airlines in the United States have allowed for sustainable operating margins. JetBlue continues to have double-digit operating margins and great customer loyalty by focusing on safety, culture, and delighting customers. JetBlue has been voted best airline for customer satisfaction by JD Power for twelve years in a row. Hayes and Peterson support the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) managing the safety aspect of regulations, but they prefer that another independent entity run the operations aspect of the airline industry. Although the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978 deregulated the airline industry, the airlines are still one of the most regulated industries in the United States, with more than 13,000 pages of FAA regulations. Additionally, 21 percent of the cost of the air ticket goes to the government via taxes. Legacy airlines, like United, American, and Delta, will charge high fares until a new airline comes in; then the legacy airlines will lower their fares to try to drive out the new airline/entrant. You need a low-cost structure to compete, which JetBlue has; JetBlue has not had to go into debt to fund its airplanes. They discuss how JetBlue has become synonymous with innovation and its decision to bring JetBlue’s investment arm to the Silicon Valley to further integrate disruptive technology into their airline. JetBlue, which wants to use technology to improve customer relations and track equipment, has invested in FLYR to study how the pricing method can be disruptive and thus improve ticketing. JetBlue’s keys to success and longevity are a great culture, innovation, great products, and maintaining cost advantages. JetBlue seeks to create a culture in which all employees are empowered to improve customers’ experiences, from the time they check-in to the time they pick up their bags. (Playing time: 40:54)


The Challenges of Reforming Health Care in a Partisan Era
Apr 11 2017 50 mins  
Recorded on March 22, 2017 In a lively debate Avik Roy and John Podhoretz discuss health care coverage and whether the American Health Care Act (AHCA), created to replace Obamacare/Affordable Care Act (ACA), will solve our health care problems. They both agree that if we could begin again we would never design a health care system like ours, but, since we cannot start over, how can we make things better. They debate whether universal health care coverage is a good idea, how to provide health care coverage to the most needy, and allow the wealthy and more capable citizens to choose and pay for their own coverage. Roy thinks the system the Affordable Care Act put in place caters too much to the wealthy and that the AHCA will just exacerbate health care inequality. Podhoretz and Roy’s debate ranges from health care to race, inequality, history, and the election of 2016. They note that the Republicans and Democrats are split/disagree on many issues and ideas. Trump voters watch different TV shows and movies, read different newspapers, and have different cultural experiences than the Clinton supporters; therefore the two parties see the world through very different lenses. They examine the changes in the Republican and Democratic Parties over time, including their involvement in the Civil Rights movement and the rise of identity politics and racism. The interview ends with a question on fatherhood and how it shapes both Podhoretz's and Roy's thinking as journalists and public intellectuals. Podhoretz does not want to foist his feelings and views on his children but notes that the media no longer make it possible for children to keep their innocence. Roy dreads sending his children to public schools and discusses some of the problems facing parents and children today. Roy says that parents can choose the environment in which they will raise their children and that there is no need to turn their children over to popular culture.


The Historical Benefits of Trade
Mar 28 2017 34 mins  
Recorded on December 2, 2016 Professor Douglas Irwin defends the benefits of free trade and explains why protectionism, high tariffs, and currency wars could cause economic problems. Irwin explains the misconceptions around trade surpluses and deficits and the historical consequences and benefits of trade. He talks about an absolute versus comparative advantage with trade and why and how a trade deficit with China still benefits the United States. Irwin refers to Adam Smith’s view of trade in explaining the absolute advantage of trade. Smith argued for unregulated foreign trade, reasoning that if one country can produce a good, for example, steel, at lower costs than another country, and if a different country can produce another good, for example, an iPhone, at lower costs, then it is beneficial to both parties/countries to exchange those goods. This has become known as the absolute advantage argument for both international and domestic trade. Irwin notes that trade still benefits the United States enormously and that striking back at other countries by imposing new barriers to trade and/or ripping up existing agreements would be self-destructive. Finally, Irwin talks about problems within the American economy, how too many people are not working, which cannot be blamed entirely on the trade deficits. Some reasons people cannot find jobs are mechanization, efficiency, productivity, technology, and skills. Irwin discusses a few options for helping people with limited education and few skills survive, including paying a basic wage, improving our educational system, and reducing regulations so the costs of hiring an employee are not as steep.







The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age
Dec 02 2016 31 mins  
Professor Russell Muirhead argues that to do anything in politics you need a party but just because a party currently rules does not mean it will be successful and continue to rule. He posits that parties need to remember and nurture achievements that they were responsible for creating in the past, so the party can protect and extend those achievements into the future and thus continue to rule. The ultimate goal in elections is to create a constitutional majority and keep that majority for more than one election cycle. Unfortunately, each party has pursued an agenda that is more extreme than what the people want, so the people vote in the opposite party. The Constitution makes no provision for political parties, but Muirhead argues that parties connect average citizens with their elected officials. People feel like someone cares and is fighting for them in their state government and in DC. He further examines the development of political parties from the founding of this country through the era of bipartisanship in the twentieth century. He believes that polarization of American politics today is not necessarily negative if parties work to advance the good of society. Muirhead defends the Electoral College, stating that it answers the fundamental question of who should rule, which is the constitutional majority. The Electoral College is a constitutional majority because it represents an enduring and geographically dispersed population that is larger in space and more enduring in time and thus a more thoughtful, right, and just majority. He argues that the game being played today is Trump versus Madison and that we don’t know which will win. Madison represents the best in us; Trump represents authenticity. The voters hope that President Trump will translate their hopes and grievances into good government. Peter Robinson and Russell Muirhead end the interview by briefly discussing the global project that depends on the success of the United States, with Muirhead arguing that there is no global project without the United States. The fight for justice requires people/citizens who are tough, resilient, and ready to fight the world’s fight for good; that type of character is what we need to model at colleges and universities today.

















What's wrong with the American economy?
Sep 09 2016 43 mins  
The American economy’s biggest problem is growth. To achieve growth, Hoover Institution fellow John Cochrane argues, America needs to simplify the tax code and deregulate the economy. He discusses how government agencies must conduct serious, transparent, and retrospective cost-benefit analyses, get rid of special interests, and remove disincentives if they want businesses to flourish. Cochrane notes that the US economy needs more innovation, deep tax reform, and better regulations to unleash growth. When business owners can depend on good policy and not pay for play, they will start and invest in their companies and the economy will expand. Cochrane discusses the future of American economic growth and how he believes it can be fixed. Cochrane encourages us to have more faith in democracy because if the right policies are put in place the economy will quickly improve and everyone will be better off. According to Cochrane, "America needs better policy and governance under the rule of law." He also discusses the benefits of lowering and even ending corporate taxes to reduce price inflation and outsourcing jobs overseas. Cochrane points out that the ability to bring people together to get good bills through is what a great politician like Lincoln did; it is hoped that the next president will do this. Robinson and Cochrane further debate technological innovation, the role of robots in the economy, and whether Americans need to be concerned about robots taking over our jobs.


5 • 1 Ratings

DavidK Aug 06 2020
Peter Robinson is the best interviewer ever. He is prepared very well, he is engaging and exciting, his questions are compelling and sharp, he listens to the interviewee and responds and doesn't just rattle off the next question without addressing the answer. A pleasure to listen to always.