In the penultimate week of the Political Studies Program, fellows will consider the intersection of theory and practice in our national politics, and particularly in our key economic debates. Led by National Affairs editor and policy expert Yuval Levin, this morning seminar will survey major domestic challenges confronting our country, giving fellows a better understanding of just what policymakers do, of how economics and politics interact, and of how to approach some of our most contentious national debates.

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Yuval Levin on reform conservatism


Yuval Levin

Yuval Levin is a Resident Scholar and Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the Editor of National Affairs magazine. Mr. Levin served on the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session



Discussion Questions:

  1. What are our obligations toward the poor? What are the government’s obligations?
  2. Are there moral obligations that being wealthy imposes on the people who are wealthy? What are they? What are their limits?
  3. Does commercial society place any special burdens on, or give any special opportunities to, the poor? Are poor people better off in commercial societies, or in other kinds of society?
  4. What is the problem to which Marx and Engels want to offer a solution?
  5. What are the benefits and drawbacks of centralized management of the economy?
  6. Are markets democratic?



Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is our country facing a fiscal crisis? Are the primary causes political, economic, or moral? How are these connected?
  2. What economic obligations does one generation have to the next?
  3. What is the connection between the moral case for providing benefits and the problem of paying for them?



Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the relationship between economic growth and social cohesion? Are they necessarily in tension? Which should we prefer?
  2. Is social mobility essential to American life? Should we never be satisfied with our position in society?
  3. Does growing income inequality signal a failure of our economic system? If so, is inequality a symptom or a cause?

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