"I Have a Dream"

Ideas for Rebuilding American Culture

Policy Review
March-April 1996, Number 76

William J. Bratton
Harvey Mansfield
Danielle Crittenden
Milton Friedman
Virginia Postrel
Witold Rybczynski
Jack Miles
Charles Wolf Jr. and Claire West Orr
William A. Galston
Michael Medved
Pete du Pont
Betsy McCaughey Ross
James R. Stoner Jr.
James P. Pinkerton
Myron E. Magnet
Walter E. Williams
Jason Turner
Heather Higgins
Paul Weyrich

         America is entering a great age of social entrepreneurship, rivaling the private organizational creativity of 100 years ago. The mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the creation of the Red Cross, the Scouts movement, the Carnegie libraries, the NAACP, thousands of colleges and universities, and countless other private organizations. As Americans turn away from reliance on Washington, they are once again applying Yankee ingenuity by building private institutions to address our great cultural crises. Already we are seeing new experiments such as privately funded voucher programs that enable poor schoolchildren to escape inadequate public schools, organizations that seek to rehabilitate prisoners through religious conversion, and groups such as Promise Keepers that aim to instill responsibility among fathers and husbands.

          Here are some practical ideas for improving life from some of America's most visionary thinkers. We asked each contributor to describe an institution he or she hopes will be created or expanded over the next 20 years.

William J. Bratton
Police Training for Youth

          I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up: I always wanted to be a cop. Growing up in Boston, I admired the police and the responsibility they took for others. From my earliest years, when police officers helped me across the street on my way to school, they were strong role models. It was a natural thing for me to emulate them.

          For a lot of kids today, it's not so simple. Many kids are alienated from the police, and their peers reinforce the alienation. Instead of seeing cops as assisting people, they see them as authority figures to be defied. Before many young people mature and finally realize that they'd like to have police careers, they already have police records. It's a tragic waste of kids who could have made good, even great, police officers. It's also a big problem for society because -- as demographers warn -- the late 1990s will bring an increase in the youth population and a likely rise in the crime rate.

          For all these reasons, I have a dream of developing a youth police career path to provide the children of New York City with police role models in their developmental years. By exposing kids to positive interactions with police, the career path would help keep them focused and directed in their teen years and simultaneously ensure the police department of a stronger field of candidates from which to choose.

          Although we would continue to reach into elementary schools with antidrug programs, the official police youth career path would begin with kids in their early teens, who could attend a youth academy for six weeks in the summer beginning at age 12. The academy would familiarize them with the police department and heighten their interest in police careers while giving them a strong dose of antidrug and antigang education. The NYPD ran a successful pilot youth academy in Brooklyn last summer with 150 attendees, and we've raised the funds, from private and government sources, to enroll a thousand attendees from all over the city this summer.

          After the youth academy, we would recruit kids into the next step in a youth career path -- the Law Enforcement Explorers, a division of the Boy Scouts of America, open to young men and women ages 14 to 21. Now established in 66 of the New York City police department's 97 precincts, transit districts, and housing service areas, the NYPD Explorers serve about 2,000 young people with a program of character building, citizenship training, and physical fitness.

          While participating in the Explorers, young people could also attend a specialty high school for students interested in policing, fire fighting, and other public-safety careers. A public-safety high school, now in the early planning stages, would show young people how their academic work builds toward their desired careers and use examples from police and other public-safety agencies as teaching tools. It would also surround them with like-minded students with similar goals, exerting a very different and more beneficial kind of peer pressure.

          The NYPD is raising the qualifications for police officers this year, requiring candidates to have 60 college credits and to have reached the age of 22. In a continuation of the youth career path, students attending colleges in the City University system could serve as police cadets, a police internship offering college credits for working in unpaid, part-time positions with the NYPD. The department would also assist cadets in finding part-time paying jobs in the private security industry or in the New York City school security system, both of which have had difficulty in recruiting quality personnel.

          In either capacity, cadets could practice the skills of projecting authority, mediating conflicts, and defusing potentially violent situations. Another advantage of using them in the school security system -- which Mayor Giuliani is planning to place under the direction of the NYPD in the near future -- is that these young security guards would serve as role models to the next generation of young people. Unlike the cadet program we have now -- which provides stipends to 320 cadets a year out of city and federal funds -- this program would earn its own way. By the time the cadets were ready to enter the police department, they'd have a significant work history, college background, and police training. They would probably require less training at our police academy, and would certainly be better prepared for the discipline and lifestyle of police work. Our academy would thus build a police force from a better base of candidates.

          Peer pressure leads many young people astray. In some of the more impoverished neighborhoods, just hanging out on the street corner can be a career path straight to crime. Through the police youth career path, we would offer the kids the opportunity to hang out with us. If we capture them early, it can make all the difference in the world. The kids get a focus and a goal, private security and school security get better employees, and the city gets a much better crop of candidates for police officers. The department would have a larger pool of minority candidates and a larger pool of candidates who live in the city. The very group -- teenagers and young adults -- that is predicted to cause all the law-enforcement problems in the late 1990s can begin to be part of the solution. In my dream, everybody wins.

William J. Bratton is the police commissioner of New York City.

Harvey Mansfield
A Great-Books Junior College

          My idea is to create a new one- or two-year junior college for bright students (or even not-so-bright students) to earn the education they did not receive in high school and won't get in college. Actually I heard this idea first from Hillel Fradkin of the Bradley Foundation. But it's a good one, and I think it can work.

          I begin with reference to a resource of which I am painfully aware: a cohort of unemployed Ph.D.s of (academically) conservative bent who are well educated in the works of great authors. To these political philosophers could be added others in history, literature, languages, science, and mathematics to teach a curriculum encompassing all that is necessary and fundamental and currently neglected or perverted in higher education.

          This junior college would draw inspiration partly from disdain for political correctness and dislike of the educationists' notion of "self-esteem." But it would also be devoted to the love of learning and powered by the enthusiasm of youth. Its graduates could go on to name universities with prestigious degrees, football teams, and alumni associations. At these institutions, most of them now tired and corrupt, they would be welcomed -- or at least tolerated -- as something fresh, new, and strong.

          American education today is perhaps too weak even to resist its chosen enemies -- those who believe in quality. A new institution like this would serve a need and make a point. All it requires, really, is an entrepreneur.

Harvey Mansfield is a professor of government at Harvard University.

Danielle Crittenden
"Pick Up Your Room"

          This one is going to be tricky. I dream of seeing the revival of the institution of childhood. That would mean: Children would be taught to clean up their rooms before they started on the environment. Their ability to keep domestic peace would be valued over their opinions on world peace. A 12-year-old would own a gun only to hunt squirrels. The streets would be safe for children to play outside, unwatched, until dusk. They could get into scrapes with other kids without activating a battalion of police and social workers. Girls would be left alone to have tea parties if they wished, and boys to play with war toys.

          In the schools, teachers would be more concerned about a child's grades than his self-esteem. Sex would never be considered "safe." Television, even -- or especially -- public television, would never be considered educational. Children would address their teachers -- and all adults -- as Mr. and Miss, or as "Sir" and "Ma'am," and not, like impertinent phone solicitors, by their first names.

          Of course, a revival of the institution of childhood implies a revival of the institution of parenthood. Mothers and fathers might by tired, nagging, grumpy, and uncomprehending -- but they would be present. A baby sitter would once again be called a baby sitter and not a "caregiver." During the day, she would sit in furry slippers in the living room, watching soaps. She certainly would not be expected to hold degrees in Early Childhood Education, because nobody would imagine that a baby sitter could substitute for parental love, attention, and discipline.

         As I said: It's going to be tricky.

Danielle Crittenden is the editor of The Women's Quarterly.

Milton Friedman
A Dream That Won't Die

          My dream is not a new one. It is now 40 years old. It is a dream of institutional change that will enable parents to choose the schools their children go to. It is a dream of a private educational industry that can compete on equal terms with our present system of elementary and secondary schooling -- a governmental monopoly dominated by the teachers' unions for the benefit of its officials and members, not of the students.

          Today, a parent who chooses to send his child to a private school is required to pay twice for his child's schooling -- once in the form of taxes and once in the form of tuition. This imposes a heavy burden on lower income classes and ensures that only the well-do-to are free to choose. We can and should remedy that inequity by allowing students who choose to go to private rather than public schools to receive scholarships or vouchers equal to a substantial fraction of what the state would have been required to spend.

          No institution in our country is as technologically backward as schooling. We school children today just as we did 200 years ago: A teacher in a classroom instructing a group of students. Some schools have added computers but, in the main, have not made effective use of them. If we opened the gate to widespread competition, we would enjoy a dramatic change in technology. I cannot predict what that change would be, any more than one could have predicted the consequences of breaking up AT&T's monopoly on telephone service, or of inventing an elementary personal computer in a garage.

          Similarly, a widespread scholarship system of the kind I describe would open the door to an influx of innovative enterprises offering different kinds of schooling to attract customers. Faced with competition, the public schools would have to improve or close down. No doubt some would be unable to stand the heat, but others would rapidly improve. The result would be a large, creative, highly developed, private educational industry that offers schooling for every taste, plus a vastly improved but somewhat smaller public-school system. A widening gap between the earnings of less skilled and more skilled workers threatens our social cohesion; an improvement in the quality of schooling, especially for lower-income families and the so-called underclass, would make a major contribution to closing that gap.

Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institute.

Virginia I. Postrel
Private Science Funding

          The visionary institution builders of the last century bequeathed us not only orphanages and schools but observatories and research universities; not only institutions to uplift the unfortunate but also ones to explore the universe. Since the end of World War II, however, science has become dependent upon government as a funder and direct employer. The results have been mixed: We've enjoyed a tremendous expansion of knowledge and suffered the inevitable corruption spawned by the bureaucratic process, which favors the cautious, the well-known, and the politically connected.

          Fortunately, government is beginning to lose its quasi- monopoly on scientific funding. Since the explosion of commercial opportunities in the biological sciences, Wall Street has become a major source of research money. Meanwhile, the new fortunes of our age, and some philanthropic innovators, are creating models for 21st-century scientific philanthropy.

          The most striking example may be the privatization of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) since Congress defunded it in 1993. With money from such technology entrepreneurs as David Packard and William Hewlett (founders of Hewlett-Packard), Paul Allen (Microsoft), and Gordon Moore (Intel), the reborn Project Phoenix continues to scan the skies with radio telescopes, seeking signs of life.

          Quite unlike bureaucracies, the rich are quirky. Their tastes in science may be eccentric -- witness the experiment in living known as Biosphere II. And as the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants" demonstrate, they may endow trendy leftism along with innovative, cross- disciplinary science and true iconoclasm. Such is the trade off we tolerate in exchange for dispensing with the application forms, the lobbying, the disciplinary boundaries, and the scientific conservatism of government grantmaking.

          Wealthy benefactors often have a personal interest in what they fund. Michael Milken suffers from prostrate cancer. His millions have energized the search for a cure, thanks to quick-turnaround grant-making -- a total of $25 million -- and another $4 million in philanthropic "venture capital" to create a consortium for pooling resources and data. I hope we shall see many more such experiments.

Virginia I. Postrel is the editor of Reason magazine.

Witold Rybczynski
Metropolitan Home

          Our fragmented metropolitan areas have come to resemble battlefields where national corporations, developers, county planning boards, historical societies, environmental lobbies, and neighborhood groups slog it out. City planning nowadays means staking out one's own turf and keeping interlopers at bay, be they Wal-Mart, the builders of affordable housing, theme parks, or simply development in general. Some have proposed federal regulations to mandate regional quotas for housing or to force metropolitan cooperation. The last time we attempted top-down city planning was in the 1960s. These disastrous, federally funded renewal programs bulldozed neighborhoods and erected acres of public housing -- much of which is now dysfunctional. That is not the way.

          Perhaps the last successful effort to improve American cities was the nationwide movement for civic amelioration during the first two decades of this century. The movement was spearheaded by business leaders, municipal politicians, social reformers, and architects, and found its chief impetus in the American Civic Association, founded in 1903. If only we could find the will -- and the spirit -- to develop a civic association for the 1990s.

          This is not about "saving the cities." Our old, decaying urban areas are just part of the problem. Nor is it about recreating a lost urban past. We must first recognize that our new metropolitan way of life will take us in new directions. A revived civic association could provide a vision for an urban future that seems to be missing today. It would also encourage dialogue among the warring metropolitan factions. I propose a national organization with local chapters, bound by the principle that only citizens acting locally have the power to improve their surroundings. Communities -- unlike markets -- don't just happen; they have to be earned.

Witold Rybczynski is the Margy and Martin Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jack Miles
A Capitalist Labor Movement

          The most important private institution created by American society in the early decades of the 20th century was the American labor movement. The greatest institutional need in American society as the 20th century ends is for a new labor movement.

          Though the phrase "cold war" entered the English language after World War II, a cold war between democratic capitalism and totalitarian communism had begun decades before World War II and lasted for decades after it. Capitalist society won that war for political and military as well as economic reasons, but to the extent that victory can be stated in economic terms, it was the victory of capitalism's private labor movement over communism's worker state. Communism was never militarily defeated, and the hunger in the former communist states for Western-style political democracy is moderate. But eventually the most repressive regimes in history were overwhelmed by worker demands for the abundance enjoyed by the West.

          Today, the condition of Western workers is in steady deterioration for reasons that the early labor movement would be incapable of addressing. Capital is organized across national boundaries; labor is not. In an unequal contest, labor grows more disorganized and weaker in the West, most especially in the United States, with each passing year. Wages stagnate, benefits are eliminated, the work week lengthens, safety conditions worsen.

          Meanwhile, capital scours the world for the cheapest, most disorganized, most easily exploited labor -- including child labor, prison labor, and even outright slave labor. Unless this deterioration can be arrested, we may see once again the desperate conditions that in the late 19th century made the worker state seem a reasonable alternative.

         What would a new capitalist labor movement -- private, just as the first one was private -- look like? I don't know, but thanks to mutual funds and pension plans, stockholders and workers are increasingly the same people.

          The new stockholders have not found a way to collectivize and mobilize their capital on behalf of themselves as, simultaneously, labor. If they could do this, they might be seen as creating a new kind of labor movement. The strike would not be the tool of choice for this labor movement; but if the movement could impose its will in other ways, the middle class that the first labor movement played so large a part in creating might begin to recover from its current, precipitous decline.

Jack Miles is a professor at Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.

Charles Wolf Jr. and Claire West Orr
Hand Up for Homeless

          Bill Williams was living in the alleys of Long Beach this time last year. He was well educated and had exceptional verbal skills, but used his "smarts" to do little jobs until he had enough money to buy his drugs for the day. He would "zone out," promising himself that tomorrow he would change. This went on for three years.

          Finally, one day he called "Info Line" and was told about P.A.T.H. (People Assisting the Homeless) in West Los Angeles. He lied about having been drug free for 30 days and was admitted to Phase I of P.A.T.H.'s residential program.

          Today he is an account executive at a publication called Senior Life. He has his own apartment and drives a company car.

          Today Bill Williams and hundreds like him are hard-working, taxpaying members of society. Why? Because representatives from churches, synagogues, and the business community met 10 years ago and decided that they would try to do something to help the growing numbers of homeless people gravitating toward the affluent Westside of Los Angeles.

          Residents of the P.A.T.H. home-site are required to seek employment immediately. They are also obliged to keep the building clean and do their own laundry; in return they occupy a room in a newly remodeled building -- a safe and cheerful environment. A tight spending constraint limits them to a bus pass and $10 a week for incidental expenses.

          Members of the P.A.T.H. community have recently learned to write resumés, contact potential employers, and acquire computer skills at P.A.T.H.'s Job Access Center located in the same building.

          While at P.A.T.H., men and women (and children over four) live with others who are also determined to change their lives. Peer pressure and support, a small but caring staff, an executive director with a "staff sergeant" approach and confidence that "tough love" works -- all these contribute to a rehabilitation/success rate that exceeds 90 percent. P.A.T.H.'s board of directors raises half its budget in the private sector, and possesses the courage and vision to make P.A.T.H., as one resident called it, the "Rolls Royce of homeless programs."

          The people who started P.A.T.H. had a dream. Prompted by the needs of the community, they decided to help people who had a chance to return to the mainstream. Other communities could emulate P.A.T.H. There are many other folks like Bill Williams who need a hand up, not a handout.

Charles Wolf Jr. is the dean of the RAND Graduate School, in Santa Monica, California. Claire West Orr is a cofounder of People Assisting the Homeless (P.A.T.H.), in Los Angeles.

William A. Galston
Venture Capital for Charter Schools

          Suppose you believe in the continuing importance of public education but deplore the heavy hand of centralized school bureaucracy and reject the Progressive-era vision of "the one best system." What do you do? One answer is charter schools -- described by education historian Diane Ravitch as "semi-autonomous, public entities that are freed from most bureaucratic rule and regulations by state and local authorities in return for a commitment to meet explicit performance goals."

          Nineteen states now have laws authorizing charter schools, and hundreds have come into existence. Still, it's hard to get them launched; high start-up costs discourage all but the hardiest parents, teachers, and nonprofits. Here as elsewhere, lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship would pay rich dividends in the future.

          I'd like to see private institutions emerge in every city to provide seed money, on a competitive basis, to local coalitions willing to plan and execute new kinds of public schools. The tax code should permit tax credits, up to a limit of (say) $100, for contributions to these institutions. Foundations would be important players. I wouldn't rule out public-sector contributions to these institutions -- but only in the form of one-time endowments.

          The fledgling Fund for New York City Public Education, while not exactly in this mold, illustrates the possibilities. Of an applicant pool of about 175 would-be educational innovators, according to the New York Times, "at least 10 will be awarded start-up grants of about $125,000 each, paid in installments over three years." Many others will get technical assistance. And dozens of new coalitions, catalyzed by the possibility of early assistance, may choose to proceed even without it.

          While the debate over vouchers rages across the ideological battlefront, can't we come together around the modest but important goal of liberating entrepreneurial energy within the public-school sector?

William A. Galston is a professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland at College Park.

Michael Medved
A College for My Children

         Inevitably, my most cherished dream involves my three children.

          I'd like to believe that by the time they're ready for college (the oldest is now nine) there might be a college worth attending, without threatening their sanity and decency with the current mania for politically correct lies. There's simply not enough time for my kids to count on the sweeping changes that are desperately needed in virtually all the institutions of higher education in this country. But we do have a chance to capture (or even to create) one elite college or university as a haven and an example.

          To accomplish this, traditionalists and conservatives must organize and pool their resources. Last year, when Yale University arrogantly returned a $20 million gift to Lee Bass because that donation would have required a focus on Western civilization as uniquely worthy of attention, I decided that my alma mater could henceforth do without my own modest contributions.

          Instead, I would like to combine those resources with funds from thousands of other disillusioned university alumni who want to establish an alternative to the trendy, libertine, left-wing hegemony of the Ivy League. It's time that loyal graduates of Harvard and Stanford (not to mention Vassar and Amherst) woke up to the fact that their admirable and instinctive support for institutions that once nurtured them involves not only a tragic waste of money, but the continued endorsement of the most destructive forces in American life. Corporations must also recognize that their huge contributions to elite educational institutions are funding attitudes and activities that undermine the very survival of the free-enterprise system.

          Those who dissent from the prevailing statist and relativist pieties should assemble their resources and use that power to steer one selected institution in a more positive direction. Maybe $20 million wasn't enough to influence Yale, but let's try raising the ante, and focus on a somewhat smaller target -- say, for the sake of argument, Dartmouth or Williams (two gorgeous campuses!). It should be possible at least to install a new administration at an appropriate campus that would mobilize the forces of the market and offer a first-class conservative/moderate alternative to the prevailing folly. With 30 or 40 elite institutions hewing to an identical left-wing line, wouldn't one university, positioned self-consciously toward the right, enjoy an instant competitive advantage, attracting the finest students and faculty? And speaking of faculty, if corporations could be persuaded to endow chairs generously, think of the intellectual dream team that might be assembled under one academic roof. Perhaps one could lure away the brilliant fellows of Heritage (or AEI or Hoover or Cato) for a few years of inspired teaching. How about Bill Bennett as president? For key academic positions, you could choose Sowell, Stelzer, Bork, Wilson, Kristol (any Kristol), Himmelfarb, Steele, Gilder, Williams, Blankenhorn, Whitehead, Elshtain, Arkes, or any number of other intellectual luminaries. It's my dream, but you're more than welcome to play the game of filling in the blanks.

The remarkable achievements of little Hillsdale College -- in remotest rural Michigan, with only 1,200 students and no graduate school -- give some indication of the potential for this scheme. Under the inspired leadership of President George Roche, Hillsdale has pursued a courageous conservative path, refusing all government aid and exerting surprising national influence. It is also earning a constantly improving reputation for academic excellence. If no established "big name" campus can be successfully coopted, with priceless assets of atmospheric mystique and proud traditions (which are being trashed every day), then the resources accumulated for that purpose might well be pumped into the Michigan institution to enable it to step boldly into the academic major leagues.

          Looking at higher education today, there's an obvious opportunity. It makes no market sense for every elite institution to target students and professors with the same liberal values.

          By the same token, it makes no market sense for every TV network, or news division, or movie studio, to target precisely the same consumers of popular culture. There should be room for more wholesome, more conservative alternatives, and money to by made by offering them -- but that's another dream. . . .

Michael Medved is the chief film critic for the New York Post, and author of Hollywood vs. America, What Happened to the Class of '65 and other books. For the past 10 years, he has been a cohost of Sneak Previews on PBS-TV.

Pete du Pont
Public-Private Job Training

          If, as President Reagan said, "the best social program devised is a job," then those without jobs, or without the skills that employers demand, need some help to acquire those skills and join productive society. We need programs that work with the private sector to provide well-constructed and economical training in job skills. The best example of this that I know of is "Jobs for America's Graduates" (JAG).

          JAG grew out of the successful "Jobs for Delaware's Graduates" (JDG), a program I created in 1979 while governor of Delaware. JDG, a nonprofit partnership charged with preparing, counseling, and placing high-school seniors in career jobs, was so successful that it spawned JAG for the purpose of spreading Delaware's success throughout the country.

          Having helped 175,000 young people, JAG today is one of the largest organizations of its kind, and one of the most successful. Ninety percent of the at-risk young people enrolled in JAG graduate from school, and within nine months, the proportion that has found a job, enlisted in the military, or enrolled in post-secondary education or training is 80 percent -- 30 percentage points above the results for non-JAG youths with similar profiles. JAG achieves these results at a cost of just $1,200 per participant, less than one-third the average cost of similar programs around the nation. The taxes paid by the participants upon joining the workforce more than pay for the program.

          JAG works because it is overseen by and responsible to the private sector, because its leaders are accountable for results, and because the young people themselves must meet the employability standards of businesses and take charge of their lives.

          Supporting America's youth, reducing the cost of social programs, and protecting the future base of our taxpayers are good, sound, conservative principles. As we approach the 21st century, "Jobs for America's Graduates" puts these principles to work.

Pete du Pont is the policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis and a former governor of Delaware.

Betsy McCaughey Ross
Report Cards for Schools

          Colin Powell went to public school in the Bronx. Like so many other Americans, he owes his start in life to that great institution, free public education. But today, not all schools give kids enough chance to succeed. At some public schools in the Bronx, textbooks are in such short supply that children have to share in class, and afterward the books are collected and sent down the hall to another waiting class. Are spending cuts to blame for the shortage? No.

          From 1980 to 1993, for example, spending on New York City public schools increased 148 percent, even though the number of students increased only 3 percent. Even after taking inflation into account, New York City spent 37 percent more per pupil in 1993 than in 1980.

          Spending on central administration grew almost five times as fast as spending for regular classroom teaching. Too much of our education funds went for bureaucrats, not books; administrators, not educators; red tape, not learning aids.

          The problem is not merely citywide, it is statewide: From 1980 to 1993, school enrollment in New York declined by 9 percent, but spending shot up by 142 percent. School districts spent more and more and taxed local residents again and again. Yet many teachers have to reach into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.

          The answer is not to spend more, but to spend more wisely. A school report card would help parents and taxpayers hold school boards accountable for how our scarce education dollars are spent and how well students perform. School boards should be required to publish one annually on every school under their purview, with figures on spending per pupil and students' performance on standardized tests. Parents and taxpayers have a right to know how their schools stack up and whether their education dollars are producing results.

          School report cards should be a new addition to an important American institution -- public school. Parents, taxpayers, and teachers need to hold school boards and elected officials accountable for spending, so that scarce education dollars are used wisely to give every child a chance in life.

Betsy McCaughey Ross is the lieutenant governor of New York.

James R. Stoner Jr.
Faithful Professions

          Writing of Americans in the early 19th century, Tocqueville observed not that they were great institution-builders nor that they were great organizers, but that they had mastered the "science of association," which he thought necessary to the maintenance of civil society itself. He chose the term "association" carefully, for it invokes not just the structure through which individuals act together, but also the very act of coming together and, for Tocqueville especially, the community of opinion and sentiment that collective action at once depends upon and helps to form.

          I note this because for each of my "dreams," the need is clearer than the institutional or organizational means of addressing it. First, I think that achieving peace in our current culture wars depends on transcending the hostility toward religion that now seems entrenched in the secular professions: law, medicine, journalism, teaching. As a first step, perhaps like-minded individuals within the ranks of each profession would associate, dedicated to informing their professional activities with the witness of their religious faith. Whether or not such association begins among members of the same church or denomination -- though the movement might be stronger if it does -- it must become ecumenical, or federative, if it is to succeed.

          My second hope is that society reestablish respect for the vocation of mothers and dissolve the pernicious, ubiquitous social pressure upon mothers to leave their children with someone else and go make money. Here the organizational means to the end seem even more elusive -- a "Home Makers" on the model of "Promise Keepers" doesn't quite seem fitting -- although the freedom of mothers to nourish and nurture requires fathers to resume their duty to provide and protect. These tasks involve in no small part recovering the wisdom once embedded in tradition now abandoned, and then bringing that wisdom to life in contemporary circumstances. In this, the current wave of institution-building differs from the Progressive urge to remake society in the then-clear light of modern science, but it also recalls in a way the task that faced Tocqueville's Americans as they marched across an untamed continent, bringing civilization as they knew it to a savage land.

James R. Stoner Jr. is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University.

James P. Pinkerton
Motor Trend for Schools

          Twenty years from now, the failures of government-run schools will be so obvious that America will have either moved to a voucher system or else be in the process of doing so. Yet there are no final victories in politics, so friends of educational choice must work over the next 20 years to create a civic infrastructure to nurture this new design for freedom. All Americans -- not just parents -- ought to be able to trust that fraud in the educational marketplace will be punished, and that educational incompetence will be identified, so that parents can choose to take their children elsewhere. Yet because the workings of the invisible hand are so alien to education, voluntary nonprofit groups simply must be part of this process.

          Inspired perhaps by Margaret Thatcher's prochoice reforms, the British government publishes "League Tables," which rate school performance nationwide. Such watchdogging can be useful, but the experience of "Goals 2000" in the past six years reminds American conservatives that politicians can abuse or even invert any assessment function left in their control.

          So America circa 2016 will need a range of nongovernmental entities rating schools' performance by various criteria and publicizing their findings. For years, Americans have relied on Consumer Reports to help them evaluate everything from potholders to pickup trucks. And Money and Motor Trend, to name just two magazines, have both carved out commercial niches for themselves as guides to investments and automobiles, respectively. Yet because education will always be more than just a commodity, those who would lead America to a renaissance of citizenship should encourage religious, fraternal, and neighborhood groups—whether or not they themselves choose to participate in the voucher-driven education market—to issue their own report cards on school performance.

James P. Pinkerton is the author of What Comes Next: The End of Big Government -- And the New Paradigm Ahead.

Myron E. Magnet
Group Homes for Welfare Moms

          The best way to reform welfare, as I suggested in The Dream and the Nightmare in 1993 and in a series of articles since, requires the creation of a new institution -- a national network of communal hostels, or group homes, for welfare mothers and their children. Such hostels would focus on the welfare of children, not the job prospects of young women. The hostels would provide structured, caring environments for nurturing citizens with consciences and the ability to learn. By the time today's underclass children are in Head Start, let alone school, it's very late to begin teaching the cognitive and moral categories that are learned in early childhood, that families normally teach, and that underclass children don't adequately acquire. Without mastery of these categories, it is hard to think, to apply yourself, and therefore to learn.

          The hostels should have rules of conduct for the mothers who live there, to help them get control of their lives, but above all to ensure the order and structure children need. In the same vein, the hostels should require mothers to take daily workshops in child rearing to learn some of the basics that young underclass women often don't know: that babies cry because they have needs, not because they are "bad"; that children need to be talked to and responded to, not ignored and not hit, if they are to grow up able to function as members of society.

          No doubt such a system will discourage many unmarried women unable to support babies from having them -- a worthwhile result. No less important, the smaller number of babies born under such circumstances, despite all of society's discouragement, will get a fair chance to grow up happy and productive citizens. However sweeping this reform, it must be weighed against today's dreadful welfare system, which condemns millions of children to grow up with so much human talent unawakened, lost to themselves and to society.

Myron E. Magnet is the editor of City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute.

Walter E. Williams
A Religious Reawakening

          Most of our nation's great problems stem from a decline in morality. A string of unbalanced federal budgets nearly four decades long reflects a moral failure to live within our means. A rapidly growing $5-trillion national debt evinces the immorality of one generation imposing an unpardonable burden on future generations to pay for what essentially amounts to bread and circuses. The pretense of the charity of the welfare state represents our immoral struggle to live at the expense of others. Part and parcel of this welfare state is the intergenerational extortion of the young and yet-to-be-born by older Americans through Social Security and Medicare. Then there is the politics of "entitlement" that has spawned unprecedented dependency.

          Governments cannot patch up the public and private imprudence that scars the modern American landscape. The ameliorative action government can take is to eliminate those programs and laws that have undermined traditional values and morality. Just as language evolved intrinsically, without government direction or control, so did moral or ethical standards. Honesty, restraint, self-reliance, and social cooperation evolved as standards because they produced greater tranquillity and generated more wealth than their counterparts.

          Much of our moral code has religious roots. Government attack on religion, under the contrivance of adhering to the "Establishment Clause," has played an important role in the decline of morality. It is religious teachings that bolster the moral standards against lying, treachery, deceit, fornication, adultery, confiscation, and instant gratification. Religion promotes loyalty to family, friends, and community. Marxists and those in America who see the state as supreme find moral relativism far more friendly to their agenda than the absolutism of religion.

          My dream of an American moral reawakening will reduce both the size and scope of problems we now call on government to solve. The problems that remain will be dealt with more compassionately through family, social organizations, and community as they were for most of our history.

Walter E. Williams is the John H. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University.

Jason Turner
Work Requirements for Public Housing

          My dream is that sometime soon, the billions of dollars invested in public-housing bricks and mortar will be transformed into the sites of regenerated central-city working neighborhoods. There is reason to believe we have the ability to bring about such a change. Right now, although not a desirable place to live for most families, public housing embodies a large public subsidy to each family who benefits from it, equal in many instances to the monthly AFDC cash grant itself.

          But although the cash value of a public-housing subsidy makes it a boon of sorts, free or almost free housing fosters an attitude that one's apartment unit, and by extension the surrounding project, are not worth the effort of maintaining standards. Destructive behaviors by residents and those in the surrounding community reinforce and reflect this attitude.

          I envision reforms to require work as a condition of living in public housing, either in the private sector or in a community-service job to improve one's housing site or perform other neighborhood building activities. In the welfare-reform field, we have discovered the power of universal work requirements and expectations. In the current environment, individuals improving their lives through work are isolated and demoralized by those in the larger dependent environment around them. But public-housing sites have the potential to create a controlled physical space where expectations of work are enforced. For the formerly idle, enforced work initially may not be pleasant, but at least everybody will find themselves in the same boat.

          Beginning in March, residents of Milwaukee's largest public- housing project will receive welfare payments only in proportion to required work completed; over time, this work requirement will be a condition of their lease as well. Fashioning work requirements to improve and build urban communities of the future will be our major challenge.

Jason Turner is the director, welfare replacement, the Department of Health and Social Services for the state of Wisconsin.

Heather Higgins
New TV Shows

          First, I propose two television productions. One would be called America's Legal Nightmares, and would expose myriad real-life instances of citizens persecuted by the state -- by the EPA, for example, or by Child Protection Services. The second, American Stories, is Michael Medved's companion idea; this program would celebrate individuals who have transcended personal hardships.

         Second, before we can launch any systematic efforts to develop private charity, we must establish a reliable, independent referee of charities' effectiveness and reliability. The few organizations that track private charities lack the resources to follow any but the largest ones. When they evaluate a charity's finances, they must rely on its own accounting, for which the rules are notoriously lax and potentially misleading. We need to establish explicit financial reporting standards for 501(c)(3) public charities and fund organizations both to evaluate and rate them by Marvin Olasky's criteria of effective compassion, and disseminate these findings, perhaps on the Internet.

Heather Higgins is the executive director of the Council on Culture and Community, in New York City.

Paul Weyrich
A Revival Parallel to the Evangelicals

          As Russell Kirk wrote, culture arises from the cult. Nonreligious people can be good people, as many a Stoic proved. But there never were very many Stoics. Human nature being what it is, most people need a religious foundation for their morals, if their morals are to be sound. Only the Transcendent has power enough to overcome their natural inclination to "do their own thing."

          It follows that if America's culture is to be rescued from the sewer into which it has fallen, we need a revival of religion. In theory, a number of religions offer a sound moral basis; it should be no surprise that the Confucian cultures of East Asia believe we could learn some things from them. But it is difficult to envision Confucianism or another non-Christian religion suddenly sweeping America. For reasons of history, if a religious revival is to happen here, it will be Christian. The choice is that or nothing.

          Such a revival has in fact been under way for some time, spearheaded by the Protestant Evangelicals. They have done fruitful work, and the fact that there is any resistance at all to the destroyers of our culture is largely their doing. However, much of the citizenry remains beyond their reach. For many reasons, these people are uncomfortable with either the Evangelical message or the Evangelical style. No one is at fault for this; it is a fact of life that people differ.

          I dream of an effort parallel to the Protestant Evangelical revival, not in competition with it. Both would be aimed at the unchurched, not each other.

         The new effort would be led by a real new order; a new religious order, similar to older orders such as the Benedictines, the Cistercians, and the like. It would be liturgical, apostolic, and sacramental, but it would not be part of any of the four churches with those characteristics (the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and orthodox remnants of the Anglicans and Scandinavian Lutherans). It would be supported by all of them, it would draw from all of them, and it would be recognized as legitimate by all of them. But the key difference is that it would not require anyone to join any organization to partake of a liturgical and sacramental religious life led by clergy who were part of the apostolic succession. In our sad times, it is probably necessary to say that this new order would adhere rigorously to the creeds and the doctrines of the Church as laid down and universally accepted before the split of 1054 a.d. And it would preach and practice, within the limits of human frailty, traditional Christian morals.

          It would dismiss with complete disinterest all the turf fights, jurisdictional squabbles, historic slights, and other ephemera that stand between the liturgical, apostolic, and sacramental church and people hungry for that church. It would thus bolster the sound elements, not only within our own culture, but in other nations as well.

Paul Weyrich is the president of the Free Congress Foundation.

Back to top.

Subscribe to Policy Review: The Journal of American Citizenship or call 1-800 566-9449.

Send a Letter to the Editor or write our editorial office:

Policy Review
214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.
Phone (202) 546-4400, Fax (202) 675-0291.

Policy Review is published by
The Heritage Foundation


Policy Review is a
Town Hall member organization