Panel Discussions

Generosity Unbound – with Claire Gaudiani

A Conversation with Claire Gaudiani, author of Generosity Unbound: How American Philanthropy Can Strengthen the Economy and Expand the Middle Class, and David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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In Generosity Unbound, CLAIRE GAUDIANI mounts a spirited defense of philanthropic freedom addressed to conservatives, liberals and centrists. She acknowledges the good intentions of those who favor greater regulation of private philanthropy, but powerfully demonstrates the dangers of this approach. Gaudiani also uncovers the fascinating history of philanthropy in America, showing how this nation's distinctive tradition of citizen-to-citizen generosity has been a powerful engine of economic growth, social justice, and upward mobility.

This Conversation was recorded in New York City on September 23, 2010.

Panel Discussions

When Marriage Disappears

A Conversation with Elizabeth Marquardt, Affiliate Scholar, IAV, and W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia and editor of The State of Our Unions.

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W. BRADFORD WILCOX and ELIZABETH MARQUARDT tackle the striking yet little-discussed decline in marriage among "Middle America" – the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school, but do not have a four-year college degree. Among that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage, up sharply from 13 percent in the 1980s.

According to numerous studies, children born or raised outside of marriage are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems – including drug use, depression, attempted suicide and dropping out of high school – compared to children in intact, married families, as summarized in past reports such as "Why Marriage Matters" from the same team.

While debates over same-sex marriage have filled the headlines, the rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America – more than half of births among women under 30 now occur outside of marriage – has received scant attention from national leaders, they note.

Even modest improvements in the health of marriage in America will reduce suffering and yield savings for taxpayers, the report argues. One study calculated that reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent would save $1.1 billion annually as fewer children repeat grades, are suspended from school, require counseling or attempt suicide.

Noting that the disappearance of marriage in Middle America is tracking with the disappearance of the middle class in the same communities, Wilcox and Marquardt argue that strengthening marriage is a vital pathway to opening social opportunity and reducing inequality.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on December 7, 2010.

Panel Discussions

A Bee in the Mouth

A Conversation with Peter Wood, President, National Association of Scholars and author of A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now and David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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In A Bee in the Mouth, PETER WOOD charts the rise in American life of "new anger" – the replacement of an older ethic of self-control with a new sense that public and private displays of anger are empowering and a legitimate way to pursue one's goals. This new anger is not only conspicuous in our politics, across the spectrum of ideology, but it is also a force in nearly every other domain of our lives: the family, the workplace, sports, entertainment, popular music, the Internet, and even fashion.

The book, which was published in 2007, was ahead of its time. Wood predicted that the norms governing how we relate to one another as citizens, neighbors, friends, and family members were trending toward even further verbal escalation and erosion of self-control. He reminds us that we have a choice about these matters, and proposes that we re-examine whether we really want to make the cult of angry "authenticity" a guiding principle of American culture.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on February 23, 2011.

Panel Discussions

The Arab Protest

A Conversation with Abdulrahman Al-Salimi, Editor, Al-Tasamoh, and Hassan I. Mneimneh, Editor, IjtihadReason, hosted by William A. Galston, The Ezra K. Zikha Chair in Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution.

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ABDULRAHMAN AL-SALIMI, HASSAN I. MNEIMNEH, AND WILLIAM A. GALSTON discuss the recent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, the Sudan, Bahrain, and Libya. Their conversation addresses the causes, the leadership, the role played by Islamists, Islam, the new media, youth, the United States, the impact on Israel, and what role, if any, there is for global civil society and universal values.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on March 8, 2011.

Panel Discussions

The Mating/Marriage Dance

A Conversation with Kay S. Hymowitz, Author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Author of Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of Single Women, hosted by Amber Lapp, Co-Investigator, "Love and Marriage in Middle America," an IAV project.

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KAY S. HYMOWITZ is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She writes extensively on childhood, family issues, poverty, and cultural change in America. Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Is Turning Men Into Boys is an essential book for understanding the dramatic changes that are taking place in the lives of young people across the globe. Dudes, guys, geeks, hipsters: Are they men or are they boys? Hymowitz shows why lots of people – especially young women – aren't so sure, and why that matters to all of us.

BARBARA DAFOE WHITEHEAD is director of the Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values. A social historian of the family, Whitehead's book, Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of Single Women, documents the emergence of a new mating system oriented to short-term relationships rather than to marriage. She explores its effects on young educated women's prolonged and often frustrating search for a mate.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on April 21, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Race, Incarceration and American Values

A Conversation with Glenn C. Loury, Author, Race, Incarceration, and American Values and Leah Ward Sears, Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice, hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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Race, Incarceration, and American Values argues that mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy, but the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. GLENN C. LOURY connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies. The uncontroversial fact is that we have created a nether class of Americans with severely restricted rights and life chances. Our system, Professor Loury contends, should be unacceptable to Americans; his call to action makes all of us responsible for ensuring that it changes.

This converstaion was recorded in New York City on May 4, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Will Inflation Gut the American Saver?

A Conversation with William P. Mumma, President and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities USA and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Director of Civil Society Initiatives, IAV. Hosted by Sean Fieler, Managing Member of Equinox Partners, LP.

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American families are struggling to repair their household balance sheets, replenish their nest-eggs, save for retirement, and to renew a culture of thrift. If inflation takes off as many predict, then incentives to save will be undermined and the value of thrift imperiled. In this panel discussion, the risks of inflation are examined and options to protect the American saver are discussed.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on June 9, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Why Marriage Matters

A Conversation with Elizabeth Marquardt, Affiliate Scholar, IAV; Amy L. Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School; and W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia. Hosted by Jonathan Rauch, guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.

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For most of the latter-half of the twentieth century, divorce posed the greatest threat to child well-being and the institution of marriage. Today, that is not the case. New research – made available for the first time in this third edition of "Why Marriage Matters" – suggests that the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children's lives in today's families.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on August 16, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Our Call to Civil Society

A Conversation with Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, Divinity School, The University of Chicago; hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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JEAN BETHKE ELSHTAIN's body of critical thought has shaped elite opinion for a quarter of a century. In this wide-ranging and riveting discussion, host DAVID BLANKENHORN has a wide-ranging and riveting discussion with Professor Elshtain on the state of American political life and culture.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on September 22, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Is Marriage for White People?

A Conversation with Ralph Richard Banks, Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Author, Is Marriage for White People? How the Decline of African American Marriage Affects Everyone, hosted by Leah Ward Sears, Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice.

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Based on his social science research, author RALPH RICHARD BANKS looks, with JUSTICE LEAH SEARS at the intimate lives of African American women and examines why they are not getting married and are the least likely to marry of any segment of the American population.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on September 26, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Beyond Our Means

A Conversation with Sheldon Garon, Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University. Hosted by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Director of Civil Society Initiatives, IAV.

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If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that Americans save too little, spend too much, and borrow excessively. What can we learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries? Beyond Our Means tells for the first time how other nations aggressively encouraged their citizens to save by means of special savings institutions and savings campaigns. The U.S. government, meanwhile, promoted mass consumption and reliance on credit, culminating in the global financial meltdown.

Many economists believe people save according to universally rational calculations, saving the most in their middle years as they plan for retirement, and saving the least in welfare states. In reality, Europeans save at high rates despite generous welfare programs and aging populations. Americans save little, despite weaker social safety nets and a younger population. Tracing the development of such behaviors across three continents from the nineteenth century to today, author SHELDON GARON highlights the role of institutions and moral suasion in shaping habits of saving and spending. It shows how the encouragement of thrift was not a relic of indigenous traditions but a modern movement to confront rising consumption. Around the world, messages to save and spend wisely confronted citizens everywhere – in schools, magazines, and novels. At the same time, in America, businesses and government normalized practices of living beyond one's means.

Transnational history at its most compelling, Beyond Our Means reveals why some nations save so much and others so little.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on Nov. 10, 2011.

Panel Discussions

When Baby Makes Three

A Conversation with W. Bradford Wilcox, Director, National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia; Elizabeth Marquardt, Affiliate Scholar, IAV; and David and Amber Lapp, Researchers, IAV, on When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable. Hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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Married parents are more likely than their childless peers to feel their lives have a sense of meaning and purpose. And parents who are married generally experience more happiness and less depression than parents who are unmarried. At the same time, studies show that parenthood is typically associated with lower levels of marital happiness. But there is a substantial minority of husbands and wives who do not experience parenthood as an obstacle to marital happiness. These women and men navigate the shoals of parenthood without succumbing to comparatively low levels of marital happiness or high levels of marital instability. What is their secret?

This conversation was recorded in New York City on December 8, 2011.

Panel Discussions

Flagrant Conduct

A Conversation with Dale Carpenter, Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law, University of Minnesota Law School, on Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas. Hosted by Elizabeth Marquardt, Affiliate Scholar, IAV.

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Flagrant Conduct is the still-untold story of Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark Supreme Court decision on gay rights. Drawing from dozens of new interviews that yield surprising new evidence, author DALE CARPENTER re-examines the motives of almost every character involved, from the arresting police officers to the gay-rights attorneys, whose maneuverings brought the case to national attention, to the nine Supreme Court justices. With the legal battle over gay marriage looming, this first complete history of the case, which expanded the legal rights of millions of gay and lesbian Americans, could not be timelier.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on March 22, 2012.

Panel Discussions

Are Casinos Like Cocaine for the Brain?

A conversation with Hans C. Breiter, M.D., Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Paul Davies, Maggie Walker Fellow, IAV; and Kathleen Kovner Kline, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at the Consortium. Hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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"Coke and gambling do the same thing in the brain," according to Harvard neuroscientist HANS BREITER, one of the nation's leading researchers on the reward circuitry in the brain. Breiter's experiments comparing the brain of a healthy individual who gambles with the brain of cocaine addicts, found that the brain images were identical. But beyond this important finding, Breiter's research raises questions about the still unaddressed public health and ethical consequences of expanded gambling in New York. "Every society must make a decision about the slippery slope dividing healthy endeavors from pathological ones," Breiter told Massachusetts officials in his testimony on expanded gambling in 2009, "When you are taking tax dollars from gambling, think of the normal brain high on cocaine."

Join HANS BREITER, journalist PAUL DAVIES, and psychiatrist KATHLEEN KOVNER KLINE:

  • Should the state knowingly contribute to increasing the risks of gambling addiction?
  • What are the health costs to individuals, families, and the taxpayer from problem gambling?
  • Should gambling be treated like a legal drug?
  • What is the ethical responsibility of the state to its vulnerable citizens?

This conversation was recorded in New York City on April 26, 2012.

Panel Discussions

Religious Liberty and the Human Good

A Conversation with Robert P.George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University. Hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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Consulted by international leaders, awarded Presidential medals and academic prizes, ROBERT GEORGE is one of the nation's most influential thinkers. His books, lectures and arguments on law, ethics, and religion have challenged liberals and conservatives alike on the question of what constitutes the human good. In this event, Professor George and David Blankenhorn have a far-ranging conversation and examination of religious liberty and civil society.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on May 29, 2012.

Panel Discussions

Can We Talk Instead of Shout about Gay Marriage?

A Conversation with John Corvino, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University and Maggie Gallagher, Co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage. Hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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As the uproar over the recent New York State law demonstrates, same-sex marriage is a perennial hot-button issue, certain to impact the 2012 election. The book, Debating Same-Sex Marriage provides a useful roadmap to both sides of this contentious matter. Taking a "point/counterpoint" approach, authors JOHN CORVINO (a philosopher and a prominent gay advocate) and MAGGIE GALLAGHER (a nationally syndicated columnist and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage) consider key questions about the institution itself: What is marriage for? Is marriage meant to be a gendered institution? Why is the state in the business of sanctioning marriage? Where do the needs of children fit in? Will legalization of same-sex marriage lead to legalization of polygamy? Corvino argues that society should support same-sex marriage because of its interest in supporting stable households for all its members, gay and straight alike. Gallagher argues that government recognition of same-sex unions as marriages will disconnect marriage from its key public mission furthering responsible procreation, while stigmatizing traditional views of sex, marriage and family as bigotry. Both agree that the issue deserves thoughtful, rigorous engagement.

This conversation was recorded in New York City on June 7, 2012.

Panel Discussions

Is Thrift Good for America?

A Conversation with Sheldon Garon, Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University and James Livingston, Professor of History at Rutgers University, held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Moderated by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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Historians JAMES LIVINGSTON (author of Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment and Your Soul.) and SHELDON GARON (author of Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves) take opposing views on the need for thrift in America today. Ever since the economist John Maynard Keynes famously contended that thrift was good for individuals but bad for the economy, scholars have argued over savings policy and its role in the national economy. This debate has fresh relevance today as Americans struggle to get out of debt and as the nation struggles to speed its sluggish economic recovery. The conversation between Livingtson and Garon challenges our thinking about our own saving and spending behavior and about the institutions that shape our behavior.

This conversation was part of the Summer Institute on Thrift Education at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and was recorded on August 1, 2012.

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