Original Reporting

Original Reporting | By Kevin C. Brown | Poverty, Religion
The Catholic Church in the United States has long been active in charitable efforts to ameliorate poverty. But when it comes to flexing political muscle on anti-poverty advocacy — that is, battling the structural causes of poverty — it appears that a less robust effort has been made in recent years than has been devoted to other issues. Is this because the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (the USCCB) has not defined poverty as an “intrinsic evil" as it has done with abortion and some other Church concerns? What else could the USCCB be doing to advance an anti-poverty agenda? Does the USCCB's own pastoral letter from 1986 — "Economic Justice for All" — provide guidance? More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Civil liberties, Law
Three cities set to host large, political gatherings in the next few months are working to impose a variety of “spatial tactics” to restrict where, when, and how demonstrators will be able to exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. While legal scholars say that many of these tactics may not be unconstitutional, civil libertarians and good-government advocates argue that they are inconsistent with the proper goal of public policy: welcoming and encouraging free speech. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Health care, Medicine, Regulation
A recent study showed that the adoption of information technology by physicians did not reduce the number of procedures performed. Our reporting on that study, and on the responses to it, reveals far-reaching implications that are not yet widely appreciated: the overriding focus on cost-cutting has subordinated the goal of improving access to and quality of care, and has ignored entirely the phenomenon of underutilization of appropriate medical interventions. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Pensions
U.S. pension funds have billions of dollars in assets and a very long-term investment horizon, making them a unique kind of investor. But, while pension funds could play a powerful role in shaping financial markets, they currently act more like customers than dealmakers, partially because of their reliance on private money managers to invest those assets for them for large fees. If that reliance were reduced and other legal, political, and cultural obstacles overcome, ⎯ many experts said that the funds could improve their investment strategies at the same time they open the door to socially responsible investing, mission investing, and shareholder activism. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Economy, Education
Do economics departments exclude diverse perspectives and fail to foster critical thinking skills? This concluding article in Remapping Debate's six-part series, based on interviews with more than a dozen prominent economists, finds continuing denial and resistance among most, even as some acknowledge that departments need to do better. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Economy, Education
The narrowness of undergraduate economics education in the United States can be seen in the limited course offerings that are available to students at the advanced level of the curriculum, where there are a host of topics and perspectives not available to be studied at many economics departments. It is also reflected in the pervasive pedagogical technique known as "chalk-and-talk," which critics say encourages passivity, discourages interest, and fails to help students build the intellectual tools needed to think critically. More
Original Reporting | By Craig Gurian | Corporate influence, Taxes
It's the corporate tax reform mantra these days — at least on the Democratic side of the aisle. Supporters frequently say that the goal is a corporate tax system that makes the U.S. more competitive in relation to other industrialized democracies, reduces inequities and inefficiencies, and is “revenue neutral.” But serious questions have been raised about the premises underlying the vision of lowering rates and closing unwarranted corporate tax loopholes concurrently, and about the fiscal prudence and ultimate revenue neutrality of proceeding in that manner. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Economy, Education
Why don't introductory economics courses, which are “the single most important point of contact between the economic discipline and the student body,” nor intermediate courses, which shape the curriculum as a whole, offer greater diversity of perspective and increased focus on the real economy? Critics of the status quo offer alternatives and recommend adding additional courses to make the discipline more consistent with a liberal model of education, from economic history to moral philosophy. More