Commentary

I was overcome with pride when I saw Gov. Sarah Palin first address a national crowd at the end of August, after she was introduced as John McCain's vice-presidential pick.

I was not looking at the television screen at the time.

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In the past several days, before the U.S. Treasury Department acted to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, several people asked me if I thought it was a good idea for the government to "nationalize" the two mortgage giants. In virtually none of the coverage of the Bush administration's latest emergency action, did anyone bother to tell the back story. Fannie Mae, nee the Federal National Mortgage Association, (FNMA) began life as a government invention. It was born "nationalized" — and it worked beautifully until it was privatized.

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In his acceptance speech, McCain went out of his way to emphasize his independence from the wretchedly failed administration of George W. Bush. But his differences on the key pocketbook issues that should be front and center in the campaign are... exactly what?

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I'm a political animal; I know the names, at least, of most of the big, and even mid-level, players in American politics. After all, writing about politics is how I earn my living. But, until a few days ago, I'd never heard of Alaska's governor Palin. I thought it was me; maybe through some glaring omission I'd missed a huge star of the political scene. But it turns out most of the commentators were equally clueless.

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Economic Opportunity Program Director Tamara Draut discusses that as the recently released 2006 Economic Report of the President reported that earnings for workers with college degrees declined between 2000 and 2004 — yet another thread of evidence in a growing mound that for those just starting out, the golden rules are no longer so golden.

Getting a bachelor's degree is the required ticket for entry into the middle class today, but the security once implied in that status is gone.

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The common thread that winds through these stories is the erosion of national autonomy — and, with it, the state’s monopoly over violence, the power to enact binding laws, and other essential aspects of sovereignty. Sovereignty, in turn, is an obvious precondition for democracy (which you cannot have without a state). When the sovereign state erodes, democracy erodes. It is that simple — and, beset from within and without, it is happening even today.

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The mantra of the free market has gained such a hold on Americans that Sen. John McCain recently aired an ad exclaiming, as if it’s a given: “Higher taxes, more government spending, so fewer jobs.” A similar obvious “truth” for many Americans these days, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, is that “the government can’t create wealth; it can only destroy it or confiscate and redistribute it.”

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In today's Washington Post, Distinguished Senior Fellow John Schwarz calls on presidential candidates to clearly articulate government's important role in direct stimulation of the economy, through innovation and public policy, as a means to promote industrial growth, job creation, technological development and wealth creation.

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Maybe Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin wouldn't have been McCain's first choice for vice president if there weren't lingering hard feelings about Hillary's campaign or lack of consideration for the VP slot. But, it doesn't matter. There were, and she is.

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The Centre for International Governance Innovation, a global think tank based in Canada, says that China will have more engineers and scientists with doctorates than the United States by 2010. They also estimate that within four years, 90% of all scientists and engineers with doctorates in the world will be Asians living in Asia.