Log inskip to content

Archive for the 'AP Introductory Materials' Category

What’s gone wrong with democracy?

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Faith in democracy flares up in moments of triumph, such as the overthrow of unpopular regimes in Cairo or Kiev, only to sputter out once again. Outside the West, democracy often advances only to collapse. And within the West, democracy has too often become associated with debt and dysfunction at home and overreach abroad. Democracy has always had its critics, but now old doubts are being treated with renewed respect as the weaknesses of democracy in its Western strongholds, and the fragility of its influence elsewhere, have become increasingly apparent. 

Why has democracy lost its forward momentum?

(original with gorgeous layout here)

Cool interactive map

The Comparative Constitutions Project

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

You can now read, search, and compare 160 constitutions from around the world thanks to Constitute, a website launched by Google on Monday.

The site, developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, with seed funding by Google Ideas, has digitized the constitutions of 160 countries, making them fully searchable. A user can browse the constitutions using nearly 350 curated tagged topics like religion, political parties, or civil and political rights; or simply search by year or country.

Switzerland Mulls Giving Every Citizen $2,800 a Month

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Switzerland has a very direct style of democracy. For example, changes to the constitution, or “popular initiatives,” can be proposed by members of the public and are voted on if more than 100,000 people sign them. If a majority of voters and cantons (Swiss states) agree, the change can become law. This system not only allows individual citizens a high degree of control of their laws, but also means that more unorthodox ideas become referendum issues.

Recently, there has been a spate of popular initiatives designed to curb inequality in the country. Earlier this year Swiss voters agreed to an idea proposed by entrepreneur Thomas Minder that limited executive (in his words, “fat cat”) salaries of companies listed on the Swiss stock market. Next month, voters will decide on the 1:12 Initiative, which aims to limit the salaries of CEOs to 12 times the salary of their company’s lowest paid employee.

There’s a crazier proposal than this, however. Earlier this month, an initiative aimed at giving every Swiss adult a “basic income” that would “ensure a dignified existence and participation in the public life of the whole population” gained enough support to qualify for a referendum. The amount suggested is 2,500 francs ($2,800) a month.

The Global Slavery Index

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The Global Slavery Index provides a ranking of 162 countries, reflecting a combined measure of three factors: estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. The measure is heavily weighted to reflect the first factor, prevalence. A number one ranking is the worst, 160 is the best.

The Walk Free Foundation asserts there are 30 million slaves suffering today.

Lecture: Pres vs. PMent System, Bureaucracy, and Why Elections and Parties in Authoritarian Regmes

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Three significant APCG themes in this lecture

It’s a Myth That Entrepreneurs Drive New Technology

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

A telling 2012 article in the Economist claimed that, to be innovative, governments must “stick to the basics” such as spending on infrastructure, education, and skills, leaving the rest to the revolutionary garage tinkerers.

Yet it is ideology, not evidence, that fuels this image.

Apple is a perfect example. In its early stages, the company received government cash support via a $500,000 small-business investment company grant. And every technology that makes the iPhone a smartphone owes its vision and funding to the state: the Internet, GPS, touch-screen displays, and even the voice-activated smartphone assistant Siri all received state cash.The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency bankrolled the Internet, and the CIA and the military funded GPS. So, although the United States is sold to us as the model example of progress through private enterprise, innovation there has benefited from a very interventionist state.

More at Slate

Metacognitive Skills

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

I often encourage my students to be “metacognitive”. This short piece unpacks the term.

I like this idea: “In addition to its obvious cognitive components, metacognition often has important affective or personality components. For example, an important part of comprehension is approaching a reading task with the attitude that the topic is important and worth comprehending. Being aware of the importance of a positive attitude and deliberately fostering such an attitude is an example of a metacognitive skill.

NPR Interview: Mickey Edwards On Democracy’s ‘Cancer’

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

In his 16 years in Congress, Republican Mickey Edwards came to a strong conclusion: Political parties are the “cancer at the heart of our democracy,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

In his new book, The Parties Versus the People, the former Republican congressman from Oklahoma details how party leaders have too much control over who runs for office, what bills make it to the floor and how lawmakers vote.

A Stab at [Western] Developmental Theory

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

This 5 minute interview illustrates one of many radical reactions to the Western model of development:

“We are trying to show the people that Islam is the solution to their problems, said Mohammed Zahawi, the head of Ansar al-Sharia. “As for those bankrupt calls for Western democracy, liberalism and secularism, what did democracy give to the West? Social collapse, moral collapse, economic collapse?”

The West, he said, has nothing to offer Libya. As other Libyans celebrated the country’s first free elections, this group rejected the democratic process entirely. In their interpretation, only God’s law applies.

Ansar al-Sharia follows the most literal interpretation of Islam — a narrow view that would ban mingling of the sexes and what they consider Western vices. Their rejection of any U.S. hand in reshaping Libya is so vehement that they’re willing to relinquish Libya’s lifeblood: its vast oil reserves — the reason they believe the Obama administration helped them in the first place.

“They can have the petrol if they want, so long as they just leave us alone,” Zahawi said. “We waive our rights to petrol, let them take it, just don’t intervene in implementing our religion and Islamic law.”

“The liberals and secularists were all raised in the West. They were raised in openness, nakedness and decay. They know that in an Islamic state, they can’t get to their vices. That’s why they are waging a war against Islam,” Zahawi said.

Two Political Theory Lectures

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Lecture – Intro to the Systems Approach and Structural Analysis

Lecture – Fostering Development and Securing Democracy and Liberty