by Jay F. Hein
Welcome to the relaunch edition of American Outlook, a national public policy journal rooted in America’s heartland. Our geography provides a clear line of sight to innovative solutions being hatched to combat our nation’s most stubborn problems. Opposite the conventional wisdom prevailing in Washington, D.C.’s power corridors, our writers pay more attention to common sense and first principles in the subjects they address.
Further, our operating platform is constructed by Sagamore Institute’s core beliefs in human dignity, the power of free markets, the pro-social role of religion in society, and individual freedom. We believe that public policy belongs to all the public—not just those who occupy elite corridors—and that citizens should be the centerpiece of public life.
Now a word about our history. Sagamore Institute was founded in 2004 to continue the think tank franchise established by Hudson Institute during its 20-year residency in Indianapolis. While there, Hudson began publishing American Outlook in 1998 and ceased publication in 2005. With recommencement under Sagamore, readers will have access to the full collection of past issues as well as each future edition at www.americanoutlook.org.
The 2010 national elections will be remembered for the debut of the Tea Party formed in reaction to the Obama administration’s prodigious government spending and far-reaching policies. Yet the subjects of our cover story—Mitch Daniels and Steve Goldsmith—disclaim the “for or against government” disposition in favor of an uncommon blend of libertarianism, business-savvy, and performance-oriented public administration. In short, they want less government but the government that remains to be better, smarter and faster.
Now Indiana governor and New York City deputy mayor respectively, Daniels and Goldsmith share a remarkable intellectual consistency formed in their common experience in the Indianapolis, Indiana reform laboratory. The partnership began when Daniels was a corporate executive at Eli Lilly & Company and chair of then-Indianapolis mayor Goldsmith’s efficiency commission. The gains that Goldsmith helped the city achieve in the mid-90s represent the same targets he is enlisting a new crop of Hoosier business leaders to help him achieve at the state level today. Mitch Daniels also occupies a special place in Indianapolis think tank history thanks to his service as Hudson Institute president from 1987 to 1990.
I am grateful to the collection of writers who honor us by contributing essays to this volume. Former U.S. education secretary and renowned author William J. Bennett powerfully depicts the importance of students learning American history and conversely warns us that democracy is in peril when they don’t. Because too many students populate the latter category, Dr. Bennett has written a powerful set of textbooks to breathe life back into its study. Sagamore Institute was privileged to serve as a think tank partner to this effort through the exemplary efforts of senior fellow Rex Bolinger.
American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks inaugurates our inquiry into the 21st-century economy by presenting the thesis of his best-selling new book defending the free market system. Dr. Brooks’ provocative and persuasive argument is that free enterprise is more than a money conversation. The system itself is based on values that define a particular belief in the ingenuity of people more than the impersonal and often stagnating transfer of wealth. U.S. Chamber of Commerce corporate citizenship chief Stephen Jordan takes the baton from Brooks to enunciate what it takes to pursue an innovation economy.
Sagamore senior fellow Amy Sherman anchors the economic conversation by explaining how charities ameliorate any injuries incurred by those left outside capitalism’s winner circle. She places her assertion in the context of a renewed emphasis on thrift and the advance of social entrepreneurship that transforms the poor into winners-in-the-making through cutting-edge financial literacy training. This blending of business solutions and social aspirations will be a theme regularly revisited in future editions of American Outlook.
On the international front, U.S. senator Dick Lugar and Alan Dowd explore America’s role in the fast-changing world. Senator Lugar’s essay is an adaptation of remarks that he delivered to Sagamore on the strategic importance of Africa. Dowd describes the debate taking place between the NATO secretary general and representatives of the 28 nations that form its membership. With the prevailing mood favoring military disengagement in Afghanistan, Dowd warns of the consequences for a two-tiered alliance segregating those willing to fight from those who are not.
I am especially pleased to welcome S. T. Karnick to these pages. Readers of American Outlook will fondly recall Sam as the founding editor of the magazine in 1998 and shepherd of each of the 26 issues produced during Hudson Institute’s seven-year publication era. He was joined by Hudson president Herb London in conceiving of the journal and making it one of the nation’s most compelling meeting places for culture, politics, and policy. Karnick, London, and new Hudson president Ken Weinstein—each of whom I was privileged to serve alongside at Hudson—served as gracious and strategic allies during the transfer of American Outlook to Sagamore earlier this year.
Karnick’s essay, “Big Government, Big Problem,” delivers a bookend to the fiscal parsimony exhibited in the Daniels-Goldsmith feature. His website and other writings serve as a modern day version of The Reform Club, London’s renowned meeting place of classical liberals in the 18th century. His writings illuminate the liberal mind in perpetual search for the balance between freedom and order, a state of which he claims the good society must always aspire to.
You will find such aspiration in all future editions of American Outlook, as well. Our writers will range from economists to politicians and from academics to nonprofit and business leaders. Yet this assembly, while so divergent in their work-a-day roles, will be resonant in their advocacy for policy, practice, and private behavior that advances the Founders’ vision for ordered liberty.
Such pursuit has been at the heart of our national conversation since America’s founding. We are a nation of liberty, possessing respect for the rule of law and reliance on its citizens to do the heavy lifting of democracy. Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) provost David Wright addressed such themes at a National Press Club event recently cosponsored by IWU and Sagamore Institute. Dr. Wright’s essay summarizes his remarks, including a quote from St. Augustine on the role of higher education in building informed citizens: “That’s what universities do, after all: they teach us how to read.”
Think tanks are sometimes known as universities without students. Sagamore Institute accepts this function with humility. It is a terrific honor to educate the public about matters that impact their lives and to suggest pathways to greater human flourishing. The pages of American Outlook will be our primary vehicle to carry forth this mission. We are grateful to our readers for their trust and interest.
Governing Matters: Mitch Daniels and Steve Goldsmith Usher in a New Competency Era
8 Questions for Mitch Daniels
Better, Faster, Cheaper: The New Government Imperative
America: The Last Best Hope
Expanding Peace and Opportunity in Africa
Stagnant State or Innovation Nation?
Hope for a Better Economic Future: Some Thrifty Inner-city Kids are Showing the Way
Big Government, Big Problem
NATO's Last Mission?
The Privileges and Duties of Citizenship