What Were We Thinking? Selected Schar School Op-Eds (December 2020)


Originally published on January 5, 2021

From the New York Daily News:

Donald Trump, Wounded Wasp

A wounded wasp is dangerous to touch; even a dead wasp can sting and injure long after its death. The venom that Trump is injecting into the nation is without parallel in our long history. He seems to be on a vendetta to do as much damage as he can on his way out.

—Jeremy Mayer


From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

Is Emergency Use Authorization the Best Way to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine to the Public?

While an emergency use authorization may be the speediest way for public health officials to begin a vaccination campaign, it may not end up shaving that much time off of a more traditional route to government approval. 

—HyunJung Kim, Biodefense PhD Student


From the Hill:

How the American System Failed in 2020: Pandemic Politics

Trump never wants to be identified with a losing cause. That’s why he paid so little attention to the pandemic all year. As a result, he became identified with what was—for him—a bigger losing cause: his own re-election.

—Bill Schneider


From NextGov:

Artificial Intelligence in Government and the Presidential Transition: Building on a Solid Foundation

It is especially critical for the incoming administration to build a trustworthy AI environment. With a skeptical public, a majority of Americans recognize the need to carefully manage AI, with the greatest importance placed on safeguarding data privacy; protecting against AI-enhanced cyberattacks, surveillance, and data manipulation; and ensuring the safety of autonomous vehicles, accuracy and transparency of disease diagnosis, and the alignment of AI with human values.

—Alan Shark


From the Washington Post:

Five (Somewhat) Upbeat Predictions for 2021

Pay no attention to economic Cassandras who will inevitably point out that output or employment remains where it would have been if there had never been a pandemic. You’ll know the storm has passed when the unemployment rate falls below 6 percent, business spending on capital equipment surges and a new restaurant opens up where your old neighborhood favorite used to be.

—Steven Pearlstein


From the Hill:

Low Taxes on Corporations and Higher Taxes on the Execs Who Run Them Could Stimulate U.S. Manufacturing

The incomes of our top earners do, on the other hand, have additional negative impacts. They grow our nation’s unsupportable inequality. 

—Frank Manheim


From the National Review:

The GOP’s Foreign-Policy Tribes Prepare for Battle

But beneath the surface, on a range of international issues, there is less underlying agreement within the GOP. Instead, there are some very basic differences over the future of American foreign policy. If anything, the Trump era exposed those differences, and — without a Republican president to rally around — they are about to come to the fore.

—Colin Dueck


From Asia Times:

For a Hint of Biden’s Foreign Policy Plans, Look to Libya

Unforeseen and often tragic events in the Middle East can demand a US response. But absent any major crisis, the new administration will try to shape its Middle East policies around Biden’s global themes of revalidating alliances, strengthening democracies as the best antidote to rising authoritarianism, and supporting multilateral efforts to end conflicts and to address the great transnational threats from climate change, terrorism and pandemic health crises.

—Ellen Laipson


From Zocalo:

It’s 2020. Do You Know Who Your Government Is Serving?

This booming state capture—the backdoor privatization by industry of government policies—increasingly entangles state and private interests in arenas from energy, education, and environment to finance and foreign policy. Jay Clayton, who runs the Securities and Exchange Commission, spent much of his law career defending the Wall Street firms he now polices. Many of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s top advisors come from the for-profit college industry in which she has investments.

—Janine Wedel


From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Election 2020: What Lessons Can We Learn, and What Actions Should We Take?

We need to return to the idea of Election Day, as opposed to Election Week or Election Month. Unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, most voters should show up at the polls on Election Day and show an acceptable form of identification to cast a vote. That provides the greatest degree of control over the integrity of the voting process.

—Bill Bolling


From the Washington Post:

Facebook and Google Cases Are Our Last Chance to Save the Economy from Monopolization

First and foremost, these cases represent a recognition that regulators and judges were asleep at the switch over the past two decades and failed to prevent monopolization in the economy’s fastest-growing sector and a linchpin of American competitiveness.

—Steven Pearlstein


From the Hill:

No, Biden Hasn’t Won Yet—One More Nightmare Scenario

Failing that, Democratic senators would have to deny the Senate a quorum, which would mean neither chamber would have picked a winner. Under the 12th Amendment, two-thirds of all senators must be present. If 34 Democrats leave the chamber, they can stop Pence’s selection. If they do, then all the GOP delay would have led to replacing Biden with…President Nancy Pelosi.

—Jeremy D. Mayer


From NNY360:

Parole Boards Must Balance the Concerns of All Parties

Victim’s testimony, a time-honored part of the American criminal prosecution process, has sent thousands of Wyoming offenders to prison. But justice is not advanced when, years later, crime victims are called again to give emotionally charged encores moments before parole panel members decide whether or not to release their offenders from prison.

—Public Policy PhD Alumnus Ronald Fraser


Schar School Fact: Schar School experts are quoted in, cited by, and contribute to nearly 300 media appearances a month.