Our American Discourse, Ep. 36: The End – Death, Cemeteries, and Remembering

Though we are sad to bid farewell to “Our American Discourse,” we welcome the opportunity to talk about farewells—indeed, the hardest farewells of all: those that happen after death. How do we say goodbye to the past? And what does our farewell mean for the lives gone before us and for the future that will come after them? It is time to break the “death taboo” and have one last real conversation about the one last real experience we all must confront.

In this episode, David Charles Sloane tells the history of the American cemetery, and in that story, we find the evolution of our own existential approach to life, death, and beyond.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 34: The Eternal Struggle for Power on Capitol Hill

Power is up for grabs in Washington. A controversial President, an unpopular Congress, and a midterm election all make 2018 a battleground for political control. Who will win? How will they do it? And what role do you play? This is story of the most consequential game ever played, and it’s told by one of the leading Congressional experts of our time.

In this episode, Jeffrey A. Jenkins teaches us the strategy of legislative power: who has it, how they get it, what they do with it, and why we should care.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 33: How to Take Risks, Make the World a Better Place, and Get Paid

Think of all the public policy problems that the government hasn’t been able to solve. Now imagine that you had a solution for one of them. The government should be interested, right? If your solution really works, they should want to invest in it. They should want to encourage you to make it happen, perhaps monetarily if possible. Well, until recently, they didn’t have many avenues to do so. Enter…“social impact bonds,” and the new system of “payment by results.”

In this episode, Gary Painter walks us through some examples of these new “outcome-based” payment systems to encourage innovative risk-taking to solve wicked problems in public policy.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 31: Millennials Knocking on the Door of the American Dream

At long last, Millennials have begun buying homes. Will they ever catch up to previous generations? Or will the market continue to hold them back with high rents, lingering student debt, and opposing pressure from Baby Boomers? Believe it or not, these forces are neither inevitable nor insurmountable. There is a third way, a bridge between the generations, a new social contract that’s mutually beneficial for all…if we choose to see with enlightened eyes.

In this episode, Dowell Myers questions the fate of a generation grasping at the mantle of opportunity and projects the possible future scenarios they are rapidly approaching.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 30: How Do the Rich Spend Their Money and Why Has It Changed?

It used to be that big mansions and fancy jewelry were the consummate signs of wealth, but new research shows that people are increasingly spending their wealth on less “conspicuous” forms of consumption. In today’s world, it pays more to signal your status with things like health care and education and nutrition. How did this change come about? And what does effect does it have on the rest of the population who can’t afford these new status symbols?

In this episode, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett helps us walk a mile in the shoes of today’s “aspirational class” and see how they’re spending their wealth…and how it accelerates the rat race for the rest of society.

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