Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980
Charles Murray (Basic Books, 1984)
That a single book can bring about a fundamental change in public policy is proven by Losing Ground, in which Charles Murray documents and exposes the dysfunctional American welfare system. Losing Ground—“the book that many believe begat welfare reform”—was one of the most consequential public policy books of the past quarter-century.
Thinking About Crime
James Q. Wilson (Basic Books, 1975)
Relying on his close study of law enforcement and crime, Wilson boldly challenges a number of widely held beliefs. Rather than arguing that we can eliminate crime by eliminating poverty, as the Left does, or by simply putting more police on the street, as some on the Right do, Wilson proposes a series of prudential steps calculated to achieve “modest success.”
To Empower People: From State to Civil Society
Peter L. Berger and Richard John Neuhaus (AEI Press, 1996)
In 1976, on the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, there appeared a 45-page succinct, readable, and timely pamphlet: To Empower People. Berger and Neuhaus focus on four structures—neighborhood, family, church, and voluntary association—arguing that they are “essential for a vital democratic society.”
Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration
Edited by Charles L. Heatherly (The Heritage Foundation, 1981)
In late 1979, the Heritage Foundation produced a comprehensive “manual” for the next Administration that would help it “cut the size of government across the board and manage it more effectively.” Approximately 60 percent of the study’s recommendations were implemented or initiated during the next eight years, making it one of the most successful examples of shaping public policy.
Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does
George F. Will (Simon & Schuster, 1983)
In Statecraft as Soulcraft, celebrated conservative commentator and columnist George Will calls for a politics based on civility, piety, and cooperation. Will explains that he is not proposing the subordination of the individual to society, but rather “a healthy accommodation” between the individual and society.
The Tragedy of American Compassion
Marvin Olasky (Regnery, 1992)
In The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky demonstrates how Americans for many decades generously fulfilled their Judeo–Christian responsibility to help those in need in their communities. The historic welfare reform of the 1990s owes much to Olasky’s pioneering research on how Americans helped Americans for more than two centuries before the coming of the welfare state.
Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today
Edwin J. Feulner and Doug Wilson (Crown Forum, 2006)
Based on the research and analysis of The Heritage Foundation, the leading conservative think tank in America, Heritage President Ed Feulner and Town-hall Chairman Doug Wilson examine government policy. Solutions are offered for every major issue from immigration (raise the citizenship standards and do away with bilingual education) to national security (contain rogue nations and upgrade our public diplomacy).
The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals
Edited by Robert P. George and Jean Bethke Elshtain (Spence Publishing Company, 2006)
This collection of eleven scholarly essays addresses the consequences of altering the institution of marriage from a variety of perspectives, including ethics, economics, history, law, philosophy, and public policy. The conclusion reached by all of the contributors is that marriage remains a worthwhile institution, both intrinsically and instrumentally.
Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State
William Voegeli (Encounter Books, 2010)
Voegeli tackles the implications of liberalism’s vision of a limitless welfare state and conservatism’s inability to eliminate it, complete with statistical data and historical analysis. The final chapter calls on liberals to accept limits to the welfare state, and on conservatives to accept the welfare state and try to fix it.
Deconstructing the Republic: Voting Rights, the Supreme Court, and the Founders’ Republicanism Reconsidered
Anthony A. Peacock (AEI Press, 2008)
Peacock examines the Supreme Court’s deconstruction of republicanism in cases interpreting the Voting Rights Act, including the judicial doctrine of “one man, one vote.” He challenges their attempt to “reconstruct” American politics based on their new definition of fairness, as well as the incompatibility between multicultural preoccupations and the original understanding of the Constitution.
Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition: Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant Wisdom on the Environment
Jay W. Richards (Acton Institute, 2007)
Includes the Cornwall Declaration, a multi-religious platform on environmentalism, and a series of essays defending and explaining the document. As the title promises, this book explores environmentalism from the perspective of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism.
The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future
Arthur C. Brooks (Basic Books, 2010)
The president of the American Enterprise Institute identifies a cultural divide between those who favor American-style free enterprise and those who favor European-style statism. He explains how a minority within America has pushed a big government agenda over the past few years, and what risks that approach will hold for the US.