Leave it to a legal scholar to ask: Is a stigma a tax? If so, can government act legitimately to remove that stigma?

To legal scholar Cass Sunstein, the answer is yes. Certain social norms, Sunstein explains, such as wearing a seatbelt in Hungary or carrying a gun in Sunstein’s neighborhood, act as taxes on particular behaviors. Norms that encourage certain behaviors are, analogously, subsidies.

To some, Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” is the height of American greatness. To others, given Jefferson’s ownership of slaves, it represents the height of hypocrisy. Where you fall probably depends upon how you interpret the word “equal” – which is the topic of Gordon Wood’s Bradley Lecture, “Thomas Jefferson and the Idea of Equality.”

To discuss Jefferson’s complicated legacy and Wood’s analysis, we welcome to the podcast Nicole Penn, AEI researcher, Virginia Dynasty expert, and fearless disentangler of Jeffersonian contradictions.

This Juneteenth – the day celebrating the end of slavery in the United States – take a moment to think about what it means to be free.

Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson provocatively argues that without the notion of slavery the concept of freedom cannot fully exist. In his lecture, “Free at last: How slavery begat freedom,” he explains that freedom is a concept unique to the west. Without our ugly history of slavery, in Patterson’s telling, we could not cherish the gift of liberty as we should.

What are schools for? To prepare students for participation in an economy? To cultivate virtue? Or just to make sure that no child is left behind?

Economist Sam Peltzman argued in 1993 that American public schools were failing by at least one of those standards, and that certain political conditions were to blame.

“QUIT. Go teach somewhere else, you racist… (Maybe Charlottesville?)”

After publishing an op-ed in the New York Times calling for greater viewpoint diversity on college campuses, Sam Abrams found a sign saying just that on his office door at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.

Is Israel a Jewish state? Or just a state of Jews?

In this Bradley Lecture, Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony examines the growing discomfort on the part of many Israelis with Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Using examples such as military codes of ethics and history curricula, he sketches a picture of a state shying away from its sense of common history, values, and role in Jewish history.

We take for granted that America is the world’s preeminent superpower, with hegemony abroad and prosperity at home. But how did we get here? And what does it mean for the US to use its superpower status to be a world leader?

In his new book, “Burdens of Freedom: Cultural Difference and American Power,” and in this 2016 Bradley Lecture, Professor Lawrence Mead argues that the basis of American wealth and power is an individualist culture. Threats to such a culture, Mead contends, are the primary challenges facing America as it tries to navigate its role as a leader on the world stage.

What is social capital? And whatever it is, are Americans losing it?

In his 1998 lecture, “Bowling with Tocqueville”, Everett Carl Ladd explained that he did not think so: His data and analysis led him to optimism about the state of participation in civil society, such as churches, recreational leagues, and even local politics. But more than twenty years have passed, and trends in religion, culture, economics, and technology seem to be driving Americans towards social alienation. AEI visiting fellow Timothy Carney joins us to provide the postscript to Ladd’s lecture, discussing how drastically civil society has changed and what he observed while researching his new book, “Alienated America.”

In this episode of the Bradley Lecture Series Podcast, released for President’s Day 2019, Walter Berns discusses the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The ideas contained in this lecture were the fruits of life-long study and reflection, and Professor Berns offers us additional reasons for sharing his regard for Lincoln, a man supreme in both word and deed.

As we learn from Walter Berns, Abraham Lincoln may be said to be the poet or maker of the Americans, both by teaching us what to think about our place and posture in the world and the meaning of our humanity, but also by his own heroic example of what it takes to defend, preserve, and live up to the highest principles of our common life.

In this episode of the Bradley Lecture Series Podcast, Charles Krauthammer discusses “Defining Deviancy Up.” This lecture was originally given in September of 1993.

Dr. Krauthammer worried that Americans were beginning to define typical, healthy behaviors as deviant, changing everything from middle class family life to ordinary sexual relationships, all while giving a pass to genuine criminality.

Germany has free college. Australia has low default rates. Why can’t America just follow their example? When proposing higher education reform, politicians often point to other countries as guides to what America should do. But what can we really learn from other countries’ higher education policies?

In this episode of “The Report Card with Nat Malkus”, on the AEI Education Podcast, Jason Delisle and Alex Usher join us to discuss their new book on international higher education, and the tradeoffs between access, quality, and cost that every country has to make in higher education policy.

As technology proliferates, worries about children spending too much time in front of screens have become common.

In this episode of “The Report with Nat Malkus,” on the AEI Education Podcast, Jenny Radesky and Erika Christakis join host Nat Malkus to give families tips on how to manage media use and discuss what we know about screen time, how parents’ screen time affects childrens’ development, and what we still need to learn to understand the effects of technology on children.

From teacher strikes to school safety, 2018 was an eventful year in education. In the last episode of the year, Laura Meckler, Alyson Klein, and Erik Robelen reflect with host Nat Malkus on the top education stories of 2018, and look ahead to stories we should pay attention to in 2019.

Nations compete across many dimensions, but in the coming years perhaps no competition will be as fierce or as important as the one for talent. Harvard Business School Professor William Kerr explains why in his new book, “The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy, & Society,” which he joined my podcast to discuss.

William Kerr is Professor at Harvard Business School and Co-Director of the school’s Managing the Future of Work initiative. He’s also a recipient of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship. You can download the episode by clicking the link above, and don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Tell your friends, leave a review.

In this episode of the Bradley Lecture Series Podcast, Paul Johnson discusses “What went wrong with the media and how to put it right.” This lecture was originally delivered at AEI in October of 1994.

This lecture predated “alternative facts” and “fake news,” and, most importantly, it was given before the internet became part of the media landscape. Yet Mr. Johnson’s contrast between the ideal and the reality of American media stands the test of time. Drawing on the Book of John, Thomas Jefferson, Milton, and Daniel Webster, Johnson asks his audience to demand a moral media aware of its moral obligations to society.

In recent years, charter schools have made great strides in closing the achievement gap. But they can only produce these impressive results if states have authorizers and laws that give these schools real autonomy, and real accountability for those that fail.

In this episode of “The Report Card with Nat Malkus,” on the AEI Education Podcast, host Nat Malkus talks to Cara Stillings Candal and David Osborne about lessons the country can learn from Massachusetts — the state with the highest performing charters — and how the principles of autonomy and accountability can transform the entire public education system, instead of innovating around the edges with a few charter schools.

In this episode of the Bradley Lecture Series Podcast, Henry Nau discusses “Conservative internationalism: Armed diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman, and Reagan.”

Two schools of thought typically emerge when Americans debate their place in the world: a realist, nationalist school and a liberal internationalist school. In simple terms, they ask, “Are we to be ‘Fortress America,’ or are we to be the world’s policeman? Nau posits a third school of thought which he traces through four American presidencies, showing that conservative internationalism combines key objectives with the values and means of the other two schools.

In this episode of “The Report Card with Nat Malkus,” on the AEI Education Podcast, Richard Rusczyk joins to talk about his work with gifted math students and math Olympiads through The Art of Problem solving, and what he thinks is missing from math education in the United States.

Last night, millions of voters went to the polls and gave both parties mixed victories. In this special edition of “The Report Card with Nat Malkus,” on the AEI Education Podcast, Frederick Hess, Jason Delisle, and Lanae Erickson join to discuss  what the 2018 midterm election results mean for education policy, what we can learn from this election on education, and what issues that will likely be addressed in coming months.


How permissive should US immigration policy be? What attributes should we require of the immigrants the United States does admit? And how does immigration affect those already living in the US, both native and foreign born? Reihan Salam answers all these questions and more in his new book, “Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders,” which he joined the show to discuss with me.

Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute fellow. He’s also a contributing editor at The Atlantic and National Affairs, and is the coauthor with Ross Douthat of “Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” You can follow him on Twitter @Reihan.