A beacon to an oppressed world

One of the really great things about being American is knowing your country is exporting the best of its political and artistic culture to places that really need it. In the sixties and seventies, for example, Europeans watching US TV shows started asking pointed questions about stuff like habeas corpus and refusing to answer questions on 5th amendment grounds, and why they didn’t have those rights.

Lately, the record is a little more mixed. Still, can our hearts not swell with pride at the entrepreneurs along the Mexican border doing well by doing good? Mexico has no Second Amendment and very strict firearms laws, obviously a culture with feeble moral underpinnings. But thanks to these gun dealers, who will apparently fill your trunk or your semi with anything you can pay for, they can still have the stuff they need to protect their freedom from government oppression, maybe enough assassinations and resignations to reach Grover Norquist’s dream of no (living) government at all. Not only that, any surviving soldiers and police get to hone up-to-date combat and survival skills against serious firepower, so it’s a win no matter which side you’re on.

This is not “strictly business,” make no mistake. This is business with a radiant moral purpose, partner in nobility with the whole American drug importing, marketing and enforcement enterprise that has shown Colombians, Mexicans, Afghanis, and so many more a road out of poverty, and perked up the boring lives of their people. We have every right to make them pay royalties to Quentin Tarantino to see this stuff in movies, but we give it to them free and live on the street.

Are you suffering some wussy concern that what goes around comes around? The sixth par of this story will reassure you, and note that actual paid professional experts are cited. (The rest of the story will just upset you, ignore it.)

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.