RealClearPublicAffairs is a new series of sponsored curation designed to provide coverage of important and trending public policy issues. it's a deep dive into curated content that we think will engage our audience and deepen their understanding of topical concerns facing our nation's decisionmakers.

“America well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own…she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.” So cautioned John Quincy Adams on the Fourth of July in 1821.

Have generations of Americans since heeded the counsel of our sixth president?

It’s been three-quarters of a century since the Axis powers were defeated, nearly 30 years since the Iron Curtain was lifted, and 17 years since terrorists weaponized planes on U.S. soil, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. Today, America is neither entrenched in a great war, nor frozen in the kind of nuclear game of chicken that induced Baby Boomers to undergo fire drills that had them hiding under their elementary school desks. We are not anticipating another 9/11-style terrorist attack.

Yet the U.S. military is still operating in 40 percent of the nations of the world. It is has been engaged in nation-building efforts in Afghanistan for the better part of two decades. Some $5.9 trillion has been spent to fight the “war on terror” in that time only to see the pool of jihadists grow ever-larger. Little wonder that nearly half of Americans believe U.S. foreign policy over the last 20 years has made the country less safe.

The newest addition to the RealClearPublicAffairs family seeks to address and answer the profound questions raised by this experience: Is there a realistic alternative to this expansive, global military footprint? Would a different approach better ensure America’s security and prosperity? If America cannot be the world’s policeman, what grand strategy should guide U.S. foreign policy? The mission of these pages is to provide a curated and serious examination of these vital questions.

RealClearPublicAffairs is a new series of sponsored curation designed to provide coverage of important and trending public policy issues. More About

New Voices in Grand Strategy

Michael J. Zak Lecture Series

NATO is Troubled; Europe is Safe

NATO’s 70th anniversary party last week in Washington featured an address to a joint session of Congress by its Secretary General, a meeting of ministers, and widespread hand-wringin...

The Myth of the Cyber Offense

Bottom Line: The Cato Institute draws from the historical progression of United States’ cyber capabilities over the past decade and their demonstrable effectiveness as decisive opera...

The New Containment

Handling Russia, China, and Iran

Entrepreneurship is the process of bringing an idea to life and sharing it in the marketplace. The principal sources of innovation and job creation are new, young, and growing companies, responsible for nearly all of the net new job creation in the U.S. economy. As a result, entrepreneurship cannot be considered an afterthought. Whatever one’s politics, it is a national priority.

Having finally recovered from the Great Recession, the national entrepreneurship rate is at its highest level in two decades. The purpose of this page to gather the best thinking on what can be done to keep it growing. Declines in entrepreneurship reduce productivity and job formation – and with them economic growth, wages, and living standards for all Americans.

Recent research suggests that policymakers seeking to promote entrepreneurship in their city or state achieve the best results when they turn from past strategies and embrace a new economic model that recognizes the changing nature of work and need for an educational system that supports it. Steve Jobs put this concept simply. “Let’s go invent tomorrow,” he said, “rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.”

Creating an environment to encourages that quintessentially American approach to life means intelligently identifying and targeting existing barriers to entrepreneurship. These range from lack of access to capital and geographic concentration to racial and gender inequities. Americans have the fundamental right to turn an idea into an economic reality, regardless of who they are or where they're from, with zero barriers in the way. It’s our natural impulse, too, and in these pages, we will try and highlight best practices, success stories, and learned lessons that will light future innovators’ path.

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Kauffman Foundation State Entrepreneurship Indicators: Missouri & Neighboring States

Bottom Line: Missouri is the 2nd most entrepreneurial state in the nation according to the Kauffman Foundation's Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index (KESE), which aggregates entrepren...

Kauffman Foundation State Entrepreneurship Indicators: New York & Neighboring States

Bottom Line: Florida is the 11th most entrepreneurial state in the nation according to the Kauffman Foundation's Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index (KESE), which aggregates entrepren...

Kauffman Foundation State Entrepreneurship Indicators: Florida & Neighboring States

Bottom Line: Florida is the 3rd most entrepreneurial state in the nation according to the Kauffman Foundation's Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index (KESE), which aggregates entreprene...

Electronic cigarettes were a product a long time in the making, with many architects. The concept dates in a serious way to the 1920s; the first patents were issued to American inventor Henry A. Gilbert in the mid-1960s; in the late 1990s, former NASA engineer and microprocessor pioneer Phil Ray experimented with a new, non-smoking technology. Although Ray’s efforts didn’t go anywhere commercially, they did deliver the word “vape” to the lexicon.

The big breakthrough arrived 15 years ago. It was achieved by a Chinese chemist named Hon Lik, whose motivations were a combination of intellectual curiosity and entrepreneurial rewards -- and human welfare. Cigarette smoking had hastened his father’s death. Hon Lik had a heavy tobacco habit himself, and was experiment with ways to quit.

Public health is the dominant underlying context for the arrival of e-cigarettes. In the United States alone, they are credited with helping millions of people quit or reduce smoking cigarettes. According to a recent report from Public Health England, e-cigarettes are currently the most popular stop-smoking aid in England. American smoking rates continue to decline as well, according to the National Health Interview Survey, with the biggest drop among young adults.

A significant role in this success story is played by e-cigarettes, a product measurably safer than combustible cigarettes. Yet, the long and sometimes partisan tobacco wars took its toll on the U.S. media, which retains a residual skepticism of new products in the overall inhaling marketplace. The same is true among the American public. Two-thirds of adults think vaping is equally or more dangerous than smoking, for instance, a belief unsupported by the best available evidence.

This erroneous perception suggests a knowledge gap, one which these curated pages seek to address. Reasonable minds can differ on the public policy questions raised by vaping. What restrictions on market e-cigarettes are reasonable? Which are counterproductive? How can the government and the private sector maximize the health benefits of weaning smokers off tobacco without marketing vaping to young people who were non-smokers to begin with? The aim of these curated pages to expose those who think critically to viewpoints they might otherwise not see –to give readers information necessary for informed judgments.

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Free speech, freedom of association, viewpoint diversity, and open inquiry--these principles are essential to the educational mission of the university, and to the health of civil society.

RealClear's Free Speech on Campus page is designed to be the leading online forum where conversation on these critical issues can take place.

In 1974, Yale University published a document officially titled the Report on the Committee of Free Expression at Yale. Widely known as the Woodward Report, after its chairman C. Vann Woodward, it contained this unequivocal line:

“The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

This was not a new insight. Although he died 150 years before the American Revolution, Francis Bacon hit unerringly on the requirements of a genuine education: reading, writing, and debate. Today, however, college campuses in the United States and much of the western world are replacing debate with coerced conformity. 

The result is an environment that once would have been considered an anathema to the very purpose of higher education: Rigorous exchanges of competing ideas have been replaced by university speech codes, constricted speech zones, commencement speaker “disinvitations,” and “no-platforming,” which is university-speak for the heckler’s veto.

Some institutions are pushing back against this trend. As 2018 came to a close, 54 U.S. institutions of higher learning have signed the so-called “Chicago Statement” guaranteeing freedom of speech on campus. That leaves nearly 1,600 schools that haven’t, including, ironically, Yale.

A majority of college students, according to a seminal Brookings Institution survey, do not fully support the precepts of the First Amendment; and one-fifth of them believe it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who is making “offensive and hurtful statements.”

These students are tomorrow’s judges, jurors, legislators, journalists, and teachers. Operating under the conviction that freedom of speech is essential to the educational mission of the university, and ultimately to the survival of civil society, this page is designed to provide a platform for conversation on this critical topic.

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Proxy Advisor firm recommendations are important tools for institutional investors, particularly passive investors with hundreds or thousands of proxy shareholder votes to submit annually and an increasing pressure to reduce fees for clients. Despite having little regulatory authority, they have succeeded in gaining an outsized role in our corporate governance system, with huge influence over the future of America’s public companies and their shareholders.

Despite this influence, proxy firms have been criticized on a number of other issues, including: 

  • Conflicts of interest that can impact the objectivity of voting recommendations made to institutional investors. 

  • A one-size-fits-all approach to voting recommendations that ignores the unique characteristics and operations of individual companies. 

  • A lack of willingness to constructively engage with companies, particularly small and midsize companies that are disproportionately impacted by proxy advisory firms. 

  • A lack of transparency throughout the research and development of voting recommendations. 

  • Frequent and significant errors in analysis and an unwillingness to address errors.

In addition to fiduciary concerns, these issues are cited as a hurdle by businesses to going and staying public. Over the last 20 years, the number of public companies in the U.S. has fallen by roughly half. This jeopardizes economic growth and limits investment opportunities for retail investors who rarely have the chance to invest in innovative private companies. 

Recently these problems with the proxy advisor industry have garnered the attention of U.S. and global regulators, Republican and Democrat members of Congress, institutional investors, academics, and others.

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