This year AIER has published a constant stream of outstanding content from some of the best writers in the social sciences. The range is remarkable: current commentary, deep research, historical material, pure theory, logical analytics, and so much more.
People have asked me about the AIER editorial “strategy,” that word used in the way you hear the term in popular management books. But here is a truth. The world of ideas does not generate production and results in the same way as a company that makes scarce goods and services. The influence of an idea follows an unpredictable path and produces blessedly unmanageable consequences.
This is the power of an idea. To attempt to contain it, direct it, script its effects, or find some ideal-type “target demographic,” is presumptuous and denies to the idea its awesome power to change the world. Ideas are infinitely malleable, immortal, and reproducible, none of which can be said of a widget. Ideas enter the human mind only upon agreement of the receiver, and the conditions under which this happens will ultimately remain a mystery. This is true for good ideas and bad.
The point of AIER is to draw on the best of the classical liberal tradition to bring the light of insight and understanding to help us better manage our lives and build a better world. Instead of some prescripted model – readers today are sophisticated enough to sniff out attempts to manipulate them – the approach AIER uses depends on ideals.
Find the best thinkers and turn them loose. Let them share their expertise with the world. Permit them maximum freedom to be truthful, write with integrity, be earnest and principled, and unleash their best. This is why the writing and research you find here never feels condescending or manipulative. Its purpose is to serve the reader in a way that helps the reader better understand the world.
I’ve made a list of the top ten articles of 2018 that had a powerful effect on me as a reader/editor, pieces that I would think about for days and week and had a lasting impact on my own understanding. My choices are based on freshness of insight, originality, timing, and an overall sense of: thank goodness this was written because otherwise, I would not have thought of it this way. There are hundreds of other remarkable articles, thousands even. This list is not canonical. Every reader has his or her own. This is mine.
10) Government Is Not What Makes a Country Great, by Mike Munger . It seems obvious once you say it but it must be said; it makes so much sense of the politics of left and right today.
9) The Real Problem with Paid Family Leave, by Veronique de Rugy. This is a difficult topic but this piece explains the least intuitive truth: this will hurt families.
8) The Beautiful Philosophy of Liberalism, by Richard Ebeling. Without an aesthetic of where we are going, we can’t tell the best path forward.
7) Merrics Will Not Save the Word, by Pete Earle. I had no idea that fashionable metric-obsession drove the US to defeat in Vietnam.
6) Tariffs May Wipe Out Gains from Tax Relief, by Max Gulker. Why not apply cost/benefit analysis to policy? The results are fascinating.
5) The Real Significance of the French Tax Revolt, by Pete Earle. No one saw this coming but this piece explains it better than any I’ve seen.
4) The Walter Lippman Colloquium and the Meaning of Liberalism, by Richard Ebeling. I’ve been utterly fascinated by this 1938 meeting for years but never knew precisely what happened.
3) A Crisis of Rigor in the Academy, by Phil Magness. Think something has changed in academia? Here’s the evidence.
2) There Are No Natural Resources, by Donald Boudreaux. Here again, once you see it, you can’t unsee it, but no article has ever been so clear on this point.
1) Job Guarantee: A Critical Analysis, by Max Gulker. Here is the magisterial study that completely explodes a fashionable idea.
In addition, here are the readers’ choices based on the number of page views in 2018.