By Richard Harvey Brown
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Additional info for Culture, Capitalism, and Democracy in the New America
And they adopt mixed strategies toward product liability, depending on whether federal standards will be stricter or more relaxed than those of each state. In general, American leaders and citizens are ambivalent and often willfully ignorant about the role of the state. Since Franklin Roosevelt, for example, political elites have found it necessary to plan. But they have cloaked their departures from laissez-faire and attempted to make their interventions appear to be short term and merely pragmatic.
This is particularly striking in view of the fact that federal courts are entitled to intervene whenever interstate commerce is involved, and the linkage between formal schooling and access to national labor markets is clear. Similarly, high school students’ readiness for college is assessed by a private firm’s test of college aptitude, rather than by tests of academic performance, which are run by the state in other advanced societies. Perhaps the most dramatic anomaly of state and federal powers was the patchwork of voting methods among different states, and among different counties within Florida alone, in the presidential election.
The overwhelmingly black election districts mandated by the amendments to the Voting Rights Act, for example, can elect black aldermen, city councilmen, and state representatives, but these districts rarely foster the interracial alliances necessary for significant changes in public policies. Moreover, neighborhoods segregated away from job networks also lose income and, with that, businesses, more jobs, police protection, and upwardly mobile members. The isolation or despair of those left behind can “defeat programs for empowering black neighborhoods.