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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2006

T C 357 • Politics and Economics in American Thought

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44525 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
CBA 4.340

Course Description

This will not be the usual political theory course, in which topics such as legitimacy, federalism, and checks and balances will comprise the subject matter. Nor will it be a class in economics, in which a theory and mathematical techniques derived from that theory are taught as though they were scientific truth. Instead, we will focus on American attitudes toward the proper relationship between government and the economy as they have evolved over more than two centuries. We will address the ways Americans have argued about such questions as the following: does the market or the government do a better job of creating prosperity and justice? Are small or large units of production healthier for society, and what should government do to encourage units of the appropriate size? Is agriculture or industry more useful for a healthy society? Under what conditions, and to what extent, should government regulate business? Should government attempt to ensure that income is equally distributed? Although much of our reading and discussion will deal with historical subjects, the final two weeks of the course and the final reading assignments will deal primarily with contemporary policy controversies.

About the Professor Professor Prindle is a political scientist whose interests have varied over the years, leading him to publish work in several different areas of the discipline. He began as a specialist in voting and parties, changed to study the politics of oil in Texas, moved on to examine the Presidency in comparative perspective, and for the last several years has investigated the political relevance of the entertainment media. He is now occupied with a study of the history of American ideas about politics and economics. His newest book, published in 2006, is The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism. In 1994 Professor Prindle won the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence. He garnered two degrees at the University of California before earning his Ph.D. at M.I.T. in 1977. His hobbies are racquetball and fishing.

Grading Policy

This course does NOT contain a substantial writing component. Two unannounced in-class quizzes: 5% each Class participation: 20% Two mid-term essays (7 pages each): 20% each Final essay (12 pages): 30%


John Locke, Second Treatise of Government Adam Smith, selections from The Wealth of Nations George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty Benjamin Pade and James Simmons, What Government Can Do: Dealing with Poverty and Inequality The following sections of Michael Levy (ed.), Political Thought in America: An Anthology: Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson , John Dewey, James Madison, The Populist Party (platform), Milton Friedman, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin Roosevelt, Eugene Debs, Daniel Webster, Orestes Brownson, Norman Thomas, Andrew Jackson, Walt Whitman, Irving Kristol, John Calhoun, William Graham Sumner, Richard Ely We will also read some handouts from Jefferson and Hamilton.


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