Terry Moe and William Howell for the Hoover Institution: The founders crafted a government 225 years ago for a simple agrarian society of just four million people, some 700,000 of whom were slaves. Of the free population, 95 percent were farmers.

Government was not expected to do much, and the founders — mainly concerned about avoiding "tyranny of the majority" — purposely designed a byzantine government that couldn't do much, separating authority across the various branches of government and filling it with veto points that made coherent policy action exceedingly difficult …

This approach to governance may have been fine for the late 1700s. But that era is long gone, and it isn't coming back. Within 100 years, the nation grew to 15 times its original population, stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean, and was developing explosively into a modern industrial society — generating countless problems along the way, from rapacious monopolies to tainted meat to unregulated drugs, that the founders never anticipated and their antiquated government was never designed to solve. It was already a relic of the past. …

Here, specifically, is an approach that makes eminently good sense: with Congress the prime source of dysfunction, it should be moved to the periphery of the policymaking process where its pathologies can do less damage — and presidents should be moved to the center where they can do the most good. …

A simple way to do this is through a constitutional amendment that grants presidents universal "fast track" authority. The nation has 40 years of positive experience with fast track authority in international trade, and that same model would simply be applied to all legislation, including appointments. Presidents would craft policy proposals, which are likely to be far more coherent, well integrated and effective than anything Congress would design, and Congress would be required to vote up or down on those proposals, within a specified period of time and on a majority basis, without changing them. No delays. No filibusters. No earmarks. No loopholes for special interests.

Welfare reform and teen pregnancy

Robert Doar for the American Enterprise Institute: According to a new report from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention, teen births in the United States dropped again last year to a rate of 22.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 — a historic low. …

Greater use and availability of contraception are certainly part of this story, and so is a greater awareness of the difficulty of raising children in a single parent family. An increase in abortions is not, as the number of abortions in continuously reporting areas has declined from 834,615 in 2006 to 688,149 in 2012, according to the latest CDC data. And more marriage isn't either, with the marriage rate among adults dropping from 57 percent to 50 percent from 2000 to 2014, although a greater tendency to postpone sex may be.

But another factor may be playing a role in the decline of non-marital childbearing. There was a time when our nation's welfare policies made having children out of wedlock less difficult for women and required less of the fathers than they do today. Stronger work requirements and child support enforcement policies implemented as a result of the 1996 welfare reform legislation have, in my view, contributed to this decline in the number of births to unmarried women and teenagers.

School's out for unemployed minorities

Martha Ross for the Brookings Institution: The employment rate for teens fell from 43 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2014, and for young adults aged 20 to 24, it fell from 70 to 62 percent. These are big drops …

So what do the data tell us? Voluntarily dropping out of the labor force to concentrate on academics as a young person can pay off when people enter their prime working years, generally considered to be 25 to 54. Though education and work are not necessarily incompatible, employment rates are generally lower among students than among those not enrolled in school. Among teens and young adults, Asians have the lowest employment rates, but they also have the highest school enrollment rates. ... Their low employment rates as young people do not, on the whole, seem to lead to problems as adults…

On the other hand, blacks have the second lowest employment rates as teens and young adults, and the lowest rate as prime age workers. They also have the highest unemployment rates, showing an active desire to work. Among black teens in 2014, the unemployment rate was 38 percent, compared to 23 percent overall, and it was 22 percent among black young adults, compared to 13 percent overall. The trend continues into prime working years: blacks have an unemployment rate of 11.4 percent, nearly double the overall rate of 6.2 percent. The low employment rate among young black people is not driven by school enrollment. Latinos have similar, below-average enrollment levels but higher employment rates, and whites have much higher employment rates but only slightly higher enrollment levels…

Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately represented among so-called "disconnected youth," young people aged 16 to 24 who are neither working nor in school. Seventeen percent of black young adults aged 20 to 24 are disconnected, as are 13 percent of Latinos, 7 percent of whites and 4 percent of Asians…

In short, employment rates among young people tell different stories that often track by race and ethnicity.

Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.