Welcome to the Interlock Project!

This is a cooperative research project aimed at making sense of the interdependencies between some of the biggest social, political, and economic problems facing the US.

These interdependencies are almost entirely missing from the discussions of policy in America.  When they are brought up, they are only acknowledged inasmuch as they apply to one problem – the impact of poverty on education, for example, or education on economic growth.  There is, seemingly, no acknowledgement that these interdependencies are everywhere in the policy landscape.

This is a glaring hole in how we debate, create, and implement public policy.  Problems are currently addressed in our political system only when there is a critical mass of public pain or, all too often, when wealthy private interests demand it. This means we address issues in isolation from each other, and often in an order that makes no sense and actively undermines our ability to come up with affordable solutions that actually work. As a result, we spend too much time, money, and effort on low priority problems and on solutions that “feel good,” but have low to negative return on investment.

By doing a thorough analysis of how these problems are interrelated, and how various proposed solutions for each problem would impact the other problems, I believe we can eventually arrive at, and make a case for, a coherent set of solutions that will actually ameliorate these problems and improve the future of our country and its citizens.  That is what this project is intended to accomplish.

As I said, this is a cooperative effort. It has to be. The areas of expertise are too numerous and too complex for any one person. What I have tried to do here is to create a scaffolding for the project that will enable many people to contribute their knowledge of particular parts of the system. If you agree that this is a worthwhile effort, I urge you to check out the other tabs, register as a participant, look first at the areas you know best, and use the comments (and the forum when we get it set up) to point out wherever you see problems or gaps.

Please treat the text on each page as a seed or starting point. I did my best to summarize each problem and the most important interactions between problems, but it’s inevitable that over this broad range of problems I missed important points, accepted conventional wisdom when it should have been questioned, or simply got it wrong.  That’s where I hope you will step in.

If this is your first time here, I encourage you to begin by reading the pages that describe the Interlock (here) and what the Interlock Project is about (here) in more detail.  If you want to contribute to the project, see the Participate page.  After that, you can begin to explore the various issues and their interconnections in the menu on the left side of the page (click here for a mobile-friendly menu), or check out the project’s blog to see what we’ve been working on recently.


I’m looking forward to working with you!

–  Morgan D. Kauffman, Project Director