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Author and Founder of Values of the Wise Jason Merchey shares his perspectives on classical and modern applications of values, wisdom, ethics, and personal growth. The goal is to provide insight into what “a life of value” is and how one can live it. Quotations, proverbs, idioms, and historical facts often provide grist for the mill! Occasional guest blogs are featured as well.


Ambika Talwar Excerpt: My Greece

Ambika Talwar December 12th, 2017

When I was 18, I took my English 101 class at Cypress College, the local junior college. It was actually a pretty good experience; I have fond memories of my math teacher, Jack Gill, and my psychology instructor, Jorge Ampudia. As well, my English teacher was named Ambika Talwar. Ambika recently put out a travelogue about her time visiting Greece. In it, she shares thoughts and feelings that are present-oriented, literal, and even pedantic. At other times, she waxes philosophical. I wanted to share a passage that is interesting from her book, My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses. She is an interesting person, to say the least. You can read more about her here.

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Government Is Good, Professor Amy Believes

government December 10th, 2017

Professor Douglas J. Amy is a Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College. On this page, he writes a long and complete blog entitled “Government is Good: Capitalism Requires Government.” Based on my understanding of economics, politics, and the like, I would agree. He has allowed me to hit the highlights here in this blog (his words in blue). Herein you will find some good stuff, such as this quote about government from Professor Amy: “Americans need to realize that our economy has thrived not in spite of government, but in many ways because of government.” Along very similar lines, this time by a noted conservative, David Brooks: “The biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.” I for one am interested in a government more like European welfare states and social democracies. We need grassroots change so that government responds to the peoples’ needs, not moneyed interests. This is the progressive hope. Read further to hear plenty from Douglas J. Amy, Ph.D. and also from individuals such as Robert Reich, Joseph Stiglitz, Jared Bernstein, Ralph Nader, and Gar Alperovitz. Let us see if we can convince you.

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Economic Justice: My Ideal Society Described

justice December 9th, 2017

What would a society that really paid attention to economic justice look like? Here are some thoughts on the philosophical underpinnings of such a society. The basic structure of my favored economic system is roughly welfare statism centers around merit, equity, progressive goals, and just desserts. There is little of laissez-faire capitalism in this system, though, to my understanding, the welfare state needs to be based on an open market, with its emphasis on supply and demand, private ownership of the means of production, and due recognition of human nature. Thus, my system would stop short of a true, radical egalitarianism, or Marxism/State socialism/Communism. Those systems are too pie-in the-sky and frankly, just political impossibilities. Whereas many of the ideas Bernie Sanders touted during his almost-successful bid for the presidency are workable and politically possible, the State taking over all the means of production and taking private property from the oligarchs and plutocrats in this globalized system is a non-starter. Most Americans would not be in favor of a radically egalitarian distribution of societal goods, either. It just isn’t in our ethos. There is a lot we would be up for, and I will spell out my thoughts about economic justice in an ideal society.

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“Loneliness, Part II”

loneliness December 5th, 2017

The second part of a poem entitled “Loneliness”, this piece lays bare my innermost feelings about social connection.

Would that I could have the integrity
To not feel so lonely about my aloneness.
Rather, to accept it, embrace it. 
Because for whatever reason, it
is me

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Christian Capitalism and American Ignorance

Christian December 5th, 2017

Did you know that 55% of Americans believe that Christianity was written into the Constitution and that the founding fathers wanted One Nation Under Jesus (which includes 75% of Republicans and Evangelicals) (USA Today)? It is true that Puritan pilgrims came here seeking religious freedom, and that today we are one of the most religious of industrialized nations. But the fact that the vast majority of Americans think we are and are supposed to be “a Christian nation” is disconcerting, for two reasons. One, we certainly are not; America has slowly come to accept that religious pluralism and toleration and separation of church and state are ideals worth striving for. Some of the founding fathers were deistic and not particularly religious. But perhaps even more so, how can we be considered a Christian nation when we have this level of political chicanery, poverty, militarism, materialism, and greed? Those counter-ideals are literally antithetical to the message we believe Jesus was trying to convey during his brief time on Earth. This is a blog about the ignorance many Americans have, and even court.

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“Loneliness, Part 1”

Loneliness December 4th, 2017

A poem about a nightmare I once had, after which I awoke and wrote the following stanza:

I just awoke from a late-morning dream, an unsettling episode;
It centered on one aspect of my life and my self: social insecurity.
I had a heavy heart, heartburn, regret, and embarrassment that showed.
I know that I definitely have not reached developmental maturity.

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Corporations, Law & Democracy

corporations December 3rd, 2017

There is a lot of talk these days about “corporate citizenship” and “socially responsible business.” Some people think that is great — no more unnecessary polluting, propping up totalitarian regimes, and globehopping for the cheapest labor. It seems pretty clear that corporate citizenship is still pretty much a joke because of financial irregularities, bribes of politicians, abuse of people, ruination of the environment, etc. Those who make decisions that favor the shareholders and flout positive values are people who don’t have an internalized sense of ethics or honor. They are getting away with murder, often literally. Randy Hayes says: “Politicians and corporate ‘leaders’ have merged, reducing our political system to a ‘democracy theme park.’ This leaves us with the Republican side and the Democratic side of the ‘Big Business Party.’” I discuss these kinds of ideas with the man who knows what the deal is, Richard L. Grossman, in this blog.

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An Exploration of Wisdom: An Interview

an exploration of wisdom December 2nd, 2017

Wisdom is the heart of the enterprise Values of the Wise, so I look forward to today’s discussion here on the radio show, Values and Ethics: from Living Room to Boardroom. Wisdom is an apparently simple, yet surprisingly elusive matter, so I’m geared up to interview two capable and conversant individuals who can speak with me and help us all understand wisdom a bit better. First I have Wes Nisker on the program; he goes by “Scoop.” Usually I call the guest by their first name, with permission, of course; however, today I will see if I can call Wes, Scoop! He is an author of a best-selling book called The Essential Crazy Wisdom, an underground classic.

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American Dreamer: Henry A. Wallace Quotes

Henry A. Wallace quotes December 2nd, 2017

Henry A. Wallace, though little-known today, was a significant American progressive statesman, scientist, and vice-president of the United States. He was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s VP, and would have probably been elected president  if there wasn’t so much establishment Democratic political junk, McCarthyism, Cold War mentality, and red-baiting gripping the country in the post-war era. A book was written about him, and it is like 2.5″ thick. It’s called American Dreamer, by John C. Culver and John Hyde. It is full of details about his early life, his love of and major success with agricultural improvements in the early 20th century, and his political beliefs. He really was a kind of dreamer – he would often put principles over politics, and try above all to look out for average Americans. He wasn’t a “beltway” guy and didn’t play games. Wallace was one of America’s full-throated progressivea. This blog presents some of the best Henry A. Wallace quotes about values in the book American Dreamer.

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“Parallels”

December 1st, 2017

As this stanza shows, this poem is an attempt to discover the true nature of my existence, my being, my self.

Is there one constant, a part always the same?
Something I would take from one reality to another?
Who shall I thank, or conversely, who to blame?
Do I owe God, chance, society, freewill, or my mother?

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