Social Criticism

Social Criticism


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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

“Will Star Trek Forever Remain Fiction?”

Star Trek November 29th, 2017

A big fan of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, this poem asks if we will ever reach the level of development as a planet that humans do in the 23rd century. Here is a stanza:

How can we engender a bright future as a global society,
When millions of children are hungry, sick, and poor?
We are swimming in greed, intolerance, bigotry, and anxiety;
Must
Star Trek forever remain nothing but lore?

Read More

“The Truly Noble Man”

the truly noble man November 27th, 2017

The truest and best conceptions of masculinity are measured in this poem. Here is an example:

Despite popular conceptions, the ideal measure of a man
Is not gauged by braggadocio and aggressive displays;
Neither by number of toys or lovers he managed to collect,
Though many try in vain to be manly in these ways…

Read More

The Multifaceted Self: Ethics, Politics & Psychology

the multifaceted self November 27th, 2017

I want to examine characteristics, demarcations, and aspects of the self vis-à-vis various groups and divisions within society. Hopefully doing so will shed some light on internal values and virtues, and the idea of a “values divide” between political ideologies, groups, states, philosophical orientations, religions, and so on. As well: wise as opposed to conventional (or, dare I say, wise as opposed to ignorant)! I have two guests I am eager to speak with about this intriguing topic. First, Alan Abramowitz, Ph.D., professor of political science at Emory University, and then Earle F. Zeigler, Ph.D. a very interesting polymath and wise old man who wrote many books, including A Way Out of Ethical Confusion: Untangling the Values Fiasco. I have many questions about the multifaceted self in society, but I want to be sure to take the opportunity to ask my guests questions about the philosophy of a good life I call “living a life of value.” 

Read More

Georges: Takei, Will, Orwell, Bush, & Santayana

George Takei Quotes November 24th, 2017

I happened to look up the commentator and author George Will to demonstrate to a friend that his use of the word “bathetic” was neat but counterproductive, because it is simply too esoteric. It apparently means “insincere, intense emotional display.” I indicated that it was of limited utility in communication because it was so rare that it was obscure, myopic. It reminded me of George Will. I began to look up Will quotes I imagine for the first time, and wow, he said some interesting things! Much was politically-right, but still, neat stuff. It led me to Star Trek pioneer and social activist, George Takei. I then added George Bush, deep thinker George Orwell, and philosopher extraordinaire George Santayana quotes. Voila! — a blog! I present to you quotes from the five George’s: George Will quotes, George W. Bush quotes, George Takei quotes, George Orwell quotes, and George Santayana quotes. They will make you laugh; they will make you sad. But they certainly will make you think.

Read More

Modern vs. 19th-Century Progressives

progressives November 22nd, 2017

What do modern progressives (i.e., “liberals”) have in common with The “capital-P Progressive” movement that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? What do Bernie Sanders and the late Paul Wellstone share with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson? To what degree do both movements/ideologies favor lower- and middle-class interests over those of the rich; avoiding war if at all possible; renouncing empire and colonialism; separating church and state; prizing the welfare state over big business interests; a willingness to invest in new social programs; and securing abortion/social/civil rights? You can probably toss in anti-death penalty sentiments and a general approval of world government. Women achieved the right to vote in ‘33, so that is not something both groups called “progressives” could share. This blog is an analysis of the modern Left in America and the “capital-P” Progressive Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Read More