Social Criticism Archives – Values of the Wise

Social Criticism


Healthcare: Comparing the U.S. to the Leaders

healthcare October 15th, 2017

I came across an article that is so good, I have to take from it liberally. If the New York Times is miffed and wants me to take it down, sure, of course I will. But in the meantime, you will learn a lot about healthcare!  Basically, in this article, the authors, Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt opine about two-way matchups between eight different countries when it comes to the healthcare systems they have in place to insure and care for the health of their respective citizens. This is like a round-robin tournament comparing the strengths and weaknesses of various healthcare systems to each other. The article does go into more detail, and is worth a read if you’re that interested. Let the games begin!

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Robert Reich: Lion of the Left

Robert Reich October 13th, 2017

Robert Reich, Ph.D. is an economist, Rhodes Scholar, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, and professor of political science or economics at UC Berkeley. He has a good heart, and has been a tireless advocate for fiscal sanity, political fairness, economic justice, and political progressivism for almost 40 years. A small man (like 4’10” or so) he is diminutive. He was beaten up quite a bit as a child. He, however, has the heart of a lion. He used to be a centrist, and in the Ford Administration. He has seen the goalposts move, as it were, in the last 40 years, and sees the inequality and the insecurity. His goal is a more progressive, humane, fair, just, egalitarian, meritorious system – one that, frankly, used to exist in this country. The following are some of his thoughts on economics, politics, social justice, the middle class, the rich, and the like. 

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Greed: Wall Street’s Financial Fraud

greed October 11th, 2017

This blog is about skepticism toward America’s financial services sector: Wall Street, big banks, hedge funds, etc., as well as the lobbyists, politicians, and professors who collude and conspire with the industry’s many bad actors. I’m talking about capitalism and power run amok. Greed. I just watched Inside Job,  by remarkable filmmaker Charles Ferguson. America has such a complex financial and political landscape, I want to criticize, but it is hard to know where to begin. I will crack my knuckles and give you what I’ve got.

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Contrary Notions: Michael Parenti Quotes

Michael Parenti quotes October 5th, 2017

The following are Michael Parenti quotes which I took from his wonderful book, Contrary Notions. It is expensive, but so is organic produce and beef from free-range cattle. And that is how I think of Michael Parenti: the cream of the crop. An independent scholar, he is an inspiration to me. His writings are clear, compelling, and careful. He is a liberal luminary, and I’m proud to present to you a sampling of Michael Parenti quotes from Contrary Notions and other sources as well.

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Progressive Economics: Bernstein & Herman (V&E4)

progressive economics October 5th, 2017

Unless you’re quite wealthy, you probably feel an economic pinch— a job that’s not keeping pace, a fair amount of debt, insecurity about Social Security. The economic priorities of the Bush administration and Congress are fairly plain to see; the road to fiscal propriety in a more progressive America is not rocket science— it comes down to priorities and discipline. I’m happy to speak with two guests today who have decades of combined experience watching the economy, the media, and the rest of the factors that support it. Thank you for listening; we have to take a quick break, but when I return I will tell you about Jared Bernstein, Ph.D. and, then at the bottom of the hour, I will be speaking with Professor Edward Herman.

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The Economic Justice (and Faults) of Capitalism

capitalism October 4th, 2017

This blog is the essay I submitted for my class on economic justice, and is entitled: The Case for, and Critique of, Capitalism as an Economically Just System. I take the position, as required, that capitalism is indeed the most just of all the economic systems. In the last section, however, I critique it. It might be confusing, then, what I personally think. Well, read the blog if you are interested in a paean to and critique of capitalism, and see if you can determine where exactly I stand.

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Social Violence: Causes and Prescriptions

violence October 3rd, 2017

Mass murder is different than 1:1 murder and suicide. It symbolizes deep social decay. Add in heavy weaponry and you got yourself one big social problem. What issues underlie the phenomenon? It is mental illness? Is it guns? Is it endemic to a country that is in “the waning days of empire?” Is it an outgrowth of massive wealth inequality? What role does race play? Read on for some exploration of this noxious type of social violence that seems to constantly recur like an absurd Sysephean tragedy. 

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The Case for Capitalism

capitalism September 27th, 2017

I am in a class this semester studying justice in re: to economics. That is, How do we know a given system (or aspects of capitalism, for example) are just? Meaning, right and justifiable. Libertarian capitalism has really been cooking since about 1980 in the United States. What is it all about? As Murray Rothbard put it: “The central thrust of the libertarian thought is to oppose any and all aggression against the property rights of individuals in their own persons and in the material objects they have voluntarily acquired.” Sounds pretty attractive. Even more inarguable is Richard Epstein’s characterization: “All people are not equally driven, but when it comes to the use of power, those who have excessive amounts of self-interest are apt to be the most influential – and the most dangerous.” So, is libertarian capitalism (free-market or laissez-faire capitalism) above reproach? Let me first try to at least lobby for it. I present three arguments in favor of capitalism (perhaps more specifically, a libertarian version of capitalism) and some quotations for your consideration, followed by a critique.

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Patriotism: Liberal & Conservative Viewpoints

patriotism September 24th, 2017

Colin Kaepernick has done what many an African American has done in America’s long and tumultuous and somewhat ignominious history: made us all look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and centuries of legal precedence in a new light. He has an outstanding foil in the vacuous President of the United States, I am ashamed to say. Both representatives of polar-opposite points of view tout patriotism – though of a very different stripe. It’s an interesting, critical, and telling public debate that I suggest we all weigh in on. At best, we can progress toward higher levels of legal, societal, and emotional development if we accept America’s liabilities and mistakes and move forward with dignity and grace.

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What Do We Deserve? Moral Desert & Entitlement

moral desert September 21st, 2017

What does a person – let’s confine it to Americans in this blog – deserve? In philosophy, it is termed moral dessert. That is, as a member of society, what rights does one have to goods and benefits and opportunities? Contrast dessert (sometimes spelled desert) with entitlement – the rights one has based on law, contracts, and agreements. In this piece, I want to dilate on this topic, and to that end, will share a brief discussion a friend and I had. You may not be surprised to learn that I take a generally liberal position, and my friend, a fairly libertarian one. I am more likely to see, optimistically, that people deserve opportunity, chances, and help from society at large (i.e., the institutions of government and associated social welfare provisions). You can expect, of course, to see apt quotations brought to bear on the dialogue.

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