Social Criticism

Social Criticism


America’s Oligarchy Is Repugnant

oligarchy is repugnant September 12th, 2018

I am now preparing for Hurricane Florence to pummel the crap out of my family and me. It is astonishing, angering, and outrageous to hear a tape of Donald Trump touting the great job he and his team did with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. He is just such an appallingly poor excuse for a president I can hardly describe it without throwing my computer monitor out of the window. It’s that bad in my opinion. I thought G.W. Bush was bad, but now when I hear him talk, I long for those days! It’s just topsy-turvy in the extreme. My point in this blog is that I hope Hillary Clinton, Bill, Chuck Schumer, the DNC, and especially Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wake up every day and lament their actions in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The Ancient Athenian historian and general Thucydides pointed out that “Ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows. For on public matters no one can hear and decide so well as the many”; he was speaking against oligarchy in favor of democracy. Though democracy has never been perfect, and our founders feared granting power to anyone but aristocratic white men, it seems abundantly clear that America’s oligarchy is repugnant. 

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Wisdom Is Ever-Ready to Guide Us From Here

Wisdom is ever-ready to guide us September 5th, 2018

For the moment, envision the high values and virtues – wisdom, truth, justice, beauty, passion, love, honor, strength, courage, etc. – as upon high; imagine they are personified, represented by gods and goddesses. Athena of course would symbolize wisdom; courage might be Apollo; Woden is strength, and so on. This idea was exemplified to great effect by Ancius Boethius. What he was thinking popped into my head when I looked at a picture of the anti-Christ, Donald Trump. Let me tell you about philosophy and Boethius. In his  The Consolation of Philosophy he spoke reverently of the word, and use the pronoun she to refer to wisdom and philosophy. He believed she watched over him, guided him, and could save him from his fate as a prisoner. I have hope that Wisdom is ever-ready to guide us from here to where we as individuals, communities and especially as a nation, we need to be.

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Is American Patriotism Getting Out of Control?

patriotism September 3rd, 2018

It’s been called the last refuge of scoundrels. It is undeniably linked to “us-against-them” tribal impulses, rooted in emotion and often impervious to reason. It feeds nationalism and militarism, making it a potentially dangerous phenomenon in a world of modern weaponry. Yet patriotism — outward, vocal, and enthusiastic patriotism — is still considered a vital element in American politics, an aspect of our culture that we not only tolerate but encourage. To many humanists, this is worth rethinking.

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The Values and Virtues America Desperately Needs

the values and virtues America desperately needs September 2nd, 2018

America, if it were a person, would be experiencing anxiety, self-doubt, egocentrism, confusion, self-loathing, and narcissism. Life has never been easy or uniformly positive for all but the wealthy, and even then, the rich aren’t any happier than the other social classes. It’s true, there was what some consider to be a “golden era” as we came out of World War II. The wealthy and corporations paid a large share of the tax burden, had more in common with the other social classes (e.g., “the Commons” were more robust then), and jobs were well-paying and fairly secure. Despite the racial, gender and sexual orientation problems that plagued America then, it was a time of general prosperity, social mobility, and optimism. Something has gone awry to an increasingly dire degree; if America were a person it would be spending a lot of time in bars, occasionally getting into a fight while intoxicated, and dealing with a persistent cough. The values and virtues America desperately needs are the subjects of this blog. It entails social criticism, but I think America can look to its “better angels”, as Lincoln put it. We have to do it. 

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Discrimination, Affirmative Action, & Distributive Justice

discrimination September 1st, 2018

As of this writing, another rights issue has taken the stage: Asian-Americans ability to gain entrance into the most selective private universities. Now, I went to the University of California, Irvine which as high as seventy percent non-white. Diversity is a societal good, and discrimination – not so much. The Asian-American students who are suing for an end to race-based preferences at Harvard University have a point to make, namely, that when it comes to education, the country should be purely a meritocracy. Is it discrimination when private colleges and universities such as Harvard have a quota for the maximum number of Asian-Americans they admit each year? Some considerations around affirmative action, distributive justice, and fairness are considered. Harvard’s history of anti-Semitism must be considered as well.

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Quotes About Fiscal Responsibility and Integrity

fiscal responsibility August 31st, 2018

I am going to attempt to demonstrate in this blog that Republicans have not been, at least in my lifetime, the Party of fiscal responsibility. This has a substantial affect on our finances and our lives. To some degree, Dems in Congress have in times-past been kinda spendy and porky. But it seems inarguable to me that Republicans in Congress and in the White House do not have fiscal integrity (or the peoples’ best interests at heart). In general, Republican politicians talk a good game, but when it comes to fiscal responsibility and integrity, they tend to cut taxes and increase spending. It has resulted in over $21,000,000,000,000 of debt. Red state Trump backers need to know that the GOP is not the party of the working class and that it cannot go on unchecked. 

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Democrats Make a Move Toward Progressive Politics

progressive politics August 28th, 2018

Boy, was I angry at the Democratic National Committee’s treatment of Bernie Sanders in 2016. Their chicanery (supporting Clinton for the nominee for patently political reasons) really rubbed me the wrong way. That cynical and corrupt situation plus a lot of Bernie supporters being unenamored with Hilary Clinton probably swung the election, because I believe Sanders would have prevailed in a few of the states Clinton lost. I mean, she didn’t even visit Pennsylvania, and Sanders had a robust following in many of those blue-collar swing states. It all added up to a bunch of crap, if you ask me. We are now enjoying the worst presidency in American history – an embarrassment for us in 2016, since we have so much more information and better education than they did during Pierce’s or Taft’s presidencies. We are supposed to be going in a progressive direction, but at least since 1980 there has been a reactionary counterforce in place, most notably perhaps with Donald Trump. Democrats made a big step a couple days ago that will help this whole country.

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OF COURSE Healthcare is a Right!

health care is a right August 24th, 2018

There is a question about whether or not a citizen having health insurance adequate to cover most any operation or medical procedure that is needed or certainly affects the quality of life. You can hear it when a liberal and a libertarian discuss political philosophy and economics. One will say, “No one has a right to receive any good costing thousands of dollars from ‘society’ because they need to work for what they want and need. Everyone is responsible for themselves.” The other will retort “Every other industrialized nation in the world provides medical care to its citizens; it’s up there with a 40-hour work week (or less), maternity leave, and the right to unionize in the workplace.” I mostly side with the latter; I do believe that healthcare is a right. That is, I believe that everyone in the United States should have some form of health insurance, the least of which being some kind of single-payer system (e.g., Medicare). Here are my reasons, and I have some quotes indicating healthcare is a right to back me up.

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Is Capitalism a Sustainable Economic System?

is capitalism a sustainable economic system? August 23rd, 2018

Is capitalism a sustainable economic system? There are many facts, opinions, and even biases held by countless people. Everyone has heard “Socialism is _______” or “The problem with capitalism is ___________.” This is certainly a question that interests me. I tend to come down on the side of capitalism where it meets democratic socialism. That is, the government (comprised of responsible and accountable citizens) owns some public resources, and individuals and to some degree corporations own the remainder. The amount of money that one can make from profit-seeking ventures is limited by a very progressive taxation scheme. One of the sharpest minds is the liberal author, professor, and former Secretary of Labor, Robert S. Reich, and he wrote a book, Saving Capitalism, that helps to answer the critical and timely questions, Is capitalism a sustainable economic system? Is capitalism just and fair? What can socialism and other approaches offer capitalism to help preserve the planet, care for people, and yet allow profit-making? This blog features Robert Reich quotes from his very readable book, Saving Capitalism.

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Are the American People Stupid? Sort Of.

Are the American people stupid? August 22nd, 2018

You watch the news on almost any given night and, even subtracting something for sensationalism and the 24-hour news cycle, it seems plain that my countrymen (and women) are really pretty suspect. The question, Are the American people stupid? is not an inappropriate one by any means. In this blog I will entertain the question and try to be fair but honest.

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