Social Criticism

Social Criticism


The Profit Motive, Deregulation, and Financial Crisis

December 20th, 2018

I just watched a great documentary by Vice on HBO called Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Anyone who watches that, The Corporation, Inside Job, Margin Call, and The Commanding Heights will be well-schooled on how the financial services industry works and how it fails to work. In this blog, I want to briefly describe the Great Recession and the resultant Tea Party movement, which is tied in to the Trump phenomenon. The profit motive, financial deregulation, elitism, politics, and the Great Recession have something to teach us if we are to avoid another, potentially catastrophic meltdown. 

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“Anti-Intellectualism”: A Rejection of Critical Thinking

anti-intellectualism December 13th, 2018

Attorney, activist, author and secular humanist David Niose writes about one of the fundamental issues underlying much of the social dysfunction we see every day now in America: anti-intellectualism. What does this mean? This snippet captures his thesis well: What Americans rarely acknowledge is that many of their social problems are rooted in the rejection of critical thinking or, conversely, the glorification of the emotional and irrational. What else could explain the hyper-patriotism that has many accepting an outlandish notion that America is far superior to the rest of the world? Love of one’s country is fine, but many Americans seem to honestly believe that their country both invented and perfected the idea of freedom, that the quality of life here far surpasses everywhere else in the world.

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Trump and the GOP: When Ignorance is Dangerous

ignorance is dangerous December 10th, 2018

There have been disturbing examples around the 2018 midterm elections of the depravity of the Republican Party, not the least of which are the Georgia debacle and the North Carolina outrage. However, the GOP’s and Trump’s biggest failure and most egregious eschewing of responsibility and honor will probably turn out to the be way they have stacked important non-elected federal government positions with hacks, fools, and frauds. In this way, the GOP’s attempt to prove that government is ineffectual and inept by making it so is a stunning example of the idea that ignorance is dangerous.

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Paternalism: The Individual Vs. The People

November 21st, 2018

Paternalism is the idea that the State (one’s country) has a right to determine some rules that citizens are obliged to follow because the State knows better and something important is on the line. So, stopping at a traffic light might simply be a law – and one that everyone can agree with. Libertarians, however, object to some laws made by lawmakers on the grounds that they are unnecessarily paternalistic, and sap the liberty of the individual. Wearing helmets during motorcycling is a good example of an issue that is debated between libertarians and those who feel that the individual is not necessarily the best decision-maker when it comes to things such as safety. Clearly, gun rights are the issue du jour. Here are some thoughts about who gets to decide what, how, and why.

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GOP Chicanery is Really Treachery

November 13th, 2018

“The 2018 midterms were about voter suppression, which is also to say about robbing swaths of Americans of their constitutional rights, which is also to say about structuralized inequality. They were about enfranchisement and its opposite. They were about progress. They were about backlash. They were about women winning. They were about women losing. They were about compassion empowered, and racism rewarded, and hard work realized, and cruelty weaponized, and corruption unpunished. They were about hatred. They were about love. They were about history made. They were about history ignored. They were about American exceptionalism in the best sense and—at the same time—in the worst.” ~ Megan Garber

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Economic Inequality and Political Polarization

inequality November 3rd, 2018

The following is a brief piece written by New York Times columnist, David Leonhardt. In it, he asks the question, Race, class or both? He is referring to whether the 2016 election was in large part won by Donald Trump due to Americans’ racism (the white people, that is) or economic insecurity/economic inequality. It is an interesting summary, and it is recommended that the interested reader follow the links herein to the New York Times to read more. I also include a dozen interesting quotes about economics, capitalism, economic justice, and income inequality by scholar and author Steven Pearlstein.

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Climate Change Quotes (Global Warming Quotes)

climate change November 1st, 2018

I was talking with a friend about illegal immigration, and I was thinking, We non-politician citizens here in America are damned dumb if we worry about these alleged Middle Easterners and welfare sponges and criminals heading toward our country and ignore our more serious problems. For example, Conor Lynch enlightes as to the clear and present danger of climate change (global warming): “Hurricane Florence is devastating the Carolinas, and … Republican lawmakers in both North and South Carolina are notorious for their climate denialism and have done little to prepare for the impact that a changing climate will have on their states. One can only hope that the very real storms we are witnessing today will convince Americans across the political spectrum that we must address the clear and present danger of climate change before it’s too late.” I live in coastal South Carolina, and this guy is spot-on. I wish Republicans at the national and local level (politicians, that is) would stop using wedge issues and other techniques to distract from pressing issues such as the steel trap of climate change. Click through to find interesting quotes about global warming and climate change to inspire your thinking.

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Ethnic Studies Courses for White Children

ethnic studies October 30th, 2018

The following blog is written by guest blogger Jon Greenberg, a high school teacher, activist and writer. I wanted to present this take on white privilege because I believe that it is important in this time of hyperpartisanship, ethnic divisions, and political demagoguery. I am pretty much on the left when it comes to how I feel about race, racism, privilege, institutionalized racism, etc. That is to say that I am not all the way to the left; for example, I find Mr. Greenberg’s use of capitalization in the phrase “People of Color” to be silly and overdone. However, it is only slightly more mistaken than a lot of the beliefs and customs that my fellow European Americans to the right of me hold. Somewhere in between political correctness and social justice is where I come down on this topic. What follows is why Mr. Greenberg believes ethnic studies courses are useful for his white children (and white Americans everywhere):

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Exemplifies Civic Duty

October 20th, 2018

We find it hard to ask, whether in asking for more than we have, or more than we think we can get, if we are in fact asking for the right things. In the wake of a 2016 election defined for many by the fear of “falling behind,” of losing the material security promised by the American Dream, we need to think about how we define the contents of that dream and examine the entitlement behind the notion of “falling behind.” We now know that many more voters were galvanized this year by appeals to fear and entitlement than were moved by visions of social justice and equality. We need to address the appeal of fear and entitlement before we can go on to articulate a larger vision of a just society where there is opportunity for everyone. This is a blog about virtue and values, self-interest and self-indulgence, moral complacency and spiritual emptiness, by Jaime Hovey, Ph.D. of the University of Chicago.

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The Mystery of Good Character

character October 16th, 2018

The following is a guest blog written by A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University, Christian B. Miller. In it, he addresses character and introduces the reader to the concept of a character gap. His new book is entitled The Character Gap: How Good Are We?  There is also a link to a blog written by Jason Merchey entitled “The Values and Virtues America Desperately Needs”

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