Social & Economic Justice

Social & Economic Justice


Patriotism: Liberal & Conservative Viewpoints

patriotism April 1st, 2019

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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Songs I’m Thinking About Today

March 16th, 2019

Two deep and inspiring songs that struck me today are the following. Van Halen’s “Dreams” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. Let these masterpieces sink in…

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Society Needs Economic, Social, Political Change

society January 29th, 2019

Three things came across my desk in a mere two days that made me feel like I needed to blog about capitalism again. I have critiqued America’s capitalistic society many times under the heading Social and Economic Justice here on this blog. The three sources that inspired this blog are: economist and Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman writing a piece entitled “Elizabeth Warren Does Teddy Roosevelt”; a surprising critique of capitalism from none other than Tucker Carlson (!); and a wonderful statement by “The Wizard of Omaha”, Warren Buffett. Here is enough about each of these surprising and refreshing ideas about the limits of capitalism in modern American society.

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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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Socrates, Thoreau, King & Zinn on Civil Disobedience

Socrates December 3rd, 2018

In Plato’s Crito, Socrates is shown to believe, essentially, that one should obey the laws of one’s city-state (Athens), even if in a particular case the law seems excessive, asinine, and/or immoral(i.e., not in keeping with a rationally acceptable view of moral justness and rightness) (in other words, laws that are unjust). Obedience to authority, whether to obey unjust laws, autonomy vs. group membership, and social contract theory are all relevant questions based on a modern and objective reading of Plato’s Crito. Further, these considerations have relevance to the question, Does Socrates have an obligation – legally and morally– to kill himself(i.e., choose not to escape after receiving a death sentence)? It is my contention that Socrates probably does not have a moral obligation to kill himself, though legally he probably does. After bringing in a few relevant theorists/philosophers, I will sketch a working theory on how to deal with obeying the law versus civil disobedience.

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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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Speaking Truth to Power and Civil Disobedience

civil disobedience November 17th, 2018

Civil disobedience is a tried-and-true, potent, and ethical way to make your grievances known. Anything from handing out pamphlets to self-immolation can be considered civil disobedience, but the quintessential method is probably group protest that commits a nominal or minor legal infraction. Common would be disrupting traffic during a march, occupying a building during business hours, and picketing that goes beyond the garden-variety. I am not sure if taking a knee at a sports event during the national anthem truly counts – that might just be innocuous free speech. However, since Trump chooses to demagogue about that, instead of letting things take their natural course, it ends up functioning like civil disobedience because of the magnitude of the disruption it engenders. This blog is about the latest trend in left-wing protesting against the powers that be: harassing conservatives during times when these bad actors aren’t working to feather their own nests and undermine the fabric of our society, but simply eating in a restaurant or some such activity.

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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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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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Magnanimity & Altruism: Saving 50 Jews from Death

magnanimity October 4th, 2018

Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus are very likely two of the greatest unsung heroes in American history – at least, in Jewish history. I watched a documentary about their courageous acts (in 1939), which amounted to nothing less than a full-throated display of magnanimity and altruism. Here is their story. I will also include a selection of quotations about magnanimity by noted Holocaust survivors, human rights activists, altruism researchers, and stalwart exemplars of virtue and honor such as Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Viktor Frankl. 

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