Social & Economic Justice

Social & Economic Justice


“Values of the Wise”: What Does This Mean?

Values of the Wise logo June 22nd, 2017

The goal of Values of the Wise (the company) is to bring to life ancient wisdom and progressive thinking. This is done through books, online tools and resources, quotations, social networking, and the like. But what are “the values of the wise?” What does the phrase actually mean? I am Jason Merchey, the founder and originator of the concept, and I will be happy to explain what I think it means.

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Frederick Douglass Quotes: Master of His Fate

Frederick Douglass Quotes June 2nd, 2017

Daniel L. Katz, in the interesting book Why Freedom Matters, quotes the letter escaped slave and then-abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote to his former master, Thomas Auld. He writes: “For audacious correspondence, it’s hard to beat Frederick Douglass’ (1815-1895) letter to his former master.” He ain’t lyin’! This is one of the most interesting things I have ever read. If you are interested in rare or unique Frederick Douglass quotes, you’ve come to the right place. Think about it: a slave endures the full measure of cruelty that was the custom of the upper class in the South for hundreds of years, then bravely escapes, makes his way north, evades capture, learns to read, marries, has four children, becomes a great writer, and grows into one of the most famous and eloquent and forceful abolitionists.

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Supply-Side Economics: Unwise and Unkind

Economics for the rich May 22nd, 2017

Supply-side economics is on display in the latest budgetary proposals by the Trump Administration. The approach to governance he is showing is highly questionable, both from a wisdom perspective, and from an economic justice point of view. As Erik Wasson writes in his Bloomberg article, “Trump to Pitch Deep Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs and Medicaid:” “President Donald Trump plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to a category of spending that includes major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans, as part of an effort to balance the budget within a decade.” He also notes that ‘This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schemer said.” What could the populist-sounding candidate-turned-president have in mind? What is the justification? Is it wise, and is it just?

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Social Justice: The Case of African Americans

Social justice May 17th, 2017

Social justice is a very significant matter for America. Today I had a friend I disagreed with about whether it is even real, and then happened to watch an innovative and compelling show called American Race, hosted by provocateur and thinker, Charles Barkley. There are many considerations when it comes to the interesting and significant topic of social justice: what is it? Is it real? How does it relate to race, institutionalized racism, class, capitalism, poverty, and class issues? What are America’s racial problems now, what are the true facts about our history, and can we make greater social progress going forward?

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Social Justice: Based in Historical Truth

social justice May 3rd, 2017

I was a little discomfited by Daniel Lattier’s derision of social justice in his account of an elementary school in Minnesota which has made some noble attempts at teaching children about historical truth, such as the idea of “white privilege.” I believe this position shows a lack of insight into the way America works, will shortchange children of all races, and will perpetuate the status quo. It’s not terribly surprising, though. Consider: “Once you follow a path of nonviolence and social justice, it won’t take you long before you come into conflict with the culture, with the society” ~ Martin Sheen. Lattier wrote in Not All Parents Want Their Children to be Social Justice Warriors:

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Conservatism: As Compared to Other Views

conservatism and libertarianism May 3rd, 2017

There are so many ultra-rich people in this country that “being a billionaire is barely enough to gain admission to the Forbes 400 [list of wealthiest individuals],” said Michael J. Sandel in is superb, readable book Justice. In a libertarian America, sure, there would be less discrimination and some of the icky stuff that social conservatives foist on the rest of us (censorship, the drug war, etc.). There could conceivably be a lot of wealth inequality, however. Is this right? Can it be morally justified? Let’s analyze, criticize, and philosophize about modern political conservatism and its ugly younger brother, libertarianism.

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Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom

Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom April 20th, 2017

It seems like daily we are inundated by superficial social media, “fake news,” political demagogues, intolerant youth, and oppressive societal institutions. How can one find concentrate on what is real, wholesome, and reliable? Can we reach back into the past and access classical wisdom, traditional values, and a greater sense of fulfillment, meaning, and optimism? Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom (2017; Palmetto Publishing Group; $17.95 softcover) aims to address big-picture topics such as values, virtues, ethics, and wisdom. The following is a pitch for the book, including endorsements, reviews, an excerpt, description, and author bio.

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Progressive: Promoting Social and Economic Change

Was America Ever Progressive? April 14th, 2017

Considering the relative powerlessness of political progressives (i.e., those on “the Left”), it’s obvious that such individuals are in it for the love of principle. As compared to the lure of power and money, the struggle for rights, social welfare, true democracy, true freedom, humaneness, and other ideals/values is a noble sentiment. The goals of social activism are also usually superior to conserving the status quo and bolstering institutional power. It has never been easy; from securing a fair wage to voting rights to being free of conscription to breaking the shackles that enslaved, progressives have not had much power on their side. Power concedes nothing without a demand…. Frederick Douglass wrote. A comparison and contrast of progressivism (“liberalism”) and conservatism follows.

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Is Inequality of Wealth Fair and Acceptable?

inequality of wealth March 27th, 2017

Is it appropriate, legitimate, and wise for government to tax the wealthy in order to help the poor (i.e., redistribution)? I think this is largely a moral issue, though it clearly touches economics, and politics. It is my belief that it is morally appropriate for a legitimate government to tax wealthy citizens to redistribute to help the poor. It’s not right to live in a society that is the richest in the history of societies, has significant wealth inequality, very low unionization, flagging wages, and so on; many millions are without health insurance, living paycheck to paycheck, not being able to afford daycare, and such. That’s not a good society. The rich need to be willing to propagate and contribute to a more horizontal society than that. It’s also wise, in addition to simply being moral.

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Progress and Social Justice in Society

suffering woman needs progress now! February 28th, 2017

Is more progress possible in modern society, and if so, how do we get from here to there? What can “the wise” teach us about our values that will bring about greater peace, justice, prosperity, equality, and happiness? What role will progressive/grass-roots politics play, versus conservative/reactionary/top-down politics? How does this all relate to economics and social policy? Let’s discuss.

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