social justice

social justice


Civil Rights and Responsibilities

civil rights June 10th, 2019

Three social issues of great importance and significant disagreement include the right to abort an unwanted fetus within a certain period of time at a medical clinic (free from harassment or shame), the right to bear arms, and the rights of those who are gay and transgender to be free from discrimination in hiring and in the workplace. These are of importance because whenever a right is withheld in America, there needs to be a very compelling reason, Constitutionally and morally speaking. They are subjects about which there is fundamental disagreement (and not a little contention!) because they are thorny ethical, religious, and cultural issues. In the time of social media and political hyperpartisanship, the solution of these matters of great concern to society are matters of civil rights, and also of civil responsibilities. As well, with the resurgence of the radical Right, settled law (e.g., Roe v. Wade) is now being reexamined. This blog is about civil rights and civil responsibilities when it comes to three key issues.

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Responsibility for Our Fellow Man

responsibility June 2nd, 2019

My wife and I donated five thousand dollars to a local no-cost medical clinic, the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. My visit was amazing. It’s a new building, and is at least as nice as my doctor’s. Probably nicer. It was built recently with 100% donations and grants! For an individual making up to about $25,000 a year or a family of four earning around $50,000 annually, primary care and many other specialties are free. Free. It felt like a wonderful asset to our community, which sits in one of the poorest states in the country. Many folks, however, believe that anything “free” is not only a waste of resources, but morally offensive. That is the cult of the individual, and it runs afoul of an important belief underlying progressive politics and moral decency: the responsibility we have for our fellow man (and woman).

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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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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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Values Underlie Our Beliefs and Actions

November 23rd, 2018

Values underlie our beliefs and actions. This is clear whether the lens is focusing on person to person interactions or government to government relations. This is clear to us when we reflect on it, but often this fact is overlooked or obscured. We tend to more easily focus on content, on the surface-level issues and triggers that evoke powerful emotion, involve tribes and loyalties, and which are purposely stoked by those who have a dog in the fight – be they advertisers, social media giants, or government officials. This blog presents some examples of values underlying actions, and the GOP is held up as an example.

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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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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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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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Is MLK’s Dream of Social Justice Actually Possible?

social justice June 25th, 2018

It might sound odd or indefensible to claim that Martin Luther King Jr.’s wonderful speech known as “I Have a Dream” was determined by MLK to be more of a nightmare than a dream of peace and tranquility. In fact, if you think about it, the phrase “the American dream” refers not to racial or social justice, but striking it rich. Indeed, American values (the dark ones) dashed King’s buoyant optimism present when he wrote about his dream, and he knew this before he died. Will social justice and racial integration ever be realized? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Social Criticism and Unvarnished Truth

social criticism June 17th, 2018

I sometimes get a bit of pushback or disapproval from a friend who finds me to be too critical, perfectionistic, negative, and judgmental about politics, economics, and America in general. He tells me to relax, and de-focus, because a) life sucks when you are in a dark place, and b) America is and always has been mostly good. In other words, he is saying that yes, we have our problems here, but why dwell on those; there are so many positive and just and progressive and hopeful things about this country that could just as easily be considered. That’s fair enough, as far as it goes. This blog is about social criticism and the spirit of American political liberalism/progressivism. From the Vietnam War era “love it or leave it!” to culture warrior Ann Coulter’s belief that liberals are cowardly foolish traitors to America, the question is whether America is above reproach, or rightfully deserves a cold, hard look (as always, for the purposes of making this country better). My belief is not simply that “We are the best country in the world!” but rather We have more potential than any nation in history, so why are we so unimpressively selfish, ignorant, reckless, warlike, materialistic, distractible, misled, and tribal?

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