economics

economics


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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Income Inequality: Right or Wrong?

income inequality May 1st, 2018

Thomas Piketty, a French economist, made a big splash in 2014 with his book Capital in the 21st Century. It piqued my interest in regard to social justice. Specifically, social mobility, status quo, and economic freedom. I believe that America has a serious issue with wealth inequality, and income inequality, and has for quite some time. We are now less of a socially-mobile society than many countries in Europe are. Cross that with some of the standard of living/life satisfaction measures in which Europe and a few other countries do well, and you have a fairly grim assessment of the United States. Here are some thoughts on income inequality by Thomas Piketty.

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Robert Reich is Optimistic About America

Robert Reich March 26th, 2018

Liberal luminary, UC-Berkeley professor, author, former Secretary of Labor, and on and on, Robert Reich, put out a new book named The Common Good. I am very interested based on the title and the promotional wording. In this blog, I share a bit about it, but more importantly I share some thoughts Reich has about why he is optimistic about America’s future. Optimism is not a feeling/stance I can get to every day in these times, but let’s see what case he can make.

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Liberals Are the Heart of the American Republic

liberalism February 25th, 2018

Liberals are the heart of the American republic. At least in my opinion. I think evidence can be found for why the spirit of liberalism in its classical sense imbued the Declaration of Independence and Constitution with something that was missing from hereditary aristocracies of Europe. As well, much or all of the social progress that has occurred since the country’s inception has been due to the liberal impulse to improve conditions, make everyone more truly equal before the law, and rein in the abuses of government and corporations to improve the lives of people. It’s people-power, really. Yes, Democrats have sullied the sterling image of true liberalism, but progressive causes have never been about one political party (evidenced by the massive movement undergirding the Bernie Sanders phenomenon in recent years). One of clearest examples of why we’re liberals was penned by author Eric Alterman, Ph.D. in a book that is, not coincidentally, entitled Why We’re Liberals. In this blog I share a bit of background about liberalism, progressivism, and the like, and use a hundred or so Eric Alterman quotes to illustrate what I think is best about the book and, therefore, most consistent with the wonderful philosophical, political, and economic phenomenon called liberalism. Enjoy. And buy the book.

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Government Is Good, Professor Amy Believes

government December 10th, 2017

Professor Douglas J. Amy is a Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College. On this page, he writes a long and complete blog entitled “Government is Good: Capitalism Requires Government.” Based on my understanding of economics, politics, and the like, I would agree. He has allowed me to hit the highlights here in this blog (his words in blue). Herein you will find some good stuff, such as this quote about government from Professor Amy: “Americans need to realize that our economy has thrived not in spite of government, but in many ways because of government.” Along very similar lines, this time by a noted conservative, David Brooks: “The biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.” I for one am interested in a government more like European welfare states and social democracies. We need grassroots change so that government responds to the peoples’ needs, not moneyed interests. This is the progressive hope. Read further to hear plenty from Douglas J. Amy, Ph.D. and also from individuals such as Robert Reich, Joseph Stiglitz, Jared Bernstein, Ralph Nader, and Gar Alperovitz. Let us see if we can convince you.

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Economic Justice: My Ideal Society Described

justice December 9th, 2017

What would a society that really paid attention to economic justice look like? Here are some thoughts on the philosophical underpinnings of such a society. The basic structure of my favored economic system is roughly welfare statism centers around merit, equity, progressive goals, and just desserts. There is little of laissez-faire capitalism in this system, though, to my understanding, the welfare state needs to be based on an open market, with its emphasis on supply and demand, private ownership of the means of production, and due recognition of human nature. Thus, my system would stop short of a true, radical egalitarianism, or Marxism/State socialism/Communism. Those systems are too pie-in the-sky and frankly, just political impossibilities. Whereas many of the ideas Bernie Sanders touted during his almost-successful bid for the presidency are workable and politically possible, the State taking over all the means of production and taking private property from the oligarchs and plutocrats in this globalized system is a non-starter. Most Americans would not be in favor of a radically egalitarian distribution of societal goods, either. It just isn’t in our ethos. There is a lot we would be up for, and I will spell out my thoughts about economic justice in an ideal society.

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Business Ethics: Doing the Right Thing (V&E-16)

business ethics November 17th, 2017

The goal today is to discuss business ethics, corporations, companies, non-profits, workplaces, and industry: what best practices are, which ethical principles are relevant, what can go wrong, what ought to happen, how corporations fit into the scheme of corporate social responsibility, how business ethics relates to sustainability, the “triple bottom line,” and the like. Ronald F. Duska, Ph.D. is my first partner in dialogue. He served as a past president and executive director of the Society of Business Ethics, and has published many books on this topic. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in the graduate business schools of St. Joseph’s and Villanova Universities. My second guest is Michael Boylan, Ph.D., the John J. McDonnell, Jr. Chair in Ethics as well as the philosophy department chair at Marymount University. In addition to books entitled Natural Rights and The Origins of Ancient Greek Science, he put one out last year named A Just Society – his manifesto on ethics and social-political philosophy.

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Critiques of Capitalism (Part 5)

critiques of capitalism November 8th, 2017

Whether it goes by the descriptor free-market capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, neoliberalism, classical liberalism, libertarian economic philosophy,  or its illegitimate children – crony capitalism, supply-side economics, or trickle-down economics – the economic theory that America is based on has a long, significant, storied past. There are, however, many critiques of capitalism, based both on theory and on actual results. This blog is the conclusion in a series of five entitled Critiques of Capitalism.

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Critiques of Capitalism (Part 3)

critiques of capitalism November 8th, 2017

Capitalism is supposedly superior in every way to Socialism, Communism, anarchism, and different types of welfare statist capitalism adopted with much success by social democracies that represent much of Europe. There are many critiques of capitalism, based both on theory and on actual results. This blog is the third in a series of five entitled Critiques of Capitalism, and represents my argument that the system which has naturally evolved is unfair, unsustainable, arbitrary, and cronyistic, and therefore a hybridized system is superior to free-market or crony capitalism.

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Critiques of Capitalism (Part 2)

critiques of capitalism November 8th, 2017

Whether it goes by the descriptor free-market capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, neoliberalism, classical liberalism, libertarian economic philosophy,  or its illegitimate children – crony capitalism, supply-side economics, or trickle-down economics – the economic theory that America is based on has a long, significant, storied past. There are, however, many critiques of capitalism, based both on theory and on actual results. This blog is the second in a series of five entitled Critiques of Capitalism, and represents my first argument against a wholesale reliance on free-market capitalism as the ideal economic system.

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