What Do We Deserve? Moral Desert & Entitlement

moral desert February 27th, 2021

What does a person – let’s confine it to Americans in this blog – deserve? In philosophy, it is termed moral dessert. That is, as a member of society, what rights does one have to goods and benefits and opportunities? Contrast dessert (sometimes spelled desert) with entitlement – the rights one has based on law, contracts, and agreements. In this piece, I want to dilate on this topic, and to that end, will share a brief discussion a friend and I had. You may not be surprised to learn that I take a generally liberal position, and my friend, a fairly libertarian one. I am more likely to see, optimistically, that people deserve opportunity, chances, and help from society at large (i.e., the institutions of government and associated social welfare provisions). You can expect, of course, to see apt quotations brought to bear on the dialogue.

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Bernie Sanders Reflects on Trump’s 1st Year

Bernie Sanders January 29th, 2018

Such a huge conglomeration of lies, deceptions, broken promises, subterfuge, and chicanery has resulted from one year of a Donald Trump presidency (I can’t say I am surprised), that there is plenty of grist for the mill if someone wishes to criticize the man. It’s just been abysmal. A panoply of ostentatious dissembling, propaganda, and class warfare. Conservatives bemoan the power and size of government, and when George W. Bush was in office and now this guy, I see what they’re talking about! For us political progressives, this is a gruesome spectacle to witness, but all hope is not lost. The following is what Bernie Sanders has say to those of us who are worried, dispirited, appalled, or anxious about Donald Trump (the day before the State of the Union Address, 2018). It’s good enough to reprint here:

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The “Natural Aristocracy” of Thomas Jefferson

natural aristocracy January 3rd, 2018

This is a summary of chapter four of Fareed Zakaria’s book, In Defense of A Liberal Education. It is entitled “The Natural Aristocracy”. It is based on a phrase used by the storied founder of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson. There is a fundamental difference between the teaching and learning of facts such as names, dates, formulae, and vocabulary on the one hand, and the more basic, utilitarian, fundamental approach of critical thinking. Indeed, learning to think is a profoundly valuable asset we would do well to inculcate in our children, and Franklin and Jefferson believed it would also make America special and virtuous. That it would lead to a natural aristocracy growing in the new land. Let’s learn about the two “founding fathers” and this incredible experiment, this “republic of virtue” they helped craft. In this chapter, education in general is discussed, as is online education.

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Why Politics is Depressing and Dispiriting

why politics is depressing December 24th, 2017

Politics is depressing to me in a big way nowadays. The highest I felt in recent memory was probably when Bernie Sanders was doing well against Hillary Clinton, and I suppose this year-end, watching Meet the Press today, made me feel very dispirited. It’s all so painful to watch, and I would imagine, to participate in. What are the ten most prominent reasons why politics is depressing as hell nowadays? Read on to see what I think.

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A Man of Principle: Bernie Sanders Quotes

Bernie Sanders quotes December 21st, 2017

Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, is known to almost all nowadays. For decades, though, he has been serving his community, state, and country with dignity, honor, and dedication. He really is a man of principle; I believe that. He probably isn’t perfect, but he has taken up the progressive torch and run hard with it. Not only is that an extremely challenging role, he also has billionaires, oligarchs, plutocrats, and other shady characters aligned against him. It’s amazing that the only things that have come out about him that are dubious, hyperbolic, and made-up. It is my pleasure to run through a dozen compelling Bernie Sanders quotes to inspire, enlighten, and reassure you during these extraordinarily tough times. I will also note which value or values I believe each of his quotations are truly about. 

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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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A Careful, Critical Look at America Since 9/11

America Since 9/11 November 20th, 2017

What were some of the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States? Did it give cover for certain forces and cabals to alter America substantially? Have civil liberties been curtailed in subsequent years? Is it fair to call the U.S. “the land of the free”? Have we lost something by torturing, attacking, and jailing both citizens and non-citizens alike? If Lady Liberty had the ability to move, would she be covering her face or standing proud? What do we as citizens need to do to try to halt the slide into a surveillance state in which dissent is quelled and dissenters are dealt with unethically? To help me explore America since 9/11, I interviewed Christine Rose, a documentary filmmaker about her film Liberty Bound: The United States Since 9/11.

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Critiques of Capitalism (Part 4)

critiques of capitalism November 8th, 2017

There are many critiques of capitalism, based both on theory and on actual results. This blog is the fourth in a series of five entitled Critiques of Capitalism, and represents my third argument against laissez-faire capitalism as the ideal economic system. The thrust of the argument is that to combat runaway capitalism, government needs to be made the servant of the people. Many countries have a corporate sector that is more appropriate, regulated, and benign. We must do that here in America, as well.

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Politics: Interview w/ Arianna Huffington (V&E-6)

politics October 15th, 2017

The following is an excerpt from the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom, taken from the name of an Internet-based talk radio show I did in times past. The topic of chapter six is “Morality Applied to Politics.” My two impressive partners in dialogue are noted author and thought leader Arianna Huffington and progressive economics, politics, and philosophy expert, David Callahan, Ph.D. Discussed are progressive politics, morality in politics, government, ethics, and responsive government.

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The Case for Capitalism

capitalism September 27th, 2017

I am in a class this semester studying justice in re: to economics. That is, How do we know a given system (or aspects of capitalism, for example) are just? Meaning, right and justifiable. Libertarian capitalism has really been cooking since about 1980 in the United States. What is it all about? As Murray Rothbard put it: “The central thrust of the libertarian thought is to oppose any and all aggression against the property rights of individuals in their own persons and in the material objects they have voluntarily acquired.” Sounds pretty attractive. Even more inarguable is Richard Epstein’s characterization: “All people are not equally driven, but when it comes to the use of power, those who have excessive amounts of self-interest are apt to be the most influential – and the most dangerous.” So, is libertarian capitalism (free-market or laissez-faire capitalism) above reproach? Let me first try to at least lobby for it. I present three arguments in favor of capitalism (perhaps more specifically, a libertarian version of capitalism) and some quotations for your consideration, followed by a critique.

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