Category: Economy/Society

  • It’s the Economy, Stupid!

    The following is a slightly revised version of my presentation at the annual Faith, Reason, and World Affairs Symposium held at Concordia College, Moorhead, on the topic of “Sustainability” (September 16 & 17, 2014). I still think that capitalism is incompatible with sustainability, but I don’t believe that it is the final root cause. Some […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (7)

    The ninth principle of the concentration of wealth and power deals with one of Chomsky’s abiding themes, i.e., the mechanisms through which thought control—or the manufacturing of consent—takes place in a liberal democracy. Chomsky begins by referring to the origins of the public relations and advertising industries at the turn of the twentieth-century: The public […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (6)

    Large corporations and super-rich individuals can spend more money in a single election than the vast majority of people will earn in a lifetime. While one citizen can cast only one vote, concentrated wealth can allow you to shape the views of thousands of voters. Campaigns are expensive, and the availability of funds is often […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (5)

    Chomsky’s fourth principle of the concentration of wealth and power is to “Shift the Burden.” He uses the word “burden” in the sense of the responsibility for maintaining and managing the society in which one lives. Morality demands that people who have greater wealth and bigger incomes ought to be held responsible at a higher […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (4)

    The third principle of the concentration of wealth and power is “Redesign the Economy,” i.e., use your political influence to change the rules of the economic system, so that it favors the already advantaged class in new and more powerful ways. Noam Chomsky identifies two major factors under this principle: (1) financialization of the economy and […]

  • Systemic Problems (2)

    The following discussion is based on, and inspired by, the work of Jack Harich and associates, which can be accessed here. A systemic problem is one that originates in the structure of a system rather in the behavior of individuals participating in the system. This does not mean that individuals play no role in causing the problem; rather, it […]

  • The Fifth Discipline (1)

    The following post consists of quotations from Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, along with my own attempts at paraphrasing them. My purpose is to put in one place the most important lessons that I think I should learn from reading The Fifth Discipline, and so the following material is […]

  • Systemic Problems (1)

    The following discussion is based on, and inspired by, the work of Jack Harich and associates, found at their website. Problems come in all shapes and sizes, and they vary in terms of causes, scope, duration, etc. Here I am concerned with problems that seem to result directly or indirectly from the decisions made by individuals. […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (3)

    Throughout the history of the United States, there has been a constant struggle between two tendencies: On the one hand, we have “a democratizing tendency that’s mostly coming from the population—a pressure from below.” On the other hand, there is the tendency coming from the elite to maintain the status quo, and to reverse any concessions […]

  • Requiem for the American Dream (2)

    What follows is my interpretation of Noam Chomsky’s words, as presented in the film “Requiem for the American Dream.” My aim in these blog posts is not to provide a full and faithful representation of Chomsky’s thinking; he is perfectly capable of doing that on his own. Instead, I will emphasize those of his points that I think are worth emphasizing, […]