Tag Archives: Philosophy

Man’s search for the theory of everything.

ECONOMIC CATCH 22

AMERICAN ECONOMY

ESSAY

BY: CHET YARBROUGH

WARREN BUFFETT (NET WORTH 75.2 BIILLION DOLLARS,Billionaires like Warren Buffett note that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than himself.  )

The widening gap between rich and poor distresses most Americans.  The distress is not limited to the poor, and middle-class.  Some who are doing well feel guilt over a range of societal reminders of the inequality of life in the richest and most powerful nation in the world.  Billionaires like Warren Buffett note that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than himself.

Some Americans despair because the gap seems insurmountable; many despair because few politicians and leaders know what to do about it.  Many who have wealth think it is because of their hard work.  They discount inheritance and the luck of being born in the right family.  As President Trump notes, he received a $1,000,000 loan from his father to get a start in the real estate industry.

TRUMP (IT HAS NOT BEEN EASY FOR ME COMMENT,  As President Trump notes, he received a $1,000,000 loan from his father to get a start in the real estate industry.)
WOMEN AND THE LADDER TO SUCCESS
MEN AND THE LADDER TO SUCCESS

Many of the rungs of the ladder to success are broken.

Income beyond the necessities of life, the cost of education, medical coverage for unexpected illnesses, and the nature of American capitalism get in the way of equal opportunity.  When both mothers and fathers work and can only provide shelter and food for their family, they find it difficult to provide support and nurture of their children.  Instead of nurturing and supporting, parents default to freedom by neglect.

FREEDOM BY NEGLECT (When both mothers and fathers work and can only provide shelter and food for their family, they find it difficult to provide support and nurture of their children.  Instead of nurturing and supporting, parents default to freedom by neglect.)
—SCHOOLS AS BABY SITTERS—

There is a growing perception of primary and secondary schools as babysitting agencies rather than learning foundations.  Television and video games become teachers, mentors, and guides for latch-key children.

Education is a necessity in a changing technological world but the cost and quality of education reinforce development of an underclass trapped in poverty.  It is not simply a matter of colleges or secondary education facilities.  Private industry needs to expand its training for sorely needed employees looking for advancement.  Apprenticeships and mentor-ships need to be developed and nurtured in the private sector.  Until the private sector takes more of a lead in educating and retraining workers, there will be a labor shortage in America.

PRIVATE INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (Private industry needs to expand its training for sorely needed employees looking for advancement.  Apprenticeships and mentor-ships need to be developed and nurtured in the private sector. )

Vilifying immigrants is scapegoating a fundamental problem in postindustrial countries.  Qualified labor is in short supply because of aging demographics and the failure of businesses and government to cooperate in expanding education and training of the underemployed.

GOVERNMENTS’ GUILT (There are not enough young people in post industrialized nations to carry the burden of an aging population and the need for an expanded safety net for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.)

If Americans wish to remain a great economic power, it must encourage legal immigration and education of the employed and unemployed.  There are not enough young people in post industrialized nations to carry the burden of an aging population and the need for an expanded safety net for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.

America’s political leaders argue about the cost of medical insurance and needs for its citizens while being pampered by special interests (doctors, lawyers, and insurance companies) that provide elected officials and government employees a living wage, medical insurance, and a measure of employment security.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

 

(Lobbyists for these special interests feed elected officials re-election money to get favorable regulatory legislation to improve doctor, lawyer, and insurance company profitability.)

Lobbyists for these special interests feed elected officials re-election money to get favorable regulatory legislation to improve doctor, lawyer, and insurance company profitability.

Insurance companies pedal their policies to the government while the needs of the poor are marginalized.  Political representatives hide behind belief in a mythical economic invisible hand that will serve those who work the hardest.  To some affordable insurance deniers and their elected representatives, it is a matter of survival of the fittest; i.e. the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disabled and handicapped are considered guilty of their own condition.

HOMELESS (To some affordable insurance deniers and their elected representatives, it is a matter of survival of the fittest; i.e. the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disabled and handicapped are considered guilty of their own condition.)

There is no invisible hand.  Without a private sector insurance system, medical treatment would have to be collectivized.  The idea of nationalization is disastrous.  There are not enough doctors to serve the needs of citizens now.  Collectivization through a single payer system will make doctor shortages worse. Complaints by doctors of insurance company interference is preferable to a doctor shortage with increasingly longer lines for service.  A single payer system is not the answer.  Regulation of the insurance industry is preferable to any form of collectivization.

COMMUNISM IN THE USA (Some argue that regulation is a slippery slope to communism.  That is a red herring.  Self-interest is an undeniable human characteristic and America democracy.  Medical insurance, like the banking industry, must have government over site.)

Some argue that regulation is a slippery slope to communism.  That is a red herring.  Self-interest is an undeniable human characteristic of America democracy.  Medical insurance, like the banking industry, must have government over site.  Just as banks have prospered with regulation, so can insurance companies.

(On the one hand, the stock market is a beacon of freedom because it provides private capital for the expansion of the economy.  On the other, tax advantages for those with enough money to buy stock, get a free ride off the working poor that have little or no discretionary income.)

American capitalism favors the wealthy at the expense of the poor.  On the one hand, the stock market is a beacon of freedom because it provides private capital for the expansion of the economy.  On the other, tax advantages for those with enough money to buy stock, get a free ride off the working poor.  The poor do not have the advantage of disposable income to invest.   Lower taxes on capital gains make the rich richer and leave the poor further behind.

There will always be haves and have-nots, but America needs to level the playing field.  Both American government and private enterprise need to step-up to improve education, open minds to a world economy, and provide a realistic safety net for all citizens.

(Visited 7 time, 1 visit today)

THE DARK SIDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Written by: Sheelah Kolhatkar

Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR (Author,Staff writter at The New Yorker, covers Wall Street, Silcon Valley, and politics)

In “Black Edge” Sheelah Kolhatkar masterfully recounts the dark side of capitalism.  The American stock market is a tremendous source of energy (private money) for entrepreneurial capitalism.  At the same time, a poorly regulated stock market pollutes the capitalist ideal.

CAPITALISM UTOPIAN-ISM (The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.

Capitalism is an economic and political system for trade and industry that allows individuals rather than a collective determine one’s future.  The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.  There is no “invisible hand” that guides an economy to equal opportunity; i.e. there is only human nature and its penchant for good and evil.

STOCK MARKET CRASH 1987 ( In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that effect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.)

Kolhatkar explains the meaning of black edge information.  She shows how the American stock market becomes a breeding ground for greed.  In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that affect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.  Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information.

STEVEN A. COHEN (AMERICAN INVESTOR, HEDGE FUND MANAGER, BILLIONAIRE, Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information. )
(Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.)

In one sense, this seems a “no harm, no foul” entrepreneurial benefit in capitalist society.  Cohen pays big money for traders that can provide him inside information.  People are employed and well compensated for their effort.

However, Kolhatkar infers there is harm, and it is foul.  It breeds an organizational philosophy of abuse.  Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.

One may argue, so what?  Cohen becomes a rich man and is known as a benefactor to charities based on his accumulated wealth.  Some of the traders that worked for Cohen became multimillionaires.  Similar arguments can be made for the Koch brothers.  Where is the harm?  Where is the foul?

CHARLES KOCH (AGE 79 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )
DAVID KOCH (AGE 74 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is not found guilty of insider trading.)

The harm is somewhat inchoate but care for others is missing in Kolhatkar’s story.  Lives were ruined by Cohen; i.e. some of his closest associates are abandoned, traders operating as information gophers break the law, and Cohen’s personal life falls apart.  He is divorced by his first wife.  Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is found not guilty of insider trading but he leaves a trail of human destruction.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.  )

The story of Steven Cohen is the story of a Trump presidency in the United States.  America loses its way when capitalism is only seen through the prism of wealth.  The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.

Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, Presidents, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.  Every day, we see a President denying immigrants the chance of becoming a part of an American Dream that made and makes America great. We see an Education Secretary intent on dismantling our public education system.  We see a congressional and departmental effort to dismantle health care and welfare.  We see Americans being discriminated against because of their sex, race, and religion.

GOVERNMENT (Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, the President, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.)
CHECKS AND BALANCES (The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.)

Human nature is not self-regulating.  Unregulated human nature is brutish.  The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.  It diminishes a way of life cherished by most Americans.  People like Steven Cohen and Donald Trump are guilty of being human and un-ruled.

(Visited 12 time, 1 visit today)

A MODERN MACHIAVELLI

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Human Action (A Treatise on Economics)

Written by: Ludwig von Mises

Narrated by: Jeff Riggenbach

LUDWIG von MISES (1881-1973, THEORETICAL ECONOMIST OF THE AUSTRIAN SCHOOLD, INFLUENCED HAYEK & FRIEDMAN)

Ludwig von Mises is a twentieth century Machiavelli.  This audio-book details a theory of economics that will offend modern liberals, expose weakness of libertarians, and vilify the new American President’s nationalist policies.  The venality of treating government as a business is a mistake of monumental proportion.

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI (1469-1527)

Approaching von Mises as a devil incarnate is unfair.  His beliefs are pilloried by today’s liberals as loudly as aristocrats and rulers vilified Machiavelli in the 16th century.  Like Machiavelli, von Mises looks at the world as it is; not as it ought to be.  His observations cut at modern liberal, as well as anarchic views of highly regarded liberals like Ralph Nader, Martin Luther King, Norm Chomsky, and alleged conservatives-like President Trump.  In von Mises book, Roosevelt’s New Deal is a socialist mistake.  Additionally, von Mises vociferously disagrees with John Maynard Keyne’s economic interventionist creed. Ironically, Donald Trump may be the most interventionist President since FDR with scatter brained economic plans that von Mises would equally vilify.

RALPH NADER (LAWYER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, ENVIRONMENTALIST)
MARTIN LUTHER KING (1929-1968, MINISTER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST AT THE FOREFRONT OF EQUAL RIGHTS)
NOAM CHOMSKY (AMERICAN LINGUIST, PHILOSOPHER, SOCIAL CRITIC, PROFESSED ANARCHIST.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Von Mises observations have credibility based on facts drawn from history.  What they do not have is social conscience.  Von Mises suggests social conscience is a fiction perpetrated by socialists and populists to distort the value of capitalist economies.  Like Machiavelli, von Mises observes the nature of human beings, and recognizes their inherent irrationality and moral weakness.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES QUESTIONS THE BIASES OF NEWS REPORTING. Trump exemplifies von Mises’ argument that humans are irrational, greedy, power-hungry, and vain.)

Von Mises illustrates numerous examples of human irrationality; beginning with market consumption, and ending with entrepreneurial ambition.  Donald Trump exemplifies von Mises’ argument that humans are irrational, greedy, power-hungry, and vain.

For President Trump to believe taxing imports by 20% makes Mexico pay for a useless five-billion-dollar wall is absurd.  The American consumer will pay for that wall in increased cost of Mexican produce and manufactured goods.

DAVID RICARDO (1772-1823, BRITISH POLITICAL ECONOMIST)

Von Mises criticizes famous economists like David Ricardo for introducing politics into economics.  Von Mises argues that the drive for money, power, and prestige are inherent in an entrepreneurial capitalist system.  With the introduction of politics into economics, the power of consumer’s free choice is diminished.

Von Mises argues that government officials who profess social conscience distort free enterprise by picking winners and losers.  When politicians pass legislation that aids one entrepreneur over another, it distorts the driving force of capitalist economies.  Even if capitalism appeals to baser instincts of humankind, if capitalism is left free, von Mises believes consumer choice will ameliorate capitalist greed, abuse, and vanity.

Von Mises vilifies government leaders who impose tariffs on international trade.  He explains that the fallacy of government leaders who pass favoring legislation is that the real mover of the economy is the consumer; not the producer.  If the consumer chooses not to buy an entrepreneur’s product or service, he/she fails.

BERNARD MADOFF (AGE 74) SERVING 150 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE

The logical extension of von Mises’ theory is that any government plan or action that affects an entrepreneur’s willingness to take a risk is bad for society.  The practical consequence of his theory is that charlatans will game the capitalist system but in the long run society will benefit from the creativity of entrepreneur-ism.  His theory expects bad actors like Bernie Madoff will prosper but that bad aspects of entrepreneurial self-interests are offset by general economic progress.

To von Mises, efforts to organize labor is an interference with capitalist entrepreneurs because labor is not taking a risk. Von Mises argues that labor value will find its own level by being an automated tool of the entrepreneur; subject to hunger and deprivation if they choose not to participate.

Von Mises point is that the entrepreneur will pay what he/she must to have labor available, but no more than what the end-product’ consumer is willing to pay.  (This judgement presumes the entrepreneur is neither inordinately dishonest, power-hungry, or vain.)  What the entrepreneur is willing to do is take a risk on the consumer’s willingness to buy.  If the consumer buys, the entrepreneur is successful; if not he loses his business.

Von Mises believes labor has a choice.  They can work for low wages or remain idle.  The fallacy of that argument is the inherent unfairness of not having enough income to live.  Von Mises suggests the laborer can wait.  Waiting implies his/her family may starve, become homeless, or choose to commit crime to survive.  History illustrates how inequality creates revolutionary discontent. 

Unions offer a vehicle for leveling the power between businesses and labor.  To not allow unionization is tantamount to favoring businesses that are no longer competitive but, today, are legally recognized as the economic equivalent of individuals.  Not to give unions a place “at the table” is morally, ethically, and economically unfair; particularly in industries that are no longer entrepreneurial. Many businesses have become large bureaucracies; not unlike wasteful government agencies that are self-perpetuating but unnecessary and/or unprofitable.

——————————-UNION RECRUITMENT OF WOMEN————————————-

Another von Mises’ observational factoid is that government policy should have no role in subsidizing new inventions, new drugs, the ecology of the world, or the elimination of slavery because such policies interfere with pure capitalism. This reinforces absurdist arguments of libertarians.

VLADIMIR PUTIN (PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, In a 60 Minutes interview, Putin said his most admired quality of the American community is its creativity.)

American creativity has historically been benefited by government subsidization of technological advances.  (President Putin noted in a 60 Minutes’ interview that creativity is his most admired quality in the American community.) The speed of improvements in health, education, and welfare historically increased with government subsidization of drug research, public education, and the energy industry.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH (43RD PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES-George Bush unilaterally agreed to lend $17.4 billion of taxpayers’ money to General Motors and Chrysler.)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (44TH PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES-During Obama’s administration jobs increased by 9,000,000, unemployment dropped by 614,000, Corporate profits 166 percent, weekly wages increased by 3.4 percent, 15 million fewer people lacked health insurance.)

The fallacy of von Mises’ theory lies in the framework of theorists.  It ignores human existence by hiding behind the un-quantifiable nature of society.  One may argue that America’s Civil War had nothing to do with the elimination of slavery.  (Von Mises suggests that slavery was abolished because it became too expensive; not because it was morally and ethically reprehensible.)  One may argue that Roosevelt’s New Deal was a failure.  One may argue that the Marshall Plan after WWII rewarded failed nations.  One may argue that George Bush’s and Barrack Obama’s decisions to bail out the American economy interfered with pure capitalism. History suggests von Mises is both right and wrong.  Government intervention can be good as well as bad.

ca. 1860s, Near Savannah, Georgia, USA — Slave Family In Cotton Field near Savannah — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Von Mises lived into the 1970 s.  How could he ignore the moral and ethical iniquity of slavery, the value of the Marshall Plan, government subsidization of the American banking system, financial incentives for the energy industry, and the billions spent to advance technological inventions?  There are good examples of government intervention.  On the other hand, building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and levying a 20% import tax is a bad government intervention.

American capitalism works because of the checks and balances written in the Constitution.  Von Mises theory is based on valid observations but social conscience, whether statistically measurable or not, must be a part of decisions that affect the lives of millions.  Mistakes will be made, and have been made, but economic statistics cannot be substituted for pragmatism.

(Visited 16 time, 1 visit today)

PHILOSOPHY IS DEAD

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

Written by: Sarah Bakewell

Narrated by: Antonia Beamish

SARAH BAKEWELL (AUTHOR)

Philosophy is dead.  In “At the Existentialist Café” Sarah Bakewell expertly writes about the history of phenomenological and existentialist philosophy.  She writes about the lives of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, and other 19th and 20th century philosophers.

EDMUND HUSSERL (1859-1938 Hursserl extends Rene Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” to “I think; therefore, it is.”)

Husserl’s life begins Bakewell’s story in the 19th century.  It is Husserl who focuses on the study of consciousness in human beings.  To Husserl the nature of objects is determined by the experience of things in human consciousness.  Husserl extends Rene Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” to “I think; therefore, it is.”

MARTIN HEIGEGGER (1889-1976 Heidegger becomes a Nazi in 1933-becoming a witting ally to Nazi atrocity.)

Through a succession of followers, Husserl’s concept of reality evolves.  Consciousness evolves to reveal truth in some ways and despicable lies in others.  Ms. de Beauvoir reveals truths about being a woman in the world while Heidegger condones, if not endorses, Nazi atrocity.  Albert Camus recognizes the meaninglessness and indifference of the universe while Jean-Paul Sartre believes in an evolution of human nature that makes communism inevitable.

To a non-philosopher, Bakewell’s book holds one’s attention because of the details revealed about philosopher’s lives during and after WWII.  Edmund Husserl presumes Heidegger will become his disciple but finds that the rise of Hitler means one thing to Heidegger and another to Husserl.  Hitler’s rise existentially threatens the phenomenological beliefs of Husserl and the life of his Jewish wife.  Heidegger chooses to become Rektor of the University of Freiburg and joins the Nazi Party in 1933.  With little help from his “friend” Heidegger, Husserl accepts a sinecure to Prague in 1934 and dies in 1938.

SIMONE de BEAUVOIR (1908-1986, Author and Philosopher with life long commitment to Jean-Paul Sartre.)
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (1905-1980, Existentialist belief that collectivism is the primary hope for humanity’s future.)

Simone de Beauvoir, a beautiful woman, becomes a lifelong companion of an unattractive philosopher named Jean-Paul Sartre.  Their conjugal relationship eventually dissolves but a deeply held friendship and correspondence lasts for the remainder of their lives.  Both fervently believe in the inevitability of communism until near the end of their lives.  Though early friends of Camus, they depart from friendship as Camus declines to believe in communist collectivism.

MERLEAU-PONTY (1908-1961)
ALBERT CAMUS (1913-1960, FRENCH NOBEL PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, AND PHILOSOPHER)

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, like Camus in the beginning, becomes close friends with Sartre and de Beauvoir but their friendship cools as Ponty gravitates toward belief in art while denigrating belief in science. Ponty views science as an attempt to explain things objectively when all who practice science think subjectively.  To Ponty, science is, at best, an abstraction.

There is enough information about philosophy and the lives of these philosophers to make a listener question philosophy’s value.  Philosophy, like Nietzsche’s God, seems dead.  This is not Bakewell’s conclusion but “At the Existentialist Café” suggests philosophers are as capable of predicting life’s meaning as political pundits and stockbrokers are at predicting elections and stock values.  The truth of life’s meaning appears to be more a matter of luck than philosophical insight.  Never-the-less, “At the Existentialist Café” is a highly interesting history of some very influential philosophers.

(Visited 9 time, 1 visit today)

NECESSARY TRUTH

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A young Black Man’s Education

Written by: Mychal Denzel Smith

Narrated by: Kevin R. Free

MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH (AUTHOR)

Mychal Smith’s book is difficult to listen to for a white liberal; i.e. the difficulty is more because of what Smith sees than what he does not see.  The necessary truth of what Smith sees is that being black, female, homosexual, or any color but white disadvantages citizens who live, work, and love in America.  Smith correctly notes that Barrack Obama did not change that truth.  But, for a liberal, Smith’s criticism of Obama is heart-rending.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
MARTIN LUTHER KING (1929-1968)

Smith’s expectation is superhuman.  No singularly elected and/or acclaimed person will unwind history’s discrimination.  Obama and King are extraordinary human beings by any standard of measurement.  That Obama is black and became the first black president of the United States proves being human is the best one can be.  Martin Luther King’s “arc of justice” still bends toward freedom and equal opportunity for all; despite the world’s, let alone King’s, and Obama’s failings.

The nature of humankind is an evolutionary work in progress.  Sadly, evolution is a chancy proposition that moves human nature both backward and forward.  Maybe, humanity will never get to a state of freedom and equal opportunity, but Obama’s “audacity of hope” is better than anger, and fear.  Smith cites Malcolm X as his ideal of black resistance but fails to note that Mr. Little evolved to believe separate but equal is a fiction.  Malcolm X broke from the Nation of Islam because of its belief in Black separatism and superiority.  Malcolm X’s life experience and intelligence led him to believe all people are human beings.  In being human, there is good and bad in every race, color, and creed.

MALCOLM X (1925-1965)
TRAVON MARTIN (1995-2012)

None of this denies Smith’s recognition of the questionable murder of Trayvon Martin, or the Jena Six debacle in Jena, Louisiana where a white high school student is beaten by five black teenagers.  Both incidents are riven with racial hatred, lack of justice, and human failing.  Smith gravitates to violent lyrics to say the anger of rap artists appeals to his inner frustration.

————-DONALD TRUMP AND KANYE WEST————

Smith recounts the considered statements of Kanye West when President Bush fails to conscientiously respond to the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.  (West suggested Bush did not care about black people.)  Ironically, Kanye West appears to support President-Elect Donald Trump who was sued for discrimination under the fair housing laws of the United States.

There are many incidents that Smith recognizes as the failure of white America to treat minorities fairly.  At the same time, Smith is introspective in acknowledging some of his own human failings.  He writes of his fears, his desire to be a great writer, and his earlier-life failure to understand how important women’s rights are in the black community.  He writes of his father’s concern over his sexuality and how gender discrimination has some of the same hatred, lack of justice, and human failing as black discrimination.

Listening to Mychal Denzel Smith is difficult because his observations explain why he, if not most, black Americans are disgusted with white America.  It makes a white person feel guilty because white Americans are the majority; and as a majority, white (particularly male) America has the bulk of the country’s money, power, and prestige.  Until all people are humans first, there seems little reason to believe there is much hope for the “arc of justice” to bend toward freedom and equal opportunity for all.

FRIEDRICH WILHELM NIETZSCHE (1844-1900, DIED AT AGE 55)

Hope is not enough for black American’s suffering today.  That is Mychal Smith’s message–too many blacks are being murdered; too many blacks are denied equal opportunity; too many blacks are jailed, and too many black families are broken.  What Smith fails to fairly acknowledge is who is at fault.  All of us share the blame.  Human beings must recognize the humanity of all human beings.  If evolution is not the answer, then human will (in a Nietzschean sense) must come to America’s aid.

(Visited 12 time, 1 visit today)

APE IN THE CITY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Written by: Friedrich Nietzsche

Narrated by: Alex Jennings with Jon Cartwright

The famous literary announcement that “God is Dead” releases the ape in the city.  “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” argues that human beings have moved away from God; particularly a Christian God.    Friedrich Nietzsche is saying that without God and the church, a new morality must–needs to be designed by man.   The ape is the ruler that thinks he/she knows better than his/her citizens.  In the 21st century, humanity has generally moved away from organized religion.

————————————-CHANGE IN RELIGIOUS BELIEFS———————————-
NAZISM AND CHRISTIANITY (FAITH’S COOPTATION BY HITLER)

To Nietzsche, humankind’s quest is to evolve beyond populism; beyond reliance on majority opinion and theological teaching, and toward a belief in the ability of individuals to rationally order the world. However, Nietzsche’s idea of liberating what he believes to be the potential of mankind, historically leads to the ape in the city; i.e. leaders like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin who slaughtered millions during and after WWII.

One should not be comforted by belief that it is only WWII’s ape creations.  Nietzsche’s idea in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” strikes at the heart of all known forms of government and organized religion.  Whether democratic, fascist, communist, Catholic, Islamic, Judaic or any other major government or religion—each makes and enforces plans for others.  As is shown in all histories, when plans are made for others, they inherently discriminate against individuals because of either race, color, or creed. All known forms of government and religion create apes in the city because of what Nietzsche identifies as “a will to power”.   

Nietzsche’s philosophy is grounded in individualism.  Every human being has a “will to power”.  The exercise of that power is to evolve, in Nietzsche’s mind, to create a society that is ruled from the bottom up rather than from a higher-power down.

AYN RAND (1905-1982)

Nietzsche became a seer for anarchist philosophers that carry the idea of socialist anarchy to the same extreme that capitalist ideologues like Ayn Rand carry the idea of “self-interest”.

DESCENT OF MAN (Nietzsche believes the weak will parish and only the strong-willed will survive.)

Both views of the world are coming from an absurdist idealist’s perspective.  Both ignore the truth of human nature.  The difference is that Nietzsche believes humanity will evolve beyond history’s apes in the city.  He believes the weak will parish and only the strong-willed will survive.  Nietzsche ends “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” with a poem that professes his greatest love is for future generations and his belief that the “will to power” will evolve into an empathetic care for all humankind.

——SYRIAN CHILD OF WAR (OMRAN DAQNEESH)———

Evidence for empathetic care for humankind seems scarce considering the world’s current leaders.  Humankind remains driven by money, power, and prestige and those in the driver’s seat rule in what they perceive is their best interest; i.e. still built from the top down; not from the bottom up.

BASHAR al-ASSAD (SYRIA, PRESIDENT)

Nietzsche may be right; i.e. growth of human care for others may be a matter of time and human evolution.  Maybe, our greatest love should be for future generations.  However, considering how society treats youth throughout most of the world today, love seems wanting.

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

There is little historical proof that bottom up power structures create either social, economic, or political harmony; let alone unity over extended periods of time.  Even familial relationships continue to break down in modern post-industrial societies.  Families have been the first and oldest form of social organization.  But, the exigencies of modern living  require both parents to work, divorce to proliferate, wars to kill, and children to be left behind.

Human nature seems immutable.  If “will to power” is an individual characteristic, historically, it lends itself more to hierarchical than egalitarian societies.

(Visited 6 time, 1 visit today)

THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Consolation of Philosophy 

Written by: Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Narrated by: David Rintoul

BOETHIUS (480 A.D.- 524 A.D., ROMAN SENATOR,CONSUL,PHILOSOPHER)

This translation of “The Consolation of Philosophy” impresses all who listen to it because of the beauty of Boethius’s writing and Rintoul’s narration.  Though one may either agree or disagree with Boethius’s religious philosophy, the juxtaposition of his poetry with chapters of Socratic dialog are a pleasure to hear.

THEODORIC THE GREAT (454-526, BORN IN CROATIA)

Boethius is born into a rich aristocratic Roman family and achieves high office and continued wealth, even when Rome is conquered by an Ostrogothic King, Theodoric the Great. In the beginning of Theodoric’s reign, Boethius is a court favorite but in 524 AD, he is arrested and imprisoned for (according to Boethius’s writings) defending the poor and powerless from the new Roman Ostrogothic government.  During Boethius’s imprisonment, just before his execution, he writes and completes “The Consolation of Philosophy”.

One may think of Boethius’s book from two perspectives.  One, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a treatise to justify God.  Two, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a rationalization for mistreatment by others; i.e. “others” defined as both God and mammon.

GOD AND MAMMON

Boethius is visited by a vision of the “Lady of Philosophy” in his cell.  The “Lady” has been Boethius’s companion since childhood.  She sees Boethius shedding tears over his plight and asks why he laments his station in life after having so dutifully followed in the steps of the great philosophers of antiquity.  As the “Lady” recounts Plato’s and Aristotle’s teachings, she berates Boethius for his lamentation over loss of wealth, power, and prestige.  In a Socratic dialog, the “Lady” recounts the folly of those who covet worldly ephemera when “happiness” is the goal of human life.  Boethius begins to recollect the teachings of Plato and Aristotle that explain wealth, power, and prestige are fleeting values in life and never the source of happiness because of the constant fear of loss and the insatiable lust for more.

THE LADY OF PHILOSOPHY COUNSELING BOETHIUS

The “Lady” reminds Boethius of the omniscience of God.  He knows all, sees all, and loves all.  Both good and evil are part of earthly life and it is only those who choose moderation in all things good that will find earthly happiness.

Boethius creates a Socratic dialog between himself and the “Lady” to question how God allows evil to exist, and whether man can have free will when God is omniscient and knows each human being follows a known path in life.  Boethius asks “…is there not chance in every person’s life that leads them in one direction or another?”

SPINOZA’S VIEW

Boethius implies these questions are answered to his satisfaction.  He accepts God’s omniscience.  Every listener will have their own opinion after completing Boethius’s story.  To some, the answers are the machinations of a man who rationalizes his bereft state; to others, the answers are a guide to life in this world.

What ever you believe, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a literary work of art.

(Visited 10 time, 1 visit today)