Tag Archives: Politics

SO DIFFERENT, SO ALIKE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Richard Nixon: The Life

Written by: John A. Farrell

Narrated by: Dan Woren

JOHN FARRELL (AMERICAN AUTHOR & BIOGRAPHER)

“So different and so alike” is what comes to mind in listening to John Farrell’s biography of Richard Nixon.

RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES)

President Nixon is characterized as thin skinned, vindictive, and dissembling; a description echoed by today’s President.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.)

Nixon and Trump appear both misogynistic, and anti-intellectual.  Both viscerally react to perceived slights.  Both have morally corrupt views of society.  Both make comments reflecting ethnic racism with reprehensible private comments.  Both attack news publishers; particularly the Washington Post and New York Times.

NIXON INAUGURATION 1969
TRUMP INAUGURATION PROTEST

However, Farrell shows Nixon to be clearly unlike Trump.  Nixon understands political and public reality while Trump clings to a skewed business and personal reality.

 

Nixon avoids unfavorable publicity while Trump manufactures it.  Nixon exemplifies international, geo-political, and professional foreign policy while Trump follows an amateurish parochial isolationist foreign policy. Nixon is surreptitiously thuggish, while Trump is outwardly thuggish.  Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from “monied” self-interest.

(Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from monied self-interest.)
ALGER HISS -ACCUSED SOVIET SPY CONVICTED OF PERJURY IN 1950 (Ironically, Hiss is convicted for a cover-up rather than espionage; just as Nixon is impeached for a cover-up rather than a burglary.) 
JOSEPH McCARTHY (1908-1957, SENATOR THAT STARTED THE COMMUNIST WITCH HUNT THAT DESTROYED INNOCENT AMERICAN’S REPUTATIONS IN THE 1950s)

Farrell recounts Nixon’s early years of overt and benign support of McCarthyism. Nixon justifies his penchant for exposing communist sympathizers with his successful prosecution of Alger Hiss.  (Ironically, Hiss is convicted for a cover-up rather than espionage; just as Nixon is impeached for a cover-up rather than a burglary.)  It remains to be seen but, like Nixon, Trump may be impeached for a cover-up of Russian interference in the American electoral process.

MAO ZEDONG (1893-1976, FOUNDING FATHER OF PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA)
(Trump’s campaign for President is based on the big lie; i.e., the overt support of the poor and middle class while acting to promote the wealthy.)

Nixon’s campaign for President is grounded on an anti-communist platform while pursuing positive relations with the most populated communist country in the world, China. Trump’s campaign for President is based on the big lie; i.e., the overt support of the poor and middle class while acting to promote the wealthy.

HENRY KISSINGER (FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & NAT. SECURITY ADVISOR FOR NIXON AND FORD, WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE)
DONALD TRUMP AND GLOBAL WARMING (Trump demeans the scientific community by denying global warming and removing America from the Paris Climate Accord.)

Nixon and Trump have little respect for experts.  Nixon demeans Henry Kissinger, a Harvard educated intellectual, who became Nixon’s Secretary of State and a principal in the negotiation for the first SALT agreement with Russia and the opening of Communist China.  Trump demeans the scientific community by denying global warming and removing America from the Paris Climate Accord.  Trump bullys the President of Montenegro who, despite Russian objection, becomes a part of the NATO alliance.  Nixon fires a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate burglary while Trump allegedly contemplates the same action regarding Robert Mueller, the special investigator hired to explore Russian influence in American elections.

On balance, Nixon is shown by Farrell to be much more presidential than Trump but the perspective of history weighs heavily on that assessment.  Nixon, like all human beings, is flawed.  He is not the first President to lie.  He is not the first President to kill innocents.

NAPALM ATTACK VIETNAM

Ending Vietnam at the expense of South Vietnamese is a mixed blessing but Nixon stopped the carnage.  Opening China to the world is a great American accomplishment which history fairly attributes to Nixon and Kissinger.  Only time will tell if Trump is more than what he seems.

(Visited 11 time, 1 visit today)

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)

SYMBOL OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

Written by: Malala Yousafzai

Narrated by: Archie Panjabi

MALALA YOUSAFZAI (NOBEL PRIZE, SAKHAROVE PRIZE, SIMONE de BEAUVOIR PRIZE, NATIONAL YOUTH PRIZE WINNER)

Malala Yousafzai may be narrowly identified as a symbol of women’s rights. That categorization is certainly earned but one is left wondering what will become of this young woman.

Malala lives the life of an old soul–advocating for equal rights at eleven years old and being nearly murdered at 15.   Malala will be 20 years old this July.

MALALA (SHOT AND HOSPITALIZED)

As most know, Malala is shot in the head by two young Taliban who attacked her school bus in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.  We know they were Taliban because they acknowledged responsibility soon after the attack.  Miraculously, the bullet did not penetrate Malala’s brain but bone fragments from the shock of impact severed a facial nerve and temporarily paralyzed most of her motor functions.  Malala is rushed to a hospital in Pakistan and is saved from immediate danger by a competent Pakistani neurosurgeon.  The world is apprised of the attempted assassination and sends messages of support for Malala’s recovery.  In “I Am Malala”, a listener finds that after-care in Pakistan nearly ends Malala’s chance for survival.

BRITISH COLONIZATION (Somewhat ironically, Great Britain comes to Malala’s aid.  The irony is in the long history of Great Britain’s colonization of Malala’s homeland.)

Somewhat ironically, Great Britain comes to Malala’s aid.  The irony is in the long history of Great Britain’s colonization of Malala’s homeland.  There is historical justification for India/Pakistani’ ambivalence toward the West.  “I Am Malala” touches on that ambivalence.  However, Malala recognizes how important Great Britain’s assistance was in saving her life.

AMERICAN DRONE ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN (NOT ONLY TALIBAN ARE KILLED)

Malala reminds listeners of the lost lives of her countryman from American drone strikes and the invasion of Pakistani air space; including military action to kill Osama bin Laden.

OSAMA BIN LADEN COMPOUND (On the one hand, Malala shows embarrassment over bin Laden’s successful sanctuary in Pakistan; on the other, she implies America should have worked with the Pakistani government to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist. )

On the one hand, Malala shows embarrassment over bin Laden’s successful sanctuary in Pakistan; on the other, she implies America should have worked with the Pakistani government to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist.  There is a whiff of resentment in Malala’s depiction of the West’s treatment of her country but it is ameliorated by her principled stand for education, equal opportunity, and Pakistan’ sovereignty.

SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN

“I Am Malala” shows a young girl with great resilience and ambition.  One is left with the impression that Malala will return to Pakistan.  She will attempt to become a leader in her home country.  The message one gets from her book is that Pakistan is a great and beautiful country that can be a partner with the West as an independent and Islamic nation.  Malala is a politician in waiting.  One hopes for her success.

(Visited 13 time, 1 visit today)

POLITICS & ADMINISTRATION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath

Written by: Ben S. Bernanke

Narrated by: Grover Gardner

—————–POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION————-

Politics and administration is a marriage of necessity.  Ben Bernanke writes a “nuts and bolts version” of the role of the Federal Reserve in the United States during the economic crises of 2007-2008, a crisis that continues to plague the world.

Bernanke is the chairman of the Federal Reserve during the near collapse of the world economy.  The story Bernanke tells is consistent with most details revealed by Tim Geithner and Henry Paulson (the former Department of the Treasury Secretaries) during the worst part of the 2007-2008 global financial crises.

HENRY PAULSON (U.S. SEC. OF THE TREASURY 2006-2009)
TIMOTHY GEITHNER (U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY (2009-2013)

What Bernanke adds to Paulson’s and Geithner’s version of events is a more transparent understanding of how American politics and administration dealt with the greatest economic crises since 1929. These three managers, along with elected officials and other public administrators, cussed, discussed, agreed, and disagreed on actions taken to stabilize the American economy.

————-BREAD LINES IN NEW YORK 1933————-

Without a level of cooperation between politics and public administration, it is entirely possible America would be in the middle of its second great depression.

The mortgage crises of 2007-2008 is a “Black Swan” event in American history.  A “Black Swan” is a metaphor for an event that is generally unforeseen that changes the direction of history.

The packaging of real estate and home mortgages of varying levels of security leads to the mistaken belief that housing and commercial land prices will always increase as the economy expands.  This false belief led to sales throughout the world of figurative IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices”) that bankrupted individuals, corporations, and Nation-State economies.  The shock waves of these instruments of economic mass destruction continue to impact the world economy.

QUANTS (Computer whizzes who used algorithms to combine assets for mortgage-backed securities that contributed  to the world economic crises of 2007/2008)

With the advent of computer technology, combined assets became so complex that individual human judgement of value became clouded.  With each individual asset added to a conglomeration of houses, property, and/or stocks, value changed.  The change was meant to spread risk and increase financial stability of combined assets.  However, as similarity of combined assets accumulated, the created aggregate became more (rather than less) vulnerable to market change.

RATING AGENCIES (Organizations that rate mortgage backed and other investment securities.)

The rising risk of these combined securities is compounded by “independent” rating agencies.  If vulnerabilities are not clearly understood, sellers of these security conglomerations rely on ratings from analysts that underestimate volatility.

This “so-called” independent rating system fails investors because both sellers and buyers are incentivized to buy and sell a security that is not clearly understood.  When one of the derivative assets begins to lose value; particularly if the asset is related (like land and vertical construction) all assets in the packaged security are infected by loss of value.

Rating companies lose their objectivity.  They may be incentivized by the same companies they are evaluating; and/or are paid for report productivity rather than quality of investigation. Greed seduces both buyer and seller.

Though this explanation of derivatives is too simply described in this review, it is inferred in Bernanke’s, Paulson’s, and Geithner’s books to have been a contributory cause for the loss of trillions of dollars in the world economy.What makes Bernanke’s book interesting is his explanation of how politics and public administration worked together to right America’s sinking economic ship-of-state.  Even today, recovery is not complete but the ship did not sink.  “Working together” is a qualified description of what happened based on Bernanke’s view.  There were bitter disagreements among elected and administrative agents that could only be resolved with an appreciation and exercise of politics.

Politics have become synonymous with lying and misrepresentation in the modern world.  Some say President Trump exemplifies that belief.

——————-MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA———————

Not to defend Trump, but his election is a consequence of ignoring the importance of politics in determining what is right and wrong in America’s democracy.  Democrats were not listening to middle class America.  Politics in a democracy represent the will of people who are being governed.  Without politics, the best intentions of administration devolve into ineffective and autocratic actions that fail to serve the needs of its citizens.

On many occasions, Bernanke shows how elected officials remind administrators of the real-world impact of their policy actions.  The give and take of politics is a bridge between a government policy idea and citizen impact.

——————-AFFORDABLE CARE ACT——————

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect because of politics but modifications made are the result of political input from the constituents of American Democracy.  Those constituents are companies, professions, and individual citizens represented by elected officials who work with government agencies responsible for administration.  It is a messy process, but politics is a bridge between thought and deed that can (when discounted) devolve into autocratic dictatorship; i.e. a dictatorship that inevitably leads to unintended consequences that fail to meet the needs of represented citizens.

The Federal Reserve, the Departments of Treasury, and America’s elected officials successfully saved America from a second Great Depression.  Messy politics saves America; i.e., the political interface between President Bush, President Obama, Treasury Secretaries Paulson and Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, Senators and Representatives of Congress, and the Supreme Court cussed, discussed, agreed, and disagreed to keep America great.

(Visited 8 time, 1 visit today)

HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Skeptic’s Guide to American History

Written by: The Great Courses

Narrated by: Professor Mark A. Stoler

MARK A. STOLER (PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, HISTORIAN)
MARK TWAIN (SAMUEL CLEMENS 1835-1910)

As Mark Twain notes, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.  Professor Stoler reinforces Twain’s clever observation by explaining history shows patterns of human behavior that repeat themselves but history never predicts the future.  Stoler notes history not only fails to repeat, it is often re-interpreted to fit modern circumstances.  Stoler’s point is that humans remember the past while often ignoring the truth of history.  Many choose to use inaccuracies to reinforce prejudices of the present.  Several examples are given by Stoler.

1)Religious toleration is not a founding principal of the original colonies.  2)Most citizens in the colonies did not want to leave the protection of Great Britain.  3)Slavery is not the principle, or even tertiary, cause of the civil war.  4)Laissez-Faire has never been a principal of the American government.  5)America is not the primary hero, or savior in WWII.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1767-1848, SON OF JOHN ADAMS, AMBASSADOR, ONE TERM PRESIDENT, CONGRESSMAN)
GEORGE MARSHALL (1880-1959M GENERAL OF THE ARMY, SECRETARY OF STATE, AND SECRETARY OF DEFENSE)

Histories revisionists have praised as well as pilloried past American leaders based on current political circumstances.  Some of the most competent leaders in America are diminished by myths of history.  Two noted under-appreciated leaders are John Quincy Adams and George Marshal.  Both served America in ways that remind one of George Washington by doing great things without the hubris often exhibited by lesser leaders of accomplishment.

Stoler suggests the original colonists did not leave their home countries because of religious intolerance.  By the same token, they did not come to America with the intent of being tolerant of other religions.  The Pilgrims who founded Plymouth in 1620 came to America because they feared religious changes in their home countries.  They feared other religions would corrupt their children.

SALEM WITCH TRIALS Stoler notes that the Puritans in Massachusetts were highly intolerant of other denominations.  Stories of banishment and witch trials are factual examples of religious intolerance in America. The history of toleration comes more from the desire of colonists to be left alone to practice their own religions.

The idea that most colonists desired independence from Great Britain is inaccurate.  Even John Adams notes that only a third of the colonists desired independence.  Stoler explains that Great Britain is the principal reason for the colonists defeat of the French in the French and Indian war.  Most colonists were thankful for Great Britain’s military aid during that war.  However, that aid came at great cost to Great Britain–some form of compensation is needed to replenish the English Treasury.  Great Britain is fighting the Dutch and Spanish at the same time they are waging war on the French.  Of course, the chosen form of replenishment is taxation.

BOSTON TEA PARTY (1773 PROTEST AGAINST TAXATION OF TEA BY ENGLAND)

The rallying cry for the American revolutionists becomes “No taxation, without representation”; not because they necessarily oppose their former country but because they have no seat at the table where decisions are being made.

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

As reprehensible and damaging as the institution of slavery is in America, it was not the cause of the civil war.  The institution of slavery goes back centuries before the American Civil War.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865, 16TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Even the Great Emancipator said “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that…” )

Even the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln said “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that…”  The cause of the American Civil War is the battle of States rights versus Federal rights, a battle that recurs throughout America’s history.  It began with the Articles of Confederation and continues through conflicts occurring today between President Trump, Congress, and the Judiciary.

ADAM SMITH (1723-1790, AUTHOR OF -THE WEALTH OF NATIONS)

Stoler clearly shows America has never practiced the principle of Laissez-Faire which purports to let things take their own course.  Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is a myth.  When a country decides to have a centralized form of government, whether it is controlled through separation of power or totalitarian fiat, winners and losers are abetted or damaged by government policies and actions.

History examines and re-examines past leaders in the context of present affairs.  Stoler implies American Presidents are measured against Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt.  Each made historic and flawed contributions to the success of America.  However, these three have been leaders during the greatest crises of America and are recognized as pillars of democratic government.

Each is vilified during their terms of office with revisions by every new generation.  Washington is a flawed general but a hero of the revolution.  Lincoln is a flawed moralist but a hero of the civil war and unionization.  Roosevelt is a flawed politician who lies to many of his closest advisers while being a hero of WWII and savior during the Great Depression.  It is not that Washington did not win battles, or Lincoln–revile slavery, or Roosevelt competently manage a world war and a depression, but that each gathered Americans together when needed most, and when national crises occurred.

HERBERT HOOVER (1874-1964, 31ST PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. FROM 1929-1933)
DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.)

Is Trump like Herbert Hoover or Franklin Roosevelt? One led us into despair; the other led us into prosperity. Can Trump bring a divided nation together as an astute politician or side with a business community that believes the myth of the invisible hand? Only history will tell but only as a rhyme not as a repeat.

(Visited 12 time, 1 visit today)

POLITICALLY ACTIONABLE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

Written by: Francis Fukuyama

Narrated by: Jonathan Davis

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA (AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, AND AUTHOR)

Francis Fukuyama’s analysis of state and government formation is both insightful and politically actionable.  In “The Origins of Political Order” and “Political Order and Political Decay” Fukuyama provides a basis for understanding politics and its contribution to society.  Both books are highly relevant today.

THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679, WROTE “THE LEVIATHAN IN 1651”)

In previous book reviews, references have been made to Thomas Hobbes’ theory of the nature of man.  Hobbes generally considered humankind to be both good and evil with a need for regulation of his/her evil instincts through government.  He identifies government as “The Leviathan”.  Hobbes suggests “The condition of man…is a condition of war of everyone against everyone”.

Fukuyama finds a singular and significant flaw in Hobbes’ observation.  Though Fukuyama may agree with Hobbes’ view of individual humans, he tempers it by noting humans have always been social beings.  From the beginning of time, humans associated with other humans to survive the brutish nature of life.  He suggests humans are by nature violent with violence becoming ingrained as a societal meme to cope with the exigencies of life.  Fukuyama goes on to suggest violence and change are intertwined.

JAMAICAN VIOLENCE (MORE THAN 1600 MURDERS IN 2008 KINGSTON-POLICE AND GANG VIOLENCE CONFRONTATION)
TRUMP & PUTIN NEGOTIATION

The significance of humans as societal creatures is that governments are formed by dominant tribes. Politics is the language of tribes negotiating with each other to preserve status.  However, Fukuyama notes that cultural norms are dramatically different in governments that evolve over time.  These cultural differences play out in the history of Russia, China, France, Great Britain, Italy, America, the countries of Africa, and the Middle East.

RELIGION LOGOS

A counter-intuitive note by Fukuyama is that religion plays a significant role in civilizing, rationalizing, and establishing state governments.  It is counter-intuitive because religion, in present-day and past history, tears the world apart.  However, in the context of time, tribes with common religious beliefs hugely increase in size.  Religion becomes a cultural phenomenon that ameliorates (but does not eliminate) violence among different tribes within wider territories that evolve into nation-states, governed by adopted social and moral standards.

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882)

Fukuyama implies nation-state development is a living organism. He suggests nation-states evolve in the manner of natural selection identified by Darwin in the “Origin of Species”.  Characteristics of effective governments perpetuate themselves through adaptation to respective societal norms.

In other words, every society grows via its own cultural norms; implying sovereignty should be inviolable.  Fukuyama is saying that American democracy, Chinese socialism, Russian federation, India democracy, or any other system of government, will be different because of its social history.  India may be classified as the world’s largest democracy but not as an American democracy because of its different societal norms.

In one sense, the complexity of Fukuyama’s theory makes one less optimistic about the future.  What can take the place of religion to meld societies into a common tribe?  Can the World Wide Web, the growth of science, and recognition of environmental interdependence overcome nationalist stupidity?  If Trump, Putin, al-Baghdadi, and Kim Jong-un represent the future, the answer is no.

DESCENT OF MAN

On the other hand, one may argue survival of humans is dependent on experimentation by governments, enhanced by nation-state societal differences.  Just as one species evolves into an improved human, one species of democracy may evolve into an improved government (presuming humans survive the interregnum).

(Visited 16 time, 1 visit today)