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I'm a retired philosophy professor at Centre College. I also am a regular columnist for our local paper, The Danville Advocate-Messenger, as well as the Lexington Herald-Leader. My last book was Posthumanity-Thinking Philosophically about the Future (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).
I am a strong opponent of the gung-ho version of capitalism peddled here and abroad as the "Washington consensus."
Friday, April 24, 2015(14 comments)
Can we empathize with social robots?
The accelerating computer revolution is not just about rapid growth in the raw calculating power of machines. It has lately gone in a new direction that challenges the popular belief that even the most intelligent machine is merely that--a thing rather than a person. How could a future human with neural prostheses and other synthetic body parts (e.g. hips or knees) reject the very idea of a robotic self?
Monday, March 16, 2015(4 comments)
Evolution and the clash of fundamentalisms
The fundamentalist syndrome includes rigid adherence to a set of basic beliefs and passionate rejection of whatever challenges them. These beliefs define a community and create a sharp distinction between believers and outsiders. The nemesis of Christian fundamentalism is science fundamentalism--the claim that science is the only source of truth about the world. The former distorts faith and the latter misrepresents science.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015(5 comments)
Davos and the crisis of international capitalism
The 2015 World Economic Forum at Davos was a gathering of 1500 executives of the world's largest corporations, 40 heads of state, and specially invited celebrities, academics and NGO representatives. The purpose of the WEF is to allow the world's plutocrats to address global problems such as the soaring inequality described in the latest Oxfam report, a dangerous situation of their own creation. Don't get your hopes up.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014(11 comments)
The toxic legacy of Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman's doctrine about the "social responsibility" of corporate management unconsciously laid bare the absurdity at the heart of American-style capitalism. It confuses ends with means by subordinating the constitutional goals of government (incl. justice, the general welfare) to the derivative and conditional value of enriching investors. This subordination is irrational and corrupts our political life.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014(3 comments)
The re-election of the Property Party
The miserably low turnout on Nov.4 and the success of the GOP despite its absurd goals are symptoms of an inarticulate despair about the political process itself. A growing portion of the bottom 90% see little reason to expect anything good from it, no matter which party wins an election. The super-rich control "who can run for office, what their priorities should be and even what can be said in public" (Sunlight Foundation).
Sunday, August 3, 2014(8 comments)
Does "self-defense" justify Israeli attack on Gaza?
Palestinians see Israel as the aggressor, and their rocket barrage as a desperate act of self-defense against the deadly stranglehold of Israel's blockade of Gaza. It is a refusal to accept subjugation. A blockade is an act of war. Israel has been at war with Gaza for 7 years.
Saturday, July 5, 2014(3 comments)
Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq: three delusional wars
Most Americans feel a grotesque buyer's regret over the killing of 65,000 American troops and 2-3 million foreign civilians at a cost of $5-6 trillion in three wars. Even these huge numbers fail to do justice to the suffering and the lost opportunities these wars have inflicted on the U.S., its allies, and the ravaged nations where we waged war. But what have we learned?
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 Amazon and the dark side of American capitalism
Amazon is one of the most admired corporations in the world, and Jeff Bezos is rightly seen as an entrepreneurial genius. Yet, says Simon Head, Amazon "treats employees as untrustworthy human robots and relies on intimidation to push them to the limit."
Americans reject the kind of government that treats its people simply as means or resources. The purest form of such treatment is slavery. Why then do we accept wage slavery?
Wednesday, April 23, 2014(1 comments)
The GOP budget plan is class warfare disguised as a budget
The Ryan plan is a dishonest election platform masquerading as a budget. It lets Republicans throw red meat to their base by attacking social programs, throwing more money at the military-industrial complex, lowering taxes for their rich patrons, and pretending to balance the budget.
Friday, March 7, 2014(4 comments)
Raising the minimum wage is the least we can do
GOP objections to raising the minimum wage appeal to a shallow interpretation of the Law of Demand. It turns out that treating workers with respect and decency in wages, benefits and schedule is good economics.
Republicans are both inconsistent and callous in arguing against a minimum wage increase while also pushing for substantial cuts in food stamps and other welfare programs.
Sunday, January 26, 2014(1 comments)
The final campaign of Martin Luther King Jr.
King could have kept his focus on undoing the harm white racism had done to his people. But his heart and vision were big enough to see racial injustice as part of a wider and deeper evil that included economic injustice and militarism, which was oppressing whites and nonwhites alike. The political establishment and his own black community turned on him. Today his radicalism is mostly forgotten.
Saturday, January 25, 2014(1 comments)
What happened to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream?
In his magnificent "I have a dream" speech, King called for the nation to "rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" But the destruction of so much black family wealth in the burst housing bubble of 2007-09 destroyed King's dream of a post-racial society.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013(22 comments)
Walmart, Waltons epitomize America's class war
Walmart's business is extraction; it is the great American Taker. Its goal is to pile up ever more wealth for the Waltons and other investors by underpaying its intimidated workers, violating their right to organize, and getting taxpayer subsidies for its antisocial behavior Walmart's parasitic business plan is becoming the new normal in America's economy.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013(5 comments)
Are humans creating a posthuman future?
Until now, technological progress has been increasing the power of human beings over non-human nature (for better or worse). But ongoing research projects in the overlap of brain and computer science tell us that we will soon have the power to alter human nature itself. Do we today have the wisdom to settle on a good direction for our society at this tipping point in human history?
Wednesday, October 9, 2013(3 comments)
The GOP's Distortion of "Freedom" in Shutdown Debate
In his public tantrum on the Senate floor, Ted Cruz issued this call: "Defund ObamaCare because it takes our freedom away." He was echoing the conservative meme that because government has coercive power, its involvement in social programs automatically reduces our freedom. The absurdity of this claim is obvious in the effect Medicare has had on the lives of the elderly and the disabled.
Sunday, September 1, 2013(3 comments)
Is it "self-evident" that "all men are created equal"?
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal. . . .". It's obvious that there must be some degree of economic inequality in order to have an incentive system that rewards people whose special talent and initiative benefit everyone. But how do we make this inequality consistent with the Declaration's claim that we are all equal? Does it matter how great the economic inequality gets?
Wednesday, August 7, 2013(2 comments)
Obama administration undermines rule of law
The U.S. imprisons people at a much higher rate than any other country. The Obama administration mercilessly punishes nonviolent drug crime, but doesn't prosecute wealthy financial criminals. Like an absolute monarch, Obama feels entitled to kill American citizens without trial. He is the face of a self-dealing military, intelligence, and foreign-policy establishment.
Monday, July 1, 2013(8 comments)
My exchange with Mitch McConnell on obstruction and health care
Obamacare, for all its weaknesses, is a whole lot better than nothing. Yet nothing is what McConnell offers as an alternative. McConnell faults Obama for his lack of bipartisanship in "unilaterally forcing" the ACA through Congress, as if the law were a purely Democratic idea. Yet it is essentially the same as the Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform law (aka Romneycare) signed by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006.
Sunday, June 23, 2013(16 comments)
Mitch McConnell is the face of a broken Senate
After Mitch McConnell became Senate Minority Leader in 2007, the yearly total of filibusters doubled . It's now assumed that any legislation over which there is disagreement requires a super-majority of 60 votes to pass. Democrats could use the nuclear option to break McConnell's stranglehold. Yet they lack the will to do so.
The legislative paralysis created by filibusters can't continue. It's a national embarrassment.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013(13 comments)
The GOP response to global warming is irrational and dangerous
On May 9 Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory recorded carbon dioxide levels of 400 parts-per-million (ppm). Earth hasn't had these levels since 3 to 5 million years ago, when temperatures were 5.4 to 7.2 degrees F warmer than now, and sea levels were 16 to 131 feet higher than today. Congressional Republicans respond to scientists' warnings with skepticism or outright denial, and are totally opposed to doing anything about it.
Friday, April 19, 2013(22 comments)
Who are the real 'takers'?
The GOP echoes Ayn Rand in dividing Americans into "makers" and "takers." They overlook the one percent's baseless sense of entitlement to an ever greater share of national income.
Monday, February 18, 2013(4 comments)
The Great deficit debate: looking for money in all the wrong places
The right wing mantra is that "We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem." This is a groundless dogma that is distorting the Congressional debate about fiscal priorities. In reality, we are an undertaxed country with a grossly inflated defense budget.
Friday, December 14, 2012(8 comments)
Government always redistributes income and wealth
Redistribution of wealth and income is an inescapable, essential function of government (yes, even under Republicans). Redistribution occurs each time we divide among us the bill for the massive amount of public goods and services used in market transactions. The Bush tax cuts continued a 50-year trend of wealthy Americans paying less and less of the bill for these public goods and services.
Sunday, September 23, 2012(7 comments)
The Party Of Lincoln Plays The Race Card
Romney and the GOP depends on the votes of a racist minority. They can neither forcefully condemn racist views of Obama nor openly endorse them. Instead, they give their base winks and dog whistles.
Thursday, August 16, 2012(1 comments)
Vague language and dishonest rhetoric cloud tax-cut debate
"I'm not proposing anything radical here," President Obama said on July 9. "I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 a year should go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton." Mitt Romney thinks otherwise: "This will be another kick in the gut to the middle class in America." Obama misrepresents his own plan, Romney's statement is absurd, and news media are missing the point.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012(5 comments)
Capitalism in an irrational political system
Jamie Dimon's recent appearances before House and Senate committees vividly demonstrated the damage done to our political institutions by capitalism American style. When capitalism becomes a full-fledged political system, the primary role of government is to nurture a private market that will in turn subordinate government to the profits of the wealthy minority who control large corporations.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012(3 comments)
Do American workers have the Stockholm Syndrome?
The notion that our wealthy investor class needs more tax cuts flies in the face of well-known facts. It also makes no sense. Yet this is a major part of Romney's message. Why then are so many American workers going to vote for him? Could it be that they are suffering from societal Stockholm Syndrome?
Friday, April 20, 2012(2 comments)
Obama v Romney: a choice or an echo?
There is a distubing similarity between Obama and Romney on military policy. But the difference between their tax proposals is stark.
Thursday, March 8, 2012(1 comments)
U.S. should step back from Iranian precipice
President Obama's ultimatum to Iran--that Iran should yield under pressure of his economic sanctions or he will use force--may back him into a disastrous military conflict. His ultimatum is as much a threat to American national security as it is to Iran's.
Thursday, February 16, 2012(1 comments)
Mitt Romney is the one percent's Captain America
In the year 2015, Romney's tax plan would raise taxes by an average of $157 for the bottom 20% of taxpayers, and $82 for the second quintile. The third (middle) quintile ("the folks that are really struggling") would receive a whopping $138 tax cut!
And what about the "very rich" that Romney says he's "not concerned about"? The tax cut for those with incomes over $1 million would average $145,568.
Thursday, December 1, 2011(1 comments)
'Torture' has become a word in political and media Newspeak
As Orwell explained, the purpose of Newspeak was "to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc [the ruling party]."
GOP Newspeak allows Republicans to reject "torture" while promising to reinstate waterboarding and other forms of what was called torture in 20th C. English. Obama's failure to prosecute Bush administration torturers empowers GOP Newspeak.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011(1 comments)
Do we want a capitalist dystopia? The GOP does.
The Republican mantra is: the more privatization of government functions, the better. Mitt Romney is part of a highly successful Republican campaign to make the word "public" curdle in the mouths of Americans. They want a society organized around and subordinated to the profit motive. Such a society would be a dystopia in which people would be treated as commodities in a labor market, as things rather than persons.
Friday, September 9, 2011(3 comments)
Does America still respect labor?
How long can we go on celebrating Labor Day? This holiday is supposed to be a celebration of labor and the labor movement. Yet the labor movement in this country is fighting for its life. The GOP's anti-union crusade attacks a basic human right specified in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Thursday, August 11, 2011(1 comments)
A budget for a dysfunctional national family
In the debt deal, the GOP got away with an act of political terrorism by cloaking it in the language of fiscal responsibility and family budgets.
Monday, July 11, 2011(2 comments)
The brain behind Republican strategy
The GOP has stubbornly committed to policies that are proven failures over three decades. As conservative columnist David Brooks said recently, Republicans "have no economic theory worthy of the name."
American voters seem caught up in the irrationality of the moment, resigned to letting politicians damage their nation's future. There is a great paradox here, one that reflects a dangerous aspect of human nature.
Friday, June 10, 2011(18 comments)
The Mythology of Individualism
Individualists want a political system built around self-made, self-reliant and value-creating agents whose connections to other humans are purely voluntary or contractual. That's why they see the free market as society itself, as the natural environment for human nature. The self-made individual touted by Randian individualists is a fiction, a distortion. A society makes individuals just as much as individuals make a society.
Friday, December 24, 2010(6 comments)
Do the rich deserve their wealth?
It should have been political suicide for the GOP to threaten to block all legislation (including an extension of unemployment benefits) until Congress extends the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of American taxpayers.
One reason for the lack of outrage is that many Americans at all income levels feel that the wealthy "deserve" their high incomes, and that the government has no right to redistribute this wealth to poorer,
Tuesday, November 23, 2010(3 comments)
Our torn social contract
In the face of very high unemployment, increasing poverty, homelessness and hunger, and growing numbers of people without health insurance, Republicans advocate cutbacks in social spending and repeal of Obama's universal health insurance plan.
This destructive agenda is the culmination of a 30-year class war waged by the GOP and a wealthy elite against American working people. Let's reflect on how we got to this point.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010(1 comments)
Hiding in Plain Sight -- the Abysmal Record of the GOP
Republican denunciations of Obama's deficits make as much sense as someone suing the fire department for water damage from putting out the fire he started in his house. Under George W. Bush, the GOP did something to our nation just as irresponsible and harmful as that home owner. It launched two wars while enacting massive tax cuts.
Friday, September 10, 2010(4 comments)
Anti-Government Propaganda is Fueled by Ignorance
One of the foundational myths of right-wing ideology is that enterprise and creativity can be found only in the private sector. In fact, scientific, technological and economic progress are crucially dependent on government funding of research. The Internet is a striking case in point. If the anti-government and anti-tax tirades of the right were taken seriously, our society would be in dire straits.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010(7 comments)
The GOP wants to double down on trickle down
Republicans actually want to renew Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, at a cost of $680 billion over ten years, despite ballooning government deficits. They're clinging desperately to the failed supply-side economics that has been Republican dogma since 1980. Mitch McConnell says with a straight face that "There's no evidence Bush's tax cuts actually diminished revenue."
Thursday, July 15, 2010(2 comments)
Worker Cooperatives--a genuine Third Way
The structure of ownership and control in most American corporations is seriously flawed. It creates an adversarial relationship between workers and those who own or manage workplaces. Fortunately, a better alternative is emerging in the U.S. and elsewhere. This alternative is workers owning their work-places, especially in the form of worker cooperatives.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010(3 comments)
Denmark: Land of the Free
The lesson to be learned from Denmark is that you can have both a competi-tive free market economy and a comprehensive welfare state with a strong union role.
As the Danish center-right government's Employment Minister said in a 2008 interview, "I think the idea that you have to starve the public sector to have a prosperous private sector is long out of date."
Saturday, February 13, 2010 Obama is the Establishment
There is a disconnect, some might say an abyss, between Barack Obama the presidential candidate and President Obama. The great intelligence, articulateness and eloquence are still there. But his transition to government has been a massive bait and switch. He (like most of Congress) serves the ruling class of what J. K. Galbraith calls the Predator State.
Sunday, November 15, 2009 Militarism is Distorting and Bankrupting America
Gen. McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has been publicly pressuring President Obama to send between 40 and 80 thousand more troops there. His unjustifiable request and insubordinate behavior are only the latest examples of a rampant militarism that has seriously damaged America at home and abroad.
Sunday, March 8, 2009(1 comments)
Employee Free Choice Act will rebuild economy, strengthen democracy
A principal cause of the current economic crisis is the growing gap between increasing worker productivity and stagnant worker compensation since 1980. Unless worker compensation keeps up with productivity increase, it isn't possible to sustain demand for the output of a growing economy. We must repair the economy by restoring long-runc consumer demand. One of the best ways to do this is the EFCA.