All posts by Perry Casilio

About Perry Casilio

Perry Casilio is a 1986 graduate of Southern Oregon University, where he studied political science, economic theory, and American history. He has been actively involved in politics for many years, serving both Republican and Democratic parties, and his writings have been published in numerous print and online media. An avid musician and the father of three daughters, he lives with his wife in Oregon.

The Political Balance Between Modern Society & The Environment

This is a unique time in history. On one hand, the blessings of our high-tech lifestyle are everywhere to be seen. On the other hand, a high amount of discernable social alienation is visible too. What explains this situation? Historically…material comfort and technological advancements have sometimes resulted in an increase of social stability.

As is well known, a tremendous amount of anxiety exists currently in America and through the world about the state of the environment. Although fear of the future has been strong since the writings of the economist Malthus in the 1800’s, this thinking is now mainstream. Indeed, some fear that environmental damage caused by man is almost too strong to correct. These intense concerns help explain the modern disconnect that makes it hard for many to be grateful for the blessings of technology.

Although there’s intense debate about environmental policy nowadays, it’s good for perspective to look back on the dawn of America’s environmental movement. This movement was born out of concern for the tremendous smog and pollution that America had in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As opposed to the more complex and politicized environmental debates now occurring, the pollution crisis that America suffered back then was obvious to almost all. In addition, many of America’s rivers, as well as the Great Lakes, were clearly suffering from decades of having raw sewage and chemicals dumped directly into them.

When Republican President Nixon formed the Environmental Protection Agency, many on both sides of the political aisle breathed a sigh of relief. This was because there was then born a concerted and nationwide effort that largely succeeded in cleaning up America’s air and waterways. Improved vehicle emissions standards, as well as The Clean Water Act contributed to this success.

When one fast-forwards to the environmental debates currently happening in America today, things seem more confusing. Interestingly, some Liberals who used to be known for being open-minded on many topics are now inpatient with being questioned about their views on the environment. This is shown by how they refer to those questioning their environmental views as deniers.

On the Conservative side, there’s some skepticism about modern environmental concerns. On issues ranging from climate change to natural resource use, some Conservatives favor giving freedom to business to operate without the strict regulations Liberals want. In addition, some Conservatives feel its possible that some change in our environment is due somewhat to natural forces at play with the earth. A glance at geologic history shows the earth has had cycles of change going back thousands of years.

To many Americans watching this intense debate play out, it’s difficult to find candidates offering a middle ground between development and environmental protection. Interestingly, average Americans on both political sides are often in favor of increasing the use of clean energy when practical to do so. This is shown by the fact there’s strong interest in using solar power as a secondary energy option on new construction.

However, even if the use of solar, wind, and geothermal power were to increase, the fact remains that for the immediate future, green energy usage will be used mostly in addition to traditional sources of power. To go totally green with energy use is not easy to do in the immediate future. This is shown by the fact that a strong amount of fossil fuel usage is still needed in countries that have pushed green energy such as Germany.

On other environmental issues such as logging and mining, there exists resistance on the part of Liberals to allow for the development that Conservatives say is necessary for a strong economy. Obviously, there needs to be some natural resource usage to sustain the complexity of modern life. After all, with the scrutiny that the more synthetic plastics now are undergoing, turning away from natural resources will be difficult. At best we can minimize natural resource and plastic use by strongly enhancing the already successful recycling movement.

A middle ground with environmental issues will remain difficult to stake out in today’s political climate. Currently, the political dialogue regarding environmental issues seems to involve a pendulum of backlashes. When each side gets in power now, they often swing almost farther away from where they were before. This process then cements in another round of a potentially stronger backlash. And so the cycle repeats.

However, a common sense political balance between the economic needs of modern society and the environment is doable if both sides can truly listen to each other more. Only by thoroughly examining the positions on both sides of the political aisle will we be able to come up with compromises that not only protect the environment, but also allow for an adequate amount of natural resource use for modern society. If there can be more of a concerted effort to protect the environment prudently while still allowing for development, its possible that we can then regain the optimism we once had regarding modern life, progress, and technology.

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Modern Politics Without The Fairness Doctrine

Today’s political dialogue is full of intensely absolutist rhetoric that at times borders on the apocalyptic. In terms of pure theatre and drama, the constant parades of verbal and written shout-downs ensure high ratings, popular social media sites, and a steady audience of gawkers. However…is this the best way to address the issues facing our country?

Obviously, strong debate and dialogue has and will always be necessary in political circles. This is because the issues at stake are so very important to all of us. Unfortunately though, the level of political noise now being generated often leaves little room for the opposition to truly debate. On a rhetorical level, many political pundits and politicians infer that the opposition is now an enemy that needs to be defeated totally and at all costs.

Sadly, such rhetoric can lead to unfortunate consequences on both sides. As we’ve seen, political gatherings are sometimes being upstaged with violence, and some politicians, political pundits, and government officials have been verbally assaulted or escorted out of restaurants simply because of their political views. Is this the type of America that we want?

Although the social unrest of the 1960’s is often talked of as a high-water mark for American unrest, there’s a chance that we border on surpassing that era. After all, in the 1960’s the civil unrest pitted those in the Civil Rights, Anti-War, and other movements against the “Establishment.” In those days “The Establishment” consisted of both Republican and Democratic politicians at all levels. When we fast-forward to today, the social unrest centers around a philosophical split between Republican and Democratic ideals. This split not only impacts politics, it impacts all of society. This is the reason why America is experiencing a surge in “Political Segregation” maybe unseen since the Civil War era. As we know, friendships between those with opposing political views are now being highly discouraged. As a result, not only are friendships being destroyed over politics, families are sometimes split over irreconcilable political views.

There’s a line where the concept of Us vs. Them can cross over into chaos. On a political level, we may be experiencing that. By dehumanizing those with opposing political views as an enemy to be ridiculed at all costs, we’re creating the angry-mob mindset that philosophers such as Montesquieu warned could occur with democracy. This herd-like propensity of being quick to anger is being shown with the frequent social media gaffes that occur lately on all levels. Some people now react first, and think later.

As a result of these trends many ask…how did we get here?

Although there are many theories for how we got to this point, one important factor that led to today’s political climate was the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine for media in 1987. Once this was repealed it became easy for media outlets to tilt their presentation of factual information more towards the perception of either Liberal or Conservative bias. When the Fairness Doctrine was in place there was a need to present both sides of an issue as factually accurate as possible so that the viewer could decide what to think.

Thirty years after the repeal of the doctrine we’re now seeing that relying on actual facts in the news has been replaced with bending the facts as far as possible for either a Liberal or Conservative effect. This has led to the frequent charge on both sides politically about “fake news.” And yes, this mindset has infiltrated social media strongly. A glance at some political social media sites will quickly give a glimpse of the subjective bias in store.

Although Conservative media has often been blamed for creating the echo-chamber media that we have today, it’s become apparent that Liberals have caught up to Conservatives in regards to media bias. In addition, some feel that Liberals are surpassing Conservatives in sheer numbers of media advocates for their cause.

As for an answer to the political chaos we see, there’s no single answer that’ll restore civility and fair play. Basically, an important thing to remember on all levels is that the concepts of Liberal-Progressive vs. Conservative-Traditional have been around for centuries. Each has their place. After all, as the cliché “today’s radical is tomorrow’s conservative” implies, each of us can possess both Progressive and Traditional tendencies at different times. Therefore, many of us can at times both understand and empathize with opposing political views.

Although the chance is slim to none that the Fairness Doctrine can be ever put back in place, it’s important to realize that all of us have within ourselves the ability to be fair. This idea is so very important to remember in these chaotic political times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Amongst America’s Homeless

Over the past 30 years Americans have grappled with the problem of homelessness on a large scale. As many of us drive by them on the corner, or step over them on the sidewalk, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that we live amongst the homeless.

When analyzing this problem, many fall back on the political blame game. And yes, although the federal cutbacks in mental health services and affordable housing in the 1980’s created a spike in homelessness at the time, it’s hard to just blame Republicans for this problem. Since that time, both parties have failed to restore the social service safety net while also radically altering America’s economy. The changes in our economy have created much uncertainty for both the middle and lower-middle classes.

In the past 30 years inflation has taken a toll on real wages as automation and globalization have changed the job landscape. These factors, when combined with the credit and debt boom, have created a situation that results in many Americans with very little or no savings. As a result, there are many homeless who were pushed into this life after losing a job. What sometimes starts as a temporary setback of living out of their car often turns into a several month ordeal that changes their life forever. Sadly…some find that once they lose their housing, they’re never able to recover. As opposed to thinking of the homeless as mostly scam artists or drug addicts, we need to recognize that many of them would prefer to be employed and living a normal life.

As typical with many political issues these days, neither political party can be relied on to totally improve the homeless problem. As with many political topics, actual solutions require creative thinking involving both parties putting the interest of America first, and the dogma of their party second.

Interestingly, President Trump’s protectionist economic policies have actually helped supply a boost in employment. Although these protectionist policies will eventually give way to the globalist trend well established, it needs to be recognized that improving employment opportunities can definitely help the homeless situation.

However, boosting employment alone will probably not bring America’s homeless to as low a level as it was in the 1970’s. To achieve this we need to also improve the budget for affordable subsidized housing. In line with this, as a way to reduce the stigma with subsidized housing, policies that allow renters and owners to take ownership and have responsibility for the appearance, cleanliness, and maintenance of these dwellings should help. These policies can help reduce the stigma of subsidized housing while also improving the value and safety of the properties.  

Since many homeless have mental health problems compounded by the drug crisis, we should find ways to improve the budgets of mental health service on all governmental levels. This makes sense since it’ll help to not only get many mentally ill off the streets; it’ll also give some a chance to normalize their life. In line with this, looking for ways to reduce access to opioids and other hard drugs such as methamphetamines and LSD, will help.

American history shows periodic spikes in homelessness that has often followed wars or economic dislocations. Obviously, our 30-year period of high homelessness needs to end soon for this to be looked at as merely a spike and not an American way of life.

Since employment helps people focus on improving their lot, it’s worthwhile to look at continuing some of the employment-boosting free-market measures now taking place. In addition, it’d also be wise to create a government workforce that can be used for infrastructure maintenance. This government workforce can employ some of the homeless that show aptitude in both temporary and permanent jobs.

As with any political problem, there are solutions to the homeless crisis. However, although the solutions are right before our eyes, finding the will to look for in-depth and concrete political solutions is difficult. If we want to put America truly first again, we’ll need to put our heads together from the left to the right, to reach solutions that are best. Combining all political ideas from across the spectrum is the only real way that we’ll start getting the homeless off the streets, and into homes.

Practical Ways To Reduce School Shootings

The American public and media deal with tragic and highly publicized school shootings on a regular basis. Understandably, each episode leaves our nation gripped in despair and searching for answers. In search for solutions, we often rekindle the ageless political debate about gun rights that’s hard to resolve. As a result, instead of seeking practical solutions to reduce school shootings now, we often focus on a gun debate that goes on and on. 

Regardless of how one thinks about guns, America’s 2nd Amendment makes it clear that Americans have a right to bear arms. This fact alone will make it hard to get the comprehensive gun control some wish for. Also, since some countries with strict gun laws have had horrible shootings, there’s no guarantee that gun laws alone will eliminate threats to our children.

Practical solutions to school shootings come in many forms. And yes, none of these ideas are perfect. As history and day-to-day life show, humans have a creative ability to find loopholes when it comes to being violent.

A viable solution that’s actually being put in practice somewhat is to have police in schools. Although this isn’t perfect, it’s already been successful at times in minimizing violence. Whether the police are stationed at school as resource officers, or as police stationed at the school, the fact remains that having several police at every school could give potential shooters less time to act. If a strong police presence would be combined with minimizing school entry points, school safety should improve. In addition, some schools have had success in using metal detectors to find guns. Therefore, a trained police presence could not only interrupt a shooting, it may also deter.

Another way to improve school safety is to redesign classrooms to allow for at least two doors in every class. Too often, a killer in a school shooting is able to hold a classroom hostage since there’s only one doorway and no escape. Having two or more doors would allow an escape for students and give multiple points of entry to interrupt a shooting.

And finally, there needs to be thought in our high-tech world of designing classrooms with security alerts in mind. Would it be possible to have a button located on each desk that a student or teacher could press in case a school shooter were to appear? This button could send an immediate 911 message to police and staff located at the school in addition to the EMS system as a whole. This alert could give an exact location and save lives by making response times quicker. Other proposals include gun training for teachers who show aptitude with gun safety, and improving intervention with students that show mental health issues.

As for reaching consensus on gun control that both sides could agree on, that may be a long way off. After all, even when Democrats have had political power they’ve shown reluctance to advance a strong gun control agenda. And if comprehensive gun control is ever passed, the full effects of it may take a while to be felt. Therefore, it may be wise to consider concrete solutions to make our schools and children safer now.

America is at a crossroads regarding school shootings. Therefore, the time may be right to advocate a federal program to upgrade safety at all schools. Although such a program would come at a financial cost, this burden could be eased by our use of Keynesian economics.

As opposed to the endless partisan debate about gun rights, a proposal to make schools safer now should generate bipartisan support. After all, a national plan to protect students and reduce shootings could help schools focus on what they should be…a place to learn.

 

 

 

Taking Care Of Our Human Environment

When the word environment is used it’s often meant to describe nature as distinct from mankind. In defense of this practice, this is done to focus on ways to sustain or improve the natural environment. However, to be truly holistic, it may be wise at times to think of humans as part of the total environment.

When discussions about the environment and sustainability come up, a common issue raised is the question of over-population. Understandably, when one thinks of sustainability, one can’t help but notice the large increase in human population the past 50 years. Regarding this trend, the good news is that when a country reaches a certain level of development, population growth often tends to slow down.

Although globalism is reaching an understandable impasse, one of its benefits is that it helped formerly poor and agrarian countries reach a level of development quicker than otherwise. As many countries have found out, large population growth is usually linked to agrarian societies. As countries advance, population growth often levels out. Thailand is a strong example of a country that followed this trend.

Since economic development is sometimes seen as detrimental to nature, it’s a pleasant surprise to realize it can actually be a friend to it in some ways. As time goes by and more countries reach levels of post-industrial economic development, it’ll be interesting to see if population growth continues to slow down. If indeed it does, we can start to see economic improvement as a tool that can help both the natural, and human environment.

 

Modern America’s Infrastructure Dilemma

Although it’s popular to dislike anything President Trump proposes, its possible that his American infrastructure plan is the best such proposal since Eisenhower. Even Obama’s impressive infrastructure stimulus package may end up being on a smaller scale than what Trump proposes.

Those who question Trump’s proposal range from many of his fellow Republicans, to a wide array of Democrats. Ironically, given the state of political paralysis America now faces in Congress, its possible that if Trump’s infrastructure plan is scrapped due to his impeachment, America may languish with sub-standard infrastructure for years. This is because Republicans rarely approve infrastructure upgrades, and Democrats are careful about advancing large agendas when they’re in power.

Part of the reason for the political paralysis in Congress is the radical disagreement about economics and the role of government in the economy. On a political and economic level, the left and right of America are caught in a Keynesian Economics time warp. This is shown by how many on the left ignore the perils of the debt Keynes advocated, while many on the right have shown an allergy to debt. Both sides seem reluctant to realize much has changed since Keynesian ideas were adopted in the 1930s. 

Although Keynes never advocated for the type of debt we see today, the influence of his economic ideas has been incredible. His idea that debt is something to embrace has invaded almost every pore of the developed world. As a result, debt has exploded in governments, businesses, and individual households too. This has led some analysts to say that Keynes’ ideas have led to an economic shift on a micro and macro level. As many remember, debt on all levels, from households to nation-states, used to be something to not only be monitored closely, but also in many cases shunned.

Regarding the Trump infrastructure proposal, many on the left dislike it since it doesn’t go as far as FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s. In addition, many on the right question it since they feel infrastructure concerns are over-stated, and too costly.

Agreeing with even one aspect of President Trump’s ideas is a hard sell to those who prefer smooth politicians. Obviously, his demeanor and communication style is highly unconventional. As a result, there are those who now tune Trump out at every turn regardless of what he proposes. Although political operatives now urge supporters to resist the opposition at all costs, it’s unfortunate there can’t be more bipartisan support on a basic idea like infrastructure. After all, this type of proposal, since it avoids the emotions common with social issues, is a natural fit for bipartisan support.

While Trump’s plan could be vastly improved by increasing the amount of federal dollars from $200 Billion, his goal of raising a total of $1.5 Trillion by creating public-private partnerships with business is not without merit. After all, many countries through the world and some Democrats now tout such ideas. This is because implementing strictly government-funded programs that add to debt without tax increases is unstable. Therefore, since tax increases are unpopular with all but the Progressives of the left wing, many politicians have embraced the cozy language of public-private partnerships.

In the long run, since America’s infrastructure is falling behind, there needs to be ways of getting both parties to compromise and move beyond the harsh political dogma in today’s society. Obviously, the Democrats have a point about increasing the amount of federal dollars allocated far beyond the $200 Billion level. However, since America’s debt is so high, it’s fair to think there could be a strong role for private business to play. Therefore, Trump’s business-friendly concept may work if tweaked through negotiation, and given a non-politicized chance. After all, even though certain politicians demonize business, the fact remains that for much of the developed world, private business provides not only goods and services, but also much of the creative color that enriches our lives.

The sad reality is that much of America’s infrastructure such as roads, trains, bridges, and airports is in need of repair. On this issue, it’d behoove us to acknowledge that Trump is addressing this serious matter. Now we should challenge the dealmaker that he is to work with both sides of the political aisle to get the job done.

 

 

 

The Endless Search For Utopia

One of the most enduring concepts through the centuries has been the search for utopia. Few ideas ignite mankind’s passion and intellect in the same way as the grand search for the ideal master plan for civil society. Interestingly, if one were to ask different people what utopia would be, there would often be areas of agreement. 

In essence, many people view utopia as a kind of society where strife would be at a minimum, human needs would be met, and there would be a productive place and sense of meaning for each individual. However, although this sounds both ideal and possible on one level, it’s in the implementation of utopian plans that problems can arise. 

Some social theorists have complained that attempts to implement utopian theories lead to high levels of anxiety due to the fact utopian ideals are often difficult to achieve. Therefore, the inability to achieve these ideals can lead to a constant state of unfulfilled longing and frustration for many. In addition, since some utopian theories place the needs of the group over the individual, there have been instances of persecution of individuals justified in the name of a utopian ideal. The famous injustices created over the years in Communist societies are a strong example of cruelties often committed in the search for social perfection.

Although creation of an absolutely perfect utopia has proven difficult to achieve, it has to be noted that a glance at history reveals that aspects of utopian theory have been implemented over the years. To many, a kind of pragmatic utopia that rings eternal is the type of society characterized by both Representative Democracy and regulated marketplaces and capitalism.

Although pure capitalism is difficult to achieve and can lead to strong social imbalances, a regulated market economy that provides rules that act as a check on power, has proven durable for centuries. Likewise, Representative Democracy of the type America helped usher in over 200 years ago, has become both popular and efficient worldwide.

Although America’s not been perfect, its form of government has endured precisely because it recognizes the simple fact that mankind’s not really capable of the kind of perfection some other forms of utopia advocate. In recognizing the basic imperfection of man, and setting up checks on both individuals and institutions gathering too much power, democracies such as ours provide a safety valve that keeps society in balance.

And yes…America, as well as other democracies have at times treated certain groups unfairly. A quick glance at American history shows the injustices suffered by Native Americans, as well as the slavery and Jim Crow laws that adversely affected the lives of African-Americans. However, if there was ever a society capable of acknowledging and rectifying historical wrongs, it’s the type of Representative Democracy that America has. Those who advocate moving away from both democracy and regulated marketplaces in America due to past injustices, risk getting rid of one of the most durable and pragmatically utopian societies in human history.

 

 

The Intense Emotions Of Modern Politics

Although politics has always been intense, it’s obvious the political scene in America has entered an even more emotional phase the past 5 years. Whether one lays blame for this on the rise of social media, the presidency of Donald Trump, or the heightened activism of the progressive base of the Democrats, it’s clear that civility in politics is being undercut by a heightened Us vs. Them mentality.

Where this newfound emotionalism leads is anyone’s guess. However…one thing’s for sure: America’s entering uncharted political territory. This new era is not only more politically intense; many fear it may also serve as a transition to a state of socio-political chaos. 

Some claim that the increase in political strife is due to the fact that the Post-Modern world de-emphasizes the concept of truth. This de-emphasis has led some to even reject the concept of apparent truth. Although most of us understand that absolute truth’s a subject of much debate, many of us still seek agreement on areas of apparent truth. The decline of rationality in politics can be attributed somewhat to the fact that many have given up on the ability to find common ground on areas of apparent truth. This trend leads many activists and politicians of all stripes to just attend to their particular causes in isolation. In addition, many members of the media now follow this same trend.

Since America’s form of government and Constitution was born during the rationalism of the Enlightenment, today’s Post-Modern approach to politics is fraying America’s concept of checks and balances. Historically, the beauty of America’s government lay in how its limited government provided a legal framework that allowed opposites to co-exist. This framework led to the often-quoted ideal of “agreeing to disagree.” Implicit in this was the idea that a “melting-pot” of differing cultures and values could live side by side with each other in relative peace if they followed the law. An amazing thing about this form of government is that it unwittingly provided a framework that encouraged a cross-pollination of ideas. This process not only encouraged a certain freedom of thought, it also encouraged separate cultures to maintain their identity all while still being influenced by other cultures.

In the subjective Post-Modern world the concept of “agreeing to disagree” is being eroded. In its place is an unyielding dogma that relies on caricature and ridicule to beat into submission opposing thoughts. Unfortunately, political debate on all levels is losing the ability to coalesce around the idea of looking to apparent truths to find a common good for America. Political rhetoric now encourages followers of a particular dogma to seek a purity that’s almost impossible to achieve. As a result, most political victories are no longer seen as a chance to reach across the aisle to assure the vanquished they’ll still be listened to. Instead, in today’s environment, political victors are encouraged to keep pushing the same victorious agenda to almost unreachable lengths. This process then results in the vanquished wanting retribution someday and vowing never to work with those with opposing views.

America is facing unparalleled challenges socially, politically, and economically due to both globalization and computerization. Although the Industrial Revolution and Age of Invention unleashed change quickly, the Computer Revolution, when combined with globalism, threatens to usurp traditions at a much faster pace than before. Although change is often called the one constant in life, it’s now apparent that the increasingly rapid pace of change in our Post-Modern world is increasing the level of societal cynicism.

Interestingly, many are rebelling against current trends and are trying to reinvigorate the idea that there are some truths to life that many can agree upon. This isn’t to imply that a rebirth of absolutism is at hand. This merely implies that the strong emphasis on subjectivity that characterizes the Post-Modern world is now being questioned.

In an attempt to reduce the emotionalism of today’s socio-political world, it may be wise to look for ways to reinvigorate the fact that a common good for America can still exist. In looking for common ground for a common good, recognizing apparent truths may help many of us look past the socio-political divide we now face. As opposed to absolute truth, which is hard to prove, examples of apparent truth are all around us. If we open our eyes to these common levels of truth it may become easier to find things to agree upon. One can only hope.

 

 

The Nation-State Versus Nationalism

In light of Brexit and election of Donald Trump, some have concern that nationalism’s on the rise. Although nationalism is related to the idea of nation-state, many who are comfortable with nation-states are wary of nationalism. These people associate nationalism with prejudice in its mildest form, and an aggressive foreign policy at it’s worst.

To many, President Trump’s controversial travel ban confirms these fears. Critics of Trump’s stance say his ideas run counter to America’s strong history of cultural assimilation. Ironically, Trump’s critics sometimes fail to point out that he’s consistently vowed to reverse the Bush and Obama pattern of using America’s military to help overthrow governments in the Mid-East. Although obviously questionable, Trump’s travel ban arose out his stated desire to reduce America’s military involvement in the Mid-East.

The dividing line between supporting a nation-state versus nationalism can sometimes be hard to determine. While some claim recent political events are nationalistic, others say these same events merely help preserve national identity. Highlighting the divide is how conservatives often support traditions of longstanding cultural preferences, while liberals sometimes view these traditions as discriminatory.

Since Neo-Liberal globalist policies have been dominant for some time, it’s inevitable a strong opposition movement to it would appear. As to where this movement leads is anyone’s guess. However…one thing’s for sure: many moderate voters who used to support it are questioning the Neo-Liberal dominance that’s held sway many years.

In light of the fact Brexit received over 50 percent of votes cast and Trump got over 46 percent, it’s hard to categorize all their supporters as racist and xenophobic. Interestingly, some supporters are moderates who’ve voted liberal in the past and are in favor of both free trade and equal opportunity for minority groups.

Regarding trade, many American voters adhere to Bernie Sanders belief in fair trade pacts negotiated more transparently. These moderates were attracted to Sanders and Trump since they were concerned that the current committee approach to trade pacts could result in job loss and weaken American sovereignty.

Contrary to the stereotype of the Trump voter, some of his moderate supporters adhere to liberal ideals of equal opportunity for all regardless of race, gender, and sexual orientation. These Trump voters broke away from Democrats in swing states due to disillusionment with both the economy, and the Clinton political dynasty.

In looking at recent political events it’s clear that the most powerful voting bloc in democracies are the unpredictable swing voters. Since the groupthink aspect of party politics doesn’t sway independents, they can influence political trends dramatically. Even if they don’t totally agree with a candidate or movement, swing voters will sometimes switch political allegiances if they feel one side of the political spectrum is becoming too powerful.

In line with this, conservatives need to also be wary of the unpredictable nature of the swing voter. If conservatives are perceived as over reaching as a result of Trump’s victory, they too will feel the wrath of the independent voter. Above all, swing voters vote their conscience as opposed to party line. This is why conservatives need to be careful about cutting social services, or following policies that are overtly nationalistic.

For 300 years the concepts of nation-state and nationalism have intermingled. Since nation-state refers to both a geographic and cultural entity, it’s understandable that the prideful aspects of nation-states can sometimes be interpreted as nationalism.

Interestingly, the concept of nationalism isn’t always viewed negatively. When Europe’s former colonies achieved nationalistic self-determination, this was often viewed as liberating. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons nationalism is viewed negatively is because it’s seen as contributing to World War 2. Although this is true, it goes without saying that a decrease in nationalism doesn’t always equate to less war. After all, although America’s been involved in many wars since World War 2, it’s rare that overt nationalism is cited as the main reason for this.

As we’re often told, globalism was looked at as an antidote to nationalism. Since World War 2, a multi-tiered globalist approach has sought to provide safety valves to the negative aspects of the nation-state. Although it’s fallen out of favor, modern globalism has undoubtedly helped temper rivalries between some nations. However, as with many successful ideas, an understandable backlash has developed to it.

Obviously, a form of globalist trade is here to stay. As the past 300 years shows, trade between nations is desirable and logical. After all, since different resources and skills reside in different areas, there will always be need to trade. What’s questioned these days isn’t free trade, but what the terms of agreement between trading nations are, and whether they’re transparent or fair enough.

The trade pacts and globalism of the past 25 years have led to major economic dislocations. As a result, a consensus has developed that globalist corporatism needs rethinking so each nation’s needs are respected. Currently, a school of thought says that if corporations have too much say on trade pacts, they may supersede nations in terms of power and influence. These concerns, in addition to job loss, are what led to Brexit and the atypical presidential campaigns of Trump and Sanders. Basically, these populist reactions are recognition of the problems posed with the current pace of globalism. Whether they provide clear solutions to the dilemma is debatable.

Many people dislocated by economic change realize there are no easy solutions. However, they tire of having gainfully employed experts remind them how a lack of good jobs is mostly due to automation, and how outsourcing gives them lower prices. Although it’s valid to point out benefits of globalism, it takes on a different look if one’s a member of the large pool of underemployed who inhabit many countries.

One of the most pressing problems facing the modern world is the jobs issue. Economists and social thinkers have predicted for years that automation and globalism will create chronic underemployment. For a temporary solution, progressive liberals such as Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have expressed willingness to work with President Trump on his plans to upgrade infrastructure. As we know, this will not only help America become up to date; it’ll provide many jobs that’ll stimulate the economy. In line with this, many economic thinkers are advocating a permanent infrastructure workforce to both lower high underemployment and provide maintenance.

Conceptually…a nation-state provides a sort of umbrella over a geographic area and culture. This umbrella gives each nation an air of distinction. In line with this, globalism can be viewed as a canopy that goes over all the nation-state umbrellas of the world. Basically, both Brexit and election of Trump were seen by many supporters as attempts to preserve national identity. Unfortunately, the awkward nature of both trends has led to fears of nationalism. Since many voters were concerned that globalist corporatism was moving too fast, they supported a new political movement that took a U-turn away from the road travelled. These voters were concerned that the conceptual umbrella of nation-state, could almost be replaced with the canopy of globalism.

Obviously, there’s a chance recent political events can degrade even more into negative aspects of overt nationalism or intense societal division. To avoid this, we need truly engaged citizens and leaders on all sides of the political aisle who are willing to try to understand each other.

 

 

 

American Race Relations in 2016

To many, the state of race relations in America is declining. Whether we admit it or not, recent polls have shown a majority of Americans believe race relations with the African-American community are at their lowest point in a generation. Worse still, some feel America’s close to duplicating the racially tinged social upheaval that marked the 1960’s. After the recent Milwaukee Uprising and protests in Charlotte, it’s hard to deny this trend is developing.

Ironically, this social disintegration comes in an era when members of the African-American community have reached the highest levels in the government, arts, sports, medicine, business, and the sciences. Against this backdrop of high-level achievement, it’s alarming to see the increase in racial tensions recently sweeping America. After the optimism spawned by the Civil Rights movement, we’re now faced with the grim reality that for many blacks, America’s promise of opportunity is fading.

Several factors come into play when discussing recent racial problems. Obviously, many in the black community have come to view law enforcement differently than other Americans. It’s hard to deny that the relationship between African-Americans and the police has changed the past few years. Although it’s tempting to blame either just the police, or the black community for recent tensions, analysis reveals a more complex situation. Unfortunately, without honest debate, the complexities of the situation become obscured and politicized to a breaking point.

Regarding the situation with law enforcement, many of us note that most police are ethical individuals doing a tough job in difficult times. Therefore, just blaming the police for recent tensions misses the mark. However, this doesn’t change the fact that many African-Americans not only feel they’re treated differently, they can actually point to statistics and instances which seem to bolster their claims. Compounding things is the fact that many in the media blame either just the black community, or the police for racial problems. Although this approach can lead to a ratings bonanza for the media, it adds fuel to a heated debate.

Hopefully, there can be honest discussion on all sides of this current crisis. This discussion needs to not only deal with current police practices and ways to seek improvements, but also focus on the ongoing lack of economic opportunity in the black community. As many know, poverty and lack of jobs adds to social tensions.

Unfortunately, African-Americans have been caught in the middle of an ongoing hard-nosed political-economic controversy the past 50 years. Ever since “The War on Poverty” was launched, there’s been intense focus on black Americans as recipients of government aid. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that although the “War on Poverty” had positive attributes, it compounded racial tensions.

Another factor contributing to an increase in tensions is the fact that both the unemployment rate and underemployment rate for the African-American community are much higher than average. In many metro areas, this lack of opportunity is devastating.

Although the “The War on Poverty” focused somewhat on employment, it could’ve recognized more the true impact work has on an individual’s sense of self and their place in their community. As many note, a problem with economic theory is that it addresses unemployment in a dry, statistical manner. Lost in the way many politicians approach this issue is the fact that work is tied in with someone’s dreams for a respectful life. Without steady employment, dreams are often squashed.

An ongoing dilemma of modern economics is the employment-dream equation. To combat this, it’d be wise to raise the value of work to more importance in modern America. And yes, although globalism’s here to stay, we can do better at keeping jobs here. Also, we need to realize that our commonly stated unemployment figure doesn’t count those who quit looking for work, and those underemployed. Sadly, overlooking these factors means that large swaths of able-bodied Americans can’t fulfill their dreams. As we know, lack of economic opportunity creates a breeding ground for both crime, and the racial profiling that can evolve as a way to combat it.

As for addressing the serious issue of unemployment-underemployment in America, we need to think creatively. Suggestions to improve employment range from rethinking trade pacts to keep jobs here, to expanding government jobs to create a modern and more urban version of the Youth Conservation Corps. In line with this, an expansion of the Conservation Corps can create permanent infrastructure jobs for adults. As for market incentives, consideration needs to be given to expanding tax credits and exemptions for small business healthcare insurance, and a simplification of small business legal and zoning regulations. Too often, gang members in metro areas complain they feel trapped in the gang lifestyle since jobs are sparse, and the ability to open a small business seems impossible.

On a global basis, countries such as Japan have had low unemployment because they value it. If America truly wants to, it can embrace a culture of work and achievement for all. To truly address racial problems, America must first have the political will to stop kicking the can down the road and become committed to a truly transparent full employment. If we can do this, America’s metro areas can become revitalized and the culture of poverty enveloping many African-Americans will be lessened. When increasing economic opportunity is combined with improving police practices, America’s current racial divide can begin to heal.