Category Archives: Theory and History

The Different Types Of Socialism

To most of us, socialism conjures up many images. These range from modern American politicians, to the Social Democracy nations of the world, to communist countries such as modern-day North Korea, and then to the most famous socialist in history…Karl Marx. Undoubtedly, with so many images created by the word socialism, it’s hard to know who owns the definition of the term.

Although Marxian socialism as practiced in communist countries is probably the most famous example, Marx is hardly the last word. Throughout history, the concept of socialism has had many adherents dating back to ancient Greece and the philosopher Plato.

Over the past 200 years there have been many socialist thinkers that not only differed in impact from Marx, they also differed in their ideas about free-markets and democracy. When one looks at leaders such as John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell, and Clement Attlee, one discovers thinkers who looked at socialism as something to be used in combination with both capitalism and democracy. These leaders were influential in the evolution of Social Democracy. At times, some advocates for Social Democracy call themselves Democratic Socialists.

What makes the practice and rhetoric of Marxian socialism different is its emphasis that capitalism is exploitive. In addition, the often tyrannical way that communism has been practiced is another way it’s differed from other forms of socialism. Although its been proven since the fall of the Soviet Union that Marxian communism is weak economically, there are many who still adhere to the Marxian premise that capitalism creates exploitation.

Therefore, although the economic premise of Marxism is problematic, the influence of Marx historically and on contemporary culture looms large. Although many people may not describe themselves as Marxists, they may agree with Marx’s theory that capitalist culture is exploitive. As a result, on many issues that address social change, a common way to challenge tradition is to claim that a certain practice is exploitive. And yes, exploitation does exist in many areas and needs to be addressed. However, it’s fair to say that the levels of exploitation some claim exist, are not always apparent to all.  

Obviously, socialism and capitalism can co-exist. As many know, the products and ideas of a capitalist system enhance the creative way we lead our lives. On a daily basis, we express our freedom and make decisions about how to live based on our interactions with a free-market. Therefore, in light of these positive aspects, its obvious capitalism’s not as exploitive as some claim. Where aspects of socialism have a role in modern life is in ensuring a social safety net, regulating marketplaces to ensure equality of opportunity, and upholding common environmental standards. This ability to rely on free-market capitalism to provide most of the goods and services of society, while also ensuring a moderate level of government services for infrastructure, security, human services and defense, is the hallmark of the most successful and least radical form of socialism…Social Democracy.

In modern America there’s now a strong push for what some envision as Social Democracy. Interestingly though, the rhetoric these advocates use is sometimes similar to the rhetoric Marxian socialists use. This is shown when they infer that both capitalists and capitalism are exploitive and greedy. Hopefully, when people nowadays advocate for more Social Democracy, they’ll realize that demonizing capitalism often turns many practical people off. In reality, the ideal of Social Democracy is often best achieved by first acknowledging the useful role that capitalism plays in modern life.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Progress & Racism

One of the most frequently mentioned topics in today’s American culture is racism. For most of us, not a day goes by without hearing of someone being called out as racist. In addition, some claim that America is a country where racism is systemic and institutionalized. Why is it that almost 50 years after the Civil Rights gains of the 1960s, America is still grappling with the idea of racism? And in addition, why is the racist tag applied so frequently? 

Obviously…the term racism can mean different things to different people. In line with this, the use of the term can mean different things in different eras of history. For instance, the use of the racist term meant something different in the era before the Civil Rights gains of the 1960s. When one looks back at the Jim Crow practices common before the 1960s, one can definitely see that many of the legal protections that African-Americans have now, didn’t exist. And yes, from a legal standpoint, some can say that life for blacks during the post Civil Rights era is easier. However, if things have improved for blacks on a legal level, then what accounts for the fact that claims of racism are so high in today’s world?

There are many reasons why claims of racism still exist. To some, these claims exist because there’s a justifiable perception that people of color still do not receive the respect they deserve. To these people there’s still much work to be done to address systemic racism in all of its forms ranging from subtle to the more obvious. In addition and from another angle, some claim the racist tag is applied loosely nowadays as a political tool to create division and call out white people. These people claim that some issues now being called racist fall more in line with preferences. They claim politicians and activists are creating racial hypersensitivity to exploit fear.

For many of us, the concept of social progress is real and tangible. In line with this, many of us hope to envision a future where racism of any kind, whether it’s aimed at blacks, other minorities, and even whites, is seen as a concept of a bygone era. To further the cause of social progress it’s important to help America live up to its pledge to create a society where equal opportunity for all races is respected. In addition, it’d also behoove us to be careful of applying the racist tag to both situations and individuals too freely. After all, the negative effects of racism are shown not only with actual racist practices, it’s also shown by unjustly accusing people of racism when that may not be their intent.

 

 

A Modern Debate: Equality Of Opportunity vs. Equality Of Outcome

A hotly contested political debate occurring is about the eternally powerful concept of equality. This debate conjures up many mental images. These images range from The Founding Fathers and their views on equality, to celebrities and athletes who espouse equality ideals, to modern Marxists who claim that the goal of a totally equal society is still possible and desirable. Yet…as with many philosophical ideas, equality lies within the eye of the beholder. This is why the current debate is so strong.

In a nutshell, a difference of opinion exists as to whether it’s better to have equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome. This is where the debate gets intense. Basically, those who believe in a strong market-based economy tend to favor building a society that has a certain measure of equality of opportunity. In line with this is the assumption that its not in society’s interest to dictate who succeeds the most in life. On the other end of the spectrum are those who say that creating equality of opportunity is difficult at best. They claim that systemic limitations place certain groups at a disadvantage and that government needs to work at creating equality of outcome for them. Basically, many Republicans and Libertarians are in favor of a society that works to maintain equality of opportunity. On the other side, many Democrats and Socialists are in favor of a society that works to create equality of outcome.

On a common sense level, its obvious that creating a society where everyone has equal opportunity to achieve equal outcomes is difficult to achieve. After all, even in communist societies there are powerful members of the communist party that have opportunities for success ordinary citizens don’t. As a result, the outcomes in a communist society are not as equal as leaders advertise. Therefore, even in countries that verbally place total equality as a goal, the actual attainment of the goal proves hard to achieve.

The end of the Cold War and breakup of the Soviet Union ushered in recognition that attaining total equality of both opportunity and outcome was no longer possible. This recognition influenced communist countries like China to adopt free-market ideas into their economy. As a result, China now has a dynamic economy. The abandonment by China of seeking total equality taps into the psychological belief that people are not as bothered by inequality as previously thought. This is because many people value having individual freedom instead of creating a totally equal society. 

One of the difficulties encountered in communist countries is that to achieve total equality they need tight control on most economic activity. As a result, economic production in communist countries is often weak due to the high level of control the government exerts. And subsequently, the low level of economic activity in these countries often has a detrimental impact on the lives of everyday citizens. The day-to-day struggles of those currently living in North Korea and Venezuela are examples of communist countries that have sacrificed economic progress in the name of creating total equality.

If total equality has been difficult to achieve, then why does it still have such a pull on the psyche? And in addition, why do so many in all walks of life talk about it in various ways? Part of the explanation for this is the fact that its been proven in many countries that having a certain amount of equality has created a more fair society. Therefore, human nature being what it is, the question of balancing out equality issues with other factors can sometimes be downplayed. The reasoning with equality is that if a moderate amount has been helpful, then increasing that amount will improve things more. Unfortunately, pushing for total equality often throws many things out of balance and can lead to tyranny.

In countries with a strong free-market such as America, many believe that equality of opportunity creates a dynamic society that benefits all in the long run. When this respect for equality of opportunity is coupled with the fact Americans enjoy a high amount of personal freedom, it explains how American history is full of stories of many who charted their own course and achieved much in their lifetimes.

As for the idea of trying to guarantee a certain amount of equality of outcome for those who’ve been at a disadvantage, it’s hard to say this is wrong. After all, it’s been shown that when judiciously applied, affirmative action has helped certain groups achieve a level of success they may not have achieved otherwise.

However…in fairness to those who now feel they’ve been victims of reverse discrimination, it’s important that qualifications for advancement be based on merit as much as possible. After all, many are concerned that a new kind of reverse discrimination could evolve unwittingly in the future out of the good intentions of trying to improve those discriminated against in the past.

Although the debate between the merits of equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome will endure, the concept of ensuring a basic level of equality and fairness has proven to be eternal. The nature of the equality debate mostly revolves around how much equality is practical economically, and whether a loss of personal freedom is worth creating a totally equal society.

Historically, America represented one of the strongest breaks from the monarchical form of government. In this sense, America’s respect for equality of opportunity, whereby the old class structures of the monarchy were swept away, helped inspire many other countries to find the strength to give democracy a try. For this, we all should be eternally grateful.

 

 

 

The Modern Concept Of White Privilege

When I was an 8-year old child in 1968, I took part in a voluntary school-bussing program to promote desegregation in Syracuse, New York. In the spring of 1968, soon after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, letters were sent to some families in the suburbs of Syracuse asking if they’d be interested in having their child attend a school in the inner city of Syracuse. At the time, I remember my father and mother debating why a young white boy like me should be allowed to go to a predominantly black school. Many relatives and family friends were concerned it may not be a good idea to send me far from my neighborhood. My father, who was an editor at a large newspaper in Syracuse, was supportive of me being bussed. In time, my mother became supportive of the idea too.

To my parent’s credit, they didn’t make the decision for me to attend the school and didn’t pressure me. Before a decision was made my parents asked me what I thought of the idea. At first I didn’t know what to think. However… I soon came to support the idea and agreed to change schools in the fall. The adventure had begun. To this day I still am glad I had the experience of going to Martin Luther King Elementary. 

My memories of the school have many positive aspects. However, the transition to my new surroundings took a while. Although it was difficult to get used to sitting on a bus for over an hour a day, I eventually got used to the ride. In addition, many features of the school were radically different than what I was used to. For one, I felt alone as a young white boy in a sea of black faces. In addition, since we had very few blacks in my suburban school, I now knew what it was like to be a minority. Understandably, my appearance at the black school caused reactions in my black classmates. For more times than I can remember I was called “Honky” as I was jokingly asked by my classmates whether I was lost or why I was far from home.

Interestingly and contrary to the concerns of many, I was never beat-up or in any fights in my new school. Although there were a few times when I was nudged by assertive boys or glared at, I never had concerns for my well-being and made friends in my new school. In particular, I became close friends with two young black boys in my 4th grade who looked out for me. We made an interesting trio on the campus of school. In addition to my close friends looking out for me, what helped me cope was the fact I realized at a young age that who I was as an individual actually mattered more than the fact I was white. Soon after I got to my new surroundings I learned to defuse tensions caused by my whiteness. What I quickly learned was that if I was defensive or reacted angry to the joking caused by my appearance, that things could escalate.

When I look back on my experience with the integration of blacks and whites, I realize that the experience definitely helped me understand that it is who we are as human beings, regardless of race, that truly matters. As many of us remember, many appeals were made by leaders such as Martin Luther King to not only seek equality of opportunity for blacks, but to also have people focus on the content of the character of each person as opposed to just their skin color.

When we fast-forward to the issues of today, lets try to understand that the modern concept of white privilege can be used to judge a person solely on the color of their skin. To truly heal racial tensions in America it may be best if we try not to look at outward appearance and race as a predominant factor in our lives. Obviously, racial differences are there and cannot be ignored. And yes…there is such a thing as the fact that certain whites go through life in ways that may be easier than some blacks. However, if we focus on race predominantly in judging individuals we’re basically reinforcing a stereotypical approach.

In today’s America it is valid to seek equality of opportunity for minorities. However, to make race such an intense focus in our day to day lives creates high levels of tension throughout all of society. Ultimately, and in the final analysis, it is the content of our character as individuals that matters most in life. When all Americans of all races put the quality of an individual’s character above their outward appearance, we may finally get to the place that Martin Luther King dreamt about. 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.