December 24, 2013
We are justly proud of democracy in America. But what makes a democracy morally great and what makes it successful?
Many countries have elections but aren’t successful democracies. Their elections are about which families will reap the spoils of election victories. Successful democracies focus on taking care of the whole peoples of their countries. Lincoln spoke about government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Speaking about democracy, we often concentrate on government “of … [and] by the people.” But Lincoln’s last clause – “for the people” – defines the difference between success and failure; between government and kleptocracies; between governments that get things done and governments that imitate the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, robbing from the poor to pay the rich. Read the rest of this entry »
July 30, 2013
I have been quite disturbed by events in Egypt. We won’t know for some time what has been happening behind the scenes, but it appears that the Obama Administration told the Egyptian military that our support would not flag, which I, and certainly they, would have read as a green light to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood.
Look at that geographically. Read the rest of this entry »
July 9, 2013
Obviously I’ve been following the news from Egypt like everyone else. You don’t need commentators to tell you that ousting a democratically elected government is undemocratic and unacceptable. But I want to talk about Morsi’s mistakes because they illustrate a major misunderstanding of democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
October 16, 2012
During the fund drive I heard Joe Donahue and this station working hard to bring Bill McKibben to this audience and lead us away from the catastrophe of global warming. He and the station did a great service and I am proud to be associated with them.
If your house was on fire you wouldn’t stand like a bystander waiting for it to collapse; you’d call the fire department and get anyone you could reach out of there fast.
If you child or your grandchild were about to drown, you would not turn your back moaning that it was too awful to contemplate; you’d raise hell to get your children out.
If your children disappeared on a camping trip, you wouldn’t sit around moaning; you’d search, call the rangers, find those children.
If your baby was dying of thirst, you’d find water. If your child was dying of hunger you’d find food. I met one six year old girl whose mother released her to others who brought her to America after the young girl’s brother had died of starvation in Liberia. It’s awful to contemplate but as parents we do what we have to in order to protect our children. Read the rest of this entry »
May 10, 2012
Students are choosing where to go to college. A college education is expensive but too many graduates come out of college without a skill set. What do they need from higher education?
Some students go through specialized programs and learn specific skills they can use – engineering, accounting, pharmacy, for example, are all undergraduate majors. And college gives students an opportunity to figure out which field of endeavor they will be willing and able to do well. But the information conveyed in specific majors may be much less helpful for careers that are not in that field.
Students can obtain a core that would work in a wide expanse of positions available to college grads – many even in the arts. I’ll add a couple of comments on what would help for future lawyers. Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2012
Let’s talk about some basics – the sources of American economic power.
- We were always an immigrant society, peopled with those who had the drive and courage to leave where they were, cross the ocean and begin again with nothing.
- Initially we were agricultural. One innovation was small, “republican,” landownership by independent farmers. Their efficiency made everything else possible.
- We were among the leaders in the banking revolution which simplified and facilitated commerce.
- The transportation revolution began in England but it had an enormous impact on the American economy because of the sheer size of the country.
- Our system of democratic schooling – education for all, rich and poor, boys and girls, immigrants and natives – was revolutionary and made us an international leader.
- England pioneered the scientific revolution. But America took advantage of the land grant colleges, and with the appreciation for learning that came with both the Christian and Jewish communities that relocated here, America became a major source of invention.
- Americans led the revolution in manufacturing – inventing and perfecting the assembly line.
Now what? Everything we achieved is out there. Read the rest of this entry »
June 28, 2011
First, I want to congratulate my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and students on the passage of the marriage equality legislation. It is high time they can normalize their lives in the myriad ways that the rest of us can, providing for each other, taking care of each other, and pledging their hearts to each other. Read the rest of this entry »
September 13, 2010
Yesterday Obama announced a new jobs and infrastructure proposal. The Republicans have already said no. Read the rest of this entry »