The American philosopher, John Rawls, addressed this dilemma in an innovative way. He thought of a hypothetical situation that would help guide our ethical principles of fairness. He described a situation where all of us would be in a pre-mortal state, behind a “veil of ignorance,” where we none of us would know what circumstances we would be born into. We could just as easily be born into a wealthy family as we could be born into the slums. With these assumptions, what principles would we all agree are fair principles upon which to build a society?
Now in over 1500 cities worldwide, the Occupy Wall Street protest movement is looking more and more like it will have staying power on a massive scale. The movement is still trying to refine its demands and specific grievances. Its main focus is economic injustice, but some groups within the movement have a much broader lists of complaints. One thing that is for certain, this is not simply a group of hippies—as Fox New coverage would have you believe. This is a highly diverse group that is expressing the spirit of democracy. This thrust is felt by people on both sides of the isle. This is not about left or right…it is about being American, in an America that is fair and just.
Voting turnout in the U.S. remains among the lowest of all Western democracies. The U.S. ranks #139 in voter turnout of countries that have held elections since 1945. We have some important elections coming up in 2012. It is important that democracy prevails in these elections. Congress needs to reform our election laws to allow as many voters to participate as possible.
There is a reason that the rich don’t suffer in a recession; that middle-class wages have been stagnant for 30 year; that the majority of the nation’s wealth is in the hand of the top 1%. Conservative tax policy has dominated for 30 years. And in this Great Recession, with profits way up, there is not need to hire more people. And in this context, with a skyrocketing national debt, with millions out of work, the Republicans can still talk endlessly of how tax cuts are the answer to creating jobs. No. Tax cuts are the answer to enriching the already-wealthy.
We are approaching the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. So much has happened since that day. Over time, history seems to have been blurred quite a bit, especially in when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. Let’s review a few critical facts about what led us to Afghanistan in the first place. This is a story of typical imperial scope creep (and we don’t hear much about how this mission has added to the much-discussed national debt).
The Dow Jones industrial average increased by 29.5% in the one-year period following Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009—the third best showing, going back 110 years, for the U.S. stock market in the 12 months following the inauguration of a new President. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first year, which began on March 4, 1933, tops the list with the Dow increasing by 96.5% over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter trails his peers with a loss of 19.6%. On average, Presidents in the Democrat party saw an average one-year gain of 24%, while Republicans averaged 1%.
Why does business align itself with conservatives in supporting the status quo of our failed healthcare system? If I am a conservative businessman, why would I choose a system that discourages personal responsibility? Why would I choose to bear the burden of my employees’ healthcare? Why would I support an anti-market system that forces many to stay in a dead-end job solely for their insurance benefits? If I support the free market, don’t I want market forces—such as performance, ability, and individual choice—to prevail? Do I really want to compete again foreign companies who have universal healthcare and therefore much lower overhead costs? (see this case study) There are historical reasons behind these questions, but I don’t understand why the fear of taxes drives business to get behind such a poorly structured system.
Americans need to understand the world much better than we do. We frequently talk about “leading the world.” And U.S. foreign policy is based on the idea that we make the rules. If we are to show leadership in the world, we need an electorate that understands today’s international challenges. We need to understand what problems exist, and how we can best assist others to solve these problems. Understanding such issues should empower our citizens to elect representatives who will promote effective policy that goes beyond the failing status quo.
Here are some interesting—and entertaining—videos clips and charts about what is going on in the world. I hope you enjoy these resources.
Eli Pariser is the author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. He is also the board president and former executive director of the group MoveOn.org. He appeared on Democracy Now! on Friday. This is a very interesting interview.