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jerryking : democracy   22

Michael Lewis Makes Boring Stuff Interesting - WSJ
May 17, 2019 | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | By Richard Turner.

The writer’s new podcast ‘Against the Rules’ asks what has happened to fairness in the U.S.......Michael Lewis doesn’t really need this gig. His new podcast, “Against the Rules,” doesn’t pay anything close to his book-writing day job. It’s unlikely to turn into a movie. Plus, the podcast’s subject is pretty abstract: Who are the referees in our society? Who determines what is fair and even what is true? Is our whole system rigged from stem to stern, as everyone from President Donald Trump to sports fans to the Black Lives Matter movement insists?.....The idea ...is to examine “what’s happened to fairness” in an age when America’s arbiters are no longer trusted. The Walter Cronkites of the world are gone, and those assigned to make the tough calls are reviled, threatened and assumed (sometimes correctly) to be corrupt.....“It’s a big problem for democracy if people don’t have a shared reality,” Mr. Lewis says. “It’s difficult to establish a referee in an increasingly unequal environment” like today’s U.S., “when there are powerful parties and not-so powerful ones. .......Mr. Lewis’s skills turn out to be well-suited to the podcast medium. His calling card, echoed by untold critics and readers, is this: He makes boring stuff interesting. He collects disparate ingredients, whips them up with character and narrative, and distills human stories into engrossing big-picture explainers........Lewis keeps seeing failures of refereeing. “There was no referee at the interface between Wall Street and the consumers—consumer finance. I saw the birth of that, when Wall Street hit segments of society it had never touched, through subprime mortgages, for car loans, through asset-backed securities. There was no one saying, ‘That’s fair and that’s not.’”.......Among his topics: correct English usage, judges, used cars, identity theft, credit-card companies, student-loan abuses, Cambridge Analytica, King Solomon and the famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who handled victim compensation for 9/11 families and those affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. Listeners can imagine myriad future topics related to fairness: expanding the Supreme Court, machines calling balls and strikes, cable-news coverage of the Trump presidency and so on.
boring  consumer_finance  credit-ratings  democracy  failure  fairness  gaming_the_system  Michael_Lewis  NBA  podcasting  podcasts  refereeing  rules_of_the_game  shared_experiences  unglamorous  Wall_Street  writers 
may 2019 by jerryking
US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Edward Luce.

America today has found a less bloodthirsty way of erasing its memory by losing interest in its past. From an already low base, the number of American students majoring in history has dropped by more than a third since 2008. Barely one in two hundred American undergraduates now specialise in history......Donald Trump is a fitting leader for such times. He had to be told who Andrew Jackson was.....He also seems to think that Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and 19th century abolitionist, is among us still.....But America’s 45th president can hardly be blamed for history’s unpopularity. Culpability for that precedes Mr Trump and is spread evenly between liberals, conservatives, faculty and parents........Courses on intellectual, diplomatic and political history are being replaced at some of America’s best universities by culture studies that highlight grievances at the expense of breadth.......Then there is the drumbeat of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Most US states now mandate tests only in maths and English, at the expense of history and civic education...... In a recent survey, only 26 per cent of Americans could identify all three branches of government. More than half could not name a single justice on the US Supreme Court.....
the biggest culprit is the widespread belief that “soft skills” — such as philosophy and English, which are both in similar decline to history — do not lead to well-paid jobs.....folk prejudice against history is hard to shake. In an ever more algorithmic world, people believe that humanities are irrelevant. The spread of automation should put a greater premium on qualities that computers lack, such as intuitive intelligence, management skills and critical reasoning. Properly taught that is what a humanities education provides.......People ought to be able to grasp the basic features of their democracy. [Abiding] Faith in a historic theory only fuels a false sense of certainty....What may work for individual careers poses a collective risk to US democracy. The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives — and other qualities once associated with American vigour......There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society.
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here is what robots can't do -- create art, deep meaning, move our souls, help us to understand and thus operate in the world, inspire deeper thought, care for one another, help the environment where we live.......The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
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algorithms  automation  citizen_engagement  civics  Colleges_&_Universities  critical_thinking  democracy  Donald_Trump  Edward_Luce  empathy  engaged_citizenry  false_sense_of_certainty  foundational  historians  history  historical_amnesia  humanities  ignorance  political_literacy  sense-making  soft_skills  STEM  threats  U.S.  vulnerabilities 
may 2019 by jerryking
John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 15, 2018

John Stuart Mill demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance and a humanistic adventure.....Mill is famous for his celebration of individual liberty. But he was not an “anything goes” nihilist. He was not a mellow “You do you and I’ll be me” relativist.

In the first place, he demanded constant arduous self-improvement. In his outstanding biography, Richard Reeves points out that in “On Liberty,” Mill used the words “energy,” “active” and “vital” nearly as many times as he used the word “freedom.” Freedom for him was a means, not an end. The end is moral excellence. Mill believed that all of us “are under a moral obligation to seek the improvement of our moral character.”

“At the heart of his liberalism,” Reeves writes, “was a clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of a flourishing human life — self-improving, passionate, truth-seeking, engaged and colorful.”.... staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism.

Having been raised in this way and, as an adult, living in Victorian England, what he hated most was narrowness, conformity, the crushing of individuals under the weight of peer pressure, government power or public opinion.....Mill cures us from the weakness of our age — the belief that we can achieve democracy on the cheap; the belief that all we have to do to fulfill our democratic duties is be nice, vote occasionally and have opinions. Mill showed that real citizenship is a life-transforming vocation. It involves, at base, cultivating the ability to discern good from evil, developing the intellectual virtues required to separate the rigorous from the sloppy, living an adventurous life so that you are rooting yourself among and serving those who are completely unlike yourself.

The demands of democracy are clear — the elevation and transformation of your very self. If you are not transformed, you’re just skating by.
arduous  moral_codes  David_Brooks  democracy  Victorian  values  critical_thinking  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  struggles  history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill  self-improvement  19th_century  liberalism  indivualized  self-actualization  individual_choice  autonomy  engaged_citizenry  intellectually_rigorous 
january 2018 by jerryking
Representation: Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
democracy  politics  speeches  Edmund_Burke  quotes  judgment  representation 
november 2016 by jerryking
Keep God in the calendar
Apr. 19 2003 | - The Globe and Mail | JOHN IBBITSON.

There could be no more perfect way for a political party to guarantee its defeat at the next election than to take God out of the calendar. The Ontario government won't even end public funding for Catholic schools, though they're an egregious example of religious discrimination. Christians are not a constituency to be messed with.

But there are other reasons, more deeply embedded (will it be possible to rescue that word?) in our collective political psyche for retaining Christian holidays, for beginning daily sessions of federal and provincial parliaments with Christian prayer, for keeping God in the national anthem.

They remind us that Canada is blessed to be a liberal democracy, and that liberal democracy is the product of Christian civilization, and specifically of Protestantism.

Why is that? Why didn't Islam achieve the separation of church and state necessary for democracy to evolve? Why did Buddhist or Hindu or Confucian or Shintoist Asia not generate responsible, constitutional government even once?

The reasons are many, conflicting, and disputed. But Christianity was a part of it. The root religion of Judaism stressed the importance of the individual, who alone could save himself from darkness by embracing God. Judaic tradition, infused by Greek philosophy, imbued Christianity with a tradition of rationalism, skepticism and inquiry. The resistance of northern Europeans to dictatorial Rome brought about Protestantism, with its emphasis on the absolute sovereignty of each individual in his relations with God. If with God, then why not with the state? And the citizen was born.

(And scientific inquiry, and free trade, and the Industrial Revolution. The price was centuries of drab and uncomfortable clothing. Protestants are the worst-dressed people on Earth.)

Democracy, it turns out, is an exportable product. It has taken root in Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist societies, although the further it gets from Protestantism, the more fragile it becomes. Southern Europe came late to democracy, Latin America even later; in Asia and Africa, democracy is still the exception more than the rule.

Which is why even a nation as culturally diverse as Canada does well to remember that our democracy is rooted in the Christian tradition, that our political freedoms and social tolerance flow from that tradition, that it is not an oxymoron to describe Canada as a secular Christian nation.
religion  Christianity  Canada  history  democracy  human_psyche  Protestant_Reformation  John_Ibbitson  constituencies 
december 2013 by jerryking
True democracy starts with the municipal - The Globe and Mail
Preston Manning

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Aug. 15 2013

there are more than 25,000 elected municipal officials in Canada, not counting elected school boards and health boards in many jurisdictions, and some 75,000 to 100,000 Canadians likely gave serious thought to running for their municipal council over the past three years.

And while there are numerous think tanks, interest groups, party organizations and communications vehicles that provide intellectual capital and training opportunities for politicians at the federal and provincial levels, candidates for municipal office are not nearly as well served. This is a situation that needs to be remedied – not by bringing federal or provincial party politics to the municipal level, but by creating and supporting more think tanks, training programs, and communications vehicles dedicated to the provision of better ideas and training for those willing to run for municipal office.

Of course, political innovation of this type at the municipal level will run into the same criticism and opposition that invariably greets political innovation at any level in Canada.
Preston_Manning  municipalities  democracy  political_infrastructure  institutions  institution-building  politicians  political_innovation  think_tanks  training  training_programs 
august 2013 by jerryking
John Turner: a great defender of Parliament - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 06 2012,

But June 18 will be more than just an occasion to reminisce, as Mr. Turner is expected to expand on his brief remarks at a recent Public Policy Forum dinner where he was scathing about the state of Canada's Parliament.

He lamented the centralization of power in the Prime Minister's Office, and the erosion of the importance and independence of standing committees "that used to be a real element of democracy in the House of Commons." He condemned the Conservative's omnibus budget bill, reminding the audience that "the budget used to be related to taxation," and arguing the government's strategy is to hamper debate. He also cited the inheritance of Magna Carta, the charter of liberties, that a ruler's will is not arbitrary, and that the privileges of parliamentarians need to be protected.

"What we have in this country didn't happen by accident, democracy doesn't happen by accident," said Mr. Turner. "Let's fight for the restoration of the supremacy of Parliament in our democratic life."

It was more than partisanship, it was a heart-felt defence of Canada's parliamentary democracy by a great Canadian parliamentarian. June 18 promises to be interesting.
anniversaries  centralization  democracy  editorials  House_of_Commons  John_Turner  Magna_Carta  Parliament  parliamentary_democracy  partisanship  PMO  arbitrariness 
june 2012 by jerryking
This Column Is Not Sponsored by Anyone - NYTimes.com
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: May 12, 2012

Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel’s new book, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets,” Sandel sees a negative trend in which “Over the last three decades,” he states, “we have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society. A market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organizing productive activity. But a ‘market society’ is a place where everything is up for sale. It is a way of life where market values govern every sphere of life.” ...“The great missing debate in contemporary politics,” Sandel writes, “is about the role and reach of markets.” We should be asking where markets serve the public good, and where they don’t belong, he argues. And we should be asking how to rebuild class-mixing institutions.

“Democracy does not require perfect equality,” he concludes, “but it does require that citizens share in a common life. ... For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.”
books  civics  commonwealth  covenants  democracy  engaged_citizenry  free_markets  public_goods  social_fabric  Tom_Friedman 
may 2012 by jerryking
The Democracy Thing
October 30, 2002 | New York Times | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.
Bahrain  Tom_Friedman  democracy 
january 2012 by jerryking
Scott Adams: What If Government Were More Like an iPod? - WSJ.com
NOVEMBER 5, 2011 | WSJ | By SCOTT ADAMS

Dilbert's Scott Adams on bringing democracy out of the age of wax candles and into the age of touch screens
Dilbert  democracy  satire  funnies 
november 2011 by jerryking
Why We Need Free Public Libraries More Than Ever
July 29, 2011 | The Atlantic | Keith Michael Fiels, the executive director of the American Library Association.
libraries  advocacy  reading  economy  community  democracy 
july 2011 by jerryking
Six Victorian inheritances we should cherish -
May. 22, 2011 | The Globe and Mail | Editorial.

Science: The adoption and regularization of the scientific method and the emergence of Darwinism - especially as promoted to the general public by Thomas Huxley.

Humanitarianism: Emergence of internationalism, growing partly from the anti-slavery movement and later energized by the statesman William Ewart Gladstone's articulation of the need to recognize the rights of many small nations. As Gladstone said of the downtrodden: "The sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own." Closer to home, Charles Dickens was a powerful advocate for the poor and for factory workers.

Feminism: The roots of the modern women's movement are to be found, in part, in the establishment of women's colleges at Oxford and Cambridge in the last third of the 19th century - and in J.S. Mill's book The Subjection of Women.

Free trade: International trade networks were given impetus by the liberals of "the Manchester school," imperial collaboration and colonial development; the result of all these was a form of what is now called globalization.

Progress: The Victorians, arguably more than any other series of generations, demonstrated their commitment to the idea of progress; the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace in London, probably stands as the most conspicuous expression of industrial progress. Prince Albert was an enthusiastic backer, as was his wife Queen Victoria.

Democracy: The electoral franchise was expanded successively in 1832, 1867 and 1885.
19th_century  Charles_Darwin  Charles_Dickens  democracy  feminism  free-trade  history  imperialism  inheritances  John_Stuart_Mill  liberal  op-ed  philosophy  political_theory  utilitarianism  values  Victorian  William_Gladstone  women's_movement 
may 2011 by jerryking
The Weekend Interview With Paul Wolfowitz: The bin Laden Raid and the 'Virtues of Boldness' - WSJ.com
May 7| WSJ | By JAMES TARANTO.

In early September 2001, when he was deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz had breakfast at the Pentagon with a group of congressmen. His boss, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, "was talking about the difficulties of predicting the future and the dangers of surprise," Mr. Wolfowitz recalls. "He said, 'You know, historically every time we think the threat has gone away, something comes along and surprises us.'" Mr. Wolfowitz's next meeting was interrupted by the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Soon after, the Pentagon was evacuated after being hit by another hijacked aircraft.

Recent months have brought new surprises, as a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations has swept across the Arab world. Then, this week, President Obama announced that al Qaeda's leader was dead.

"The most striking thing is that even before Osama bin Laden was killed, he seemed largely irrelevant to the Arab Spring," Mr. Wolfowitz says.......The Arab Spring is a source of satisfaction to Mr. Wolfowitz, whose advocacy of democracy promotion as a "fundamental point of strategy" made him a demon figure for the antiwar left. .......Wolfowitz is now an outside critic of the administration in power......He says that pro-democracy sentiment in the Mideast caught President Obama by surprise as early as June 2009........ President Obama then cited the Iraq war and declared: "No system of government can or should be imposed [on] one nation by any other." To Mr. Wolfowitz, that is a straw man: "We did not go to war in Afghanistan or in Iraq to, quote, 'impose democracy.' We went to war in both places because we saw those regimes as a threat to the United States." Once they were overthrown, what else were we going to do? "No one argues that we should have imposed a dictatorship in Afghanistan having liberated the country. Similarly, we weren't about to impose a dictatorship in Iraq having liberated the country.".......World-wide, he says, democracy had been "in constant retreat" since the end of World War II. "If you looked around the world in 1981, you could say free, democratic institutions are a luxury that only the developed world enjoys—that is to say, the Anglo-Saxon world plus Western Europe plus Japan."

That began to change when Ronald Reagan came to Washington......The 1980s and '90s saw democratic advances elsewhere in East Asia as well as in Latin America, Eastern Europe and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

By the end of the 20th century, the Arab Middle East had become an outlier—the least democratic region in the world........ has the Arab Spring occurred because of the Iraqi experience or in spite of it? When I ask Mr. Wolfowitz, he is hesitant: "It's a fascinating question, and one should probably simply . . . say it's in the category of the unknowable."........Yet Mr. Wolfowitz tempers his criticism with forbearance. "I think there's a learning curve," he says. "I think they're climbing up the learning curve." He takes encouragement in the president's "gutsy call" of sending men to finish off bin Laden in person rather than dispatching him with a missile. "Obama has just made the toughest decision of his presidency, arguably," Mr. Wolfowitz says. "It wasn't a simple decision. . . . He was in a position where he'd have to take responsibility for it if it went badly. It's gone well. I hope he's learned some of the virtues of boldness."
'80s  '90s  Arab_Spring  boldness  democracy  Donald_Rumsfeld  Middle_East  Obama  OBL  Paul_Wolfowitz  Ronald_Reagan  SecDef  straw_man  unknowables 
may 2011 by jerryking
Knowledge of math = personal success + better citizenship - The Globe and Mail
September 2, 2010 | Globe & Mail editorial.

Modern citizens should be able to approach quantitative studies and claims both critically and respectfully. Indeed, non-scientific lay people may be better able to evaluate them than they expect, because statistical studies often depend upon some quite loose, non-mathematical concepts, and common sense may detect imprecision and even fallacies in the very premises of the research in question.

Democracy and the market economy, in this age of mathematical science, require a public that is numerate enough to have some sense of what is valid - and won't just acquiesce or shrug their shoulders.
citizenship  civics  democracy  engaged_citizenry  fallacies_follies  imprecision  infoliteracy  life_skills  mathematics  numeracy 
september 2010 by jerryking
A Classical Education: Back to the Future - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
June 7, 2010 | NYT | By STANLEY FISH. Leigh A. Bortins’ “The
Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education,”
Martha C. Nussbaum’s “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the
Humanities” and Diane Ravitch’s “The Death and Life of the Great
American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining
Education.”..."The result, she complains, is that “abilities crucial to
the health of any democracy” are being lost, especially the ability to
“think critically,” the ability, that is, “to probe, to evaluate
evidence, to write papers with well-structured arguments, and to analyze
the arguments presented to them in other texts.”"
Stanley_Fish  education  liberal_arts  humanities  engaged_citizenry  curriculum  reunions  high_schools  book_reviews  critical_thinking  democracy 
june 2010 by jerryking
How does U.S. democracy survive without its newspapers?
Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2009 | The Globe & Mail | by John Ibbotson.

The Globe has also still been spared the savage budget cuts that eviscerated so many once-great American newspapers as the recession accelerated chronic declines in readership and advertising revenue.

But in the U.S., it's time to ask: How will the seemingly inevitable extinction of many metropolitan daily newspapers influence politics and political culture there?

The answer isn't entirely grim. Some newspapers are bound to survive in print form, at least for a few more years, as competition thins and enlightened corporate owners recognize that laying off half their reporters is the surest way to destroy the only thing of value a newspaper has: the reputation behind its name.....there is another, very disturbing, trend. A recent survey by The Pew Center for the People and the Press reported that "a new Washington media have evolved, but they are far from the more egalitarian or citizen-based media that advocates of the digital age might imagine. Instead, this new Washington media cohort is one substantially aimed at elites, often organized by industry, by corporate client, or by niche political interest."

These publications may have an audience of a few thousand, or even a few hundred, willing to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for specialized coverage. "These are publications with names like ClimateWire, Energy Trader, Traffic World, Government Executive and Food and Chemical News," the Pew study says. They are proliferating, and hoovering up reporters and editors who have lost their jobs in mainstream media. "Today, it is the niche, not the mainstream, media that [provide]blanket coverage of Congress and other important arms of the federal government," the Pew report concludes.

The collapse of print journalism - network newscasts are also in terrible shape - threatens to bifurcate the public square. Those who know the power of information will pay to obtain it, and use that knowledge to influence the agenda.

Those who lack the means or interest will depend on blogs, social networking and whatever information they choose to look for online. How does democracy survive on that?
brands  budget_cuts  commonwealth  decline  democracy  engaged_citizenry  influence  information_sources  Inside_the_Beltway  John_Ibbitson  local_journalism  magazines  mass_media  market_intelligence  newsletters  newspapers  niches  political_culture  politics  print_journalism  reputation  sophisticated  Washington_D.C. 
june 2009 by jerryking
Canada is failing history
Jun. 18, 2009 | Globe & Mail | by Marc Chalifoux and J.D.M.
Stewart. To function in a modern democracy, citizens must understand
the country’s past. We must teach them. Caanda's first four prime
ministers were: (1) John Alexander Macdonald (C) (2) Alexander Mackenzie
(L) (3) John Joseph Caldwell Abbott (C) (1st Cnd. born) and (4) John
Sparrow David Thompson (C).
Canada  democracy  education  engaged_citizenry  history  schools  Dominion_Institute  nation_builders  Sir_John_A._Macdonald  civics 
june 2009 by jerryking
1688 and All That - WSJ.com
May 29, 2007 | Wall Street Journal | Book review by Andrew
Roberts of Our First Revolution by Michael Barone.

Everything that flowed from the Whig victory of 1688--England's Glorious
Revolution--limited government, the Bank of England, tradable national
debt, triennial Parliaments, mercantilism, free enterprise, an
aggressively anti-French foreign policy, the union with Scotland,
eventually the Hanoverian Succession and the Industrial
Revolution--combined to make the English-speaking peoples powerful.
history  Bank_of_England  United_Kingdom  democracy  economy  revolution  glorious  the_Enlightenment  england  books  book_reviews 
april 2009 by jerryking
Hamas and democracy
Jul 9, 2007 | The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: pg. A.12| by
James A. Duthie.

Democracy is much more that winning more votes than the other party, it
also includes the concepts of "loyal opposition" the freedom to
criticize and to suggest alternative policies, and the rule of law.
letters_to_the_editor  Hamas  democracy  howto  rule_of_law  free_speech  loyal_opposition 
april 2009 by jerryking

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