Books to that address New Challenges:
Truth in our Times by David E McCraw The New York Times lawyer says it all with his subtitle: Inside the fight for Press Freedom in the age of Alternative Facts. As the President tries to suppress critical voices of our long established First Amendment rights, this book speaks out. (while it can)
The Threat by Andrew McCabe. Written by the former FBI director after Come. Writes “Trump has shown that he does not know what democracy means. He takes no action to protect it.” The warnings are familiar.
The University of Oxford just predicted that 47% of all US jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence in 15 years.
The Robots are Coming by Andres Oppenheimer. sub-titled; The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation. The last time an Oppenheimer had a message for us, it was as explosive and as devastating as this forecast.
The Globotics Upheaval: by Rus Belt Just kidding! by Richard Baldwin. Sub-titled: Globalization, Robotics and the Future World. Algorithms will also take over white-collar jobs.
Rise of Robots by Martin Ford. subtitled Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. He says, when the employment appocaplice comes, it will happen so fast that workers wont have no time to adjust.
Okay! I don’t know what to worry about 1st, the end of democracy, New York under water because of ‘global warming’ or the coming of a dystopia civilization led by the robots. There are some advantages of being 79!
Recent Important Books that I highly recommend:
Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean explains in detail of how the Koch brothers and the Mercers are executing a plan to divide the US through our fear of multiculturalism and racial differences.With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1991 and the end of the Soviet Union, the consensus though in the US was that capitalism and the western concept of the market place had won. As last, humanity was moving toward the “Omega Point’ of philosopher/monk Pierre Teilhard de Chardin where enlightenment, reason and civility would prevail. Instead, we face which seems like an endless cycle of greed, inequality, dishonesty, bigotry, intolerance, theocracy and authoritarianism. The harmful side effects of successful capitalism and globalization have created distress on workers, who find themselves increasingly replaced with automation and lower priced labor.
While some of these problems are systemic, there are two outside influences that have conspired to change our governing process. 1) One side comes from the far-left of the Koch brothers and their Cato Institute and the Mercer family and their now defunct Cambridge Analytic and their associates that have plans to subvert the will of the democratic majority and tilt the playing field forever in favor of the rich and powerful. 2) The other influence comes from the totalitarianism and the oligarchy of Russia and other authoritarian governments that are leaning to the far right, where fascism is winning over individualism and equality. Everything Russia does is to undermine Western structures and government, so their form of government of gross inequality appears preferable to their people. Russia’s Putin has hacked our bank accounts, undermined our media with fake news and influence our elections. Whether we know it or not, our country is under attack.
Fear by Bob Woodward. New Yorker Magazine said about the book, ‘The real crime is already in plain sight” Democracy is getting crushed and the ultimate outcome, unlike Nixon, will not be pretty..The Road to Unfreedom by Robert Snyder which explains how Putin is executing a plan to have us loose faith in our institutions ( the Presidency, the rule of law, NATO, NAFTA, the safety of our identity and our financial information) though cyber attacks. Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism by Robert Kuttner describes how Fascism is winning throughout the world and how the US oligarchy and corporations have captured the machinery of the government to promote it. Yes we still Can by Dan Pheiffer, tells a story of Russia and Trump influencing the Republican Party for an upcoming constitutional crisis. War vs Peace by Ronan Farrow:that tells how diplomacy of the state department is being replaced by military policy; Us vs Them by Ian Bremmer: tells how we are being distracted from solutions of automation and globalization by political rhetoric. Tailspin by Steven Brill tells how the aristocracy and oligarchy are perpetuating a take it all attitude, that will make our economic system dis-functional. A novel: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline that presents a virtual reality world of the future run by a Google type corporate conglomerate. Evicted:Poverty and Profit in the America City by Matthew Desmond;6,000 people are evicted every day! How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky; How we are headed for a economic and political disaster.The Common Good by Robert Reich, an attempt to see the value of a progressive political policy to solve inequality.
Three books that I have just read with a positive attitude:Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit;Talks about maintaining a positive mental attitude. Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker tells about how the macro world is a much better place than ever before and The Soul of America by Jon Meacham; While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times., “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail. I doubt it, but let’s pray for solutions.
I have to remind myself about the lessons of the past and that we have to continue to remind ourselves about such books like, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff.
- The Age of Stagnation by Satvajit Das. This book explains the failures of central banks to stop an economic and financial catastrophe. His solution is austerity, which seems unlikely to happen
- The Only Game in Town by El-Erain. He believes that central banks cannot avoid a financial catastrophe with monetary policy alone and needs fiscal policy to aid the economy. With Republican Congress, this does not seem possible.
- Dark Money and the rise of the radical right, by Jane Mayer. This book explains how economic growth is unsustainable if eighty people own 50% of the world’s wealth and 1% of people own more than the 90% of wealth in the US. (dah!)
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab. This book shows what a wonderful world of technological wonders awaiting us once we get through this economic and financial catastrophe. EVENTUALLY, the only problem is, once Artificial Intelligence has access to unlimited knowledge in the cloud and is able to reproduce itself, silicon based intelligence will not need carbon based intelligence The next step in evolution?. However, that’s a problem for another day.
- Don’t’ forget the classic THIS TIME ITS DIFFERENT by Carmen Reinhart: It tells the story of eight centuries of Financial Folly. Each time after a catastrophe, such as the Great Depression or 2008, economists agree that it could never happen again. Who could be so stupid as to let six banks control 70% of the US assets (to big to fail) and allow all the economic growth to go to the 1%, while eighty people own 50% of the world’s wealth? NAH!
- THE END OF ALCHEMY Mervin King, the former governor of the Bank of England argues that, 7 years after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, “nothing fundamental has changed.” Most academic and media narratives, he writes, focus on symptoms, of swelling personal debt, the housing bubble, misdeeds of banks. However, the underlying PROBLEM is a system of banking greed to convert risk-less deposits into long-term risky investments (loans to oil companies for example, See below), all the while assuring depositors that they can redeem their money at any time. King points out that, in the 19th and 20th centuries, banking crisis’s occurred almost once a decade. Preventing the next one “requires radical reforms” including obliging major banks to maintain enough equity to stay losses without taxpayer support.
- HOMO DEUS Yuval Noah Harari, author.“There was a time when the oligarchy needed the public to fight their wars, to manufacture their goods, produce their food and buy their products. That time is quickly coming to an end. Wars can no longer be fought on either a conventional or a nuclear basis. Wars are too expensive, impractical and are dangerous to all. Manufacturing of goods and food can now be done by a few, with automation. The oligarchy no longer needs the public to buy its goods, as it is completely independently wealthy. It will no longer be to our advantage to serve the common good. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution.
- THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS CONSTITUTION. Why economic inequality threatens our republic. For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic? The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution is a tour de force of history, philosophy, law, and politics. It makes a compelling case that inequality is more than just a moral or economic problem; it threatens the very core of our constitutional system.
- The Vanishing American Adult. By Nebraska Republican Senator Benjamin Sasse.Senator Sasse earned a doctorate in history and before his election in 2014 he was a federal health official and president of Midland University, which is linked with the evangelistic Lutheran Church. He is a conservative Republican who refused to back Trump. The Senator was critical of trumps recent firing of FBI director James Coley. His new book is subtitled, ‘Our coming of age crisis and how to rebuild a cultural of self-reliance’, grows out of his experience as a parent of the three children he raises with his wife in Melissa Nebraska. In an interview on and NPR radio, he said they shipped their kids to farms and ranches in Nebraska to learn some big life lessons. He said he wants them to get dirt under their fingernails. He says these experiences will help build scar tissue for the sole. He thinks we are doing a bad job of helping our children to understand that they have to develop resiliency. He said preserving and getting through hardships makes you tough. He said that we are failing and a bunch of fundamental ways to distinguish for our children between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and are failing to distinguish between ‘production’ and ‘consumption’. He said this book is not an old man screaming get off my lawn! It is a question of how do we do better or please Work on my Lawn. He thinks the category of perpetual adolescents is a new thing and is dangerous. Adolescence he says is about intentionally transforming from childhood into adulthood. Being stuck in adolescence is a Peter Pan to dystopia, as children forget that Neverland is a bad place to be. He believes it is a good thing for children to learn how to work and to help them find meaning in their work. He states, that it is not natural to have to suffer when we work as we are made to be productive and yet the worlds we live in has a whole bunch of suffering. And what children need to understand at 10, so that when their 16 years old and 20 years old, they’re moving into a truly semi-independent state that they have earned through an experience and memory of persevering and having gotten through hardships. He also criticizes Washington DC politicians that seem addicted to their own incumbency.
- Old Classics
- What also come to mind is the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1932, it proposes that economic chaos and unemployment will cause a radical reaction in the form of an international empire that manufactures its citizens in the laboratory on a eugenic basis, without the need for human intercourse. The World State is built upon the principles of Henry Ford‘s assembly line: mass production, homogeneity, predictability, and consumption of disposable consumer goods. While the World State lacks any supernatural-based religions, Ford himself is revered as the creator of their society but not as a deity, and characters celebrate Ford Day and swear oaths by his name (e.g., “By Ford!”). The novel’s Gregorian calendar year is 2540, but it is referred to in the book as AF 632 (2,560 AD). “If it good for the corporation it must be good for the nation’ Formerly ‘What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.From birth, members of every class are indoctrinated by recorded voices repeating slogans while they sleep (called “hypnopædia” in the book) to believe the upper class is superior, but that the other classes perform needed functions. Any residual unhappiness is resolved by his society’s methods of keeping its citizens peaceful, which includes their constant consumption of a soothing drug called ‘soma.’ This books relevance to today is the drinking of the common ‘kool-aide’ of Corporate indoctrination or opioid addiction. The common good has fallen away to ‘winners take all’ attitude. Governments are protecting the privileged and the rest are considered outsiders.
The biological techniques used to control the populace in Brave New World did not include genetic engineering, because Huxley book was written before the structure of DNA was known. However, Hitler’s ‘master race’ is definitely implied. Now the upper class can promote their children’s future through superior education and personal contacts. However, soon if you can afford it, why not enhance the embryo of your children to produce the brightest and healthiest children using genetic engineering? Domination by blond and blue eyed Arian children of Hitler’s ‘master race,’ can now be achieved.
As long as I’m at it, we can’t forget 1984 by George Orwell. In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party and the distribution of knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment which has been pass down from previous generations. This sounds just like our brotherhood of the Sacred Secular Society and passing down of The Holy Grail of Enlightenment. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
The class hierarchy of Oceania has three levels: 1) The upper-class Inner Party, the elite ruling minority, who make up 2% of the population. 2) The middle-class Outer Party, who make up 13% of the population 3) The lower-class Proletariat, who make up 85% of the population and represent the uneducated working class.
As the government, the Party controls the population with four ministries: The Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense. The Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation). The Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing). The Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The Thought Police stamps out anyone who does not fully conform to their regime and constant surveillance, through devices such as Telescreens or two-way televisions. (Watch out for Google ‘Alexia’).Nineteen Eighty-Four popularized the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, brazenly misleading terminology, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.
Privacy has become a current issue. According to the 1976 ruling by the Supreme court in US vs Miller clarified that when people voluntary hand over information to a third party they ate no longer protected by the Fourth amendment privacy provisions. Private data is now collected by our cable television, i phones, computers and social network like Facebook and Google can in many cases made available for dissemination and marketing purposes by a principal known as the “third party doctrine.’
Recently scientists at the University of California San Francisco and Berkley can decode brain signals into voice. Dr. Edward Chang said, ”We showed by decoding the brain activity guiding articulation, we could simulate speech.” Now machines can read your mind. The Ministry of Truth will love this innovation! Also, there have been reported incidences where Amazon and Google Alexa have made private conversations in our homes available on the internet.
There are some similarities between now and the book 1984: 1) The US has been in constant war since 1776 (except for 36 years). 2) After some 8000 lies of president Trump, documented by the New York Times ‘alternative truth’ has entered our vocabulary. However, so far, 2+2 does not equal 5 as Winston Smith was forced to finally believe! 3) China, Russia, North Korea and the Saudi Arabia (remember the oil embargo) were our former enemies, are now our friends while Canada, France and the rest of G6 are now our enemies. 4) With Presidential authoritarianism and a rebirth of worldwide fascism, George Orwell’s 1984 is taking on a new life with extraordinary relevance and renewed popularity. 5) The class hierarchy of 1984 of 2% upper, 13% Middle and 85% poor is becoming a reality. Though the year 1984 now exists in the past, Orwell’s novel remains an urgent call for the individual willing to speak truth to power.
“Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power.”—The New Yorker These fictional stories tell ‘what lies beneath’ the psyche of humanities worst traits. ―Quotes George Orwell, 1984. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” And, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”
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- Carl M Birkelkbach