Books to that address New Challenges:
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.
Three new books that I have just read that I highly recommend: Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean explains in detail how the Koch brothers and the Mercers are executing a plan to divide us through our fear of multiculturalism and racial differences.The Road to Unfreedom by Robert Snyder which explains how Putin is executing a plan to have us loose faith in our institutions (Presidency, the rule of law, 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 through out the world and how the US oligarchy and corporations have captured the machinery of the government to promote it. 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.
Two book that I have just read with a positive attitude:Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit; Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
Also books I am reading now Evicted:Poverty and Profit in the America City by Matthew Desmond; How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky; The Common Good by Robert Reich;
Just Published:: War vs Peace by Ronan Farrow:Us vs Them by Ian Bremmer: and a novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline that presents a virtual reality world of the future,
- 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.