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Will America Return to its Creative State?

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작성자 선우학원 작성일15-02-03 16:57 댓글0건

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Will America Return to its Creative State?

 

A comment on “The 4th Revolution” by John Micklethwaite and Woodridge

 

 

 

Harold W. Sunoo, Ph.D.

 

 

In the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes published “Leviathan” which initiated the modern concept of the nation-state.  This changed Europe from a feudalistic system to the modern state and the era of empire-building.  Hobbes was the first to add the explosive idea of a social contract between rulers and ruled.  This was a revolutionary idea

The core idea of the duty of the state is to provide law and order.  It makes human civilization possible.

Hobbes argued that the state needed to provide two kinds of assistance in a commercial society:  laws that would smooth business transactions and prevent fraud.

As a materialist, Hobbes rejected any religious justification of the status quo, but later his writings were destroyed.  Yet, Thomas Hobbes changed history.  This was revolutionary thought.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the second major ideological change or revolution took place.  It began with the American Revolution and the French Revolution. 

The French Revolution was a bloody event, but the American Revolution, by comparison, was not.

Through these revolutions, liberalism began.  This is the second revolution or change of history.  Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu contributed their ideas to this change.  John Stuart Mill also influenced liberalism with his book “On Liberty”, which still remains the bible of small government theory to this day. Mill’s greatest passion was for intellectual freedom.

The 3rd change or revolution took place in the 20th century.. It is the attempt to reimagine the science of poliltics in the light of new technology.  It also emphasized social welfare.

Sidney and Beatrice Webb mightily influenced this change with their thoughts on the modern welfare state.

The politics of the 17th century emphasized sovereign power, the 18th and ther 19th centuries emphasized individual liberty and the 20th century emphasized social welfare.

Today, in the 21st century, there is an attempt to reimagine the science of politics in the light of new technology.

America put a man on the moon, promoted the internet…evidence shows new days are here.  But America needs to change drastically and fast.  America and Europe are going broke.

Debt and demography will force rich countries to change.  In the U.S., the government is spending more money than it can raise.  Cities like Detroit have filed for bankruptcy.

The old age dependency rate will be rising from 28% to 58%.  In America, government spending increased from 7% of GDP in 1913 to 41% in 2011.  In Great Britain, too, the rates are about the same.

Democratic President Bill Clinton said that the age of big government is over, but the Republican President George W. Bush increased the size of the U.S. Government by more than any previous President.  For example, the Department of Agriculture has more than 100,000 employees, costing the U.S. taxpayers $150 billion.  In addition, the Department of Agriculture subsidizes landlords $30 billion a year to NOT plant crops.  It’s called “soil bank”

Worst of all, the American Government is polarized and paralyzed.  Clearly, the political system is in deep trouble!  Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, expressed his concern about in his book “the Republic” that people were too much moved by their emotions and that they cared more about their short-term self-interests rather than long-term wisdom.  So, Plato was actually against democracy.  Years later, in the 19th century, Tocqueville, the French philosopher wrote in his book “American Democracy” the American democracy is powerful but imperfect.  He recognized the existence of citizen’s equality and freedom.

But today, Tocqueville would see American democracy as too sloppy, self-indulgent and distorted by special interests.

Former Supreme Court Judge, Brandeis, said “We can have a democratic society or we can have controlled wealth in the hands of a few.  We cannot have both.”

How do we assess today’s American Democracy?

A recent New York Times editorial stated:  “according to recent economic reports that the top 10% control the economy and politics in America while the other 90% have no influence.

From 1979 to 2009, the top 1% got more assets than 180 million American people combined and the top 0.1% hold 22% of America’s wealth.  In 2009, while workers were being laid off in large numbers, executives of the top 38 largest companies earned a total of $140 billion.

The fundamental problem of inequality is the inequality between the corporate ruling class and all other classes in America.  This is the root of the problem.  The rich get richer from generation to generation while most people continue to be poor.

America’s richest families have grown their assets 275% during the same period that assets of poor families have only increased by 18%.  The wealthiest 400 families own $1.5 trillion or the combined wealth of 150 million average Americans. 

The rich get richer, but the government is in financial trouble.

Professor Paul Kennedy wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “American power is on the wane”  he blamed declining U.S. power on America’s monetary debt, the severe economic impact of the great recession and the “imperial overstretch” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  America spent over $4 trillion dollars in the Iraq War.

According to a recent public opinion poll, only 17% of the American public support the federal government, and 7% of the population support the U.S. Congress.  2/3 of the American people think that America is moving in the wrong direction.  Compare this to China where 85% of the people are satisfied with their government’s direction today.

Neither democracy nor markets can flourish properly in the absence of a competent state.

Europe and America inherited strong medieval legal codes.  China produced highly competent state staffed by first rate civil servants chosen by written examinations.  The Chinese Communist Party is reaching back into history to prove that you can create a competent state without the benefit of the western tradition of democracy.

The U.S. version of democracy is beginning to decay.  The political parties are polarized along ideological lines and powerful interest groups exercise veto power on politics they dislike.  Billions of dollars of Super Pack money were spent on T.V. advertisements to drive voters away from Obama, but failed.  But their ads spread misinformation to voters on the issues of taxes, jobs, health care and immigration laws.

American Crossroads, the Super Pack, spent $100 million but lost all the elections it supported.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $240 million on candidates, but only won two elections.  Sheldon Abelson spent $53 million on 9 candidates, but only one won.

America is now incapable of addressing many of its serious problems.  America’s decentralized system is less and less able to represent the majority interests in the country.  In the 19th century, the government could not resolve the political crisis of the slavery question.  Today, once again, the U.S. is trapped by its political institution.  Americans mistrust the government, yet many politicians do not care to fix it.  Political parties do not want to cut off their interest groups’ money.  But they obviously need new leadership and a clear agenda which is not present today.

According to a UNICEF report, the U. S. and Great Britain are near the bottom of the 2010 report card.  The U.S. ranked 23 of 24 in education and child health.

British scholar, Richard Wilkinson, compared the 23 nations with information gathered from the World Bank, World Health Organizations, and data gathered from other sources.  The data showed that in terms of incidences of violence, drug abuse, mental illness, social mobility, health problems and life expectancy, the U.S., Great Britain and Portugal reported the most distress.

What should be done to recover a liberal democracy?

  1.  The government should not be controlled by the top 1% and special interests.  There are 12,000 lobbyists in Washington today.  They are all paid by the big corporations and looking out for their benefit.  It is legal and the U.S. laws allow this practice.
  2. The present inequality between the rich and the poor must be changed.  The tax code must be changed to force the wealthy class to pay their fair share.  Minimum wages must be raised to lift the living standard of the middle class.
  3. The U.S. government must help its poor.  European countries and emerging countries like China, India, and Brazil are helping the poor people as a top priority of their government politics.
  4. The Government keep its promises to the people and must improve the nation’s infrastructure like highways, railroads, the airports, school buildings, hospitals, etc.
  5. Citizen’s freedom must be recovered and government surveillance policy stopped.
  6. The American majority want the U.S. Government to “mind our own business” and stay out of war overseas.  The world has changed.  The world does not accept America’s super power role anymore. No more military interventions abroad.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was to bring democracy, but instead brought chaos.  Democracy is suffering all over the world.

The impending 4th revolution lies on the horizon:  reclaiming democracy for the people from a handful of wealthy elites is a daunting task.

The 4th Revolution will not be easy.  The benefits for the poor and middle class have been on a steady decline in the U.S., while what is being called Democracy has become self-indulgent and corrupt.  There continues to be unlimited opportunity for demagoguery on the part of special interests.  Congress will not give up its entrenched ways easily, crony capitalism will fight hard for to keep its subsidies for the rich.

Reformers should push harder.

The next reform is about reestablishment of liberty and the rights of the individual that is the tradition of Europe and America.  In the recent past, the West has provided inspiration to much of the world for its creativity and innovation.  It can again even in these difficult times.

 

Major sources from “The Fourth Revolution” by Micklethwaite and Wooldridge

 

[이 게시물은 관리자님에 의해 2015-02-03 16:57:44 새 소식에서 복사 됨]

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