If there’s one piece of advice I could give you this election cycle, it’s this: every time you overstate the power of the president or claim “we need a new law” for every problem, our country inches closer to authoritarianism. This is serious, and we need to fix our thinking to stop it before it’s too late.
The state should never own or control major industries or enterprises. When it does, the result is almost always corruption, kleptocracy and a political culture that benefits the most privileged and criminal elements of society. Ukraine is a clear, and very sad, example of this fact.
American media commentators, in their infinite wisdom, often pontificate about how our political leaders should be made up of the “best and brightest.” But does this ever actually happen? Sure, great people may attain the heights of political office, but that’s if we’re lucky. A strong moral character is not hallmark of the state – even in liberal democracies. Schools often teach children that government exists for the sake of benevolent public service. In preaching this, they do our kids a massive, Wilsonian disservice. Many of our greatest authors, from Mark Twain to Nathaniel Hawthorne, embody an anti-authoritarian tradition, one that was eager to point out the propensity of the powerful toward scapegoating, moral panics and state aggression.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the term “BRIC” entered the world’s political and economic vocabulary. Shorthand for Brazil, Russia, India and China, the term came to signify the emergence of countries that would challenge the political, economic and perhaps even military dominance of the developed west (e.g. the US, UK, France). In the last 15 years, through the War on Terror, the Euro crisis and other geopolitical flashpoints, these countries have played an increasingly important and even disruptive role on the world stage.
When people spout idle talk of how “de-regulation got us into the mess of 2008” and how the government needs to sort things out to stop the “evil banksters” from wrecking the economy again, it makes me wonder if they’ve actually looked how regulations impact the economy. And though it’s still very early to make any decisive determination about the bill’s effects, a recent study of Dodd-Frank shows the results are mixed, at best.
2015 was a big year for scandals and protests on college campuses. It seemed like every week there was another instance of students demanding a “safe space” from potentially dangerous and exclusionary events and guest speakers. If not, there were calls for “trigger warnings” for works of literature (even Ovid’s Metamorphoses in one instance). How do we sort all of this out?