Beyond Individualism

Two books completed recently share some common ground although using different lenses to see it. George Rupp, former Harvard Divinity School dean, President of both Rice and Columbia University and most recently president of the International Rescue Committee, has penned Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities (Columbia University Press, 2015). The chapters are largely …

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Reframing the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Critics of the proposed “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” agreement with Iran and six other world powers fail to address the double standards that run rampant with the nuclear club. Of the current nuclear club members (US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) only China and India have pledged a non-first …

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No Justification

Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people: Developments in the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory This report just released from the UN Conference on Trade and Development on the situation in Gaza show just what our insane foreign policy can buy. The innocuous title belies the provocative material inside it. Although the brouhaha …

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Arms Are for Hugging

Arms are for hugging. At least, they should be. But Oscar Arias Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner notes that arms are also killing us. He just published this opinion piece to accompany the First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (Cancún, Mexico,  August 24-27th, 2015). “Throughout modern history, we …

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Silence is Acquiescence

In Studs Terkel’s last book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, he’s once again collected many moving first person accounts from a wide range of people. They are all moving reflections well worth sitting with should you get a chance.I was particularly taken the other morning by …

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Put a Lid On It

A good friend and former colleague, Dr. Frank Fear, recently blogged at The Sports Column about the funding of higher education sports programs, where the subsidies are, to put it kindly, crazy. Subsidies are the Name of the Game in D-1 College Sports by Frank Fear June 7, 2015 His analysis shows how important big …

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Strange Alignments – Trade and Democracy

As the battle for fast track status for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continues watching the alignments for either side form has been curious at least. President Obama and generally progressive Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) have been bullish on the pact, as of of course has been conservative stalwarts like Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. …

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Running into Roosevelt

On my weekly visit to the MSU Libraries new book shelf, I’ve been running into books that in some way or another bring up Franklin Roosevelt and his presidency. One of my more recent finds is Professor Scott Myers-Lipton’s Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty (Paradigm Publishers, 2015). Myers-Lipton looks …

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Enough Already

How much is enough? What’s sufficient? These are questions not much puzzled over in the media or amongst the policy makers, but are arguably at the heart of the two largest challenges facing the human family – growing income inequality and climate and ecological destabilization. From: Too Much, April  2015 Thanks largely to the Occupy …

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The Possibilities of Spring

 ” Our debates, for the most part, are examples unworthy of a playground: name-calling, verbal slaps, gossip, giggles, all while the swings and slides of governance remain empty.” So notes beloved author, Toni Morrison in a recent piece for the 150th anniversary issue of The Nation. This 260+ page collection of current and selected pieces …

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What War Leaves Behind

Notwithstanding the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the continental U.S. has been spared war on our shores for 150 years. Thus no one born here and still alive has experienced the devastation that lingers after war here, although many a soldier has seen too much of it. This week marks the 50th anniversary of our …

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Ending Hide and Seek

Who’s Afraid of Information? It has been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Why is it then that so many who seek wealth and/or power want to hide the process by which they acquire and use it? If there is a cry to hide information from those who can use it to make decisions …

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Pathway to Prosperity

One of my favorite thinkers/doers in the world today is British science writer and now activist, Colin Tudge. In a recent blog post on Groundhogs’ Day, Tudge comes out to show us there is a sane way out of the madness of  what he calls Neoliberal-Industrial (NI) agriculture “The Keys Ideas of Enlightened Agriculture”. In …

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Put Down the Guns

If “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a definition of insanity,” it seems, to this observer, that nowhere is this more evident than in the use of violence to end violence. I attended an impassioned and respectful discussion at a community meeting last night  over the best response …

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Global Divestment Day

Are we performing an exercise in futility here? Is this a further saga in David vs. Goliath? Preparing for a talk on divestment from fossil fuels for today I’ve been reading much on the pro’s and cons of the debate. Almost all of the negative writing  I have found comes from sources funded by the …

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A Race With All Losers

Heading off recently to a small fishing village in Mexico for some quiet R&R with some good fiction and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars in the backpack was mostly a good thing. No television, internet, no crowds, just surf, sun and breezes. I say mostly, because Dirty Wars was a troubling read. I have been compelled again to investigate and …

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Reinvigorating Democracy – The Next Idea

This was originally written for Michigan Radio’s “The Next Idea” which included an interview with Zoe Clark that aired yesterday on their program “Stateside” and that can be listened to here. (scroll to the bottom of the page to see the audio link)   ===============================================   The Next Idea In the recent elections last November, …

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Curbing the Athletic Arms Race

The New York Times covered the NCAA convention this past week discussing some of the turbulence around the organization and the big business of college sports. In Friday’s article by Ben Strauss, one of the suggestions thrown out by Prof. Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor at Smith College, was “to cap head coaches’ salaries at $500,000… …

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Commencement, Honor vs. Greed

$47,500 to speak at a commencement address. And I thought that the invitation to give a commencement address was an honor in itself. But not for Michigan State University (MSU) and George Will. It will be interesting to see if the market for commencement speakers will be driven higher. There was a similar hubbub in …

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Is Bigger Better

Michigan State University(MSU) has been on a growth spurt in recent years topping 50,000 students for the first time this past fall. The growth of the student body isn’t the only sign of expansion at MSU. MSU has  been operating under the planning assumption that they will continue to grow into the foreseeable future (MSU …

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Linking Economics and Climate Change

Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank economist, member of the Council of Economic Advisers was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, just months after the September 11th attack of the twin towers in NYC. The following are his concluding remarks in his acceptance speech (December 8, 2001).      I entered economics with the hope …

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Looking for a Deal

The Raw Deal or Some May Call the Real Deal As my fingers hunt for the right keys on this laptop, millions of my fellow citizens, are out hunting for a ‘deal’, a ‘bargain’. Black Friday is the penultimate holiday for consumerism in the U.S. And for a large majority of those bargain hunters, price …

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Education and Hope

The following is by David Orr from a ‘Foreword’ in a new book by David Hicks, Educating for Hope in Troubled Times: Climate Change and the Transition to a Post-carbon Future (London: Institute of Education Press, 2014) Education is an essential function of civilization. Its essence is simple: to equip the young for the many …

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What Are Universities For?

Stefan Collini, professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge offers some considerations in his 2012 book of the same title. His erudite, yet conversational style made for a quick and enjoyable, yet thought provoking read. The last third of the book are previously written essays in response to major reports emanating from efforts …

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Wise Souls

I have been privileged to meet many fine folks over my 65 years. Fame doesn’t necessarily wear well on all who achieve some level of it. Which is why many of those I put in this category of fine folks would include the not so famous who are close friends. But while I was sustainability …

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Dangerous Love

The newest (October 2014) issue of The Sun arrived late last week in my mailbox (October issue is not available online as of the time I write this. As of this morning I’ve read most all of it. Since resubscribing after many years of absence I have found it to be ‘soul building’ food. The …

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The Politics of Peace

Satish Kumar’s title – Soil, Soul, Society – could hardly be more sparse; yet it represents, he says, a “distillation” of his own lifetime’s thinking and that of his heroes – and the three small words are all we really need to put the world to rights. For our aim should be – should it …

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Higher Education and Rising Inequality

In an intriguing article last month on Huffington Post, Harry Boyte, director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College and a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs,   talks about how the norms of higher education have shifted. In noting a recent report Unseen Disadvantage, Boyte …

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Another Arrow Hits the Bullseye

As is my destiny I suppose, I stumbled into another book (ok, four books last week, and another three yesterday) that I am now two-thirds through. Pete Lunn, a neurocientist, BBC journalist, turned economist wrote Basic Instincts: Human Nature and the New Economics, which is as one reviewer notes: “A trained neuroscientist, Lunn came to …

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Candidates, Elections and Citizens

As we approach the fall elections to many positions in our communities and state there arises a little more interest in politics, even as most of us decry the increasing partisanship. My thoughts wander a lot these days as I am simultaneously a candidate, a supporter of other candidates, and a citizen concerned with the …

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Gaza, Ukraine and Possibility

distressed by the recent violence in Gaza, we tried to offer something to address the killing, injury, destruction, and chaos that has been going on between Hamas and the Israeli military in recent weeks. We drafted a statement on the siege of Gaza which we put on our website, sent out to local media and …

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Citizenship Goes Global

My day was split between talking to a social forum at a local church this morning about sustainability, climate change and divestment; an afternoon around other candidates for office in Michigan from the Green Party; and this evening after dinner I’ve been catching up on some websites that I used to frequent. One is PelicanWeb …

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Higher Ed Behind Close Doors

The Detroit Free Press has sued the University of Michigan over the closed meetings it holds regularly. Our local paper’s coverage of that story indicated that MSU is similarly culpable of this violation, claiming “Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees also regularly meets in what amounts to private sessions.” For democracy to fulfill it’s ideal, …

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On the Cheap

Michael Carolan’s Cheaponomics: The High Cost of Low Prices shines some desperately needed sunlight on the current neoliberal hegemony over our economic system. Carolan, who writes with aplomb supported by a lengthy recitation of research unmasks the hidden costs of 21st century capitalism. . Carolan unmasks what he frequently refers to as socialism of the …

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