Days of Decision

To believe in the possibility of change is something very precise. It means that we believe in the reality of choice. That there are choices. That we have the power to choose in hope of altering society for the greater good. Do we believe that our governments must inevitably tax the poor through stealth taxes …

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War – What is it Good For?

President Obama is about to release his budget for fiscal year 2017. There is every reason to believe that the amount we spend for war will dwarf every other discretionary expenditure. The National Priorities Project “Costs of National Security” website helps paint that picture. But numbers are cold facts that like the winter winds numb …

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Putting a Lid On It

It is time for me to get off my duff. I have been sitting safely a bit too long, ensconced in my middle class security. A security a majority can’t share. Time to push forward some radical possibilities. Here’s one to start, some of which I’ve hinted around in the past. It’s time to enact …

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A New Year, A New Economy?

I did not begin the day with any intention to write about anything in particular. Several ideas popped in and out of my consciousness during the day, but no one thing grabbed me. But then I skimmed the new January 2016 issue of Too Much, diligently compiled by Sam Pizzigati, and saw a familiar name …

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Credit and the Public Good, Part 1

(An earlier version of this was published in City Pulse, a local alternative weekly serving Michigan’s Capitol region.) I suspect that few folks reading this don’t have an account at a bank or credit union. I belong to two credit unions. Credit unions differ from traditional private banks in that they are member owned. This …

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Arming Ourselves to Death

Such a fixation our culture has on guns and violence as a response to fear. From Dwight Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech warning against the Military Industrial Complex to the NRA’s no holds barred to make sure everyone has a gun on them at all times, our culture is sick, probably cancerous, and possibly stage 4. …

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Three Years to the Day

Today is three years to the day I decided to try and blog about “possibilities”. While they have been rather sparse over the past couple of months, in total this is number 197 that I’ve published along with another dozen started but left dangling. The purpose for me was to share inspiration that we might …

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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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