Finally it’s starting to make sense

 The war in Iraq had never made sense to me. First we were told there was a connection between Al-Queda and Sadaam Hussein. Then we were told it was because they had weapons of mass destruction and were progressing toward nuclear capability. After the U.S. military arrived and toppled Sadaam and there were no WMDs we were told that the war was to eliminate a ruthless dictator and establish a foothold for democracy in the Middle East. I agreed that Sadaam was a bad dude, but there are a lot of other bad dudes in the world, so that made me ask: why Iraq? Was it about oil? Haliburton? And how seriously do we believe that Iraq will become a foothold for democracy, given that there is no history of this form of government in the region? Continue reading “Finally it’s starting to make sense”

Labor Questions ca. 1922–Have we answered them?

In the Annals of America Volume 14, I read a piece by Kirby Page entitled Labor Policies of the United States Steel Corporation. In this article originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, Page adresses the disparity between the pay for laborers and the profit for the company. Although he doesn’t address the risk factor that the capitalist accepts, he asks some very important questions in his conclusion. Continue reading “Labor Questions ca. 1922–Have we answered them?”

Latin Americans immigrants: Conservative or Liberal?

The Republican party is oblivious on many accounts (as is the Democratic). However, one which seems obvious to me is the role and values of Latin American immigrants. Most latinos have what conservatives would term “strong family values.” Most value traditional families, small community-based action and involvement, fiscal responsibility (they can’t get credit so they buy everything the old-fashioned conservative way: they save their money and buy it). Most latinos have strong religious and moral values. So why are they so drawn to the Democratic Party??? It is because the Demos tell them that they represent their interests. They court them and attempt to bring them into their camp. Meanwhile, the party of Lincoln attacks illegal immigration as if, as I heard today, they are “robbing a bank,” breaking the law and attempting to get something for nothing. Continue reading “Latin Americans immigrants: Conservative or Liberal?”

The battle between Labor and Capital: Workers’ perspective

This manifesto was included in the Annals of America. 

Manifesto of the Industrial Workers of the World:   As the weaknesses and failings and manipulation of industrial capitalism continued to be more apparent in the 1890’s and early 20th century, socialism and communism grew in strength as alternatives. Trade unions formed, based mainly on specific industries or trades. The IWW was formed as a class-based backlash against elite capitalists in an effort to organize all workers under a single organization to politically compete against capital.  In describing the worker, the IWW manifesto states: “His wages constantly grow less as his hours grow longer and monopolized prices grow higher.” They also argue that the employers organize them into specific job descriptions that are outdated and artificial in order “that workers may be pitted against one another and spurred to greater exertion in the shop, and that all resistance to capitalist tyranny may be weakened by artificial distinctions.” At the same time the “capitalists carefully adjust themselves to the new conditions. They wipe out all differences among themselves and present a united front in their war upon labor. Through employers’ associations, they seek to crush with brutal force, by the injunctions of the judiciary and the use of military power, all efforts at resistance” and that their “methods depend for success upon the blindness and internal dissensions of the working class.” 

Continue reading “The battle between Labor and Capital: Workers’ perspective”

Latin America Political Trends

Peru and Mexico are holding elections this summer. They could be the latest in a string of Latin America countries to move left of center on the political spectrum. The question is, is this a good move for Latin America and for the U.S.?

Venezuela and Cuba aside, the other Latin American governments appear to be very willing and desirous to continue to maintain good relationships with the U.S. (including Evo Morales, indigenous president of Bolivia who has been very friendly with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez). The problem is in a post 9/11 world the U.S. has essentially been ignoring Latin America (which isn’t wise for many reasons which we will explore in the future) and it seems that relationships are deteriorating.

 The current leadership in Latin America seems to be dedicated to opening up markets, if the U.S. and Europe will do the same. They seem to be desirous to root out corruption and create an environment where democracy can truly take hold. The problem may be that the U.S. continues to ignore the region and approach the relationship condescendingly at best and quasi-imperialistically at worst. U.S. protectionism of agricultural markets does nothing to encourage free trade and only strains the economic ties and therefore the political relationship. Also U.S. policy of pushing for privatization of nation mineral and petroleum reserves (which dramatically benefit large European and U.S. companies at the expense of the native peoples) has moved many Latin American countries to push for nationalizing these resources.

If the international relationships worsens throughout the hemisphere, security risks increase. Only through establishing workable and more equitable economic and political relationships will the U.S. be able to encourage Latin American help in accomplishing the goals of prosperity, peace, and progress for the entire region.

 

Introduction

I love to learn. This passion has been intermittantly lost throughout my life, but I hope that the scholarly sentiment I enjoy at this point will only intensify and broaden. Over the past two years I have been introduced to philosophy, economics, government, history and literature in a fashion that I had never before imagined. Much of the subject matter will be from the University of Chicago Great Books series as well as supplemental readings both current and classical. I also am reading U.S. history in an unusual way, using an fascinating source: The Annals of America, a compilation of historical original source documents published by Encyclopedia Britannica in a year-by-year manner. Current political thought will be explored and assumptions (mine and hopefully yours) will be questioned.

Ultimately I hope that this will be a location for dialogue; patient, yet sharp; tolerant, but not “politically correct”; opinionated, but not vitriolic. All political, religious, philosophical persuasions are welcome, as long as communications are conducted with respect (but no sugar-coating or getting offended).

I don’t have any political affiliation. I am truly an independent, voting both major political parties and minor parties also. My ideals and leanings will become obvious through the exploration, but rare are the principles and beliefs that are set in stone for me.

 I look forward to the dialoge. Challenge me and teach me as I hope to do for you.