Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
So what's a more healthy, humane capitalistic system look like? How do we fix our current economic woes? Thom Hartmann explores this in his new book by the above name. You can read some sneak preview-excerpts at this link. Here is one excerpt from the Intro:
Granted this sounds more like social democracy, but SD is still a capitalistic form of economy.* And all of which sounds much more in line with the likes of Adam Smith and US founders. And which seems more of a transitional hybrid from a strictly laissez-faire capitalism that began the industrial revolution toward a more socialist kind of economics.
* According to Wikipedia:
Social democracy is a political ideology of the centre-left on the classic political spectrum. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of a welfare state, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure workers' rights.
Speaking of the American Dream of the past, Rachel Maddow had this to say, from the transcript of her Wednesday 1/26/11 show, talking about Republican President Eisenhower. How times have changed:
"For the next hour, we begin with the president of the United States addressing the nation and calling for a massive investment in this country‘s infrastructure, rebuffing the idea of giant tax breaks for the richest Americans, and warning anyone who would dare touch Social Security to keep their hands off.
You want to talk about red meat for the base? Listen to some of the language the president used. 'Workers have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers. And a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.' Wow.
How about this one? 'Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.'
Listen to the way he goes after the right here. 'Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and'—and the president says—'their number is negligible and they are stupid.'
That is not what Barack Obama said last night. That is way to the left of any national Democrat at this point. That was all Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower. That was all the stuff he said when he was president.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, president when the top tax bracket for the richest people in this country was 92 percent. President Eisenhower defended that tax bracket. He said we cannot afford to reduce taxes until, quote, 'the factors of income and outgo will be balanced.' Eisenhower insisting there must be a balanced budget and that taxes on the rich are the way to balance it. Dwight Eisenhower, you know, noted leftist.
The Republican Party platform of Eisenhower‘s 1956 called for expansion of Social Security, broadened unemployment insurance, better health protection for all of our people. It called for voting rights—full voting civil rights for D.C. It called for expanding the minimum wage to cover more workers. It called for improved job safety for workers, equal pay for workers regardless of sex.
This is the Republican Party circa 1956. The Republican Party.
The story of modern American politics writ large is the story of your father‘s and your grandfather‘s Republican Party now being way to the left of today‘s leftiest liberals. If Dwight Eisenhower were running for office today, he would have to run, I‘m guessing as an independent, and not as some Joe Lieberman, in between the parties, independent. He‘d be a Bernie Sanders independent.
In 1982, who passed the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history? That would be Ronald Reagan.
Who called for comprehensive health reform legislation during in a State of the Union address in 1974, a program that was well to the left of what either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama ultimately proposed? That would be Richard Nixon.
Eisenhower and Reagan and Nixon—they were not the liberals of their day. They were the conservatives of their own time.
But the whole of American politics has shifted so far to the right in the last 50 years that what used to be thought of as conservative, what used to be thought of as a conservative position, is now considered to be off-the-charts lefty."
Recall above Hartmann saying the only way change will happen is if the American people demand it. And how I wondered in the Arab world thread if Americans can re-learn how to demonstrate in the streets en masse, like during the Vietnam war. This article from yesterday's Huff Post wonders the same for us when discussing Egypt in "Where's the protest at home?":
"But where are the protests in our country? Where is the leadership connecting the dots... between the financial meltdown, the record profits and bonuses on Wall Street, the continuing collapse of home equity, the joblessness, and the assault on public services in the name of budgetary prudence?.... This moment cries out for a combination of clear leadership and mass protest.... I'd like to see citizens protesting the wreckage of American prosperity by Wall Street and the too feeble response by our government."
Can our current system change without such mass protest?
Since that last post above we found out where the protests are in the US, and there are more to come. And not just protests but the regressive backslide had motivated a lot of progressives to finally get active. But back to the book. Here are some excerpts from a review by Ian Fletcher in today's Huff Post:
"[The book] will please liberal readers, but it will also challenge them to revisit some of their own lazy beliefs. It will annoy conservatives, but the smarter ones will take notes and absorb some of his trans-partisan insights into their own politics.
"On the whole, this is an excellent book on substance, and nicely written to boot. Above all, it gives off that rare and somewhat old-fashioned aroma of genuine concern for the country's good, as opposed to the pie-in-the-face partisanship or ax-grinding agenda mongering most political books these days consist of."