This book has a promising, if not a bit academic introduction – pointing to the current drift from pragmatism and mixed center as the philosophical basis of the United States, to a one-note mentality centered around a deceptive concept of individualism. A drift from “yes, both” to “this only”.
E. J. Dionne makes the case:
At the heart of this book is a view that American history is defined by an irrepressible and ongoing tension between two core values: our love of individualism and our reverence for community.
(..) We are not very skilled at balance anymore. That is why we have lost our gift for reasoning together.
(..) The United States rose to global preeminence because in accepting our commitments to both individualism and community, we were able to see democratic government as a constructive force in our national life and to use it in creative ways.
(..) We must recover our respect for balance and remember its central role in our history. We are a nation of individualists who care passionately about community.
To the no compromise crowd:
This extreme individualism sees the “common good” not as a worthy objective but as a manipulative slogan disguising a lust for power by government bureaucrats and the ideological ambitions of left-wing utopians. This view has transformed both American conservatism and the Republican Party.
And to protective government, something that failed:
In our history, government has far more frequently been a liberating force that operated on behalf of the many. This has been true not just since the New Deal but also from the beginning of our national experiment.
(..) The intervention of democratic government has often been necessary to protect individuals from concentrated private power. It is government’s failure to live up to this duty that gave rise to the anti–Wall Street protests.
The introduction is beautifully written, very thoughtful and detailed, but dancing a little bit around WHY things have changed like this.
But a good read so far.
Posted in Blog
Tagged america, book review, books, change, dionne, jefferson, news, pragmatism, stuff, wapo, yes both
Sometimes the market forces are healthy and positive things – like when good old Apple turned greedy and protective and screwed you for money, and the alternatives suddenly is getting a lot better and more attractive.
New tablets and smart phones from Amazone and Samsung look great – and the price on the new Kindle Fire is about half of that from the evil empire.
New Readers - and nicer package.
Looks identical - and good.
And as Mac osx moves more towards ios and the “toy” feel, while forcing things upon you – let’s hope there’s a fresh and nice new laptop alternative also within a few more years. The Apple magic is mostly gone.
From an op-ed in China Daily:
After the Cold War, the US has regarded itself as the only superpower in the world. The wide range of its anti-terrorism efforts has shown both the US’ power and its ability to exhaust resources. The US is still caught in the battle with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and facing nuclear risks from Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is also still suffering from its depression. Though its economy recovered a bit last year, the US government has to tackle a series of serious economic problems including balancing its budget and trade deficits. Prospects for the US economy remain unknown.
As for the partner..
China, which enjoyed an economic growth rate of 10.3 percent last year, has recovered from the global economic depression, but it, too, has a lot of issues to worry about. China has to figure out how to sustain economic development in a balanced and environmentally safe way. It also has to deal with its surging market and issues about dwindling resources, as well as international relations between other countries.
We’ve just been following this paper for a few weeks – but the tendency so far is a very balanced view and a lot of self-criticism in regards to chinese culture, as well as objectively pointing out the problems ahead..
Posted in Misc
Tagged 2011, america, asia, boat, changes, china, co-operation, hard times, looking forward, news, politics, stuff, us
An interesting op-ed from China Daily was published this week-end – about innovation and creativity in chinese education and culture.
The ramp-up was this..
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of education by stating that to win the future for the United States, “we also have to win the race to educate our kids”.
“America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree,” he said, highlighting the fact that the quality of math and science education in the US trails behind many other nations.
Converted to chinese challenges and perspective..
I believe we Chinese should have the same discussion, not because we are in a race, but because we need to get our children ready to compete on the world stage.
We have come a long way to achieve what we have so far. China is now the second largest economy in the world. As for education, it now has the largest number of college students in the world, and is ensuring nine-year compulsory education for around 99 percent of school-age children. However, despite the dramatic progress we’ve seen and experienced, I think we should address the same fears as the US, now Obama has brought the race to educate our children into the open.
With the crux of it here..
Even today, we continue to question our ability to instill innovativeness in our children.
China should take note of the fact that Chinese students still rank low in a global education chart in innovation and creativity. Despite our rapid economic growth and despite our pride in the four ancient inventions, we are still working hard to make our own brand names known in the international market.
Posted in Misc
Tagged america, challenges, changes, china, china daily, competition, creativity, crux, culture, education, innovation, news, politics, society, stuff, us
Slow Sunday.. but busy week has passed.. and we’ve made some small adjustments to the blogging-habits, while two huge stories happened with the State of the Union speech and the growing turmoil in Egypt and the arab world..
The SOTU speech was about as expected – or maybe a little bit to the left of expectations – with a focus on long-term investments and romantics about growth and the future. So perhaps a little bit fewer elements from the right-wing agenda than we’ve seen in the last few months. But aside from that – it’s nice with speeches and words – but the facts and problems still remain the same.. debt, corporate grip on democracy, outsourcing, and demographics and hard times driving a division of society and a drift to the edges of politics. A return of facts and logic to the common ground/center would be a nice first step to solve a lot of these things..
The Middle East is less known territory, but it looks like things are moving towards more instability and possibly more conflicts and factions.. the arab world is about to double in population, from 400 to 800 million people, it’s a very young population – always prone to violent revolutions – and the dynamics between persians, turks, jews, kurds and arabs could change in some very unpredictable ways.. even if the whole region is in some degree always in turmoil.. it’s hard to tell what we’re seeing these days.. with so many unknowns and moving parts..
Next week is probably more fighting in congress – a things to watch are all the games before the upcoming budget – 80% of federal spending is entitlements and defense, and both are huge vote/donor-losers.. the WH is drifting to the right, the right is conflicted and divided, and the left is upset and holding on to the progressive agenda and safety nets for all citizens.
And we will be trying to keep our new schedule with a few postings in the AM – and discussing the news and other stories throughout the day..
And thanks to all commenters and blogging-friends for kind support through a bumpy January!
Posted in Misc
Tagged blogging, column, congress, january, mid-east, new habits, op-ed, politics, stuff, sunday post, sundays, tandp, two cents.., week in review, writing
Nice mix this time – of factories, sotu stuff, wh visits and a bit of architecture at the end.. the president looks fit and strong – all smiles and easy going..
Posted in Misc
Tagged cantor, factories, friday, news, politics, potus, sotu, stuff, washington, west wing week, WH
Thursday: House Dems have a middle-class tax-cuts only vote . They are still in majority in lame-duck.
Friday: Jobs numbers. Expected: 145k private sector gain. Uemp. rate stay at 9.6%.