Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One (of Many) Problems with Believing in Magic Books

Most historians don't believe that George Washington really said to his father "I cannot tell a lie." They think that it is a pious fiction invented by Parson Weems in the years after Washington died. Happily, such historians are not considered to have an anti-Washington agenda or anti-Weems presuppositions. Nor do such historians risk everlasting torment in a lake of fire should they happen to guess wrong on the authenticity of the story of Washington chopping down the cherry tree.

On the other hand, when New Testament scholars have the audacity to suggest that maybe Jesus didn't really say all the things that are attributed to him in the gospels, they are accused of trying to destroy Christianity. Moreover, if they guess wrong on whether Jesus really claimed to be God, they run the risk that either Allah or Yahweh will consign them to everlasting torture.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Perils of Economic Inequality

From Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% by Joseph Stiglitz
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this. . . .

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. . . .

Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. . . .

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. . . .
Twenty-five years ago the top 1% had 12% of the income. Now they have 25% and the Republicans are dedicated to even greater concentration of wealth while the Democrats play along.

Quote of the Day: Fundamentalism

To be a fundamentalist, you have to have a book. And you have to forget the book has a history.
R. Joseph Hoffmann