Synopsis: today before a , “Strengthening the Safety Net,” Robert Greenstein urged policymakers to “step back from the usual type of
debates and political
battles and consider what policies would be best for ‘the least among
us.’ I urge you to follow the Hippocratic oath and ‘do no harm.’ I
also implore you to adopt the Bowles-Simpson principle of protecting the
disadvantaged and avoiding measures that would increase poverty and hardship in
a nation as abundant as ours.” Washington
The following excerpts are from the first section of his testimony, which looks at the safety net as a whole: [more at the website]
[Here is an interesting piece about which I totally disagree. It suggests, among other things, that there is no morality outside of religion, or that if there is, it is beyond physics and must be metaphysical. I see growing evidence that morality and even spirituality have both genetic and social evolutionary roots. In this view, religion is a natural, but not essential expression of our genetic and social predispositions. As Voltaire once said, “If God didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent him.”]
Ross Douthat writes
. . . much of today’s liberalism expects me to respect its moral fervor even as it denies the revelation that once justified that fervor in the first place. It insists that it is a purely secular and scientific enterprise even as it grounds its politics in metaphysical claims. (You will not find the principle of absolute human equality in evolutionary theory, or universal human rights anywhere in physics.) It complains that Christian teachings on homosexuality do violence to gay people’s equal dignity—but if the world is just matter in motion, whence comes this dignity? What justifies and sustains it? Why should I grant it such intense, almost supernatural respect?
This seems largely correct to me. A coherent secular morality is a tricky problem in and of itself. One that makes absolute claims even more so, and one that makes absolute claims absolutely seems well beyond our grasp. And, I say this as secularist who is very much concerned with ethics or what, to make the point, I have often been forced to call the-ethics-game. [more at the website]
Down With Everything
April 21, 2012
need an Arab Spring?
That was the question on my mind when I called Frank Fukuyama, the Stanford
professor and author of “The End of History and the Last Man.” Fukuyama has
been working on a two-volume opus called “The Origins of Political Order,” and
I could detect from his recent writings that his research was leading him to
ask a very radical question about America’s political order today, namely: has
American gone from a democracy to a “vetocracy” — from a system designed to
prevent anyone in government from amassing too much power to a system in which
no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all? [see
website for more] America
Tax Havens Report: Small Businesses Pay The Price For Big Corporations
When big corporations use offshore tax havens, small businesses pay the price -- literally. If they were to cover the cost of corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, the average
small business would pay $2,116, according to a .
The estimate is based on Census numbers for businesses with fewer than 100
"When corporations shirk their tax burden by shifting profits legitimately made in the United States to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, the rest of us must pick up the tab through either cuts to public spending priorities, higher taxes, or more debt," Dan Smith, tax and budget associate for U.S. PIRG and one of the report's co-authors, said in a statement. "Responsible small businesses are further hurt by corporate tax dodging because they are put at a competitive disadvantage since they can't hire armies of well paid lawyers and accountants to use offshore tax loopholes."