Is America declining?

Is America declining?  This is a question that we are compelled to consider.

READ HERE

According to the Brookings Institution, here are the arguments in favor of America as a place of positive growth, not decline:

  1. First of all, it is difficult to determine at present whether the difficulties faced by the United States during and after the international financial crisis will be long-term or not.
  2. Second, the stability and influence of the American political system, ideology, and value concepts have indeed been greatly affected in the 21st century, with the impact of two wars, high consumption, and a major financial crisis.
  3. Third, the United States remains the world leader in scientific and technical strength but there has been no change in the strength, status, and influence of the American capability for innovation and its global competitive power. In science and technology, higher education, culture of innovation, military strength, world politics, and security, the United States is still ahead of the rest of the world. According to recent statistics,
  4. Fourth, it is evident that American companies remain very competitive on a micro level, just as the economy as a whole is on a macro level. In recent years, even though the U.S. economy was not performing very well, far more companies in the global top 500 came from the United States than from any other.
  5. Fifth, the advantages of the United States are even more obvious in terms of soft power. No other countries in the world, including Europe and Japan, can compete with the United States or be on the same level as the United States in terms of soft power. Both the financial crisis and the lack of strength in the economic recovery after the crisis so far have not made the United States lose its fundamental advantages in hard power and soft power. The United States is still the most powerful and the most influential country in the world, and it is also the only superpower in the world.
  6. The current difficulties facing the United States may last a while, or they may be resolved in the next few months or years. Either way, no signs of overall and fundamental decline in the United States have yet emerged, to say nothing of an “irreversible decline.

There are several arguments that America is in decline.

One major problem facing the United States is the problem concerning the capability and competitive power of its manufacturing industry. The percentage of the United States’s share of global manufacturing has dropped over the last several decades, and has lost its leading position in some fields.

A second problem is the problem concerning the health, stability, and quality of relevant service industries, such as finance. The United States has already become a post-industrial economy and society. The main part of its economy is the service sector.

A third problem is the problem of wealth and income distribution and sustainable development. \

Since 1980, the actual income of ordinary workers in the United States, including the middle class, did not increase even though the economy was growing and profits were increasing during the same time period. It seems that the fruits of economic development were carved up by a few capitalists and entrepreneurs. Consequently, society in the United States has become more unbalanced, and the gap between rich and poor has been seriously enlarged, a trend which for many was illustrated during the recent financial crisis, when a few senior executives from some companies with huge losses were awarded “bonuses” that were as high as several millions or tens of millions of dollars.

A fourth problem is the problem of fiscal and trade deficits. The government, Congress, Federal Reserve System, and all walks of life in the United States have realized that the huge fiscal and trade deficits are a serious problem that affects the country’s economic development. In 2010, the fiscal deficit in the United States was US$1.3 trillion, or roughly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and equivalent to 35 percent of government outlays that year.[3] Based on international standards and compared to the figures of relevant developed countries, such as Japan, this number is not the highest, and may not even be too high.

A fifth problem concerns military spending and international strategy. Just as debt service takes a large share of U.S. government spending, so does spending on military affairs, foreign wars, and foreign interference.

A sixth problem is the problem of population size and structure.

The rise and development of China and India in the last several decades has once again proven to the world that a certain size of population is still one of the basic factors for productivity and economic development. At the same time, the experiences across the whole world also have proven that population growth alone cannot generate positive effects for economic development either. Instead, it should also be accompanied by improvement of population quality at the same time, including education, skills, income, and consumption. In that case, population growth can generate active effects for economic development.

A seventh problem is the problem of social culture and value concepts.

Relevant social movements that started to appear in the 1960s in the United States, such as the anti-war movement, human rights movement, hippies, and sexual liberation, not only brought active progress in relevant areas, such as democracy, freedom, and human rights, but also caused many social problems, including the expansion of personal desires and power consciousness, and a decline in a sense of duty among parts of society; many feel that discipline has become lax, and the will of the people to learn new things and work hard has become weaker (it should be noted that this trend is lamented in a number of countries, not just the United States). Work, learning, efficiency, capabilities, and skills have dropped, and American students are falling behind their counterparts in many countries on certain standardized tests.[8] Also, the service level of the service sector has dropped, efficiency is not high in certain fields and services, and the competitive power of some areas in society is not strong enough. All of these are directly related to people’s cultural concepts and values.

What are FOUR SECTORS of the economy?

What is the service sector?

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From my friend, Don Four Arrows Jacobs:

Dear Friends,

 Would you mind distributing this RFP announcement (below) one more time to your connections? We’re also seeking applications for two postdoctoral fellowships. Application deadline is Jan. 15, 2019. More information is available athttps://selfvirtueandpubliclife.com/initiatives/fellowships/

 Thanks for your help.

* * * * *

 

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ANNOUNCEMENT

 

“The Self, Virtue, and Public Life”

http://www.selfvirtueandpubliclife.com

 

Nancy E. Snow and Darcia F. Narvaez

 

OVERVIEW

The University of Oklahoma, with a generous grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) on the topics of “The Self, Virtue, and Public Life.” The full RFP is available at: https://selfvirtueandpubliclife.com/initiatives/grants/

 

Approximately ten research proposals at approximately $190,000 each will be funded through this initiative. This international grant competition has three primary aims:

 

  1. To support innovative research on the self, virtue, and public life. 
  2. To encourage methodological innovation in the study of the self, virtue, and public life.
  3. To encourage interdisciplinary teamwork, specifically between social sciences and humanities, though scientists from other areas, such as neuroscience and the health sciences, are also welcome to apply with collaborators from the humanities.

 

A subsidiary aim is to support scholars who are new to the investigation of these topics or have not received funding elsewhere. Research collaborations between younger and more established scholars are especially encouraged.The central research themes we seek to explore through this RFP can be framed at the level of the civic virtues of individuals, as well as at the level of institutions. For a list of possible research questions, please see the full RFP.

 

DEEP INTEGRATION

Research into character and virtue is often conducted by scholars within a single disciplinary perspective – philosophers research by themselves, psychologists team up with each other, historians and anthropologists proceed from their own disciplinary perspectives. This disciplinary isolationism is not maximally productive of new knowledge about virtue. To ensure that research funded by this proposal closes the disciplinary gap, funded research teams must meet the requirement of “deep integration,” as explained in the full RFP (https://selfvirtueandpubliclife.com/initiatives/grants/).

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

Awards are intended to support research from August 1, 2019, through May 31, 2021. Letters of intent are due no later than December 1, 2018 at 11:59 PM, and must be submitted via an online portal linked to the project website. Full proposals are by invitation only and are due no later than March 15, 2019, at 11:59 PM. Further information is available in the full RFP, on our project website, and by contacting us by e-mail.

 

Project Website: http://www.selfvirtueandpubliclife.com

Full Request for Proposals:https://selfvirtueandpubliclife.com/initiatives/grants/

Contact Email: flourish@ou.edu

Benjamin Franklin’s 13 steps to moral perfection (an 18th century concept of self that is no longer an ontological precept in our skeptical times)

One of my all-time heroes, Benjamin Franklin, was 20 when he designed a list of 13 virtues that he felt could lead him to moral perfection.

This is an interesting read about Franklin’s virtues.  CLICK HERE

Personally, I appreciated the usefulness of the chart illustrating Franklin’s virtues in comparison with Bushido and Aristotelean virtues.

I think we have given up on the Enlightenment ideal of moral perfection, but at least it’s worth some consideration!  Here’s the list:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

 

Konnakkol Music

TO AM304 Students

This week some of you expressed interest in the music that was being played before class.

It is called Konnakkol and the recording I played was from the Karnataka College of Percussion.  I will try to play more examples of the College’s recordings in the future.

If you want to know more about Konnakkol then be sure to click here and here

Is there a way to include Konnakkol as a form of multimedia?

Have a pleasant weekend.

My reflections on Monsanto, the havoc and the rumors

Recently I have been reflecting deeply about my previous work experience many years ago for the giant corporation called Monsanto.  In 1994, a personal time of underemployment and high risk taking by myself, I found a way to be paid for making an educational and promotional documentary in the mountains of central Mindanao island in the Philippines.  For me, at that time, this was a good thing and I was happy it was happening.  My job was to produce a documentary about the herbicide, Roundup, as it was being used in a commercial reforestation project in Bukidnon province in the southern Philippines.  I availed of scholarly and scientific research they gave me at the time (1994) to develop a creative short video for the sales and promotion purposes of Monsanto’s offices in Singapore.

Fast forward to now–Now that the current lawsuit is happening against Monsanto and I am able to see other perspectives and information, I am deeply concerned about the weakened ethics of my previous professional work for that company.  I can’t undo the past but I can reflect upon its meaning so that I can learn, reflect and change.  I don’t know right now what is the right answer or most wise response, but I am questioning what happened and what I did at the time, albeit unknowingly..

I was convinced in 1994 that it was OK to use Roundup in commercial forestry and other agro–businesses, so I wrote and produced a good video for them at a bargain rate because I believed in the product and its purpose, plus I wanted to work on location in Mindanao.  No other video producer in their right mind would venture into Bukidnon as I did at the time.  I took my gear and gladly ventured there.  Monsanto paid me to live my dreams.

I worked on the Monsanto project in 1994.  I never imagined Roundup in a retail or household setting and to this day I remain convinced that glyphosate, when used in moderation, is basically OK for its primary purposes in the killing of weeds.  I don’t believe it causes an unreasonable risk beyond what any other chemical poison would pose.  I wouldn’t drink or inhale the stuff but there were rumors that it would be safe to do so.  Regardless of rumors, it is a weed killer and not a beverage.  There is a gap in my understanding of the current case against Monsanto.and how that 289 million dollar amount was arrived, but I understand the threshold was to prove that Roundup was a contributing factor.  They guy describes it blowing in his face as part of his job–his employer should be crucified!.

In the current case it sounds like a typical example of labor exploitation by government and corporate entities, where employers subject workers to unsafe or uncontrolled risks.

I need to post this article for my future reference

https://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/monsantos-good-bad-pr-problem/

Is Gross National Happiness a form of GDP?

I am learning about Gross National Happiness as the guiding philosophy of Bhutan, so that search probably led me to this amazing long term chart of GDP.  I guess we in the USA are on an upward trajectory and nearing highs in terms of GDP.  What does GNH have to do with GDP?  Is this the end, are we at a high or top?  Just like happy folks will do, please enjoy the happy days of GDP highs while it lasts.

180726082100-chart-state-of-the-economy-gdp-growth-780x439.jpg

My estimate is for a jump to the upside over time and we will experience all new highs, in terms of GDP.

In the West we equate rise of GDP in terms of happiness.  But I am learning and interested in Gross National Happiness which is a different measure.  I suppose a strong GDP makes me happy in some ways.  It’s good to be happy. So GNH and GDP are symbiotically related.