jerryking + social_fabric   21

Opinion | The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart
Sept. 12, 2019 | - The New York Times | By David Brooks.

savage exclusion tears the social fabric.

There are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them — Wall Street, Big Law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject....The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth......People in this caste are super-skilled and productive.....These highly educated professionals attract vast earnings while everybody else gets left behind......Parents in the exclusive meritocracy raise their kids to be fit fighters within it....affluent parents invest on their kids’ human capital, over and above what middle-class parents can afford to invest......the Kansas Leadership Center. The center teaches people how to create social change and hopes to saturate the state with better leaders. But the center doesn’t focus on traditional “leaders.” Its mantra is: “Leadership is an activity, not a position. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.” The atmosphere is one of radical inclusion.....People in both the exclusive and open meritocracies focus intensely on increasing skills. But it’s jarring to move from one culture to the other because the values are so different. The exclusive meritocracy is spinning out of control. If the country doesn’t radically expand its institutions and open access to its bounty, the U.S. will continue to rip apart.
Big_Law  caste_systems  Colleges_&_Universities  David_Brooks  elitism  exclusivity  hard_work  human_capital  inequality  law_firms  leadership  medicine  meritocracy  op-ed  parenting  political_correctness  social_classes  social_exclusion  social_fabric  social_impact  social_inclusion  society  technology  values  Wall_Street  winner-take-all 
5 weeks ago by jerryking
Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships
May 6, 2019 | The New York Times | By Allie Volpe.

The sociologist Mark Granovetter calls these low-stakes relationships “weak ties.” Not only can these connections affect our job prospects, they also can have a positive impact on our well-being by helping us feel more connected to other social groups, according to Dr. Granovetter’s research. Other studies have shown weak ties can offer recommendations (I found my accountant via a weak tie) and empower us to be more empathetic. We’re likely to feel less lonely, too, research shows.

A 2014 study found that the more weak ties a person has (neighbors, a barista at the neighborhood coffee shop or fellow members in a spin class), the happier they feel. Maintaining this network of acquaintances also contributes to one’s sense of belonging to a community, researchers found......maintaining a network of low-stakes connections further enmeshes us in our community, especially after a major move away from family and close friends or the loss of a loved one.
Communicating_&_Connecting  friendships  happiness  low-stakes  networking  personal_connections  personal_relationships  relationships  sense-of-belonging  social_fabric  weak_links 
may 2019 by jerryking
SNC-Lavalin’s probable exodus from Canada is a national shame
MARCH 29, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by ERIC REGULY EUROPEAN BUREAU CHIEF
LONDON.

Head offices abandon Canada in two ways – slowly or abruptly.

The slow approach sees the head office, usually after a foreign takeover, gradually lose relevance, to the point it becomes a branch plant and simply fades from view over several years. The abrupt approach, again usually after a foreign takeover, sees the head office vanish virtually overnight, as Falconbridge did a decade ago after it was snapped up by mining giant Xstrata. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has been slowly disappearing from Canada for years. That’s mostly SNC’s fault – it hasn’t won enough work to keep its Canadian headcount intact......SNC’s departure would come as a serious blow to Canada Inc. Since the middle part of the past decade, Canada has lost dozens of head offices as Canadian investors lunged at the prospect of fat takeover premiums. Many, perhaps most, of the foreign companies doing the buying promised to keep the Canadian head office intact. But those assurances proved to be either wildly exaggerated or outright lies.

Among the head offices that have disappeared are Alcan, Dofasco, Inco, Molson and a chunk of the Canadian oil industry. Recently, Goldcorp Inc., Canada’s second-biggest gold producer, accepted a takeover offer from Colorado’s Newmont Mining Corp., meaning that Goldcorp’s Vancouver office faces a serious downgrade.

Aside from the loss of stock market listings, the elimination of large head offices rots the country’s social fabric. Head offices provide high-paying, high-skilled jobs and create an ecosystem of spinoff jobs, from accountants and chefs to limo drivers and lawyers. Head offices bolster the financial services industry, which underwrites the bond and equity offerings and sponsors the arts and charities. When corporate headquarters disappear, so does talent.
Eric_Reguly  exodus  head_offices  sellout_culture  SNC-Lavalin  social_fabric 
march 2019 by jerryking
Another one bites the dust: Goldcorp sale a further example of the hollowing out of Corporate Canada - The Globe and Mail
ERIC REGULY EUROPEAN BUREAU CHIEF
ROME
PUBLISHED JANUARY 14, 2019

Toronto’s Barrick Gold Corp. always wanted to team up with Newmont Mining Corp. of Colorado. Merging the two giants, which have adjoining operations in gold-rich Nevada, would have created an unassailable industry leader and reduced costs by an estimated US$1-billion a year. On paper, it looked like a dream deal. But it never got off the ground, in good part because Barrick founder Peter Munk wanted the new company to stay in Toronto, not move to Denver.

Were he alive today, Mr. Munk – a Canadian patriot who believed in the value of head offices – would be distraught. In the fall, Barrick bought Randgold Resources but handed management control to Randgold’s executives, who promptly gutted Barrick’s Toronto headquarters, leaving the world’s top producer with a mere 65 employees in its echo-chamber offices on Bay Street. The deal was, in effect, a reverse takeover. The new Barrick will be run from the Channel Islands........Toronto still fancies itself the mining capital of the world, a bold claim given that it is now largely devoid of A-team and even B-team players. Barrick was the last miner in Canada that could be considered world class, and it’s fading from view as a Canadian company. All the big base-metal names are gone, bar Teck Resources. Goldcorp is going. Who’s next? Could it be the well-regarded Agnico Eagle Mines (market value $12.4-billion) or B2Gold ($3.7-billion)?

Aside from the loss of their Toronto stock-market listings, the endless elimination of head offices across Canada rots the country’s social fabric. Head offices provide high-paying, high-skilled job opportunities and create an ecosystem of spinoff jobs, from accountants and chefs to limo drivers and lawyers. Head offices bolster the financial-services industry, which underwrites bond and equity sales and sponsors the arts and charities. When head offices disappear, so does talent. If you want a top-level management job in mining, an industry that shaped Canada, forget Toronto. Today, the opportunities are in London, Johannesburg and Melbourne...........In a largely open economy such as Canada’s (banks, big telecoms and media companies are still protected from foreign takeovers), it’s hard to stop head offices from disappearing. The cult of shareholder capitalism produces unsentimental results, such as the eradication of underperforming companies. But Canadian investors and managers have proven time after time that they’re happier to sell rather than build, happy to take a quick buck rather than take a long-term gamble on a double or triple. The cost of doing so is a hollowed-out corporate sector – a branch-plant economy.
Barrick  Corporate_Canada  Eric_Reguly  Goldcorp  head_offices  hollowing_out  Peter_Munk  sellout_culture  social_fabric 
january 2019 by jerryking
Should the Middle Class Invest in Risky Tech Start-Ups? - The New York Times
Farhad Manjoo
STATE OF THE ART SEPT. 27, 2017

Jason Calacanis, a start-up investor who has bet on Uber and others, cuts an unusual figure in Silicon Valley..... Calacanis’s frankness regarding his tech-fueled riches. He states plainly what many in Silicon Valley believe but are too politic to say — and which has lately been dawning on the rest of the world: that the tech industry is decimating the rest of the planet’s wealth and stability.

Its companies — especially the Frightful Five of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, which employ a select and privileged few — look poised to systematically gut much of the rest of the economy. And while Silicon Valley’s technologies could vastly improve our lives, we are now learning that they may also destabilize great portions of the social fabric — letting outsiders wreak havoc on our elections, fostering distrust and conspiracy theories in the media, sowing ever-greater levels of inequality, and cementing a level of corporate control over culture and society unseen since the days of the Robber Barons.......Calacanis is offering a much more dismal view of the disruptions caused by tech — and a more radical, if also self-serving, plan for dealing with it. To survive the coming earthquake, he advises, you need to radically re-examine your plan for the future — and you need to learn Silicon Valley’s ways rather than expect to defeat it......“Most of you are screwed,” he writes in “Angel,” arguing that a coming revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence will eliminate millions of jobs and destroy the old ways of getting ahead in America. “The world is becoming controlled by the few, powerful, and clever people who know how to create those robots, or how to design the software and the tablet on which you’re reading this.”....His book is intended as a guide for getting into the business of investing in very young tech companies at their earliest stages, known as “angel investing.” Mr. Calacanis is peddling a kind of populist movement for investing — he wants doctors, lawyers and other wealthy people, and even some in the middle class, to bet on start-ups, which he says is the best way to prepare financially for tech change.
Farhad_Manjoo  middle_class  angels  books  Jason_Calacanis  social_fabric  Apple  Amazon  Google  Facebook  Microsoft  Silicon_Valley  financial_advisors  start_ups  risks 
september 2017 by jerryking
The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching. - The New York Times
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, Photographs by JOSH HANER
JUNE 15, 2017

Mr. Ovink is the country’s globe-trotting salesman in chief for Dutch expertise on rising water and climate change. Like cheese in France or cars in Germany, climate change is a business in the Netherlands. Month in, month out, delegations from as far away as Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and New Orleans make the rounds in the port city of Rotterdam. They often end up hiring Dutch firms, which dominate the global market in high-tech engineering and water management.....From a Dutch mind-set, climate change is not a hypothetical or a drag on the economy, but an opportunity.....the Dutch strategy is It is, in essence, to let water in, where possible, not hope to subdue Mother Nature: to live with the water, rather than struggle to defeat it. The Dutch devise lakes, garages, parks and plazas that are a boon to daily life but also double as enormous reservoirs for when the seas and rivers spill over. You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media. Or you can build barriers galore. But in the end, neither will provide adequate defense, the Dutch say.

“A smart city has to have a comprehensive, holistic vision beyond levees and gates,” as Arnoud Molenaar, the city’s climate chief, put it. “The challenge of climate adaptation is to include safety, sewers, housing, roads, emergency services. You need public awareness. You also need cyber-resilience, because the next challenge in climate safety is cybersafety. You can’t have vulnerable systems that control your sea gates and bridges and sewers. And you need good policies, big and small.

And what holds true for managing climate change applies to the social fabric, too. Environmental and social resilience should go hand in hand, officials here believe, improving neighborhoods, spreading equity and taming water during catastrophes. Climate adaptation, if addressed head-on and properly, ought to yield a stronger, richer state......the Dutch view: “We have been able to put climate change adaptation high on the public agenda without suffering a disaster in many years because we have shown the benefits of improving public space — the added economic value of investing in resilience.

“It’s in our genes,” he said. “Water managers were the first rulers of the land. Designing the city to deal with water was the first task of survival here and it remains our defining job. It’s a process, a movement.

“It is not just a bunch of dikes and dams, but a way of life.”
adaptability  climate_change  Dutch  floods  industry_expertise  Netherlands  opportunities  resilience  Rotterdam  sea-level_rise  sustainability  smart_cities  social_fabric 
june 2017 by jerryking
Giving Away Your Billion
JUNE 6, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Recently Brooks has been reading the Giving Pledge letters. These are the letters that rich people write when they join Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign. They take the pledge, promising to give away most of their wealth during their lifetime, and then they write letters describing their giving philosophy......Most of the letter writers started poor or middle class. They don’t believe in family dynasties and sometimes argue that they would ruin their kids’ lives if they left them a mountain of money. Schools and universities are the most common recipients of their generosity, followed by medical research and Jewish cultural institutions. A ridiculously disproportionate percentage of the Giving Pledge philanthropists are Jewish.......What would David Brooks do if he had a billion bucks to use for good? He’d start with the premise that the most important task before us is to reweave the social fabric. People in disorganized neighbourhoods need to grow up enmeshed in the loving relationships that will help them rise. The elites need to be reintegrated with their own countrymen. .....Only loving relationships transform lives, and such relationships can be formed only in small groups. Thus, I’d use my imaginary billion to seed 25-person collectives around the country.....The collectives would hit the four pressure points required for personal transformation:

Heart: By nurturing deep friendships, they would give people the secure emotional connections they need to make daring explorations.

Hands: Members would get in the habit of performing small tasks of service and self-control for one another, thus engraving the habits of citizenship and good character.

Head: Each collective would have a curriculum, a set of biographical and reflective readings, to help members come up with their own life philosophies, to help them master the intellectual virtues required for public debate.

Soul: In a busy world, members would discuss fundamental issues of life’s purpose, so that they might possess the spiritual true north that orients a life.
social_fabric  David_Brooks  philanthropy  moguls  high_net_worth  Warren_Buffett  elitism  collectives  personal_transformation  plutocracies  plutocrats  disorganization  daring  relationships  emotional_connections  soul  North_Star  virtues  engaged_citizenry  civics  Jewish  biographies  friendships  self-reflective  giving 
june 2017 by jerryking
Ultra-rich man’s letter: “To My Fellow Filthy Rich Americans: The Pitchforks Are Coming” – TIP
Ultra-rich man’s letter: “To My Fellow Filthy Rich Americans: The Pitchforks Are Coming”

By NICK HANAUER | politico

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

_h3218_w4866_m2_bwhite(Image: news.msn)


Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too. Ford figured that if he raised their wages, to a then-exorbitant $5 a day, they’d be able to afford his Model Ts.

What a great idea. My suggestion to you is: Let’s do it all over again. We’ve got to try something. These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base. And yours too.

It’s when I realized this that I decided I had to leave my insulated world of the super-rich and get involved in politics. Not directly, by running for office or becoming one of the big-money billionaires who back candidates in an election. Instead, I wanted to try to change the conversation with ideas—by advancing what my co-author, Eric Liu, and I call “middle-out” economics. It’s the long-overdue rebuttal to the trickle-down economics worldview that has become economic orthodoxy across party lines—and has so screwed the American middle class and our economy generally. Middle-out economics rejects the old misconception that an economy is a perfectly efficient, mechanistic system and embraces the much more accurate idea of an economy as a complex ecosystem made up of real people who are dependent on one another.

Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.

On June 19, 2013, Bloomberg published an article I wrote called “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage.” Forbes labeled it “Nick Hanauer’s near insane” proposal. And yet, just weeks after it was published, my friend David Rolf, a Service Employees International Union organizer, roused fast-food workers to go on strike around the country for a $15 living wage. Nearly a year later, the city of Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage. And just 350 days after my article was published, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed that ordinance into law. How could this happen, you ask?

It happened because we reminded the masses that they are the source of growth and prosperity, not us rich guys. We reminded them that when workers have more money, businesses have more customers—and need more employees. We reminded them that if businesses paid workers a living wage rather than poverty wages, taxpayers wouldn’t have to make up the difference. And when we got done, 74 percent of likely Seattle voters in a recent poll agreed that a $15 minimum wage was a swell idea.

The standard response in the minimum-wage debate, made by Republicans and their business backers and plenty of Democrats as well, is that raising the minimum wage costs jobs. Businesses will have to lay off workers. This argument reflects the orthodox economics that most people had in college. If you took Econ 101, then you literally were taught that if wages go up, employment must go down. The law of supply and demand and all that. That’s why you’ve got John Boehner and other Republicans in Congress insisting that if you price employment higher, you get less of it. Really?

The thing about us businesspeople is that we love our customers rich and our employees poor.

Because here’s an odd thing. During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent, and that is not a typo. CEOs used to earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. Yet no company I know of has eliminated its senior managers, or outsourced them to China or automated their jobs. Instead, we now have more CEOs and senior executives than ever before. So, too, for financial services workers and technology workers. These folks earn multiples of the median wage, yet we somehow have more and more of them.

140624_fatcats_grid_1160
The Art of the Fat Cat A century and a half of soaking the rich—with ink.
By MATT WUERKER – (politico)

The thing about us businesspeople is that we love our customers rich and our employees poor. So for as long as there has been capitalism, capitalists have said the same thing about any effort to raise wages. We’ve had 75 years of complaints from big business—when the minimum wage was instituted, when women had to be paid equitable amounts, when child labor laws were created. Every time the capitalists said exactly the same thing in the same way: We’re all going to go bankrupt. I’ll have to close. I’ll have to lay everyone off. It hasn’t happened. In fact, the data show that when workers are better treated, business gets better. The naysayers are just wrong.

Most of you probably think that the $15 minimum wage in Seattle is an insane departure from rational policy that puts our … [more]
economics  feudalism  politics  wealth  via:enochko  middle_class  minimum_wage  income_inequality  the_one_percent  social_fabric  worldviews 
september 2016 by jerryking
You Break It, You Own It - The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman JUNE 29, 2016

It’s the story of our time: the pace of change in technology, globalization and climate have started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for some citizens to keep up.

We have globalized trade and manufacturing, and we have introduced robots and artificial intelligence systems, far faster than we have designed the social safety nets, trade surge protectors and educational advancement options that would allow people caught in this transition to have the time, space and tools to thrive. It’s left a lot of people dizzy and dislocated.

At the same time, we have opened borders deliberately — or experienced the influx of illegal migration from failing states at an unprecedented scale — and this too has left some people feeling culturally unanchored, that they are losing their “home” in the deepest sense of that word.
Tom_Friedman  EU  Brexit  social_integration  United_Kingdom  safety_nets  circuit_breakers  social_fabric  institutions  automation  artificial_intelligence  unemployment  illegal_migration  dislocations  open_borders 
june 2016 by jerryking
We pay a high economic price for a society of exclusion - The Globe and Mail
Apr. 08, 2016 |The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.

If citizens are excluded from meaningful involvement in their economic systems, policy solutions (e.g. A tax cut here, an infrastructure program there) none of it matters.....Donald Trump has tapped into a vein of discontent that isn’t going away, whether he wins the White House or not. Those disenfranchised from mainstream politics are connecting with Mr. Trump’s childish messages.....The common thread in protest movements like Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More is that people who are excluded from the mainstream economic and political systems that run a country are disconnected and their disconnection erodes the social and political stability-- the basic building blocks on which successful economies are built. ... If people lose faith in governments, if they become so hopeless about finding a way to achieve and succeed in the system, the system itself will start to collapse.

And following that will be an outflow of capital investment, entrepreneurial energy and intellectual might. Money, businesses and educated people – if they start pouring out, the economy doesn’t stand a chance.
aboriginals  capital_flows  civil_disobedience  covenants  disenfranchisement  disadvantages  Donald_Trump  economists  exclusion  policy  social_fabric  Idle_No_More  marginalization  social_cohesion  social_collaboration  patriotism  instability  Occupy_Wall_Street  talent_flows  hopelessness  protest_movements  social_integration  Todd_Hirsch 
april 2016 by jerryking
How Covenants Make Us - The New York Times
David Brooks APRIL 5, 2016

there are four big forces coursing through modern societies. Global migration is leading to demographic diversity. Economic globalization is creating wider opportunity but also inequality. The Internet is giving people more choices over what to buy and pay attention to. A culture of autonomy valorizes individual choice and self-determination.

All of these forces have liberated the individual, or at least well-educated individuals, but they have been bad for national cohesion and the social fabric. Income inequality challenges economic cohesion as the classes divide. Demographic diversity challenges cultural cohesion as different ethnic groups rub against one another. The emphasis on individual choice challenges community cohesion and settled social bonds.....Strong identities can come only when people are embedded in a rich social fabric. They can come only when we have defined social roles...You take away a rich social fabric and what you are left with is people who are uncertain about who they really are....how do we preserve individual freedom while strengthening social solidarity?

In her new book “Commonwealth and Covenant,” Marcia Pally of N.Y.U. and Fordham offers a clarifying concept. What we want, she suggests, is “separability amid situatedness.” We want to go off and create and explore and experiment with new ways of thinking and living. But we also want to be situated — embedded in loving families and enveloping communities, thriving within a healthy cultural infrastructure that provides us with values and goals.

Creating situatedness requires a different way of thinking. When we go out and do a deal, we make a contract. When we are situated within something it is because we have made a covenant. A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people....Tolerance, he said, means, “I’m going to stomach your right to be different, but if you disappear off the face of the earth I’m no worse off.” Patriotism, on the other hand, means “love of country, which necessitates love of each other, that we have to be a nation that aspires for love, which recognizes that you have worth and dignity and I need you. You are part of my whole, part of the promise of this country.”
David_Brooks  community  social_collaboration  social_integration  covenants  patriotism  books  Commonwealth  values  social_fabric  social_cohesion  social_contract  tolerance  autonomy  individual_choice  self-determination  college-educated  pay_attention 
april 2016 by jerryking
Welcome to the Failure Age! - NYTimes.com
NOV. 12, 2014 | NYT | By ADAM DAVIDSON.

The unexpected truth about innovation is that it is, by necessity, inextricably linked with failure...one major side-effect of innovation through the ages: pure terror. Every week brings news of a profession or an institution in the target of the next Uber. But terror—of losing a job or having no skills for the information age or being attacked by tiny drones– “can also be helpful,” “The only way to harness this new age of failure is to learn how to bounce back from disaster and create the societal institutions that help us do so.
failure  innovation  Industrial_Revolution  institution-building  resilience  bouncing_back  social_fabric 
november 2014 by jerryking
This Column Is Not Sponsored by Anyone - NYTimes.com
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: May 12, 2012

Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel’s new book, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets,” Sandel sees a negative trend in which “Over the last three decades,” he states, “we have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society. A market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organizing productive activity. But a ‘market society’ is a place where everything is up for sale. It is a way of life where market values govern every sphere of life.” ...“The great missing debate in contemporary politics,” Sandel writes, “is about the role and reach of markets.” We should be asking where markets serve the public good, and where they don’t belong, he argues. And we should be asking how to rebuild class-mixing institutions.

“Democracy does not require perfect equality,” he concludes, “but it does require that citizens share in a common life. ... For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.”
Tom_Friedman  books  civics  democracy  free_markets  public_goods  social_fabric  covenants 
may 2012 by jerryking
Charles Murray on the New American Divide - WSJ.com
JANUARY 21, 2012 | WSJ | By CHARLES MURRAY

The New American Divide
The ideal of an 'American way of life' is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated. Charles Murray on what's cleaving America, and why.

When Americans used to brag about "the American way of life"—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America's core cultural institutions.
Charles_Murray  family_breakdown  marriage  religion  social_integration  social_classes  '50s  '60s  values  civics  underclass  cultural_institutions  social_fabric  whites  working_class  fault_lines  hard_work  disintegration  shared_consciousness  upper-income 
january 2012 by jerryking
The Spirit of Enterprise - NYTimes.com
By DAVID BROOKS
December 1, 2011

Nations like Germany and the U.S. are rich primarily because of shared habits, values and social capital....People who work hard and play by the rules should have a fair shot at prosperity. Money should go to people on the basis of merit and enterprise. Self-control should be rewarded while laziness and self-indulgence should not. Community institutions should nurture responsibility and fairness.

This ethos is not an immutable genetic property, which can blithely be taken for granted. It’s a precious social construct, which can be undermined and degraded.

Right now, this ethos is being undermined from all directions. People see lobbyists diverting money on the basis of connections; they see traders making millions off of short-term manipulations; they see governments stealing money from future generations to reward current voters.

The result is a crisis of legitimacy. The game is rigged. Social trust shrivels. Effort is no longer worth it. The prosperity machine winds down....The real lesson from financial crises is that, at the pit of the crisis, you do what you have to do. You bail out the banks. You bail out the weak European governments. But, at the same time, you lock in policies that reinforce the fundamental link between effort and reward. And, as soon as the crisis passes, you move to repair the legitimacy of the system.

That didn’t happen after the American financial crisis of 2008.
David_Brooks  Europe  moral_hazards  euro_zone  European_Union  bailouts  gaming_the_system  values  social_capital  social_fabric  social_cohesion  covenants  legitimacy  social_trust  social_contract  laziness  self-indulgence  self-control  undermining_of_trust  locked_in  financial_crises 
december 2011 by jerryking
What Was Going On - WSJ.com
NOVEMBER 25, 2006 | WSJ | By MARTIN JOHNSON.
The turbulent birth of one of the greatest R&B recordings of all time.

During the '60s, Gaye was known as a prince of Motown. The label churned out one hit after another, and Gaye's unique voice, both gritty and suave, was at the forefront of many of them....The song "What's Going On" was written by Obie Benson, a member of the Four Tops, and he didn't consider the tenor of the song, a tract about the disintegration of the social fabric in the black community, appropriate for the Tops. He shopped it around, even taking it to Joan Baez, but found no takers until Gaye read the lyrics. To Gaye, the song reflected the feelings of his brother, Frankie, who had just returned from Vietnam and was astonished by the turmoil that engulfed America.

The singer organized an unusually large session to record the song. He went beyond the usual stable of Motown musicians to add drummers and saxophonists from Detroit's jazz scene. He also recorded street sounds for part of the introduction. The result was a far more ruminative song than the usual Motown fare. Rather than a ditty about love or loss, this was a sober and sobering look at the state of black America.
R&B  Motown  Marvin_Gaye  jazz  music  rumination  music_labels  Berry_Gordy  singers  '60s  '70s  soundscape  turmoil  fusion  disintegration  African-Americans  social_fabric 
november 2011 by jerryking
Modern citizens know a library’s worth
Aug. 30, 2011 | Globe &Mail | VINCENT LAM. There are two
priceless features of each of the 18 million annual library visits in
this city. First, sharing wisdom through the library & its programs
increases the wealth of our community. We learn, innovate and enrich our
city by sharing knowledge through books, films, lectures and
discussion. Second, the library is completely democratic. It provides
access to information, culture &leisure for new immigrants and
established Canadians, to children and the elderly, and to all
Torontonians whether they’re rich or going through tough times.

Speaking of tough times, in which we’re told that all belts must
tighten: Such are the precise times in which those with less disposable
income need access to good libraries more than ever. Those who can’t buy
books need to access the library’s collections, not to see acquisitions
or library hours cut. The destruction of the ancient Library of
Alexandria is one of the intellectual tragedies of antiquity.
civics  citizenship  libraries  Toronto  Rob_Ford  cutbacks  hard_times  austerity  TPL  social_fabric  commonwealth  institutions  engaged_citizenry 
september 2011 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - In Athens, a Question From Lydia - NYTimes.com
May 14, 2010 | New York Times | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.
Friedman argues that there's a tension between “situational values”
--doing whatever the situation allows--and "sustainable values”, values
that inspire in us behaviors that literally sustain our relationships
with one another, with our communities, with our institutions, and with
our forests, oceans and climate. Regulations, while important and
necessary, are insufficient in an increasingly connected world (i.e.
environment, markets, and societies). Trust and values come to the fore and the fear
is that our value system is being harmonized to the short-term thinking
associated with our markets.
values  value_systems  Tom_Friedman  social_fabric  social_trust  covenants  trustworthiness  regulation  Communicating_&_Connecting  interconnections  community  short-term_thinking 
may 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - The Limits of Policy - NYTimes.com
May 3, 2010 | New York Times | By DAVID BROOKS. As Brooks
notes, "The influence of politics and policy is usually swamped by the
influence of culture, ethnicity, psychology and a dozen other factors."
" So when we’re arguing about politics, we should be aware of how
policy fits into the larger scheme of cultural and social influences.
Bad policy can decimate the social fabric, but good policy can only
modestly improve it. Therefore, the rules of policy-making should be:
(1) don’t promulgate policies that destroy social bonds. If tribes of
people are exiled from their homelands and shipped to strange, arid
lands, bad outcomes result for generations. (2), try to establish basic
security. If the govt. can establish a basic level of economic and
physical security, people may create a culture of achievement — if
you’re lucky. (3), try to use policy to strengthen relationships. The
best policies, like good preschool and military service, fortify
emotional bonds."
David_Brooks  emotional_connections  limitations  policymaking  relationships  social_fabric  tribes 
may 2010 by jerryking

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