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History

Historical background related to current issues and/or events.

Rickshaw economics...

The Fed's policy of easy money and the government's policy of subsidies and bail-outs, especially in recent decades, has tipped the economy toward a consumption-driven orientation. The result has been inflation and debt. Our debt with China is a combination of both, in part due to the Chinese government's deliberate policy of inflating their currency vis-a-vis the dollar.

The sources of neo-conservatism

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The late Irving Kristol defined a neo-conservative as "a liberal who has been mugged by reality." I believe it would be more historically accurate to describe a neo-conservative as derived, not from a liberal, but from a progressive. He also claimed that neo-conservativism is not a philosophy, but a "persuasion." This makes neo-conservatism closer to a religion than to a philosophy, and, indeed, closer to fundamentalism than to a religion that unites faith and reason (and, which therefore recognizes the importance of fundamental principles). Indeed, neo-cons are suspicious of political and moral principles, which makes them easy fodder for moral relativism.

Zombie Apocalypse?

The increasing cultural references to the phrase "zombie apocalypse" have finally caught my attention. As I understand it, the phrase is apparently the independent invention of bloggers, one in the entertainment industry, the other in the video game industry. The zombie character is tailor made for video games, but is related to such movie horrors as vampires (because they're described as "undead"), killers that can't be killed (like Jason), pod people and triffids (because they spread their own kind -- come to think of it, vampires are included here, too). According to David Hambling ("How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse," the zombie idea originated in Voodoo, but the notion of a zombie-like creature can be traced to earlier European literature. See Homunculus, and note that Hollywood's concept of Frankenstein's monster is decidedly more zombie-like than Mary Shelley's original conception!)

"I owe mah soul to the company stoh!"

Wikipedia refers to the company store economic model as the "truck system." The line in the title of this note is, of course, taken from the song "Sixteen Tons," composed by Merle Travis and popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford. The song title refers to the tonnage of coal mined daily by a coal miner living in a camp owned and operated by the mine owner. The miners are, in effect, indentured servants or slaves because they have no possibility of working their way out of the system. This is because they are paid in scrip, rather than money, which can only be redeemed in the camp.

What matters more, public cohesion or public virtue?

Rush Limbaugh's take on the DNC is that there are no more arrows left in their quiver for fighting to reelect the President in 2012, and the country's progressives are scrambling to protect their turf. I suspect this is particularly true of public and higher education.

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