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Political Science instead of MBA

December 17, 2008 1 comment

I wonder if a “political science” degree might be more helpful than some of the MBAs I’ve encountered. I know some MBA programs connect and support Drucker’s original vision of how business play an integrating role of social stability. But many MBAs seem to be nothing more than glorified Excel degrees.

Political science is the study of the art and science of the body politic. I think many businesses function much like a body politic. They deal with issues of governance, war (internal and external), human relations, social stability, and so on. Plus, their decisions often have ramifications that reach far beyond the business.

If you think about businesses, you might also see that some are run more like a democracy (some like a rambunctious Athenian democracy), some are totalitarian tyrannies, some some are republics and so on.

I wonder if have some sernior executive with a political science background might helpful bring a helpful accentuation into the managing and visioning process.

Fashion Crimes in Obama’s Campaign

June 12, 2008 1 comment

Did Obama’s VP advisor Jack Johnson fall victim to a fashion faux paus? I don’t think so, but the NYT headline begs for a story on fashion crimes:

Obama Aide Quits Under Fire for His Business Ties

Of course from the picture above, his business tie does look pretty bland.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Jesus at the Margins

May 10, 2007 Leave a comment

People like to make Jesus the spokesman for their cause. From politics to health care to environmental concerns, I’ve seen his visage commondeered for unending causes. Many of these causes may be just and good and we should do them. But if you’re looing for Jesus, he often shows up in disrespectable settings.

NT Wright Sings Bob Dylan

November 25, 2006 Leave a comment

David Williamson pointed me toward a podcast of NT Wright singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” as well as talking about Christianity, politics, and the role of faith in action. This podcast was from an empireremixed conference held in Toronto.

American Popular Culture

November 16, 2006 Leave a comment

While trying to find out some words related to treasure chest, I stumbled across an old Catholic comic book series and eventually ended up at the Authentic American History Center. This site provides a fascinating collection of American pop culture artifacts that reach all the way back to the revolution.

There are pamphlets, comics, images and audio files from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, early 1900s, WWI, WWII, and each decade up to the present. The topic range from religion to politics to other elements that captured the national  consciousness.

Way cool! Plus the Catholic comic book Treasure Chest was pretty interesting as well.

Thomas Merton and the Election

November 8, 2006 Leave a comment

The Merton Center for Contemplation sent out this wonderful quote today that fits perfect for our political frenzy.

“Meditation does not necessarily give us a privileged insight into the meaning of isolated historical events. These can remain for the Christian as much of an agonizing mystery as they do for anyone else. But for us the mystery contains, within its own darkness and its own silences, a presence and a meaning which we apprehend without fully understanding them. And by this spiritual contact, this act of faith, we are ourselves properly situated in the events around us, even though we may not quite see where they are going.

One thing is certain: the humility of faith, if it is followed by the proper consequences—by the acceptance of the work and sacrifice demanded by our providential task—will do far more to launch us into the full current of historical reality than the pompous rationalizations of politicians who think they are somehow the directors and manipulators of history. Politicians may indeed make history, but the meaning of what they are making turns out, inexorably, to have been something in a language they will never understand, which contradicts their own programs and turns all their achievements into an absurd parody of their promises and ideals.

Of course, it is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and God, easily comes to serve as the “opium of the people.” And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with Him. When religion becomes a mere artificial façade to justify a social or economic system—when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandist, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for the truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and love, and becomes the law of might-makes-right:  established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.”
Thomas Merton

From Contemplative Prayer. New York: Doubleday, 1996 edition

 

Are you a freeranger?

October 18, 2006 Leave a comment

Pajamas Media has been running a contest to name the vast ocean of Americans who do not identify with the far right, far left, liberal, conservative or even moderate labels. After a rigorous voting process, the results are in…Freerangers!

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

The End of Congress as We Know It

October 13, 2006 3 comments

In his 4th quarter Public Justice Report, James Skillen suggests that regardless of who wins what seats in the upcoming election little will probably change in Washington. First, he suggest voter apathy is high because “most voters seem to be aware that lobbyists have more power than they do, and that their vote won’t matter much. Many have also concluded that major problems won’t be solved by Washington, regardless of who wins election.”

Our current system is ill-equipped to solve the continuing stagnation in Washington politics, and Skillen believes that even the emergence of independents and third parties can do little to change the current atmosphere.

The problem? He suggests that our country desperately needs a system that represents the national interests because we are a nationwide community of citizens whose collective actions can have dramatic impact upon our culture and our world. Unfortunately, the system we have (and even independent and 3rd party groups) will not represent national interests but special interests groups. He proposes a focusing on building national parties:

What we need is something much more significant than election-campaign finance reform, or lobbying reform, or the growth of independent voters and representatives. We need a fundamental change in the electoral system that will help to produce national parties that are truly competitive and whose elected representatives will be answerable to party members and voters rather than to lobbyists. We need a system change that will lead to the representation of the real diversity of American voters in Congress and that will, thereby, draw voters out of their apathy into participation in elections and politics. We need 75 percent or more of voters to vote instead of 50 percent or less.

He continues with a proposal to change the way we elect representatives from focusing on districts to electing parties:

If each state eliminated all congressional districts and allowed any number of political parties (not only two) each to field a number of statewide candidates corresponding to the number of House seats to which the state is entitled, voters could then caste their votes for the party they really believed in. No votes would be lost as happens in a simple majority system. When the votes were tallied, each party would gain as many House seats as its percentage of the statewide vote entitled it, no more, no less. If the Republicans got 40 percent of the vote, they would win 40 percent of the seats. If the Democrats got 40 percent of the votes, they would win 40 percent of the seats. If the Libertarian Party, or Green Party, or Conservative Party won five percent of the vote, it would win five percent of the seats. If a Public Justice Party won 10 percent of the votes, it would win 10 percent of the seats.

Not only would such a system allow the diversity of American voters some real choices for a change, it would also compel parties in different states that share common principles and platforms to work together to build a national party. If all Republicans, or all Greens, or all Libertarians across the country did not bind themselves in a tight agreement about what they would aim to achieve when their elected representatives arrived in Washington, they would have no coalition of forces in Congress. This process would begin to force the emergence of truly national parties with national agendas. These parties would also have to decide ahead of time (and make public) which interest groups were supporting them and on what terms they would take those interest groups into account in their legislating. Voters would then be able to decide which party to support and would be able to help shape an overarching agenda for the party whose elected representatives would remain more accountable to its members and voters than to the interest groups.

Skillen believes this solution would do away with gerrymandering and hold officials to a greater level of accountability to national interests.

I still have to process Skillen’s proposal, but I am interested in the way he tackles the problems in Washington by suggesting it is a systems problem not simply a personnel problem. If anything, this could open a conversation about different ways to think about our current system; although I think most people would fear any tampering or changes to our current system.

Politics, Dialogue and the Plight of the Undecided

October 9, 2006 2 comments

I usually avoid politics here except for my recent drudge comment because our culture (both online and offline) seems unwilling to truly enter into dialogue about ideas and so often public discussion is more about hurling invectives between trench lines.

My biggest problem is the feeling that I don’t fit in either camp: Republicans or Democrats; conservatives or liberals. Growing up in East TN, I found my home among the Republicans and enthusiastically joined the College Republicans in the early 80s.

When I left college, I ministered at an Inner City church among the homeless and weakest members of our society. Many of my ideals were challenged.

I am still strongly pro-life, but I’ve tried to understand how that applies across the board: from birth to death (including death penalty, war, childcare, aging care, immigration and more). For me pro-life means being pro-person and trying understand how valuing each person should affect the way I view this world. This makes me feel disconnected from both parties, and yet at times finding points of agreement with either group.

Over the years, I’ve developed friendships with people from all walks of life and political (and/or non-political) persuasions. By practicing Buber’s idea of facing people and really listening, I find myself less willing to entrench myself in certain ideas.

This also makes me listen to competing views and honestly try to think through difficult issues like the Iraq war and other issues. As I listen, wrestle, discuss and even argue at times, I often find myself in that “undecided” black hole because these issues are never as simple as the pundits preach.

The current political landscape is tired and self-serving. So people like me struggle to wonder the value of even voting.

Defending Joe Lieberman

September 29, 2006 Leave a comment

There’s only one political race that I’ve been following this year and that is the Lieberman-Lamont showcase showdown. And the only reason is that I think Lieberman is a decent guy that was completely hung out to dry on the basis on one issue. So I was delighted to read this little article on Lieberman today in The Stanford Daily.

I don’t normally mention politics here simply because our culture has moved far beyond any form of reasoned discourse or proper rhetoric. I think many of us Americans are not on the fringe waiting and wanting to virtually crucify the “other guy.”

There are real problems in our world and real disagreements as to how to solve those problems. If we could ever learn to listen and really dialogue (Martin Buber), we might actually find places of wisdom that teach us to avoid killing each other (virtually or literally).

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