How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

Full piece here.

We’ve got holes where the jobs are and will be, holes where the people looking for jobs and passing through our education system can’t/aren’t able to fill some of the new jobs being created, and automation is going to make fewer manufacturing jobs in many fields, pound for pound.

Greene on the new business in an old manufacturing town:  Rochester, New York.

‘That said, this picture is far from perfect. You look at this factory: making incredible things with machines both old and new, but there’s almost no one here. The factory has more than 16,000 square feet, but only 80 people work here.’

Imagine some process with which you involve yourself daily:  Driving, for example.  Right now teams and teams of people are designing the hardware and software to automate that process, and some will make a healthy dollar doing so. Think about how important your mobile device has likely and/or could become in your life.

Now, imagine our founding fathers getting around:  Bumping over rough, dangerous roads over a period of many days, weeks and months, hearing of important news through the grapevine and horseback.

Activities in our lives which already consume much time, sweat and labor, or with which we often engage mindlessly/habitually etc. will continue to be made easier or simply done for us by new technology. That rate of change is pretty high at the moment.

New jobs are gong to come out of that process, but not always where and how many we think.

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As to NPR and keeping the activists from putting techno- and bureaucrats in charge: NPR has great production values, but their particular ideological preferences lead to less overall wealth and dynamism in the economy; an over-promising, under-delivering American government, or some Americanized version of European-style Statism sold as ‘private/public partnerships’ coming with lots of bloat, byzantine laws and bad incentives.

We can do better than that.

Warmed-over 60’s activism and Left-liberal populism often drives the car, and those along for the ride can be blind to how local politics actually functions, especially in our cities, and to many abuses of power and corruption that go hand-in-hand with politics across the political spectrum.

Often, I suspect that many NPR listeners are there for the culture, the quality of reporting, and the lack of advertisements.  Many listeners probably don’t pay particular attention to the deeper way in which events are being interpreted for them; the possible contradictions between their commitments and the activist, ideological base which often drives the next issue for debate.

Instead, there’s a lot of literature and poetry, an exposition of secular humanism and a rather modern liberal worldview, softly material, usually pushing environmentalist, feminist, and multicultural causes.

————–

Larry Summers via the Democracy Journal has an easily-accessible review of Piketty’s ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century‘, called ‘The Inequality Puzzle.’

Among other interesting thoughts, there’s this.  Globalization is at play, as well:

‘…there is the basic truth that technology and globalization give greater scope to those with extraordinary entrepreneurial ability, luck, or managerial skill. Think about the contrast between George Eastman, who pioneered fundamental innovations in photography, and Steve Jobs. Jobs had an immediate global market, and the immediate capacity to implement his innovations at very low cost, so he was able to capture a far larger share of their value than Eastman. Correspondingly, while Eastman’s innovations and their dissemination through the Eastman Kodak Co. provided a foundation for a prosperous middle class in Rochester for generations, no comparable impact has been created by Jobs’s innovations’

Eastman Kodak is going through Chapter 11, as those Kodak innovations have been surpassed as well (I remember family gatherings around the slide projector, holding strays up to the light).

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The idea of Singapore is bandied about in the piece.

David Brooks-style NPR house conservative praise for authoritarian Singapore is at least a step in the right direction:  At least it isn’t Mao nostalgia but it’s still…pretty top-down and authoritarian.

You won’t buy or sell gum in Singapore, damn it.  And you’ll only chew it under doctor’s orders.

David Brooks got in on that action:

‘In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own’

Let’s be a little more autocratic, America, at least at the national level.  It’s just so we can compete and plan for the future.  Someone’s got to take hold of the meritocracy.

Get on board!:

‘The answer is to use Lee Kuan Yew means to achieve Jeffersonian ends — to become less democratic at the national level in order to become more democratic at the local level. At the national level, American politics has become neurotically democratic.’

That’s the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

We need to restrict freedoms in order to get more freedoms, you see.

We are getting a good look at the kinds of people NPRites are putting in power, and it ain’t pretty.

We can do better than that.

Via Yale Global Via Althouse: ‘A Discussion Of How Globalization Has Strengthened Islamic Fundamentalism’

Full piece here.

Interesting piece:

‘It would be a mistake, however, to regard the developments in the Islamic world as a counter-globalization against the one originated in the West. Instead of rejecting globalization, the Islamic world is finding its own way of globalization.’

Demographically, there are more Muslims now than before.  I still think it’s best to not allow the highest ideals guiding the U.S. economy, our foreign policy, and our domestic politics be the culturally relative approach, nor ‘the European way,’ which has invited Muslims in for employment reasons and left them in ghettoes, allowing the pot to simmer for a while.

There are many important differences between the U.S. and Europe, but this more liberal, post-Enlightenment secularist worldview is still a product of the West, has some public sentiment going for it here in the U.S., and has serious blind-spots.  While another neo-con invasion Iraq isn’t necessarily our goal, and clearly has, and will likely have consequences, the United States has business interests, oil interests, strategic and security interests throughout the Middle East.

On a related note, here’s a further debate from Intelligence Squared with Ayan Hirsi Ali on one side, arguing that Islam is the problem (the same absolutism in Islam that will not tolerate questioning of its tenets, its many violent passages, and its unreformed worldview which has a prescription for pretty much all aspects of the culture and public square).  A member of the opposing side suggests that Muslim alienation in British life, combined with a European influenced fascist inspired-Islamism is the problem, not Islam itself (yes, it’s colonialist Europe’s fault).

—————–

Where are the people in Egypt, the plurality or majority of the population, with enough money, time, education and opportunity to support the institutions necessary to resist the actual political will of the large Islamist movement in the country?   This was the same movement formerly repressed by the SCAF and the enormous, corrupt bureaucratic structure that wielded power partially with our aid.  Where are the people who have enough political will and support who could also resist the more radical, transformative currents in the region?

Well, now the Islamists are in power, however democratically elected they are.

What’s reasonable to hope and which ideals will guide us going forward?

Related On This Site:  Samuel Huntington worked against modernization theory, always going against the grain, and argued that a chasm between the West and Islam will be a primary source of post Cold-war conflict: Clash of Civilizations:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

His student, Francis Fukuyama and once neo-conservative (likely before working with the locals against Russians in Afghanistan and sometime after we invaded Iraq) charted his own course in The End Of History.   From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…he’s now taken that model of Hegelian statecraft home:  Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

So, it wasn’t an Arab Spring, but there has been an erosion of the old rituals and control of the public square….more individualization that has affected the man on the Street, according to an Olivier Roy: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Michael Totten At The American Interest: “A Leaner, Meaner Brotherhood”

Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’……James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

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Repost-‘From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington’

Full article here.

Fukuyama has some disagreement with Huntington’s later “The Clash Of Civilizations” argument as too narrow and confining, and I think in the long run, worries that it despite its prescience it could lead us into trouble:

“Sam, in my view, underrated the universalism of the appeal of living in modern, free societies with accountable governments.  His argument rests heavily on the view that modernization and Westernization are two completely separate processes, something which I rather doubt.”

and

“The gloomy picture he paints of a world riven by cultural conflict is one favored by the Islamists and Russian nationalists, but is less helpful in explaining contemporary China or India, or indeed in explaining the motives of people in the Muslim world or Russia who are not Islamists or nationalists.

Fukuyama argues that Hungtington came of age when modernism was dominant.   He also seems to take issue with the epistemological foundations of this largely social-science driven and philosophical worldview that has drastically shaped the last century and a half:

“Modernization theory had its origins in the works of late nineteenth century European social theorists like Henry Maine, Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Ferdinand Tönnies, and Max Weber.”

By the same token, some of the American right’s response has been to look to such thinkers as Friedrich HayekVon MisesLeo Strauss and perhaps Karl Popper.  Here’s a quote from Popper that may be illuminating:

“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”

We’re still importing a lot of our ideas from the failures and triumphs of Europe…and not just the Anglo tradition.   Fukuyama thinks Huntington was quite at the center of those ideas, and an American vision.

See Also On This SiteFrom Bloggingheads: Eli Lake And Heather Hurlbert On Samuel HuntingtonFrom The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

Samuel P. Huntington - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2004 by World Economic Forum

from The World Economic Forum’s photostream.

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Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Full piece here (link may not last, subscription required)

Our author revisits the work of Samuel HuntingtonFrancis Fukuyama and  John Mearsheimer:

‘Yet all three ideas remain beacons, because even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories still tend to think roughly in terms of one of them, and no other visions have yet been offered that match their scope and depth.’

and:

Huntington’s main point was that modernization is not the same as westernization. Foreigners’ participation in Western consumer culture does not mean that they accept Western values, such as social pluralism, the rule of law, the separation of church and state, representative government, or individualism.’

‘In tune with Mearsheimer, he believed “soft power is power only when it rests on a foundation of hard power,” but he saw the relevant concentrations of power as transnational cultural areas — eight basic civilizations — rather than particular states. What Fukuyama saw as a liberal bow wave, Huntington saw as the crest of the wave, an ethnocentric Western model whose force had peaked. To Huntington, the world was unifying economically and technologically but not socially.’

and on replacing the Soviet Union with China as bipolar competition:

“The greatest danger,” he fears, “is that the United States will make no clear choice and stumble into a war with China without considering carefully whether this is in its national interest and without being prepared to wage such a war effectively.”

The map is not the terrain, yet to the maps we return, making them anew.

Also On This Site:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonRepost-Francis Fukuyama in The L.A. Times: China’s Powerful WeaknessFrom Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

 

From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Full piece here (link will not last, subscription required)

Our author revisits the work of Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama and  John Mearsheimer:

‘Yet all three ideas remain beacons, because even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories still tend to think roughly in terms of one of them, and no other visions have yet been offered that match their scope and depth.’

and:

‘Huntington’s main point was that modernization is not the same as westernization. Foreigners’ participation in Western consumer culture does not mean that they accept Western values, such as social pluralism, the rule of law, the separation of church and state, representative government, or individualism.’

‘In tune with Mearsheimer, he believed “soft power is power only when it rests on a foundation of hard power,” but he saw the relevant concentrations of power as transnational cultural areas — eight basic civilizations — rather than particular states. What Fukuyama saw as a liberal bow wave, Huntington saw as the crest of the wave, an ethnocentric Western model whose force had peaked. To Huntington, the world was unifying economically and technologically but not socially.’

and on replacing the Soviet Union with China as bipolar competition:

“The greatest danger,” he fears, “is that the United States will make no clear choice and stumble into a war with China without considering carefully whether this is in its national interest and without being prepared to wage such a war effectively.”

The map is not the terrain, yet to the maps we return, making them anew.

Also On This Site:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonRepost-Francis Fukuyama in The L.A. Times: China’s Powerful WeaknessFrom Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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Fareed Zakaria At Time: ‘How To Restore The American Dream’

Full piece here.

Are technology and global competition whittling away the ‘middle-class’?:

“Blinder understands the benefits of free trade but worries that the new wave of offshoring is so big and fast that Western societies will have difficulty adjusting. The crucial distinction for the future, he argues, might be not between highly educated and less educated workers but between those jobs that can be done abroad and those — such as nurse or pilot — that cannot.”

Here are a few of Zakaria’s suggestions (click through for more):

1.  Shifting from consumption to investment (this would be part of his making things again argument, but not things that can be made elsewhere with cheaper overhead and labor…global competition)

2.  Training and Education-On this, it seems to me we have a highly politicized, underperforming educational system.  Look for more politicization and inertia.  The internet will be as important as ever.  The spirit of egalitarianism at its best and worst?

3.  Fiscal Sanity (He suggests getting health-care costs in order, but doesn’t necessarily advocate Obamacare)-For my part, this will be difficult because it requires greater political cohesion, as I don’t think we’ve reached the end of extending freedom for every group (growing an idealism much more comfortable with a big State in its pursuit of justice, equality and fairness and potentially dividing the electorate).   I’m not sure how this will play out, but the impetus for fiscal sanity must come from people and how they balance their own checkbooks.   We need to survive without byzantine rules, a bloated state and protectionism.  Keep it out of the political arena as much as possible to stay nimble. See education.

Addition:  Or has the middle class been co-opted by the American Left, who have all sorts of plans for it?

Also On This Site: Part of Zakaria’s larger project and vision: Repost-Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?A Shortage Of Skilled American Workers At Microsoft?…Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have plans for America and India, and it involves much more state involvement here in America:  Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

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From Andrew Sullivan: Reader Response-Islam Undergoing A Reformation?

Full post here.

Thought this would be worth posting, a reader response to a comparison between modernizing Islam and the Protestant Reformation in England:

“In immigrant communities and in urban enclaves, they tend to be embarrassed by the clergy imported from their native lands or from the countryside…”

…along with this article via the A & L Daily, about the rise of Muslim creationism, or perhaps the attempt to fit all of the world (including the Enlightenment and post-enlightenment) into the Quran:

Full article here at the New Humanist.

Are we anywhere close to having enough Muslims in America that their religious conservatism finds allies with the religious and political right?

Too soon? A pipe dream?

From Julian Sanchez here, suggesting that if you’re living in an urban area:

 “…if you’re a believer convinced that there’s one uniquely authoritative set of commands and practices that have been divinely ordained, this can provoke enormous cognitive dissonance—and prompt a search for the “true” version of Islam purged of all these regional variations. Insofar as this also purges the system of its evolved adaptations, the result is apt to be more radical, and potentially more dangerous.”

Once you become concerned, in some way, about Islam, you have to deal with its claims (and more radical claimants) more seriously (as in extending moral concern to the Islamic world).  Some of these claims are openly and directly hostile to the West, don’t care at all for separation of church and state, and are perhaps sympathetic ideologically, if not morally, to the radicals.

Some of this has to do with the influence of the West upon the Middle East, which is unjust in some cases, and Muslims have legitimate grievances.

So…surely extending moral concern to Islam is a possible way forward, but must that moral concern be religious?  must it be in conflict with Islam?  It surely must deal with the powder keg of occupied lands, relatively weak economies, and some pretty tribal areas under which Islam is the uniting glue, as well as some of Islams claims to religious conquest?

A pipe dream?

See Also:  From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’…From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”…From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

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