From The Detroit Free Press By Way Of Via Media: ‘How Detroit Went Broke’

Full piece here.

Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.

‘Other cities also have profound problems today — Chicago, Providence, R.I., Baltimore. But only Detroit is in bankruptcy court.’

A sad tale that didn’t have to end up here:

Even by the late 1950s, the signs of strain were showing in industrial cities. Population and housing values peaked in Detroit in the 1950s and began their long and seemingly unstoppable decline. The urban riots of the 1960s, including Detroit’s, accelerated the process.

By the 1960s, in Detroit as in city after city, the process was well under way. And mayors and civic leaders, here and elsewhere, began their long, anguished battle against decline.

The more people that left, the more the city leaders raised taxes and drove more people out until it became a wasteland of decay, increasing mismanagement and corruption.

America:  Tackle your pension problems and municipal debt issues now to help avoid this cruel fate.  The pie needs to be growing.

See this piece from Urbanophile:

‘The last thing Detroit teaches us is that America too often doesn’t learn from its mistakes.  Detroit’s troubles have been evident for quite some time, yet it’s hard to see that many other post industrial cities have managed to carve out a different path.  Rather, they pretended that Detroit’s fall was somehow unique due to its auto industry dependence – and managed to ignore other failed cities as well – while embarking on the same turnaround strategy via conventional wisdom and silver bullets.

Another quote, this time from Ira Stoll:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

Will the tech sector fill the hole?  Fracking, low-taxes and new investment in industry?  An information and knowledge-based economy?

How close are we to drifting into a higher-tax, heavily-regulated, less dynamic, federally managed State of affairs?

Nationalized and potentially socialized health-care?

Take him to Detroit:

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Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself?  See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

A garage sale for the city’s art? Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.’From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

From Bloomberg: ‘Detroit Recovery Plan Threatens Muni-Market Underpinnings’

From Joel Kotkin: ‘California’s Blue On Blue Battle’

Full piece here.

Kotkin refers to a New Republic piece by John Judis suggesting that the Obama administration should follow Jerry Brown’s lead.

Now, it’s no surprise that Obama’s political and ideological allies are going to hold up California as a cultural/political model.  This lines up with a rather progressive vision of how society ought to be:  Dynamic, creative, tech driven, egalitarian/collectivist if not nearing planned models of equality.  Such a society has generous social programs, high taxes, and lots of environmental laws on the books.  Public sector unions are big and politically powerful and diversity for its own sake is often held as the highest ideal around.

During the last election, a similar vision was sold to the broader electorate as the best way forward for America, for the ‘middle-class,’ for the old democratic union base, for black folks, for minorities, for Northeastern democrats and the gentry liberal/multicultural elite in our cities, for the 60’s boomer idealists/NPR class/liberal youth vote in and around many universities and in the suburbs.

So how is California doing in Kotkin’s opinion?:

‘Brown may be basking in the temporary glow of the state’s short-term budget surplus, but he must know that the long-term pension obligations, at both the state and local levels, and the costs of a vast welfare class are, to use the overused phrase, not sustainable. Without some new engine of economic growth beyond social media, capital gains and property bubbles, the state recovery will never spread to the vast majority of Californians and could nudge the interior parts of the state more toward either penury or even the Republican Party’

This blog is still operating under the assumption that California leads the nation in terms of certain cultural trends, which bears watching.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Here’s Jerry Brown back in 1975 on William Buckley’s Firing Line.  Does his free-thinking liberalism necessarily end up backing into a kind of Statism, and can political incentives swallow free-thinkers?:

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***See Matt Welch’s piece here on how the New Republic has gone full progressive in many ways.  In this blog’s opinion, neo-liberalism is more like that of Will Wilkinson, or can be found at the Economist.

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Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

California’s anti-union and anti-immigration democrat-Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

A good post on Robinson Jeffers from Malcolm Greenhill, which highlights how the rugged and vast beauty of California makes it easier to imagine what culture is, and what it ought to be on this outpost of Western Civilization.

Conn Carroll At The Washington Examiner: ‘California In Crisis’

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-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California.  Topographic crime map of San Francisco. 

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

Related On This Site:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

From The Detroit Free Press: ‘Detroit Files For Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Amid Staggering Debts’

Full piece here.

Well, it’s official, as Detroit cannot avoid bankruptcy any longer:

‘The filing begins a 30- to 90-day period that will determine whether the city is eligible for Chapter 9 protection and define how many claimants might compete for the limited settlement resources that Detroit has to offer. The bankruptcy petition would seek protection from creditors and unions who are renegotiating $18.5 billion in debt and other liabilities.’

As written before: The industry went away, but also, the Model Cities program as part of LBJ’s ‘Great Society‘ helped incentivize the city so that its politics became a system of patronage and its treasury like a cookie jar. It was a slow, increasingly corrupt decline, with many of the people who could leave having left (serious white-flight, some black-flight). The ones who did stay continued to argue over a shrinking pie as the tax revenue dwindled and the lights eventually shut off.

Detroit has been extrodinarily poorly managed…more to come, no doubt.

Addition: Over four years ago, when GM stock was selling at $2 a share and the debt-holders had been wiped out, this blog put up the video below.  Here’s a brief 2:00 min explanation by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square on why the GM bailout was likely a bad idea:

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Exactly the kind of civil service, bureaucracy, and vast redistributive apparatus that helped lead to Detroit’s decline is likely being implemented with Obamacare right now.  Eventually you run out of other people’s money, and many of promises made to push the bill through hid costs.

Addition: Michael Barone reviews Charlie LeDuff’s book, and discusses how growing up in Detroit in the 60’s turned him into a conservative (Barone).

Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

A garage sale for the city’s art? Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.’From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

From Bloomberg: ‘Detroit Recovery Plan Threatens Muni-Market Underpinnings’

From Via Media: ‘Detroit’s Failure and the Blue Model’s Shame’

Full post here.

It seems no one really wants to look at Detroit anymore, a once-great industrial power become something like a failed-state:

‘Detroit’s residents can no longer count even on the most elementary social services: people have started to plan for a life in which the paramedics and police just stop showing up.’

The industry went away, but also, the Model Cities program as part of LBJ’s ‘Great Society‘ helped incentivize the city so that its politics became a system of patronage and its treasury like a cookie jar.  It was a slow, increasingly corrupt decline, with many of the people who could leave having left (serious white-flight, some black-flight). The ones who did stay continued to argue over a shrinking pie as the tax revenue dwindled and the lights eventually shut off.

There were jokes made about it for years:

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Mead suggests this is emblematic of the failure of the ‘blue model’.

The frustration and bitterness that fills American politics these days reflects the failure of our current social, political and economic institutions and practices to deliver the results that Americans want and expect.’

The ground has shifted beneath our feet, and I suspect if you support economic growth, income-inequality to be met with a growing pie, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.  There are deeper problems than the culture wars, but politics often follows culture, and a lot of people in our culture are not exactly embracing free-market solutions.

Are you optimistic?  Pessimistic?

Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself?  See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

A garage sale for the city’s art? Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.’From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

From Bloomberg: ‘Detroit Recovery Plan Threatens Muni-Market Underpinnings’

Amy Payne At The Foundry: ‘Morning Bell: Obama Administration Buries Good News on Keystone Pipeline’

Full post here.

‘Late last Friday, the State Department released a positive environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has been delaying this pipeline—which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas—for more than three years.’

There could be more stalling to come, even with growing bi-partisan support for the pipeline and the State Department’s report, as the President and needs to work to keep his political coalition together (the unions want jobs, the greens want ecotopia).

The NY Times puts it another way:

“…a choice between alienating environmental advocates who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy or causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada.” 

Is this really where we are as a nation?  Alienating Canada? 

The line of reasoning I heard on the radio from the Sierra Club spokesman today was:  Even though Canada is shipping ever more tar sands oil down by rail to the Gulf anyways, we can wait out current Prime Minister Stephen Harper until the next election (he’s from Alberta and swimming, no doubt, in the pockets of big, dirty oil).   Using executive orders is how we got here in the first place, and the Sierra Club wants still more. 

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If you’re still on the fence on the matter, and see some good in this movement (who cleans up after a spill?…shouldn’t we conserve the natural environment?…don’t big business and big gov’t already get together on such matters anyways?), I’d argue that you should also weigh the true costs of environmental activism:  Much bigger and expanding bureaucracy, political coalitions like Obama’s (unions, greens, activists etc) tied more closely with the money supply.  There tends to be slower economic growth and costs shifted to consumers, businesses, and private property owners. 

Everybody tends to pay more for everything (especially gas) and there are fewer jobs, which doesn’t always lead to better conservation of the environment, but does tend to nudge society toward more collectivist principles of organization, rewarding some and punishing others along the way.   This is one of the big drivers of California’s current economic troubles.

Related On This Site: The best arguments for industrial regulation I’ve heard come from Mill’s harm principle:  From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues’

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’From The Literary Review–Weather Channel Green Ideology: Founder John Coleman Upset….The Weather Channel’s Green Blog: A Little Too GreenFrom The Washington Post: The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth Team Fired

Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘The End Of Unions?’

Full piece here.

Maybe, maybe not, but Epstein makes a principled case for Michigan’s recent right-to-work bill.

Libertarians who only see liberty from where they sit, and the growth of big government and big labor since the New Deal, might need to make a better case for their cause to the public, Epstein argues (libertarians tend to rise in opposition to particularly liberal administrations):

‘The call for limited government doesn’t start with the radical proposition to disband the army, fire the police, or close public highways. Rather, it relies on the theory of public, or collective, goods. The sound theory of limited government uses the state to provide those essential public goods that ordinary individuals, acting either alone or in combination, cannot supply for themselves in voluntary markets.’

He finishes with:

‘Political leaders can be expected to hold back their punches to get legislation through. But the job of independent intellectuals is to offer principled defenses of these legislative changes in order to maintain the long-term coherence of, in my case, libertarian thought, which is needed to make future labor market reforms possible.’

Click through for a good defense against unions when laws are used to protect them, as they become an industrial cartel free-riding on the public good.   That’s the line to draw, Epstein suggests.

Many people, quite frankly, find the moral case for government involvement in basic services compelling (taking people’s money involuntarily and promising to do things that voluntarily people would not do, nor do enough of).  They are well aware that people are self-interested, sometimes selfish, and that there’s plenty of suffering and scarcity in the world.

Libertarians might find it hard to believe that to many Americans, the slippery slope argument fails, even if you point out that the slope can often involve free riding, inefficiencies, crony capitalism, reduced employment, reduced consumer choice and ultimately reduced economic and political liberty for all Americans.  The system, for them, is solid, and functioning pretty well.

Obamacare supporters, in fact, point out the inefficiencies of our current health-care delivery system, the waste, the downsides of ‘the profit motive’ (as though it won’t be central going forward) as they argue that health-care is a fundamental right and function of the government.

Pointing out that modern liberalism isn’t like the old classical liberalism also sounds extreme to many Americans.  The case will need to be made, solidly and reasonably, of the dangers already in our culture and institutions.  Libertarians, as skeptically as they are viewed by conservatives, have a good handle on the faith that modern progressivism has in reason and the interests many modern liberals have in growing the State, and what can occur in the wake of that faith and those interests to freedom, opportunity, and the human spirit.

See also: Free riding in Canada, and threats to free speech when a Human Rights Commision acts like a kind of quasi-court: Update And Repost: ‘A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant’

Related On This Site:  Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

The anarchic tradition on this site:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”… …Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeLink To Lew Rockwell Via A ReaderRepost-Two Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…minimal state…Repost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’..Still fighting the battles of the 60′s…? A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”…Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Full post here.

‘California’s “progressive” approach has been enshrined in what is essentially a one-party state that is almost Soviet in its rigidity and inability to adapt to changing conditions. With conservatives, most businesses and taxpayer advocates marginalized, California politics has become the plaything of three powerful interest groups: public-sector unions, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley elite and the greens.’

So much for economic “sustainability,” at least during the Recession.

California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

Related On This Site: Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

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Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’

Full post here.

‘To today’s transportation movers and shakers, such systems are giant jobs-creation programs designed to boost the economy and provide high wages to members of influential unions; and the key means by which to remake society in a way that is nicer to the environment and leads to a changed citizenry that is less likely to use automobiles to get around. Think of transportation these days less as civil engineering and more as social engineering.’

There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that high-speed rail will lead to economic sustainability; rather it seems more like a commitment to a certain social and political philosophy that has a large pool of public sentiment and interested parties involved in California.  As for actual nature…

Related On This Site:  Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And LibertyFrom The Hoover Institution: ‘Nature Fakery’..A Few Links On Environmentalism And LibertyFrom George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…people who argue the earth is warming sure don’t live like it…so where are the most holy who do…are they Malthusians…the Sierra Club?:  From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’….The Weather Channel’s Green Blog: A Little Too GreenFrom The Washington Post: The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth Team Fired

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Rhode Island: Athens of America?’

Full post here.

Well, maybe not Athens, but not doing well and unwilling to face fiscal reality. Mead’s theory is that the end of the blue social model is nigh.

‘As the American political system attempts to grapple with the growing pension, debt and entitlement crisis, three types of responses seem to be emerging.  There is the true blue ostrich approach of the unions themselves and their closest allies: denial and rage.  There is the attitude of more centrist Democrats like Governor Cuomo and Mayor Emanuel: make prudent cuts, hold the line on spending, work to quietly make government more efficient without jumping into a full scale confrontation with the unions.  And there is the Scott Walker, dragonslayer approach: take them on.’

Providence was always a bit corrupt if I recall.

Related On This SiteRepost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”

Full piece here.

With the ousting of D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, so went reform.  Rhee explains where thinks she failed (not necessarily in closing bad schools and not necessarily by failing to reach consensus):

“Still, I could have done a better job of communicating. I did a particularly bad job letting the many good teachers know that I considered them to be the most important part of the equation. I should have said to the effective teachers, “You don’t have anything to worry about. My job is to make your life better, offer you more support, and pay you more.”

and of all the people whose interest (who would have thought people are self-interested?) can get in the way:

“Policymakers, school-district administrators, and school boards who are beholden to special interests have created a bureaucracy that is focused on the adults instead of the students.”

Unions, adults, moneyed interests are getting in the way (no more politicization please).  Her suggested solution for the present:

“The common thread in all of these communications was that these courageous people felt alone in battling the bureaucracy. They want help and advocates. There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst.”

Let’s hope it can get off the ground, and ultimately stays true to its mission, and recognizes when it’s needed no more, or needs to change.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

and more broadly and philosophically:  Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Repost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not

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