Tag Archives: money

Sex, Race, Money and the American Experience

While there has been a good bit of conversation about the possibility that Hillary Clinton may become the first woman to assume the Presidency of the United States the United Kingdom has in fact elected a new female Prime Minister, the second in their history. If Hillary Clinton is elected then for at least a little while the two countries would have something more in common than merely female heads of government. She is also the current Home Secretary which is an analogous position to the that of the Secretary of State of the United States.  both she and Hillary Clinton have been the beneficiary of elite educational institutions in their countries. Doubtless one could list many other similarities but in fact the two women strike me as profoundly different people produced in part by profoundly different political systems. The sexual contexts are not so profoundly different but upon looking closer at same sex marriage law in Britain and the USA one finds very different regimes and oppositions, likewise on abortion, sperm banking and literally a host of other issues. Whether it is better or not there is very often a capacity to compromise and reach legislative splitting of the difference in the UK. In addition rule by judicial review is much more limited. For those reasons as well as others May represents a different kind of feminist synthesis that the one Hillary Clinton has long been associated with in this country.

 

Theresa May is a thoroughgoing enough politician who is committed to the electoral process and aware of it. Theresa May did not become presumptive  Prime Minister in a general election but rather in the election for Conservative Party Leadership when David Cameron stepped down after failing to keep Britain in the European Union. This is not unusual, in the 24 times that the UK has changed Prime Minister in the last century half of those occasions did not involve a general election. The leadership election came about because Cameron had put too much political capital on the BRexit referendum to continue in office when the Leavers defeated him. However, as Britain has recently passed the Fixed Term Parliament Act, this change in leadership is not likely to cause a general election to be held early although it may…  This is something not only unusual but  new for Brits to adjust to, no row of whether or not to have a vote of no confidence is at all assured of amounting to much in the new set of rules.  In the meanwhile the final two people produced by the first rounds of the Conservative Party leadership chase presented the rank and file membership with two candidates to choose from both of whom were female and they have chosen Prime Minister Theresa May. Assuming Royal Assent and Her Majesty asking the woman to take the job as she did for Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher back in the day, then May will take the job in a place in the Queen’s presence sometime after Cameron officially resigns  following tomorrow’s (Wednesday, July 13) Prime Minister’s Questions. A bit of what she says about her own vision of her administration of Her Majesty’s Government can be read here. She appears to be sincere enough about bringing the benefits of her party’s vision for Britain to more people of more modest means. In America there is a lot of discussion about the wage gap between men and women and how it affects families. There is less discussion of increasing morbidity among men, declining employment among men and the myriad of other sexually related disasters afflicting primarily meant in this country — affecting men in distinction to women.  One senses that in Britain they are facing the struggles we face with a feminism that is less anti-mail than our version is in a number of ways. That has to be put into the context of two female prime ministers and the fact that British suffragettes really fought violently to bring about change early in the twentieth century. They of course suffered real violence and the disorder of their movement would make and interesting comparison to the chaos I see in the Black Lives Matter movement — but that is beyond the scope of this post.

I am quite sure that the struggle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for leadership of our country will in part be affected by how Americans believe a man or a woman would respond to the violence, protests, police shooting and racial tensions which shape our experience of city streets and television viewing in these days. Doubtless whatever they do will be shaped in large part by their own experience as the man or the woman that in fact they are. Their views and actions will also be shaped by their experience as Americans. One factor in this Black Lives Matter centered current crisis is that the lens is very much exclusive of sexual assault against women. The lens is not inclusive of black grievances of sexual abuse under slavery, of white womanhood being subject to the attacks of black male sexual predation. The focus is on the protesting of acts of violence by police against black men who in most cases so far have a history of trouble with the law. In the case of a few like Philando Castille the man seemed to be a pillar of the community and not a violent criminal who was armed, did have many run-ins with police and was confused with a robbery suspect. Michael Brown and Alton Sterling seemed to have a number of violent criminal acts in their past. Black reactions to these deaths among the minority who lead Black Lives Matter has tended to be unreasonably indiscriminate at countless levels. the hate filled chants, throwing of blocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails have added criminal violence to their vision of a policing ethic which would destroy the country in my opinion.   But in all this chaos we have heard no reports of sexual assaults to speak of — why I am not sure. Perhaps there have been very few.  This contrasts with my vivid memory of the Lara Logan assault during the Arab Spring protests. So far now all of this is taking place with a low level of direct connection to sexual  violence at least. Nonethless the connections of racial and sexual politics in this country cannot be entirely severed. Philando Castille looked edgy but was one of the most securely the middle class persons celebrated by Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the victims it celebrates are not financially secure. The Dallas cop killer however was apparently prosperous and was involved in this movement.

Black lives matter

Sometimes it is easy to think of all the reasons why being a  Catholic  are compelling and all the reasons why I am glad to be one. Sometimes it is easy to think of a good number of reasons why I am glad to be an American. Sometimes  not so much is obvious when I try to count the blessings of being a Catholic American. Then there are days when all of the problems and obstacles in my life seem to clearly outweigh any positive and hopeful energies that I might be able to muster.  Yet even on those days it is not impossible to find some cause for rejoicing. I recently read the Papal encyclical which  has the English language title the Joy of Love.   A pdf version should be available here: papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en

Among Black Americans the marriage rate is low. It’s been shown to correlate to many problems in that section of the American population. The energy behind gay marriage masks the decline of marriage rates as a whole. Marriage plays many important roles in society.  The professional agitators in leadership in many American movements today benefit from the single state of more people who are more attracted to protests.   I’m aware of myself as being single in a way I never saw coming. Many people are single in such ways. The pope is urging the Catholic Church to find ways to make meaningful and personal weddings accessible to young couples in a context which encourages lower cost options. This is addressing the real role cost plays in keeping people from tying the knot. That’s especially true for church weddings. This is kind of a crisis, Pope Francis has addressed among others. I’m not going to quote all of his attempts to set forth a vision for Christian sexual and marital institutions,

Sexual politics is not a simple matter today in America and never has been a simple matter for anyone anywhere. politics has never been a simple matter and human politics never has been a simple matter.  But I think these are more challenging times than most. I think that the Pope has some things to say that many Americans need to hear or read. But I think white Americans are really facing a moment for coming to a sense of sexual clarity and I think that the Pope has something to say to them, to us. The encyclical reminds us all of what a basic sexual ideal for our society or any other might be.

What does the drama of American sexual politics as evinced in the Pulse Nightclub shootings, the debates over same sex marriage and other tensions of our society have to do with the recent encyclical from Pope Francis?  I myself think that the real emphasis we are losing on a livable sexual ideal is something that we need to consider as a great risk. To a remarkable degree sexuality in America in my lifetime has been typified by open conflict between the sexes. A resulting atmosphere of suspicion and distrust has colored relationships between persons most committed to building enduring relationships of trust and love. Approaching members of the opposite sex has seen new challenges emerge.

One group of Americans who have played and continue to play a role in our struggle to understand sexualtity or an informal and unofficial group of women who are the American sex symbols. They are usually not pornographic symbols and are not courtesans by and large. They vary tremendously in what they represent and how they love but they somehow make us aware of both challenges and ideals we face as a nation. at any given time their names and a faces and bodies speak to us of different struggles and hopes we have as sexual beings in this country. It is in their real lives and selves that we are sometimes able to picture what we wish our sexual identity to be and how it relates to womanhood, procreation and love among other things…

 

The future of this country is nonexistent without families and without a reasonably healthy sexuality. We will not resolve the tensions between blacks and the police or  the tensions that resonate in our political dysfunction without recognizing where we have gotten and where we have come from and without thinking seriously about where we are going as regards the realities of sex, race, money and how those matter to American families. Likewise we will not get anywhere good without seeing all the ways Americans are eager to protect their families however flawed they are and also the real limits of that protection in every case.    I include here a verse from an acrostic love poem that I sent after sending another and receiving no answer.  It’s about flirting on the internet after a fashion. About finding the limits of seeking love without a close personal association in real life.

Now comes the time for a pause in my poetic email,

One thing is sending verse to the love one has at hand.

Too different is this shooting into the dark gaps across the land.

Even the madness of the laws of our time 

That poem is not the issue but what our society believes about sex and how it portrays the appeal of sex is very relevant to what direction we are going in. My life is nobody’s sexual ideal. But my life is lived according to certain sexual ideals.

Ünderworlds of love and sexuality deserve to be remembered but the Pope reminds us of how love makes family and family shapes both society and the Christian faith. Sexuality is to be both ideal and ordinary for people of all races and cultures. That is the Christian vision he invites us to share.

 

 Jesus himself was born into a modest family that soon had to flee to a foreign land. He visits the home of Peter, whose mother-in-law is ill (cf. Mk 1:30-31) and shows sympathy upon hearing of deaths in the homes of Jairus and Lazarus (cf. Mk 5:22-24, 35-43; Jn 11:1-44). He hears the desperate wailing of the widow of Nain for her dead son (cf. Lk 7:11-15) and heeds the plea of the father of an epileptic child in a small country town (cf. Mk 9:17-27). He goes to the homes of tax collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus (cf. Mt 9:9-13; Lk 19:1-10), and speaks to sinners like the woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (cf. Lk 7:36-50). Jesus knows the anxieties and tensions experienced by families and he weaves them into his parables: children who leave home to seek adventure (cf. Lk 15:11-32), or who prove troublesome (Mt 21:28-31) or fall prey to violence (Mk 12:1-9). He is also sensitive to the embarrassment caused by the lack of wine at a wedding feast (Jn 2:1-10), the failure of guests to come to a banquet (Mt 22:1-10), and the anxiety of a poor family over the loss of a coin (Lk 15:8-10).

I end this reflection with another quote from an unsuccessful love poem. I will say that love poems were part of my life when love was more a part of my life– so they have not all been unsuccessful. But perhaps the difference was in the life context. This poem reflects on the changes in situations..

My youth is long behind me, an almost forgotten circumstance today

Young men’s loving words and bold lines are not mine to safely say.

Aside from my own life, I think we have to look at the vision for love in this country, for sex and for sexuality. Where is it heading and where should it be heading?

 

BRexit from the Bayou

What will become of the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom in coming months and years?

What will become of the funds in peoples varied accounts and peoples varied investments in America and the world?

What will become of the European Union?

These are all questions brought to the fore by the recent event called the BRexit Referendum.  They are important questions and will only be slightly ventured into within this post but it is possible that some more insight may be forthcoming from other portions of this site past, present and future.

This blog is a place in the wide world where very ambitious plans (which to many would seem absurdly ambitious and very unusual) are put forward. But the reason that I do put forth such plans is in part because the economy does not just respond to purely economic forces and purely economic plans made by typical economists are not likely to steer it all that well. Nor do I believe that conservatism — which I lay claim to here repeatedly –means having no plans at all. In fact I believe both planning and a limited socialist and communitarian element belong in any  healthy conservative economic philosophy. Among many plans in this blog is a desire expressed to bring the United States to a floating quatrimetalism which is something like the gold standard. As I type this many are rushing to gold. Compared to either panic or the pure gold standard this standard might actually seem moderate. But in recent years it would usually have seemed very bearish and conservative indeed.

 

The Current Queen of England and Scotland's United Kingdom with Eisenhower

I don’t think any two constitutional changes are the same. The British Monarchy is not our target here in the problems I as an American and a Cajun may point out.  But it was among the targets of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Do you come to this blog to get a sense of what stock market and financial  trends are urgently important? Perhaps you should. I seldom discuss market volatility or warn of impending short term risk in that aspect of life but prior to one of the biggest crashes in my lifetime my humble blog warned of the possibility in time for a handful of readers to have called their brokers and accountants if they were inclined to do so . But I make no claim to being unique in pointing out the risk, nor to having given specific advice. Nonetheless, the overall pattern of advice here seems to have been better than that being offered in some other quarters.

 

Britain Exits — the United Kingdom is finding a path forward without EU membership. Company will not be kept by the same countries in the same way ant longer — or so it all would seem. The news which has been developing includes a seeming set of contradictory signals from various places as to how fast this split should be. Voices are urging speed in the EU, as seen in detail here. But there have been voices from Spain, the UK and several other countries that have emphasized the need to proceed at a measured and not overly hasty pace.  The question on the most minds these days seems to be how severe the financial and economic impacts will be. Alan Greenspan. former Federal Reserve Chairman of the United States of America  has been a voice warning that there could be extensive and extended effects. TIME has been able to put together an article that is much more optimistic, that is linked here.

France one would think is still France, Germany is still Germany, the UK is still the UK. Italy may even be Italy and so forth. One feels when a severe corrections sets in that there were reasons in the market for panic. One suddenly sees Europe, the U.K.,  stock markets and financial markets as well as other institutions in a different way than one saw them before. During the Chinese crisis a while back I urged a more moderate view of the crisis than was then in vogue but I did not produce any large autonomous piece on the subject which I can now locate. However in the case of BRexit I posted on this subject just a day before the historic vote. That post is here.

I began with these words:

 

The British who it seems are by far America’s closest association in the world — even if to me it is not obvious that this must or even should be the case or deciding whether of not to leave the European Union.  NATO is surely in decline and is troubled despite being very big and victorious. As a Cajun I would like to see better relations between the US, France, Belgium,  Spain and the UK especially. But realistically those relationships may be as good as they are going to get.  the Brits who want to stay in the EU fall into those who see Europe as a country and say the sooner it becomes a superpower nation state the better and those who believe it is better for British interest to stay in the EU.  Those who want to leave include people who fear woes of limitless migration, economic collapse and cultural corruption in the new order. But the real thorny issues are not simply resolved into two camps  — but the votes are in tow camps. Some have said the shooting in Orlando helped the leavers most — called Brexit. BRexit can argue that families like the Mateens can arrive anywhere in Europe and strike anywhere else and nobody has a chance to know the risk.  Some who want to stay in believe Europe must change and offer better collective security and that will be best for Britain.

Armed with a few links to various articles, I raised the alarm on a potential Stock Market  Crisis to those among my readers who might not have been prepared.

The lack of certainty this vote has created in the stock market and elsewhere is discussed here.  But this is an analysis mostly of how the markets will react if BRexit beats the Remainers. It is a bit more complicated to decide whether the current process itself is affecting financial markets and other economic indicators, perhaps some of that complexity can be recaptured here.

So BRexit has happened. Why did it happen that Britain left first because there was a referendum. Lord Norton discusses that here. TIME has put together an approach to why there was a referendum as well, a sort of history linked here. But here is a telling quote from Lord Norton in a post linked herein a post linked here:

In the post-war era, the issue of European integration has been a fault line of British politics.  Both main parties have been divided internally  and both have changed their stance on the issue.  However, there has been no formal requirement for a referendum on the issue.  Harold Wilson used a nation-wide referendum, a constitutional innovation, in 1975 in order to resolve conflict within the Labour Party.  David Cameron moved to initiate one in response to conflict within Conservative ranks.  The roots are to be found in the last Parliament.  Details can be found in the chapters by Phil Cowley and me in Seldon and Finn’s The Coalition Effect.

There was no commitment in the Conservative 2010 manifesto to a referendum on continued membership of the EU.  The crucial development was the decision of the newly-formed Backbench Business Committee to schedule a debate, initiated by Conservative MP David Nuttall, in October 2011, calling for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.  Had the Committee not come into existence the previous year, with responsibility for scheduling debates (which it did on the basis of proposals from private Members), there would almost certainly not have been a debate – the Government would not have found time for it.   Despite a heavy whipping operation against the motion, 81 Conservatives voted for it.

The Referendum may or may not have been the right or best thing to do but it was note purely inevitable. Had it not happened the EU and the world would have muddled a long a bit longer on a more similar path. What happened after that is up for debate. I discuss reasons below why I think that things were not so secure as they seemed. But for now let us turn to what did happen.

This is the link to the speech in which David Cameron announced his intention to resign after the BRexit vote.  Cameron invested his very considerable political capital very heavily in this referendum. We may well hear from him again but he is tied to it forever. Tizres a commenter on this blog on occasion has on her own blog posted a while ago a post linking Cameron and the EU over time and this has surely proven her right on that and other scores as well. The BRexit may well see a resurgence of the Commonwealth, a stimulus to improve the EU constitution, the impetus for liberty enshrined in better rules around the world. It may be a very good thing. Whether good or not it may be necessary. But today it is a scary thing for many and the most obvious sign of that is the crash in the stock markets and the worldwide wealth erasures. We shall see where all that leads.   There is a great deal more that can be said about BRexit and that has to be said somewhere and perhaps many places if the current political environment is to be properly understood. Here is one place I have been discussing such things. Lord Norton had already had something to say on all of this issue which has led to BRexit, he tangentially discussed it here and has now said a good bit about the mechanic of the thing here in a brief and early post. The results of all this are likely to be significant for many people.

The European Union has 28 member countries, here is the list from the European Union’s own official website :

On the road to EU membership

Candidate countries

Potential candidates

The list above shows the difficulties compared to the United States of America. In the United States we have the Senate where votes are equal and the House where votes are by population. Then we have an Electoral College where votes are identical to a State’s votes in each of these houses and they elect our President. We have a Supreme Court charged with seeing that the basic system is preserved.  i think our own system is corrupt and this blog is a place where I have spelled out model constitutions for the United States and for Louisiana.  But our Constitution as it was originally approved and as  it exists today has the basic components to make it possible to preserve healthy state identity and a healthy federal union — just barely so in my view. However, the EU is made to work by will and skill without really having anywhere near and adequate constitutional framework. Whether others leave or not that is clearly the case. But it has been a socially and politically cheap arrangement and now it has failed a major test.  The people who paid r it to survive as it as it was were equally the US tax payers and the Soviet and Russian people who kept up a nuclear terro balance that left Europe’s great powers and their vast depository of skilled diplomats and diplomatic resources free to patiently deal with many issues while not being pressured to clearly lead or fight for survival. Would it have been good for them to become a true United States of Europe? People will disagree for good reasons about the answer to that question.  But they never built the structures we have. The comparison was always a misplaced one by any standard. Now what will happen next is a different matter — I am not making predictions in this posting.

 

A Story of Bailouts and Redemption

A man I will call  Bob J. is feeling especialy grateful today. Bob is very devoted to his golf game but there was a time not long ago when it seemed he might be forced to play on a municipal course or one of those supposed country clubs with a bunch of people who wore polyester and drank blended scotch. His wife could be exposed to those true believing Jews, Catholics, Baptists and Lutherans who actualy went to services several times each year. His daughter could have ended up at parties with  people who had relatives in red brick schools.

Bob knows he is a good guy. He has always known this. He also knows he is a bad guy but only when a bad guy is the best thing to be. Then he is a real bad-ass. Mostly Bob is a guy who can appreciate the finer things.  That is why he should have as many of the finer things as anyone possibly can have in this life. He does not believe in the afterlife most of the time. Except for when one of his girlfriends has had a later abortion — then he has always believed for a while that there is an afterlife where the little angels are better off. But it has been a while since that happened and so he does not really believe that nowadays.

He has always had a desire for money. He really wants money. Now the Republicans and the Democrats have paid him a great deal of money through his board which gave him a big bonus. Having lots of money is the familiar thing. It is the best thing for America too. People from all over the world are accustomed to him and his friends having a lot of money. They are assured and very comforted by him having a lot of money. Now he is able to make deals because he has a lot of money. That means he can help the country recover. He knows that for him this is almost a holy story — a sort of beautiful miracle, and he is grateful to the cosmos or maybe even God.

Healthcare Lessons from FDR

I just watched the wonderful HBO film on DVD titled Warm Springs  with my parents on a quiet Friday night. Joseph Sargent’s direction of witing by Margaret Nagle is joined by very fine acting by Kenneth Branagh as Franklin Delanoe Roosevelt and Cynthi Nixon’ fine portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt. Numerous other good performances make it an exceptional piece of work and that includes the Kathy Bates portrayal of the full-time pgysical therapist at Warm Springs. This film is titled for the hotel and spa in Georgia which FDR visited on the recommendation of a friend and then ended up buying and converting into a full service regular facility for providing warm water therapy to those stricken by polio.

I was impressed by this movie’s excellent and humane treatment of a period and aspect of FDR’s life which was largely hidden while he was president and has been slow to emerge. I knew many of the broad facts and the movie was consistent with those brad facts and therefore I felt the odds were the wrting was farily historical. His experience as Secretary of the Navy and in other fields of endeavor had already shaped him. But to a significant degree his struggle in this healthcare question shaped his later behavior in the Presidency and the character he brought to those issues,

While a graduate student at Louisiana State University Iwas privileged to write a review of Pare Lorentz’s posthumously published memoirs FDR’s Moviemaker: Memoirs and Scripts and to read carefully and write about the life of the man who made documentary films for FDR. This man did make films about healthcare and the issues of healthcare reform. However he never made a film about Warm Springs even though FDR died there. I think that the shame of illness, deformity or disease cannot just be lightly dismissed. We must prefer health to sickness in oder to remain sane. But I looked at the movie this evening and simply felt more convinced than ever that the autonomy and empowerment of the struggle were just as important as anything else about the Warm Spring stories. We need a healthcare plan that enrgizes and allows all people to struggle and work hard for their health and wellness. We certainly cannot afford to make it easy to do everything anyone would like to do. But we can help the brave to struggle and be enlightened by the fires of their courage. We must not allow human beings to be reduced on ly to file numbers and entries on actuarial tables when we are trying to understand all of what  human health means and how we are to care about promoting that health and wellness.