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atbell
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: May 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada

Great, I just found this thread. Now I've got even more reading to do.

This isn't my work but here's some more on Uganda. A friend of mine has been working with the child soilders (helping them get back into society, not organizing an army).

http://www.sway-uganda.org/

Old Post Sep-02-2008 04:08  Canada
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Krypton
83.798 g/6.022x10^23



Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Texas

I kind of regret posting my papers. Because I want to recycle them now...

Oh well..I won't be posting papers for while so that I can recycle them.


___________________

Old Post Sep-02-2008 04:13  Korea-Democratic Peoples Republic
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Lebezniatnikov
Stupidity Annoys Me



Registered: Feb 2004
Location: DC

quote:
Originally posted by atbell
Great, I just found this thread. Now I've got even more reading to do.

This isn't my work but here's some more on Uganda. A friend of mine has been working with the child soilders (helping them get back into society, not organizing an army).

http://www.sway-uganda.org/


I missed this link earlier, but it's really interesting stuff. Thanks a bunch!

I still have my fingers crossed, but I think the conflict in the North is finally burning out.


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Old Post Sep-12-2008 13:03  United Nations
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atbell
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: May 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada

quote:
Originally posted by Lebezniatnikov
I missed this link earlier, but it's really interesting stuff. Thanks a bunch!

I still have my fingers crossed, but I think the conflict in the North is finally burning out.



I hope so. It's one of the conflicts that got me to quit my last career. I was working directing ships around the world so I figured I should be aware of the conflicts going on. I printed a map of the world and started sticking pins into countries reported to have wars (black) major political demonstrations (blue) and uprisings (red) with the intention of taking out the pins as the conflicts were resolved...

Yeah so after about a year and a half the world map was just black and blue and I didn't end up taking out one pin. Hopefully Uganda will be one that settles.

Old Post Sep-12-2008 13:37  Canada
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atbell
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: May 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada

quote:
Originally posted by Krypton
First college paper ever...with wikipedia references!!!

THESIS: On November 21, 2006, the United States, European Union, China, India, Russia, Japan, and South Korea signed a 12.8 billion dollar pact called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), to be built in Cadarache, France (Charlton, 2006). Since, World War II, fission power has dominated our nuclear fuel technology with little research going to fusion power. ITER is the 'Manhattan Project' of fusion power. Scientists predict that if successful, up to 20 percent (Charlton, 2006) of the world's energy could come from fusion powered reactors by the end of the century. The success of this project will provide unlimited energy for the entire world, little radioactive waste, and will unite the world's industrial powers toward a common goal for humanity.



Quite the dramatic conclusion

Any idea if the particle coliders in Europe are part of this experiment? CERN just started this week didn't it?

Old Post Sep-12-2008 13:42  Canada
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atbell
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: May 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada

quote:
Originally posted by Krypton
Here is a short paper I wrote about the collective "crowd psychology" of the stock market, and how it can affect market prices, create bubbles, and sell-off panics.

[color=orange]THESIS: According to the Efficient Market Theory, all market prices for any named security reflect all information that is known, and thus represents the collective beliefs of all investors as to the market value of the security (Han, 2002). The market is directed by the transactions of investors who are human. Humans are not mathematical creatures but rather biological in nature, and so when observing the market behavior at any one time, there is always the presence of irrational speculation based in the instinctual psychology of humans.



I'm going to throw up an economist article in a new thread about problems in the insurance industry. It deals with the same basic concept, that people, bankers in particular, act more like a herd then a collection of individuals. This means that insuring the industry doesn't work because the risk spreading does not work when there is no diversity of investment in the industry.

Old Post Sep-12-2008 13:45  Canada
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atbell
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: May 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada

quote:
Originally posted by Lebezniatnikov
I was really hoping to get more people involved in this - it loses a bit of its luster if it is just myself and Krypton posting papers back and forth.


Most people don't read anything more then a page.

Fewer people write anything more then a sentance.

Old Post Sep-12-2008 13:53  Canada
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Krypton
83.798 g/6.022x10^23



Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Texas

quote:
Originally posted by atbell
Quite the dramatic conclusion

Any idea if the particle coliders in Europe are part of this experiment? CERN just started this week didn't it?


They are two different experiments. The particle collider is simply trying to recreate the Big Bang in a controlled setting (also figuring out whats inside the atom). The ITER is trying to create a stable fusion reaction which produces more energy than is inputted. Right now, the obstacle is getting this fusion reaction to be stable so that it can be turned on 24/7. I believe the longest fusion reaction was maybe a minute or two. But scientist have been able to extract a net energy gain, so fusion power does obviously show great promise.

quote:
I'm going to throw up an economist article in a new thread about problems in the insurance industry. It deals with the same basic concept, that people, bankers in particular, act more like a herd then a collection of individuals. This means that insuring the industry doesn't work because the risk spreading does not work when there is no diversity of investment in the industry.


Yep, Behavioral Finance is the study of psychology applied to the market.


___________________

Old Post Sep-12-2008 18:49  Korea-Democratic Peoples Republic
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Renegade
____________/



Registered: May 2001
Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Post-modernism in a 4th year economics subject. Hooray.

quote:
Essay Question:

Is Culture the source or merely a symptom of economic growth?

Introduction: Defining Culture

In examining the on-going relationship between economics and culture, we must first undertake the difficult task of examining what it is we mean by the word “culture”. The Welsh cultural theorist Raymond Williams once famously described ‘culture’ as “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language to define” (Williams, 1976, p.76) later offering the provisional definition of culture as “a noun of ‘inner’ process, specialised to its presumed agencies in ‘intellectual life’ and ‘the arts’.” (Williams, 1977, p.17). This definition of culture as exclusively ‘high culture’ is in common usage, but it is one that Williams came to reject and one that will not suffice for the scope of this essay, which is required to examine culture in an economic context.

Later, in his work Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays, Williams came to define the nature of culture as being “a (social and material) productive process” (Williams, 1980, p.243), coining the term ‘cultural materialism’ in the process. This is a theory heavily influenced by the ‘historical materialism’ of Marx, who also viewed culture (even ‘high’ culture) as a process shaped entirely by the means of economic production. For Marx, “the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time the ruling intellectual force” (Marx, 1970[tr.], p.64). This conflation of material production with intellectual culture may seem extreme, but what is archaeology – after all – if not the study of culture through the surviving artefacts of material production? Febvre and Martin make an even more evocative link between economics and literary culture: “the printer and the bookseller worked above all and from the beginning for profit” (Febvre & Martin, 1976, p.249).

For Marx, the idealism of the Hegelian dialectic – which was the inspiration for his own materialistic dialectic – could not be part of any theory of human history: while culture was developing via a dialectic process, it was not one directed towards an “absolute idea” as Hegel believed. For subsequent sociologists, however, such as the German Max Weber, Marx’s outright dismissal of idealism was “a one-sided materialistic… causal interpretation of culture and history” (Weber, 1930, p.183). While Weber never went so far as to reject Marx’s historical materialism entirely (or, for that matter, embrace Hegel’s historical idealism entirely) he did believe strongly that intellectual culture has impacted on the development of cultural production as much as any economic processes. This came to be known as the “rationalisation thesis”.

For Weber, culture then has the potential to define the nature of economic production as much as economic production has the potential to define the nature of culture. To invoke Weber’s most famous example of this theory, he argues that the “Protestant Ethic” (i.e. the predominant religious culture in Western Europe from the Renaissance onwards) was instrumental in the emergence of capitalistic culture. This will be explored in greater detail in the section concerning the rise of Protestantism.

For the rest of this essay, I shall attempt to apply the theories of Marx and Weber to examples from history and the present day, exploring the extent to which economic production has impacted on the nature of culture, and the extent to which culture has impacted on the nature of economic production.

Ancient Greece: Cultural Materialism in Action?

While we must be mindful not to impose our modern economic sensibilities on those of ancient people, we can still identify several important economic developments during the time of Ancient Greece (circa 1100-146BC) that impacted directly on the trajectory of Greek culture.

Arguably the most important was the emergence of the polis, the Greek city-state. While the reasons behind the development of the poleis are difficult to ascertain with any great certainty, there is a general consensus among historians (e.g. Dover, 1980) that they were formed by alliances made between neighbouring villages, themselves arguably constructed around the economic development of the shared market-place (Cipolla, 1991).

Whether or not we can confidently say that there was any economic rationale behind the construction of the early poleis, we can certainly say that this decidedly cultural development did greatly influence the spread of economic production during this time, with heavy trade occurring between the cities. In time, the common military threat posed by the great Persian empire to the east caused the poleis to band together in a military “league”, in which funds and tributes were paid to a central treasury, paving the way for the formation of the great Athenian state.

Much to the chagrin of many member states, Athenian generals – most notably Pericles (495 - 429BC) – often spent these war-funds on public works, which produced the most spectacular surviving cultural artefacts produced by this ancient civilisation. In a development which lends great empirical support to Marx’s theory about the link between material production and intellectual culture, the investment of funds appropriated by Pericles into cultural production paved the way for everything from the construction of the Parthenon to the emergence of Socratic philosophy during this period.

But this was not a one-way street: economic development may have paved the way for cultural development, but the material production of the culture itself stimulated economic growth. As the Roman historian Plutarch put it:

“With their variety of workmanship and of occasions for service, which summon all arts and trades and require all hands to be employed about them, they do actually put the whole city, in a manner, into state-pay; while at the same time she is both beautiful and maintained by herself.” (Plutarch, 75).

But if this case study of the ancient Greeks seems to lend support to the Marxist idea of economic production and cultural development being inseparable, the developments in subsequent Western cultures may provide a different lesson.

From Rome to the Late Middle Ages: The Rationalisation Thesis in Action?

When discussing Rome and the indelible contribution it has made to Western Civilisation, it is difficult to separate material production from cultural development. Roads, aqueducts and the other large architectural feats accomplished during this time must necessarily be seen as developments in both a cultural and economic sense. However, there are two examples that offer instructive proof of Max Weber’s theory that material production and intellectual culture are not so easily conflated.

The first concerns the nature of money. For Weber, “the cultural element of an economic action has to do with the fact that (1) anything economic is typically viewed as being either positive or negative, and (2) economic phenomena, like all human phenomena, have somehow to be pieced together in the human mind in order to make sense and acquire a distinct Gestalt” (Nee & Swedburg, 2005). In other words, the nature of economic activity is always largely determined by common understandings reached by members of that culture. Money is an example of the second point: “the exchange of pieces of metal only becomes an exchange of money under certain cultural conditions” (ibid).

In Rome, the valuation of money – and therefore the price of goods – was a matter of ongoing concern. During the ‘Years of Anarchy’ (circa 235 – 285), inflation (and the imperial solutions to it) was the cause of great unrest, particularly concerning the payment of wages and provision of armaments to Rome’s military. If the military is the defender of a given culture, then it is not difficult to see how military revolts caused by disputes over the valuation of money could threaten cultural stability. Historian Roger Collins cites inflation (among other financial problems) as a significant contributory factor to the decline of Roman culture (Collins, 1991).

On Weber’s first point (that “anything economic is typically viewed as being either positive or negative”) we can find our second example from Roman history of Weberian conflict between intellectual culture and material production. Rome was ruled by a “patrician” class of senators, land-owners and generals, leaving all the labour to the “plebeian” underclass. This distinction made between culture and material production in Roman society was heavily emphasised, as detailed by the historian Cicero:

“… Vulgar are the means of livelihood of all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labour, not for artistic skill; for in their case the very wage they receive is a pledge of their slavery.” (Cicero, 1913, I.150).

This cultural disparagement of labour and economic enterprise continued long after the Romans. In the Manorial system, which gradually emerged in Europe after the fall of Rome, there was a similarly ingrained cultural aversion to the use of labour for economic gain. As R.H. Tawney puts it:

“To found society upon the assumption that the appetite for economic gain is… to be accepted, like other natural forces… would have appeared to the medieval thinker as hardly less irrational or immoral than to make the promise of social philosophy the unrestrained operation of such necessary human attributes as pugnacity or the sexual instinct.” (Tawney, 1937, p.31-32)

It should be noted that the Roman disparagement of economic enterprise was secular in nature and the medieval disparagement was religious in nature, but both serve as examples of Weber’s theory that the cultural milieu necessarily shapes (in this case, constrains) the nature of economic growth.

In the early medieval period “economic activity is still inextricably linked with social and religious activity”, Heilbroner writes (1968, p.36), due to the pervasive influence of the Catholic Church, which funded most of the major “high-cultural” projects during this period. As the church’s influence began to wane, however, during the Renaissance and the reformation period that marked the end of the medieval period, such cultural impediments to economic enterprise were slowly lifted.

The Rise of Protestantism: A Cultural Chicken or an Economic Egg?

In the centuries after the medieval period, many major cultural and economic changes occurred in Western Europe. In most cases, it is difficult to distinguish between cultural reforms and economic reforms and the extent to which each caused – or was caused by – the other.

From his materialistic perspective, Marx could have argued that the changes which occurred during the Reformation Period were in the first place economic and that the cultural changes were merely a consequence of economic revolution. During this time, the Manorial system of production was slowly supplanted by haphazard systems of mercantile enterprise, and – as was possibly the case in Ancient Greece – towns and eventually cities were founded as central trading-hubs and market-places. This process of economic “urbanisation” gradually paved the way for cultural reform.

In these nascent cities, “there was no way of applying the time-hallowed rule of ‘ancient customs’ in adjudicating disputes, since there were no customs in commercial quarters” (Heilbroner, 1968, p.47). In other words, as a consequence of this socio-economic reform and its attendant moral ambiguities, culture on the level of cities was developed in isolation from the influence of the Catholic Church. This cultural autonomy would have paved the way - in a Marxist conception of cultural progress - for religious autonomy, and thus for the Protestant Reformation.

Weber, as mentioned, was inclined to the opposite view: that it was the cultural shift towards Protestantism (and the “Protestant Ethic”) that made economic reform possible in the first place. As he put it, “religious forces have taken part in the qualitative formation and the quantitative expansion [of capitalism]” (Weber, 1930, p.91). Weber saw the cultural ethos of Calvinism – with its emphasis on “giving oneself” to one’s work – as essential to the rise of the market. Under a system still dominated by the morals of Catholic Church – which set itself in unequivocal opposition to usury and gain – the emergence of a market system based on trade and free-enterprise could not have occurred.

Whatever the reasons, these cultural and economic shifts unquestionably paved the way for the rise of modern capitalism.

Conclusion: The Culture of Capitalism?

Many different economic systems today fall under the banner of capitalism and these systems both shape and are shaped by the cultures in which they operate. For Weber, the early capitalism of Western Europe was shaped by the “Protestant Ethic”, for Tocqueville the laissez-faire market system of the US was shaped by a less tangible “spirit of capitalism” (Tocqueville, 1835). In today’s world, many argue from the opposite direction: that the “culture” of global capitalism is shaping the nature of “traditional cultures” around the world. For some, the spread of technology and ideas – and the inevitable impact that this has on once isolated cultures – is something to celebrate; for others, something to bemoan.

Rajani Kanth suggested that “economics has always been a material, practical science of social engineering, not an abstract science inquiring dispassionately into the eternal verities of the economic order” (Kanth, 1992, p.89) and many point to the decline (real or imagined) of local cultures (in the capacity of food, dress, language, etc.) as evidence that ideological imposition of economic liberalisation is having a deleterious effect on cultures around the world. However, in doing this we must recognise that in a capitalistic system cultural production is essentially democratic: at the risk of committing what Marx called “commodity fetishism”, if people wish to continue consuming “traditional” cultural artefacts then market-based capitalism is surely no hindrance to that. Theoretically at least, consumer sovereignty puts economic production – including cultural production - squarely in the hands of the people.

So while global capitalism is having an ostensible effect on the nature of traditional cultures all around the world, there is also strong evidence to suggest that culture is shaping the nature of capitalism as well. We need only look at the variety of capitalistic market systems as evidence that national culture still plays a pre-eminent role in determing the nature of economic production. We might, for instance, contrast the laissez-faire capitalism of the United States with the more socialised capitalist economies of France and Japan and recognise, again, how difficult it is to disentangle culture from economic production both in today’s world and in the ancient past.

As one paper put it, “economic life is deeply embedded in social life, and it cannot be understood apart from the customs, morals, and habits of the society. In short, it cannot be divorced from culture.” (Ryterman, 1997)



References:

Cicero 1913, De Officiis (trans. Walter Miller), Harvard University Press, Cambridge

Cipolla, Carlo M.1991 - Between History and Economics, T.J. Press Ltd., Oxford.

Collins, Roger 1991, Early Medieval Europe 300-1000, Palgrave, London.

Dover, Kenneth 1980, The Greeks, Butler & Tanner Ltd., London.

Febvre, L. & Martin, J 1976., The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800, New Left Books, London.

Heilbronner, Robert L. 1968 - The Making of Economic Society, Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey.

Kanith, Rajani 1992 - An introduction to the philosophy of education, M.E. Sharpe Inc., London.

Marx, Karl 1970, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Vol. 1), Lawrence and Wishart, London.

Plutarch 75, Pericles, Available: <http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/pericles.html>

Ryterman, Randi.1997 The Cultural Foundations of Economic Reform, World Bank, Ref. no. 681-18C.

Swedberg, Richard & Nee, Victor 2005, The Economic Sociology of Capitalism, Available: <http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7995.html>.

Tawney, R.H. 1937 - Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Penguin, New York.

Weber, Max 1930, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Unwin, London.

Williams, Raymond 1976, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Fontana, Glasgow.

Williams, Raymond 1977, Marxism and Literature, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Williams, Raymond 1980, Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays, New Left Books, London.


(Forgive the shitty formatting. MS Word doesn't translate that well to VB code.)

Old Post Oct-02-2008 20:16  Australia
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Krypton
83.798 g/6.022x10^23



Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Texas

quote:
Originally posted by Renegade
Post-modernism in a 4th year economics subject. Hooray.



(Forgive the shitty formatting. MS Word doesn't translate that well to VB code.)


hardcore


___________________

Old Post Oct-02-2008 20:50  Korea-Democratic Peoples Republic
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shaolin_Z
Hei Hu Quan



Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Austin, Texas, USA: TXTA #102

Many thanks to PKC for his continued inspiration with out which this list would be impossible , not to mention his invaluable posting technique that has taught as all how to bypass TA censoring. We are eternally indebted to you, you mad cunt .

quote:
10 characteristics of self proclaimed skeptics
A useful guide by shaolin_Z

  1. Arrogance. They are always fact-seekers, questioners, people who are intellectually honest: independent thinkers are always "conspiracy theorists", dupes for shoddy research, Alex Jones and the 'Truth Movement' etc. They rarely acknowledge logical fallacies in their arguments.

  2. Relentlessness. They will always go on and on in denial no matter how little evidence they have to go on or how much of what they have is simply discredited. (Moreover, as per 1. above, even if you listen to them ninety-eight times, the ninety-ninth time, when you say "no thanks", you'll be called a "conspiracy nut" or "liar" again.) Additionally, they have no capacity for independent thought whatsoever. They go on and on at enormous length, copy pasting material they do not even understand themselves. Some of them even troll "conspiracy threads" to no end.

  3. Inability to answer questions. For people who loudly advertise their determination to the principle of questioning everything, they're pretty poor at answering direct questions from genuine skeptics about the claims that they make.

  4. Fondness for certain stock phrases. These include "conspiracy theorist," "tin foil hat," "lying cunt," "truther," "paranoid," "uneducated fuck" and "intellectual dishonesty." What these phrases have in common is that they are attempts to absolve themselves from any responsibility to think critically themselves.

  5. Inability to employ or understand logic. Aided by the principle in above, self proclaimed skeptics never notice that the small ambiguities [or unknown variables] in the accounts which they reject are dwarfed by the enormous, gaping holes in logic, likelihood and evidence in any "official" accounts; a very common example would be the appeal to authority fallacy with respect to arguments regarding the cause of the WTC collapse.

  6. Inability to tell good theories from bad. Self proclaimed skeptics have no place for questioning the integrity of sources. The fact that a claim has been made by authority, anywhere, is enough for them to reproduce it and demand that the questions it supposedly answers be accepted, as if intellectual inquiry were a matter of submitting to logical fallacies. While they do this, of course, they will claim to be "educated" and abuse the skeptics of conventional (or "official") accounts for apparently lacking same.

  7. Inability to withdraw. It's a rare day indeed when a self proclaimed skeptics admits that a claim they have made has turned out to be state propaganda, disinformation or without foundation, whether it be the overall claim itself or any of the evidence produced to support it. Moreover they have a liking (see 3. above) for the technique of avoiding discussion of their claims by "swamping" - piling on a whole lot more material rather than respond to the objections to the previous lot.

  8. Leaping to conclusions. Self proclaimed skeptics are very keen indeed to declare the "alternative" account totally discredited without having remotely enough cause so to do. Of course this enables them to wheel on the stock phrases as in 4. above. Small ambiguities [or unknown variables] in the narration of an event, small unanswered questions, small problems in timing of differences in procedure from previous events of the same kind are all more than adequate to declare the "alternative" account clearly and definitively discredited. It goes without saying that it is not necessary to prove that these ambiguities are either relevant, or that they even definitely exist. A good example of this would be automatically assuming a non-existent terrorist network, Al-Qaeda, managed to pull of the largest terrorist attack on American soil, with out any non-controversial evidence and absence of transparency.

  9. Ignoring previous conspiracies and atrocities, perpetuating their pathological denial and cognitive dissonance. This dismissal makes critical thought unlikely, in order to try and demonstrate that their coincidence [or conspiracy] theory should be accorded some weight. They do not pause to reflect that the nonsense they are touting is almost always far more unlikely and complicated than observable patterns in human history and real-life.

  10. It's always a coincidence. And it is, isn't it? No sooner has the body been discovered, the bomb gone off, than the same people are producing the same old stuff, demanding that there are questions which need to be answered, at the same unbearable length. Because the most important thing about these people is that they are people entirely lacking in discrimination. They cannot tell a good theory from a bad one, they cannot tell good evidence from bad evidence and they cannot tell a good source from a bad one. And for that reason, they always come up with the same answer when they ask the same question.


___________________
"The Greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." -Stephen Hawking
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me." -Martin Niemöller

Old Post Oct-23-2008 01:43  United States
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Krypton
83.798 g/6.022x10^23



Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Texas

Well, the semester is over. I have a few papers I will be posting. Here is the first one. This paper was turned in November 3, the day before Obama was elected.

THESIS: This paper explains the rights and powers of the United States President, analyzes the 2008 presidential election, and makes a prediction of the outcome.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Analysis on the Presidential Election and the role of President of the United States

The President of the United States is reliably the most powerful person in the world. The President has leadership over an economy and military far removed from second place in the world of competitive nations. There is also a dark side to being President of the United States. The private life of this person is ripped open for all to see; from early childhood into adulthood, everything about this person will be examined and discussed by the media, pundits, and politickers. Presidential candidates will most likely be criticized relentlessly for the most trivial of issues and even insulted by their detractors. This deluge of criticism starts early in the campaign to be president and does not stop even when elected. Everything the President does will be watched by a vigilant group of political analysts, watchdog groups, and media personalities. Someone will always disagree with the President no matter what position is taken on any number of issues. There is the threat of death by extremists and mentally unstable individuals as documented in numerous assassination attempts and plots throughout American history. The President undoubtedly has one of the most stressful jobs anyone could take on.

The powers of the President were supremely progressive when the Executive Office was first created. The monarchial system of government was the predominant form of law in the 18th century. The kings and queens of Europe held absolute power for themselves and their nobles. This form of government inevitably led to abuses of power because each monarch was accountable only to God by the Divine Right of Kings. The lack of accountability to the people more often than not resulted in tyranny of the few. Resources were hoarded by the nobility, religion was strictly regulated, and justice was at the whim of the monarch. The Founding Fathers of America set out to create a new form of government which was not accountable to a monarch but to the people.

The powers of the President are established in Article Two, Section Two, of the United States Constitution. Clause One names the President as the Commander in Chief of all Armed Forces. The Commander in Chief is able to take direct command of any military unit if he so chooses, but considering the limited military experience of most sitting Presidents, they rarely ever exercise field command. The only presidents to have ever commandeered a military unit in the field were George Washington during the Whiskey Rebellion and James Madison during the War of 1812. The President’s power as Commander in Chief is limited in his ability to declare war. Alexander Hamilton wrote, “It [war powers] would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies -- all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature (Hamilton 416).” The power to declare war is exclusively guaranteed to Congress. The President must obtain approval for any and all military deployments even if there is no declaration of war. Clause Two also gives the President the power to appoint his own cabinet and issue pardons of persons convicted of violating laws of the United States. Clause Two gives the President the privilege of enacting legislation already approved by the Congress. The President is empowered to sign treaties with foreign countries as long as two-thirds of the Senate votes in favor. Presidents are privileged with the power to appoint an entire bureaucracy to enact his policy. The Appointments Clause states, “The President may also appoint judges, ambassadors, consuls, ministers and other officers with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Article Two, Section Three, of the Constitution establishes the responsibilities of the Commander in Chief. There are five responsibilities laid out in five separate clauses. The first clause instructs the President to give a State of the Union address to the Congress and recommend legislation which he judges necessary to his agenda. The second clause allows the President to call extraordinary sessions of Congress in situations which demand the legislature’s immediate attention. The third clause dictates that foreign ambassadors are to be received by the President. The Supreme Court case United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp is understood to have established the President’s right to carry out foreign affairs without being dependant on a Congressional delegation. The fourth clause lays out the fundamental role of the President which is to enforce the laws passed by Congress. The Executive Branch of the government is tasked with command of all police forces and ensures that law enforcement agencies are enforcing the laws passed by Congress. The fifth clause obligates the President to commission “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.”

The relevant qualities of who should be President are many. The primary quality is the candidate’s ideological views. Ideology is now of utmost importance in today’s fractious partisanship. There are two main issues which dominate the 2008 Presidential Election. The most significant issue is the economy. The US economy has been afflicted with a debt crisis rivaled only by the calamity of the Great Depression. There are two ideological stances on this issue. The conservatives’ stance is to deregulate the financial sector of the economy with the theory that less regulation of the market leads to increased prosperity. The liberals’ stance calls for increased regulation of the financial sector with the theory that more regulation would ultimately protect consumers and prevent corruption which could result in a financial crisis.

The next most significant issue is the resolution of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. There are again two ideological stances to consider. The conservatives believe the United States is fighting an ideological war against Islamic extremists called the War on Terror and that to quit now would equate to surrendering to the enemy. Liberals believe the War on Terror has been atrociously carried out and that the invasion/occupation of Iraq was a strategic blunder which needs to be remedied by a withdrawal of occupational forces from the country. Voters must decide on which side of the issues they agree with. Do they agree with the conservative or liberal beliefs on these two very important issues? Ideological voters in the 2008 Presidential Election will vote for the candidate whose ideology is most like theirs.

Other relevant qualities are each candidate’s experience and character. Few voters would feel comfortable with electing someone with little to no experience in legislating law, foreign affairs, or other important roles. Large numbers of voters vote primarily according to their perception of the candidate. These voters do not pay much attention to politics or current events and so they base their vote on how well they simply like the character of the candidate. These voters pay attention to how well the candidate speaks, demeanor, and a number of other superficial criteria.

The Republican Party candidate is Arizona Senator John McCain. McCain’s background begins as a Vietnam veteran flying A-4 Skyhawk ground attack aircraft. The combat pilot was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and spent the next five years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton (McCain). He was first elected to Congress in 1982 as a representative of the Arizona 1st District (Thornton). Representative McCain became Senator McCain in 1987 against extremely weak opposition by the Democrats (Nowicki). The Senator was involved in normalizing diplomatic relations with Vietnam during the Clinton Administration amid a dispute between POW groups claiming the Vietnamese still held American service men as prisoners of war (Walsh et al. 1). The McCain-Feingold bill which was brought before Congress in 1994 attempted to set limits on soft money and corrupt campaign contributions (Nowicki). The Line Item Veto Act of 1996, supported by McCain attempted to give the President veto power over individual spending items (Nowicki). NATO’s intervention in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia was supported by McCain on the basis of the obligation of the United States to stop genocide (McDonald). McCain supported the President’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 (Nowicki). He sponsored a bill that federalized airport security into the Transportation Security Administration (Online News Hour). The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 was introduced by McCain to restrict military interrogations to a standard laid out in the US Army Field Manual in response to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal (Human Rights News). Senator McCain has been a strong proponent of the 2007 troop surge in Iraq saying on several occasions, “I would much rather lose a campaign than a war.” (Crawford)

The Democratic Party candidate is Illinois Senator Barack Obama. His background begins as a Chicago community activist and graduate of Harvard Law School. He was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review which garnered the budding politician his first exposure by the national media (Butterfield). Obama’s activism led him to direct the Illinois Project Vote in 1992 which registered 150,000 African American who previously would not have participated in an election (Reynolds). He is a founding member of the non-profit youth leadership development organization called Public Allies which provides youth with community service assignments and leadership training (Public Allies). Obama was elected in 1997 to the Illinois Senate and quickly began working as a reformer. The Senator drafted bi-partisan bills on campaign ethics reform, health-care legislation, and racial profiling (Slevin). Obama helped to enact regulations against predatory lending by payday loan and mortgage companies as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (Allison). The state senator became a national Senator for Illinois by handily defeating Republican Alan Keyes in 2004 (CNN.com). Obama continued his reform policies by co-sponsoring the bi-partisan Coburn–Obama Transparency Act which created USAspending.org, a website devoted to providing a Google-like search of federal spending (McCormack). Senator Obama has been a strong proponent of the phased withdrawal of American forces from Iraq by sponsoring the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007 which would have stopped the 2007 Iraq troop surge and initiated the withdrawal of all US forces from the country by March 2008 (Kasak). The Senator has served on several committees including the Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works, and Veterans' Affairs committees (web.archive.org).

The campaign presentations of each candidate clearly demonstrate the divide between liberals and conservatives. McCain’s primary slogan is “Country First”. This could be interpreted in several ways. The conservative interpretation is that McCain places the country’s interests above his own. An example of this would be King Creon’s speech to the Chorus in Antigone in which he tells the chorus he will place the public interest above his own. “Country First” could also be interpreted as an antagonistic view of the world. Liberals would more likely say McCain believes America’s interests are all that matter and world interests are secondary. The slogan can obviously be interpreted in completely opposing viewpoints.

Obama’s primary slogan is “Change We Can Believe In”. This slogan can also be interpreted in opposing viewpoints. The liberal worldview would view policy change as extremely beneficial. The slogan is capitalizing on an underlying popular distaste of the Bush Administration’s policies. A conservative worldview would view Obama’s slogan with suspicion. They would ask, “What kind of change are we talking about?” Conservatives tend to be slow to change or completely hostile towards it. This ultimately leads to accusations that Obama is a communist or that he will appease hostile countries.

I believe Obama’s slogan is the most affective because the American electorate has factually shown they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction (Langer). The electorate wants change and that is exactly what Obama has based his entire campaign message on. McCain’s slogan radiates an impression of “stay the course”. There are a large number of people who really do believe staying the course in Iraq/Afghanistan and with the free trade policies of the Bush Administration is the right thing to do. These conservatives, however, are in the minority. I do not see how McCain can win the election with a slogan like “Country First”.

Slogans are just one point in the reason why Obama is going to win this election. The Bush Administration’s policies, and by extension, the Republican Party, have proven to be colossal failures of epic proportions the results of which has led the deaths of over 100,000 people worldwide and economic collapse domestically. When the Republican’s laissez-faire capitalism caved in on itself, they immediately shifted into socialist overdrive in a desperate attempt at damage control. Companies which had made billions in profits are now socializing their massive losses on an already cash strapped taxpayer. The Iraq War has proven to be another colossal blunder based on propaganda and false information. That alone should have warranted an impeachment as the sitting president’s administration has committed the war crime of engaging in a war of aggression. This does not appear to be a realistic expectation especially this close to the end of President Bush’s second term. Nonetheless, I personally believe President Bush and some of his cabinet deserve to be tried before the Hague for war crimes along with the likes of the late Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor.

The Obama campaign has masterfully placed in the minds of the electorate the notion that John McCain and the Bush Administration are one in the same and that electing McCain would be tantamount to electing George W Bush to a third term in office. This notion is essentially impossible for McCain to refute because his 2007 voting record has shown 95% agreement with Bush’s policies (Kolawole).

The core issue of this campaign is the electorate’s dissatisfaction with the sitting president’s economic and foreign policies. McCain has failed to distance himself from this dissatisfaction. Obama has been against the Iraq War from the very beginning and his correct judgment is a huge asset when debate is centered on the continuing American occupation of Iraq. McCain’s economic policies have centered on deregulation as evidenced by his vote in favor of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which deregulated the financial industry (S.900) and his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement which substantially reduces trade restrictions between the United States, Canada, and Mexico (Senate.gov) (OnTheIssues.org). Deregulation is clearly one of the primary causes of the current financial liquidity crisis and unfettered free trade policies continue to chip away at America’s manufacturing capabilities which are historically the backbone of all superpowers.

I will be voting in the 2008 Presidential Election for Senator Obama because I believe the sitting president and his party have acted against the will of the people and they must be ousted. Revolution would be the only recourse if it were not for our democratic process. My personal political views do not cloud my analysis of the current political situation of the country. I objectively believe Senator McCain cannot possibly be elected president in 2008 unless there was massive voter fraud. History is clearly against John McCain and the Republican Party in 2008.

Works Cited

Allison, Melissa. “State Takes On Predatory Lending Rules Would Halt Single-Premium Life Insurance Financing.” Chicago Tribune Dec 2000. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicago...ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT>.

Butterfield, Fox. “First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law Review.” New York Times Feb 1990. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpa...751C0A966958260>.

CNN.com/ELECTION. 2004. Internet News Website. 23 October 2008 <http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pa...S/01/index.html>.

Crawford, Jamie. “Iraq won't change McCain.” CNNPolitics.com. 2007. Cable News Network. 21 Oct 2008 <http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.co...-change-mccain/>.

“Fact Sheet on Public Allies’ History with Senator Barack and Michelle Obama.” PublicAllies.org. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.publicallies.org/site/c....NLvF/b.3960231/>.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Pub.L. 106-102. 12 Nov. 1999. 113 Stat. 1338 <http://www.senate.gov/legislative/L...on=1&vote=00105>.

Hamilton, Alexander, et al. “The Federalist Papers.” The Real Character of the Executive 69 (1788)

Kasak, Krystin. “Obama introduces measure to bring troops home.” The Munster Times Feb 2007. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://nwitimes.com/articles/2007/0...27b0011edb5.txt>.

Kolawole, Emi. “Is it true John McCain voted with George Bush 95 percent of the time?” FactCheck.org June 2008. 24 Oct. 2008

Langer, Gary. “Nearly Three-Quarters Say the Country Is on the Wrong Track, Highest in a Decade.” ABC News Nov 2007. 24 Oct. 2008

McCain, John. Faith of My Fathers, 172–173. Random House, 1999.

McCormack, John. “Google Government Gone Viral.” thedailyStandard Dec 2007. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://www.weeklystandard.com/Conte...14/502njiqx.asp>

McDonald, Greg. “Senate OKs use of force in Balkans.” Houston Chronicle March 1999. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/218972.html>.

Nowicki, Muller, et al. “McCain Profile: The Senate calls.” The Arizona Republic March 2007. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.azcentral.com/news/elect...o-chapter6.html>.

Nowicki, Muller. “McCain Profile: McCain becomes the 'maverick'”. The Arizona Republic March 2007. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://www.azcentral.com/news/elect...o-chapter9.html>.

Nowicki, Muller. “McCain Profile: The 'maverick' and President Bush”. The Arizona Republic March 2007. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://www.azcentral.com/news/elect...-chapter11.html>.

Reynolds, Gretchen. “Vote of Confidence.” Chicago Magazine. Jan 1993. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-M...-of-Confidence/>.

“Senate Approves Aviation Security, Anti-Terrorism Bills.” Online News Hour 12 Oct. 2001 <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates...ress_10-12.html>.

Slevin, Peter. “Obama Forged Political Mettle In Illinois Capitol.” Washington Post Feb 2007. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...7020802262.html>.

Thornton, Mary. “Arizona 1st District John McCain.” The Washington Post. Dec 1982. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washing...4772&FMT=ABS&FM>.

United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304. Supreme Ct. of the US. 21 December 1936
“U.S.: Landmark Torture Ban Undercut.” Human Rights News 16 Dec. 2005 <http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/12/16/usdom12311.htm>.

Walsh, Fisher, Larimer, Zessiger. “Good Morning, Vietnam.” Time July 1995. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/a...,983202,00.html>.

web.archive.org. “Barack Obama.” 23 Oct. 2008 <http://web.archive.org/web/20061209...gov/committees/>.


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