GOOD-based Economics: Direct Generative Engagement to Build the Middle Class

Our political system is not, strictly, a macroeconomic guidance machine; political leaders have a lot of responsibilities that take day-to-day precedence over direct macroeconomic maneuvering. Stewardship of our civic infrastructure can provide direct benefits to citizens, communities, and enterprise, and so our analysis of how well our policy choices work to motivate real macroeconomic health and improvement needs to consider those other values.

We all know, from one perspective or another, how ideological preferences influence what one analyst or another might refer to as “just the numbers”; this is one of the main reasons there is such heated disagreement about whose policy preferences do better at creating value for households, communities, and enterprise. By adding to our value considerations a G.O.O.D. economic analysis, we can better see the generative capacity of a given policy priority, economic trend, or technical innovation.

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Imagination, not Dispassionate Imprecision

[ The Note for November 2014 ]

Quoting Albert Einstein, Azar Nafisi reminds us of the vital importance of imaginative vision for actually seeing and making sense of the universe we inhabit. Said the scientist: “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Stripping the arts out of education doesn’t make us more certain, it makes us less agile, less able to discern what is real in the shifting landscape of experience. The result is devaluation of the human and standardization of thought. Both are ethically unacceptable, and both are costly to society as a whole. Nafisi also quotes Nabokov, who like Einstein and herself was an immigrant citizen whose passion for democracy, basic rights, and human imagination, strengthened our republic. Nabokov would tell students to work “with the passion of a scientist and the precision of a poet.” We are now, as a society, in danger of losing both. We ask scientists to be simply readers of facts, not impassioned explorers, and we misunderstand poetry as a pleasant indulgence, not as the linguistic and expressive frontiersmanship that it is. To deaden both of these for a generation of talents is to deprive our own future economy of what is most valuable: free people dignified by a capacity for the sublime and an aversion to the grave costs of dispassionate imprecision.

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Online Education May Change the World

Massive open online courses (MOOC) have so far been an experiment in sparking interest and granting access. Stanford University, MIT and other elite universities, have found that with the right subject matter, the right content, the right flexibility for participation and the right marketing, it is possible to bring hundreds of thousands of people into their online classrooms.

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In the Marketplace of Illusion (book chapter)

In the Marketplace of Illusion (book chapter)

From the opening chapter of Global Academe: Engaging Intellectual Discourse, published January 31, 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan

In the Marketplace of Illusion: The Public Intellectual in a Landscape of Mediated Humanness.

The question of what role the intellectual should play in society has evolved into an automatic controversy that summons the simplest answers and the most entrenched prejudices. The passion for showing off democratic tendencies while not devoting adequate energies to their exercise has led to an ingrained hostility toward successful thinkers who work to channel their energies into the production of analyses that might make evident the subtle truths the rest of us are living, that—by extension—means they issue to us an ethical summons, a call, a reminder of the commonness and the humanness of our special human frailties, of our obligations and of what would constitute a better social expression of our selfhood. […]

The full and integrated self must be successfully concrete and also successfully intangible, an abstract potential actualization, filtration, flirtation or implementation matrix, a complex of complexes, a visionary accomplice capable of honest self-seeing and authentic self-propagation. “Conscious reflection is the doubling over of this dynamic abstraction on itself. The order of connection of such dynamic abstractions among themselves, on a level specific to them, is called mind” (Massumi 32). But how can one live the details, the would-be facts of the everyday, and also face the haunting existential crisis of coming to grips with the self as an insubstantial substance, the mind as a groundless ground? […]

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