May 14, 2010

Sweet reason

As far back as Plato, a cherished idea among philosophers and reformers is that people only do wrong out of ignorance. If we really got it, presumably, we wouldn't act badly.

The European Enlightenment was based on the idea that the spread of education and knowledge would eliminate most social evils. To be fair, that has happened, sort of. We don't literally burn as many witches and heretics as they used to anyhow.

But reason isn't a cure all, as Reinhold Niebuhr argues in Moral Man and Immoral Society. While acknowledging its very real contributions to social betterment, Niebuhr points out that

Men will not cease to be dishonest, merely because their dishonesties have been revealed or because they have discovered their own deceptions. Wherever men hold unequal power in society, they will use whatever means are most convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise...

...Men will never be wholly reasonable, and the proportion of reason to impulse becomes increasingly negative when we proceed from the life of individuals to that of social groups...

Those are some reasons why we shouldn't have unreasonable expectations about reason.

ALL GONE. Many jobs lost in the recession won't be coming back.

COLLEGE GRADUATES are facing higher unemployment rates.

FIZZLING OUT. The drying up of Recovery Act aid to states could worsen the recession and harm state budgets and education. Meanwhile, WV has been slow in spending its share.

APPLES AND ORANGES. Here's Paul Krugman on the difference between the situation in Greece and the US.



1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

"Research has also shown that graduating during a recession can limit an individual’s lifelong earnings potential."

I graduated during the 83 recession.

The good thing about that was coming on the heels of the 1970's inflation most of us to graduated college back then were used to working.

Nowdays a lot of kids have totally lived off their parents or all the extra money floating around in our society since the late 80's early 90's and actually having to go out there and work and take crap is an entirely new thing to them.

After graduating with 2 degrees I spent a year frying donuts and driving truck delivering them for about 20 cents over min wage.

What was so eye opening is the convenience store clerks I delivered to all had a story.

Laid off from a good union job at the Purity Bakery. Former manager at True Temper. Former big money coal miner. All working nights earning 3.35 an hour.

Not sure a lot of people now, who didn't grow up with a lot of hard work realize what could happen. Right now inflation is still on our side but if it changes will they be ready to slide further?