Category Archives: Immigration

Scandinavian Countries Global Leader In Social Justice/Cohesion

English-speaking countries rank above average; immigration levels statistically insignificant

Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have the highest levels of social cohesion, followed by Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand, according to the Social Cohesion Radar, a study released July 16 by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German-based think tank, and Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. The study examines 34 countries in the EU and the OECD: the 27 EU member states and seven OECD countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the US.

While many conservatives continue to bash the liberal social program paradigm as an unwieldy welfare state of dependency…

differentracesScandinavian countries have the most equitable societies in Europe, according to research by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German-based think tank — finding the strongest social cohesion in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

In these Nordic countries, which consistently rank at the top, a universal welfare state actively redistributes wealth and promotes equality of opportunity — the heart of Faustian urGe “Economic Morality: EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under the law and social memes — EQUITABILITY of rewards and outcomes [economic and social].” The quality of these countries’ institutions is also unusually high. These appear to be the factors behind the strong social cohesion in the Nordic pattern.

Most of Western Europe—Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Spain—feature above-average to average social cohesion. Lithuania, Latvia and the southeast European countries of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania suffer from low social cohesion.

SOCIAL COHESION?

Social cohesion is defined as how well members of a community live and work together. A cohesive society is characterized by:

  • resilient social relationships,
  • a positive emotional connectedness between its members and the community and
  • a pronounced focus on the common good.

“Social cohesion is crucial for any society’s future and has a profound impact on a person’s perceived well-being. More cohesion equals more life satisfaction”, said Liz Mohn, vice chairwoman of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s executive board.

Thusly, an increasing amount of academic research indicates — what one might logically expect — that “socially cohesive” countries are more likely to have lower levels of crime, substance and alcohol addiction, and higher levels of social mobility.

The report attempted to identify levels of cohesion in society by assessing people’s social networks, levels of public trust in others, confidence in social and political institutions, willingness to help others, and participation in public activities.

• High living standards • Low levels of income inequality and • Technological process toward achieving a knowledge society stand apart as the three most important socio-economic factors to promoting a cohesive society.

The report, therefore, compared metrics such as • national wealth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) • a country’s income gap as measured by the Gini coefficient, and its • level of development towards a modern information society as measured by the Knowledge Index:

  • First, greater national wealth has a correlation to greater social cohesion.
  • Second, a country’s income gap has a moderately strong and inverse correlation to social cohesion, indicating that less equal societies tend to be less cohesive. Few countries with a large income gap (e.g., the UK or Ireland) manage to avoid below-average scores on the social-cohesion index.
  • Third, a country’s level of development towards a modern information society has a more profound effect on social cohesion than national wealth. The higher a country’s ranking on the Knowledge Index, which measures the diffusion of modern communication technology, the more likely that country is to show high social cohesion.

SOLIDARITY FROM DIVERSITY & IMMIGRATION

Moreover, the study dispels the popular belief/misnomer that immigration is intrinsically harmful to social cohesion. The share of immigrants in a country’s population shows no statistically significant effect on social cohesion. Why?

Modern societies are based not on solidarity rooted in similarity, but on solidarity rooted in diversity and mutual interdependence“, said Stephan Vopel, Bertelsmann Stiftung program director. “Therefore they need an inclusive form of social cohesion that… accepts a multitude of lifestyles and identities and views them as a strength.”

This understanding sheds light upon a particular pattern found in the English-speaking countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, as well as Ireland… all of which generally rank right behind the Scandinavian countries. They are equal to the Nordic countries in terms of perception of fairness, and outperform them on solidarity and helpfulness.

It is interesting to note that conditions in these countries are quite different from conditions in the Nordic countries; for example, their welfare systems are less active in redistributing wealth, and their societies are characterized by a larger gap between rich and poor. But… as immigrant societies, the non-European countries are ethnically and religiously diverse; multicultural policies are in place to manage that heterogeneity.

In this group, also, are two relatively religious countries: Ireland and the United States. These countries appear to be able to achieve a level of social cohesion similar to that found in the relatively non-religious Nordic countries, under very different circumstances. Despite conservative political rants, respect for varied religious views ultimately prevails and tolerance — perhaps at times uneasy — holds sway, especially within the United States.

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President Obama’s Inaugural Address 2013 — Nothing Short Of Stunningly Progressive

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Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy.

We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

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This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice — not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

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We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American.

Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction — and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.

With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

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Faustian urGe Manifesto

Ensuring That Serving “Capital” Interests Must Also Serve To Broadly Improve The Lives Of “We The People”

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CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST often bemoans ethical failures while he also attempts to mitigate, in some minuscule way, the social damages he and too many other citizens suffer from “Traditional” American Values (social and business). Inappropriate personal agendas and indifference toward obligation and ethics are significant annoyances that he addresses by trying to learn more — what wags the world and why.

Given the circus of extremes on display in society and within the political realm since President Obama’s re-election, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST is currently working through the conundrum of how so many intelligent, educated people manage to place their feet in their mouths while their heads are so firmly up their arses.

He’s frustrated, and believes the nation is threatened, by libertarianism — knowing the objectivist/libertarian belief system is inappropriate to a fruitful, functional society. Libertarians disregard a profound reality: We are responsible for the decisions we make, yes, but we’re not responsible for the options we’re given. Thus, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST believes that we should create that “society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.”

He sees that another libertarian delusion is establishment of the fanciful “self-made” individual. The laughable concept discounts external influence or inspiration and exhibits a blatant disregard for the interconnectedness that is the human condition.

He remains convinced that we humans do not have to destroy each other to survive (as in two wars extinguishing 100,000+ lives as revenge for the prior killing of 3000) but that we choose to do so… not the nonsense propounded that genetics or patriotism demands it. CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST knows we have the ability to reason and that too many simply choose the easier way of reactive non-thought.

Though imbued with a simmering cauldron of rage just below his deceptively pleasant (and not altogether unpleasant looking) exterior, he’s always willing to self-examine and learn — yearning for family, friends, community members to take the same ride.

The hope… the desire… the craving… for forward movement and betterment on cultural, political, and individual levels are woven into his personal fabric, with key objectives toward equality/equitability*, liberty, fraternity, justice-for-all, empathy, self-awareness, growth, momentum, compassion, and humor.

(*EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under the law and social memes — EQUITABILITY of rewards and outcomes [economic and social])

On EQUALITY:

It appears that a large number of citizens seeking minimalist government from the Right are for strong government, though, when it favors their perceived social interests, such as interfering with the reproductive rights of women, the marriage rights of non-heterosexuals, and the civil rights of non-whites.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST relishes challenging the authority of political, religious, and societal priests, as he liberally supports marriage for everyone, equal rights for everyone, less poison for the environment, progressive taxation, removal of corporate personhood, financial regulation enforcement up to and including criminal incarceration, the elimination of all “consensual crimes,” and many other positions that lead conservatives to squirm uncomfortably in their seats.

On EQUITABILITY:

The Right will argue that allowing the free market to function will fix our problems. But, the free market doesn’t guarantee social outcomes, merely economic ones. Yes, it may provide more efficiency on the whole and grow the economy faster as a whole, but by itself doesn’t guarantee how wealth is distributed. The Right cannot be indifferent to the consequences of a middle-class life undermined, nor can it be indifferent to half the population’s inability to buy the products and services that businesses sell.

The Left would argue that the solution is for laws to transfer wealth from the rich to the middle class. But, while that would increase consumption, depending on the scope, it could threaten the amount of capital available to investment by the transfer itself and by eliminating incentives to invest. The Left cannot be indifferent to the fact that one can’t invest what they don’t have, and that no one will accept the risk of investment if the payoff is transferred completely away.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST understands the take away to be that “reasonableness” must prevail as to the extent, but transfers of some wealth should ensue as a part of the solution. So, let’s avoid extreme redistribution and focus on finding the correct amount that ameliorates the problems at hand (which will improve sales and garner more aggregate profit for firms, shareholders, and stakeholders… alike) while retaining enough incentives to invest and risk take.

As a Social-Capitalist/Social-Democrat**, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST favors smart government — a government as big or as small as needed to achieve progressive social and capital ends, ensuring that serving “capital” interests must also serve to improve the lives of “We the people” broadly (hence, “Social”).

“Our” government’s job is best done when it benefits all of the people, and not just capital interests — as he interpretes the right favors.

(**Social Democracy is exhibited as an economic precept of Social Capitalism. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the efficient and wealth-building capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of the commonweal, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure stakeholders’ rights.)

“This vast number of worlds, the enormous scale of the universe, in my view, has been taken into account, even superficially, in virtually no religion, and especially no Western religions.” – Carl Sagan

Taking exception with the very concept of “American Exceptionalism,” CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST feels compelled to explore these issues in rambling-though-coherent thoughts and an adventurous assortment of arbitrary amusements.

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Liberalism is “Life.”

It is an unrelenting pursuit of freedom from physical dangers that can kill or disable us.

  • The Liberal believes it is a nation’s job to protect its citizens from physical harm, whether from external sources, such as hostile nations, or internal ones, like crime, disease, or hunger. Without the solid ground of physical wellbeing, our nation and its citizens cannot enjoy the benefits of being free.
  • Liberals believe in a strong military, well suited to defend the nation.
  • Liberals believe in good laws, hard-working police, and a just legal system to protect its citizens from crime.
  • Liberals believe in affordable health care for everyone, to keep our people strong.
  • And Liberals believe in the availability of food and shelter for its needy, not as a hand out but as a reasonable step in moving all Americans toward self-reliance and the freedom that comes with it.

Liberalism is “Liberty.”

It is the freedom to do as your conscience dictates without impeding another’s rights. Liberalism established a nation where personal belief and self-determination are protected, not persecuted; where hard work is rewarded, not demanded; and where each person is bestowed with the ability to better his or her life because of citizenship, not class.

  • Liberals believe in freedom of speech to protect us from political oppression.
  • Liberals believe in sound regulations to protect us from economic oppression.
  • Liberals believe in just laws to protect us from social oppression.
  • And Liberals believe in quality education to protect us from the oppression of ignorance.

Liberalism is “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

It is the freedom to create an environment where the individual can excel. What is freedom if it cannot be used to better our lives? A truly free society must be one where its members can rise above their limitations and expand their futures — it is “The American Dream,” and it’s alive and well in the heart of the Liberal.

  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities for all to rise above our means.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our education levels.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our social status.
  • And Liberals believe each and every family should have an equal opportunity to make this world better for their children.

Based on these tenets, Liberalism is not the monster it’s made out to be by the opposition.

  • It is pro individual and pro family.
  • It is pro community and pro country.
  • Liberalism is, by its very definition, the heart and soul of what it means to be an American.
  • It stands against tyranny of any kind, whether international or domestic.
  • It works to remove abuse and fight crime.
  • And it strives to eliminate the idea of a wasted life by not wasting resources and opportunities.

Understanding Surveillance Under The Enabling Act…Uh, I mean, Patriot Act… Patriot Act

Somehow missed the memo? Here’s why the Patriot Act is important to ordinary citizens…

USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001, also known as “Patriot Act:”

  • (Full Title) Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001

ENABLING ACT of 1933, also known as “Ermächtigungsgesetz:”

  • (Full Title) Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the State

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Post-Election Republicanism… “I Don’t Recognize My Country Anymore”

The post-election rant of some of my conservative, Republican family, friends, and associates continues.

They just simply do not comprehend how they could have mis-read the election outcome and absolutely can’t fathom that so many Americans see the world differently than they… as “everyone [they] knew felt exactly the way [they] felt about Obama and our fast decent into ‘socialism.'”

Perhaps they should develop friendships and interaction outside of their gated suburban communities, isolated corporate halls, and self-selecting church sanctuaries.

To listen to our congresspersons speak from “the other side of the aisle,” it’s clear they haven’t stuck their heads outside the window either.

To be fair, my closest personal conservative, Republican friends [meaning that they are a different sort, as they live in the urban residential heart of a major city within a highrise community of shared living], have issued forth no rants… just casual and respectful thoughts of, “Well, my guy didn’t win, but that’s democracy in action and how it goes.”

One business associate said he started an online conversation that has run into the hundreds of responses agreeing with him… His piece is titled, ” I Don’t Recognize My Country Anymore.” Oy Vey! It’s NOT YOUR country; it’s OUR country. This is exactly what YOU don’t understand.

In post-election commentary, too, Republican leaders have made no mention of the changing electorate, the expanded voter base despite the obstacles deliberately placed in the way, and the need to repair relations with different ethnic voters.

I think this cartoon sums up things well…


Look Of Loss (White) – Look Of Victory (All Shades)

The Look Of Loss: White (Purity)

The Look Of Victory: All Shades (Diversity)

For The Fact-Driven Statistically Minded… This Is What It Looks Like: 88% of Romney Voters Were White!


Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent — A Liberal’s Calm Before The Storm

Made glorious summer by this sun of Windy City;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried…

…for how long?

For some of us the inauguration of Barack Obama ushered in the potential for an era of liberal progress, of recovery from the dark clouds of George W. Bush… illegal wars, reactionary social policy, and economic destruction.

The republican party nomination process stimulated my presaging fear of tumult as I witnessed enthusiastic applause for the proposed destruction / elimination of women’s’ rights, civil and marriage rights, health care access, criminalized physical expressions of hate, and responsible stewardship of earth’s resources.

While I know that I am not alone in my liberal desires for a more progressive and better nation, it sure feels a lot lonelier.

As I contemplated my sense of alienation and just how far I am away from the American political norm, a battery of political spectrum tests proved that, indeed, I am a Liberal Elite in a right wing, conservative nation…and it is not a good feeling.

For the Liberal Elite contemplating the national mood, it may soon be another kind of Winter…the end (winter) of our contentment…