by Ann Ivins
“An authentic life.”
For some reason, this phrase, neither new nor newly trendy, has been popping up more and more in reading, conversations, casual messages and in-depth debates in my field of awareness lately. For some reason, although I often care very deeply about the people involved in the discussion, the words themselves leave me cold – or perhaps that’s too harsh. Less than cold, then, but also less than moved. I don’t roll my eyes, as at “That’s not fair.” I don’t despise the speaker. I don’t even mind that it’s a cliché whose meaning is entirely dependent upon its user; most human experience fits into well-worn phrases when viewed from the outside. And I understand, once the explanations begin, what different people mean by it: searching for your true work, maybe, or living closer to the land, or connecting more with people than with things. I simply don’t like the descriptor itself nor the way it tends to be used.
What bothers me, I think, is this: the implication that life itself can be inauthentic. Continue reading
Every story needs a villain. We still haven’t made up our mind who we will make the official villain for the recent financial meltdown—will it be the Ivy League elites who manipulated the markets from their glass and steel towers, craven bureaucrats at the Fed who knew they were creating false prosperity or the grubby mortgage specialists operating out of bucket shops in down-at-the-heels strip malls? History is still counting the votes.
So, since the voting is still open, is it too late to nominate someone else?
How about cynical university presidents and their lazy academic posses, who have sold millions of kids worthless degrees at inflated rates, and convinced them to take on crippling debt loads to finance them?
Whoa, Sambo. That seems a little harsh (and perhaps a little foolhardy, since many readers of this blog are academicians.) Continue reading
News that President Obama’s Chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, will be leaving at year end gave a number of commentators the opportunity to suggest replacement candidates. Many of these suggestions take the form of bringing in someone from the business community, on the mistaken assumption that Obama is anti-business. He’s not, but you can’t stop a good meme, apparently, even if it’s wrong. There’s a broader point, though. Summers, though undoubtedly a very smart guy, does represent the consensus economic view that globalization is a good thing. Now, “globalization” is a pretty loaded term, but we all know the general story—eliminate trade barriers, and everyone benefits. And it’s time for the Democrats to re-think their commitment to this policy. Continue reading