A Needed Reset for Liberal Culture

By Gordon Anderson

The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders, and Marine Le Pen can be seen as a reaction to the failure of Western liberal establishment culture to successfully lead the transition to global society. These popular figures do not represent a higher stage of development, but a return to the last successful level of social development—nationalism.

We could say it is a reset. A “headwing,” or integral, worldview should supply the necessary elements that liberalism has so far ignored in its zeal to create a more just and inclusive world.

A Fall at the Top of the Growth Stage

Unificationists can view this nationalist retrenchment as a fall at the top of the growth stage in Christian culture. Reverend Moon observed  in 1960 that Christianity in the West had reached a peak and needed guidance to move the world to the next level. The cultural revolution of the 1960s sought equal rights, freedom from oppression, environmental sustainability, global harmony, and true love.

These were reactions against limitations in traditional societies that needed to be transcended. However, those who led the social revolution did not have solutions but reacted like children who had matured enough to sense injustice, but not enough to develop a parental heart or a responsible approach.

While a few extraordinary figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mohandas Gandhi sought to move to the next stage of development on spiritual foundations, the masses engaged in social movements that sought political solutions—solutions based on the force of law. The result was, in Unificationist terms, “a reversal of dominion.”

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Draining the Swamp? Trump Should Look to Canada for More than Immigration Policy

By Franco Famularo

In his first address to a joint session of the American Congress on February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump twice referred to Canada. Canadians generally have not been impressed with Trump and his style. However, given that what happens in the USA matters a lot to Canada, Trump’s remarks had many Canadians chatting.

In his speech, Trump mentioned Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighting the proposed women’s business group, led by his daughter Ivanka, to ensure female entrepreneurs have access to networks, markets and the capital needed to start businesses. He also referred to the Keystone Pipeline that will allow Canadian oil to flow to the U.S., which pleases the oil industry while at the same time is opposed by environmentalists in both countries. In addition, there was extensive analysis of Trump and Trudeau shaking hands and who had the upper hand.

One of the biggest surprises in Trump’s address was his call for immigration reform and recommendation to emulate Canada’s model. However, he should also take a serious look at the Canadian healthcare system as a potential solution to U.S. troubles with one of the most expensive and problem-laden healthcare systems in the industrialized world (more on this later).

Immigration

Regarding immigration policy, Trump said:

“Nations around the world like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system…. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.”

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Living in the Post-Truth World

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By Graham Simon

gs-1308The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is “post-truth – an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In October, a British filmmaker, Adam Curtis, produced a 2 hour 46-minute documentary titled “HyperNormalisation.” The provocative trailer to the film starts with the words:

We live in a world where the powerful deceive us
We know they lie
They know we know they lie
They don’t care
We say we care but we do nothing
and nothing ever changes
It’s normal
Welcome to the post-truth world.

The fundamental thesis of Curtis’s documentary is that governments and politicians, themselves beholden to business interests, have deceived us so brazenly and for so long, that we no longer expect to be told the truth. Bereft of the hope that we can shape the world in which we live in a meaningful way through the political process, we channel an increasing amount of our energies into inconsequential pursuits that take place in cyberspace rather than the real world. When we do participate in the political process by casting our vote, our selections are frequently made not on the basis of truth, facts or likely outcomes, but out of frustration, confusion and disaffection. To Curtis, both Brexit and Donald Trump are evidence of this post-truth world.

This article addresses two questions: Whether the notion of a “post-truth world” actually describes a new reality, and, how we got to where we are today.

The “post-truth” world: a new reality or sour grapes?

The notion of post-truth suggests that people have historically had access to objective information and possessed the ability to assess the objectivity of facts presented to them when forming an opinion.

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A Solution to Global Warming and Clean Energy Needs

By Jim Dougherty

Jim DoughertyToday, global warming is both a threat to our shared human environment, and, if responded to wisely, it is an opportunity to improve living conditions for people worldwide.

Over the last 250 years, the average global temperature has increased approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius. This average incremental increase in temperature corresponds almost exactly to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas of concern, because it is emitted on such a huge scale by modern industrial civilization.

To put this in what is perhaps an unfortunate perspective, the planet-wide impact of human-caused global warming is estimated to be the equivalent of detonating about 400,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs each day or 4.6 atomic bombs per second.

That heat has to go somewhere, and scientists don’t fully understand how the earth is dealing with all the extra heat. Global temperature will continue to increase if nothing is done — but it’s hard to predict how bad or what the consequences will be.

The key is not the problem but the solutions — none of the ones being proposed currently have any realistic chance of succeeding.

Despite 40 years of concerted effort, conventional clean energy technologies, while making impressive gains, do not yet have the capacity or efficiency to fully address global warming and energy needs worldwide.

In the United States, renewable energy sources account for 11.09% of U.S. energy consumption. Half of the renewables include biomass (organic) (5.5%) which is not emissions free. The remainder is made up of hydroelectric (2.83%), wind (1.98%), solar (.48%), and geothermal (.25%).

Under the best case scenario, solar would add 1% capacity per year and is still expensive at around 21 cents per kilowatt-hour. Though falling, its cost far exceeds that of natural gas which has a cost of around 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

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God and Politics

By Scott Simonds

SSimonds_1The old adage that polite conversation should avoid politics and religion to maintain friendly relationships has never proven to be truer than during this election season.  Rather than civil discourse about the issues of the day and better approaches to addressing them, the election has become a mudslinging contest over which candidate has the most baggage and would be most disastrous in office.

Worse yet, anybody who speaks on behalf of, or against, one of the candidates is branded a bigot, a misogynist, a hog at the public trough, un-American, a fool, atheistic, even satanic by guilt through association.  Friends and relatives easily get caught up in the fray and even religious communities, Unificationism included, have become deeply divided.

As tempting as it is to base a decision on who has the better character in this election, no candidate rises to the level of a Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt or Reagan.  At this crossroads in the American narrative, this crucial moment of decision, it behooves us to look at contemporary issues in a very broad historical context — that is, a providential context, past, present and future. The theme of the ever progressing nature of God’s providence is expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;…
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The political pendulum swings back and forth.

Government grew, during the Great Depression and World War II, for example.  And it receded, during the 1990s under the Republican Congress.  Often, the economy grew together with government expansion.  Automobile and airplane manufacturers exploded in the aftermath of the military buildup of the Second World War.

Although government grew after the Depression and during the war, so did private industry.

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Unificationists in the Voting Booth

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By Joshua Hardman

hardmanThe 2016 presidential election is just six weeks away, and American Unificationists appear evenly split between the nominees of the two major political parties, with many believing they must decide between two highly imperfect choices. In a survey of 208 Unificationists I conducted in March, only 17% of respondents said Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump was their first choice.

Respondents were asked to rank their number one and two choices for the presidency from the five remaining major party candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. The survey also included questions presenting respondents with general election hypotheticals.

Survey respondents were first procured by posting a message on the Facebook group “UC House and Travel Network,” a platform used by thousands of people around the world. I then had the help of pastors in major communities who made announcements and/or put a link to the survey in their community emails. Most respondents were from the East Coast, California and the Midwest.

This survey is not a perfect sample of the voting Unificationist population, and it is important to keep in mind that much has happened since it was conducted. The survey, therefore, is best taken as a snapshot in time, while its predictive value for the general election is limited.

With this in mind, I will mainly focus on the questions about the primary elections. Every state has different rules about who can vote in a party primary, complicating any nationwide analysis. The purpose of the survey, however, was to gauge voters’ inclinations rather than how they would, or could, actually vote.

Fifty percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 25% as independents, 16% were Democrats, 8% had yet to register to vote, and less than 1% were registered with a third party.

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The Best Policy Ideas of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

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By Gordon Anderson

GordonThe 2016 Presidential Election has raised a number of good policy ideas for the improvement of American society and government. Unfortunately, no single candidate endorses all of the best ideas, and, more unfortunately, every candidate who has good ideas seems to have more bad ones. Part of the reason is the development of a system that encourages candidates to be loyal to political parties and large campaign contributors rather than to middle-class citizens and the nation as a whole.

In my view, the best candidate would be one who supported all of these policies:

  • Bernie Sanders’ revival of the Glass-Stegall Act
  • Hillary Clinton’s call to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision
  • Rand Paul’s foreign policy that is against U.S.-imposed regime change
  • Donald Trump’s middle-class tax policy
  • Carly Fiorina’s reforms of government bureaucracy

None of these policies are promoted by the establishment, which is why there is increased criticism of existing party platforms and why “outsiders” are polling so well with voters. Even most candidates that seek party endorsement are promising to reform the system.

The explanations for the value of my list of the best policies I describe below are adapted from a longer post on my blog, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, which includes further critique and commentary on the candidates and their policies. I have not discussed all candidates, only selected the most constructive policies being promoted.

Preparation to vote knowledgeably is an important role of the citizen in a democracy, and I encourage everyone to read through all the policy positions on candidates’ websites before their vote. A responsible voter will compare the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate in all areas of governance, and not just find agreement with a candidate’s rhetoric on a single issue.

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How America Can Help Reunite the Korean Peninsula

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By Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2In May, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, speaking in New York, asked America to fulfill its role to help reunite the Korean Peninsula. She said:

…[T]he United States needs to fulfill its responsibility. In order to do so, Korea and the Korean Peninsula needs to become the top issue for the United States. …The homeland of God, Korea, needs to become one nation. And I hope the United States will stand on the forefront of this great task.

Now is the best opportunity yet for the U.S. to take forward-looking steps to make a breakthrough in Korea. August 15 is the 70th anniversary of Korean independence — and of the division of Korea, for which America bears a great share of responsibility. It is clear no other nation can make the difference in bringing about reunification.

Last month, the U.S. reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba which were frozen in the Cold War since 1961. It also reached a nuclear agreement with another long-standing enemy, Iran, with the hope it will lead to an evolution in Iranian behavior. Now is the time for America to encourage, with seriousness and focus, the two Koreas and the regional powers — Japan, China and Russia — to establish permanent peace in the Peninsula.

On July 27, the three Korean War veterans in Congress, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. John Conyers, and Rep. Sam Johnson, introduced legislation calling for a formal end to the Korean War. As I wrote two years ago on this blog, a peace treaty is necessary to end the 1950-53 Korean War, and is the requisite first step toward eventual reunification. Little has changed since I wrote those words. But the opportunity for the American President to take bold actions in his final year and a half in office should not be missed.

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The “Invisible Hand” and “Reverse Invisible Hand”

Invisible Hand

by Gordon Anderson

GordonThe economic debates we hear between the right and left today tend to be wars of words based on unscientific suppositions, or statements of faith. Thus, the battles between economic ideologies that often underpin the rhetoric of Republican and Democratic candidates tend to reflect the type of belief we would call “primitive religion” if it were a discussion of some other aspect of human life. Both statements that “an invisible hand of the market can bring happiness to all” and “government redistribution can bring happiness to all” are suppositions that contain an element of magic akin to the common religious belief that “if you are faithful to scripture, God will bless you.”

The Book of Job in the Old Testament is about a faithful man who suffered afflictions, not blessings. The Holocaust is another example of a people faithful to scripture not being protected by their God. Similarly, poverty in the West serves as evidence that a free market economic system does not automatically lead to the happiness of all who live under it. And, the collapse of communism in the USSR is evidence that government allocation of economic resources leads to economic collapse and misery. It is time to move beyond the naïve rhetoric of our inherited economic dogmas and attempt to understand why they rely on a lot of magic and how the scientific study of human economic nature can lead to better solutions.

The Invisible Hand 

In the debates between left and right, free marketers on the right often cite Adam Smith and his “invisible hand” of the market, while socialists on the left consider the invisible hand to be an article of faith. The socialists are right. The term “invisible hand” is a non-scientific name given by Smith to explain a phenomenon he observed. Like the idea “the tree god makes the wind blow,” this type of supposition is a label attached to an observed phenomenon to describe human experience and observation without scientific explanation.

What Smith referred to as the invisible hand has been studied scientifically by psychologists and economists who understand that, in competitive market environments, human beings pursuing their own ends are forced to serve others or starve. In a free market transaction, the seller has to provide something to the buyer that he is willing to pay for, and both buyer and seller “win.”

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