Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A friend who speaks my mind

Quakers have a brief way of supporting the words of others.

They simply state, "That Friend speaks my mind."

A (lower-case) friend of mine, John Frohnmayer, has spoken my mind in the current issue of Oregon Humanities magazine. His essay, titled "Beyond Individualism," is on the web HERE.

John, who was a fraternity brother of mine in the Sixties, lays out the perils of today's unbridled American capitalism.

Frohnmayer was chair the National Endowment for the Arts under George H.W. Bush and was fired under pressure from the Republican right wing. His brother, David, is the immediate past president of the University of Oregon.

Last year John ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent, a la Wayne Morse, before he dropped out of the race for lack of money. He also threatened to be a “spoiler” in a very close contest between then challenger (and now Senator) Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, and then Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican.

Although John ran "to the Left" of Merkley, his essay in this summer's issue of Oregon Humanities goes far beyond anything I recall him saying during his brief campaign.

Here’s an excerpt:

I have come to believe that capitalism, if it continues in its present form, will destroy us. It will destroy us physically because the earth cannot withstand present levels of consumption, let alone expansion. Just think of the carbon load when India and China have as many cars as we do.

Capitalism will destroy us economically because it makes a virtue of the vice of greed. The resulting wealth inequality causes social unrest, famine, health crises, terrorism, and insecurities throughout the world. Adam Smith's invisible hand is giving us a single-digit gesture.

The philosophy of unfettered self-interest is incompatible with justice, compassion, and, indeed, with freedom. And capitalism will destroy us spiritually because the accumulation of stuff does not make us happy. All we get from accumulating stuff is the insatiable craving for more stuff, most of which ends up in the landfill….

The first rule of economics is that everything is connected to everything else, so if we are to bumble our way out of this mess, we have to consider a few more values like equality, spiritual happiness, community, and pluralism. The preamble of the Constitution purports to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare, so shouldn't our economic policy have some relationship to these goals?

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Anonymous said...

Very lovely post. It's sad that for a liberal to run for office they have to bow to corporate interests.

To quote Mother Jones: "Some day we will have the courage to rise up and strike back at these great 'giants' of industry, and then we will see that they weren't 'giants' at all - they only seemed so because we were on our knees and they towered over us."

LeeLa Coleman

11:37 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home