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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Strategic Use of Regulation in Government: A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks

The strategic use of regulatory reform is no stranger to businesses—especially to the strongest both financially and, relatedly, politically. Such proposals of more regulation are crafted not to benefit the macro economy or even the industry; rather, the point is to enhance a dominant firm’s competitive advantage over rivals. It follows that such proposals are not counter-factual to the thesis that republics are susceptible to the gravitational pull of plutocracy, the rule of wealth. A case in point is the U.S. Trump Administration’s consideration of a legislative proposal to reinstate the main content of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking such that a bank could not do both.

The full essay is at "A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks."

Gary Cohn, former number two at Goldman Sachs, talking to U.S. senators on behalf of the Trump Administration.
(source: Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

International Response to a Chemical Attack in Syria: Beyond the U.N.

In the wake of the chemical-weapons attack in Syria on March 4, 2017, Russia blocked a condemnation and investigation into the source by vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution. Meanwhile, the American administration’s view of the Syrian government was shifting. President Trump told reporters, “my attitude toward Syria and Assad . . . has changed very much.”[1] Cleverly, the American president would not disclose whether the United States would respond against the Syrian government. The question of whether an empire like the U.S. or an international organization like the U.N. should respond hinged on the question of whether the latter was institutionally hamstrung on account of the power of national sovereignty in the organization. In short, if the U.N. was impotent, then the moral imperative could shift to the major powers in the world, such as China, Russia, the E.U., and the U.S.


 U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley presenting evidence of the chemical attack in Syria.
(Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The full essay is at "Beyond the U.N."

1. Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, “Trump’s View of Syria and Assad Altered After ‘Unacceptable’ Chemical Attack,” The New York Times, April 5, 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spirituality as Distinctively Religious

While it may be alluring in the business world to conceptualize spiritual leadership as being essentially ethical leadership, this convenient tact would not do justice to the distinctly religious sphere in which spirituality is based. The same error would be entailed in treating evil as though it were merely bad. Therefore, rather than foisting spiritual from its native domain and redefining it to fit within a secular context in order to apply the concept to leadership in business, we can relate the religious and secular concepts to each other with due deference to their respective natures.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Craft a Non-Partisan Constitutional Court: The Case of the U.S. Senate Confirming Justices

In interpreting a constitution, justice is best carried out when the justices are non-partisan rather than politically ideological. To be sure, every living and breathing human being has a political ideology, even if implicitly. Even so, the institutional process by which justices are chosen can mitigate this point by being oriented to non-partisan candidates. In other words, a system can be designed so as to minimize the likelihood that a partisan of one political party or another will sit on a constitutional court. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court can provide some insights in this regard.

The full essay is at "How to Craft a Non-Partisan Court."

The U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting on Gorsuch's nomination on April 3, 2017. (NYT)

On the Impact of the Mind’s Infallible Assumptions in Declarations of Religious Belief

In religious affairs, we don’t typically notice the sheer declarativeness in the assertions of belief. In passing, we don’t isolate the underpinning assumptions. We are all human beings relative to the divine, and yet distinctions within our ranks are asserted or declared to be so, even if implicitly. All too often, the human mind overreaches with impunity. Rarely are the leaps themselves the subject of attention and thus subject to critique. Much more commonly, the substance of the religious belief is noticed and debated. I submit that the assumptions typically involved in making religious statements—even the very nature of the declarative assertion—are more worthy of note on account of the human mind’s vulnerabilities that are rarely noticed, much less subject to rebuke.

The full essay is at "Infallible Assumptions in Religion."