The New Sources of Change in Current America

By October 7th, 2013

Sources of Change in American Political and Economic Life – 51% of People Right 51% of the Time – Democracy Index – U.S. Compared with Other Countries

by Mack W. Borgen

THE RELEVANCE OF REASON

The Hard Facts and Real Data About the State of Current Americas

Vol 1 – BUSINESS AND POLITICS (408 pp) (July, 2013)

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The New Sources of Change in Current America

Change is our American democracy and in our American form of capitalism is inevitable, but it also embeds a certain level of fragility in our politics, in our economy, and in our very culture. In turn, the availability, the frequency, and the speed of change can invite easy abuse. Change can be imposed upon us by legislative or electoral mandate. Change can be rooted even in graft of others or the abuse or corruption of our political or economic systems. Certainly its arrival can come through the advancement of knowledge and understanding or components of technological evolutions, but it can also come through the more sudden hidden persuader tools which have of late come to permeate, if not dominate, our political and economic systems. Occasionally, the heavy tools of manipulation and demagoguery are honed and used such as those which in the opinion of some have been of late to feed upon both our real and our imaginary fears. Cleverly, more and more change is the refined result of the use of sophisticated marketing, advertising, packaging, and narratives which are used to first present and then sell both American products and American politicians.

With the fluidity of change, with the powerful tools of creating change (or at least influencing the nature, direction, or identify of that change), change is simultaneously both one of the blessings and one of the curses of democracy. Regardless of the documentary basis of our constitutional democracy and the good will, hard work, and painful sacrifices of the intervening generations since our founding, democracy (and particularly so lately) remains nothing more than “the recurrent suspicion” that 51% of the people are right 51% of the time (Note 1). For that reason alone, democracy needs constant tending and deserves constant protection since, by any measure, 51%/49% are shaky odds. They allow for miserably thin margins of error.

NOTE 1: In the last decade there have been numerous assertions that a variation  of this statement (i.e. that “(a) democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%”) was made by Thomas Jefferson in the context of his warnings about the dangers of “mob rule,” however, there is no substantiation of this. The earliest known attribution of this statement to Jefferson was in 2004 (Monticello.org), and it is far more likely that this attribution follows the continuing political trend in which all arguments eventually come to be based upon the supposed quoted words of Jefferson or one of the nation’s other Founding Fathers. There is, on the other hand, some consensus that this statement was made by E.B. White (B: 1899, Mount Vernon, New York; D: 1985, North Brookline, Massachusetts), the co-author of The Elements of Style and the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little no less, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize (1978 for his entire body of work) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963).

Based upon Borgen, M., The Relevance of Reason (Vol 1 – Business and Politics) and (Vol 2 – Society and Culture), pp. 14-15.

The Fact of the Day

The Democracy Index – The United States Compared with Other Nations

The Democracy Index is a relatively new index which was first compiled in 2006. The index is presented by the Economic Intelligence Unit and attempts to measure the level of democracy among 167 countries. This rating is presented via a scale (score of 10 indicating the “most democratic”) and by categorizing each nation as either a full democracy (scores 8-10), flawed democracy (scores 6-7.9), hybrid regime (scores 4 to 5.9), or authoritarian regime (scores 0-3.9). The Index is based upon a number of variables and indicators, such as electoral processes, pluralism, civil liberties, governmental function, political participation, and political culture. The rating of the U.S., the most democratic countries, and several selected other countries are as follows:

Ranking    Country               Democracy Index Score                 Ranking   Country              Democracy Index Score

1.                     Norway                               9.80                                                         8.        Switzerland                         9.09

2.                    Iceland                                9.65                                                          9.       Canada                                  9.09

3.                   Denmark                              9.52                                                         10.      Netherlands                         8.99

4.                   Sweden                                 9.50                                                         —

5.                    New Zealand                      9.26                                                          18.   United Kingdom                    8.16

6.                     Australia                            9.22                                                           19.   United States                   8.11

7.                     Finland                               9.19                                                           —

Note: The 3 least democratic countries were, respectively and in order North Korea (1.08), Chad (1.52), and Turkmenistan (1.72). Borgen, M. The Relevance of Reason (Vol 1 – Business and Politics) pp. 233-234, citing The Economist: Pocket World in Figures: 2012 Edition; Forum.nationstates.net.     

 

 

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