Monthly Archives: February 2014

America – a Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian nation? No – the true religion of the land is the confluence of commerce, materialism, and consumption. Religion can be defined as “ultimate concern” and our true societal devotion is found in material pursuits. It’s been a good religion; it has fed, clothed, sheltered, and employed millions of Americans. It can go too far, however. When these pursuits become excessive, the religion breaks bad and the common good suffers.

“Liberty produces wealth, and wealth destroys liberty.” Henry Demarest Lloyd, Henry_Demarest_Lloydjournalist and activist, wrote these words as the wealth of John Rockefeller Sr. crested to historic proportions. The long era of excess – beginning at the turn of the century – gave birth to a permission previously unrealized in American society. The egalitarianism woven into its foundational fabric, which protected the new republic from aristocracy and other undemocratic concentrations of power, could be abandoned.

Is social inequality the necessary price to pay for the uninhibited pursuit of wealth? Do social inequalities destroy democratic ideals? Just a Little Bit More explores these questions as it highlights the similarities between three short eras of excess in American history: the Gilded Age, the 1920s, and the current one that began in the 1970s and helped to bring about the economic swoon of 2007-08.

Democracy and egalitarianism are two of American society’s grandest achievements. They do not exist naturally but thrive only when advocated. When egalitarian practices suffer, so does democracy, leaving the fate of the common good hanging in the balance.

Excerpt from T. Carlos “Tim” Anderson’s Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good, Blue Ocotillo Publishing, May 2014. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Excerpts

Just a Little Bit More

One hundred years ago when John Rockefeller Sr. became the world’s first billionaire, he was asked the following question about wealth accumulation: “How much is enough?” His reputed answer: “Just a little bit more.” The exchange was most likely legendary, but it describes a strong social imprint in the US vibrant ever since: the pursuit of excessive wealth is not only permissible, but glorified.

john-d-rockefeller 1

Rockefeller circa 1915

Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good was published in May 2014. Rockefeller’s story – from the travails of his bigamous father to Rockefeller’s incredible philanthropy – sets the tone for this book that details America’s primary social dilemma, as exemplified in the following questions: Is social inequality the price to pay for the uninhibited pursuit of wealth? Do social inequalities destroy democratic ideals?

Just a Little Bit More uses Rockefeller’s story as a springboard to discuss these crucial questions. Myriad characters and contributors help to sharpen the discussion: Henry Demarest Lloyd, Henry Ford, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Charlie Chaplin, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ken Lay, Anthony Mozilo, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Yes, even SpongeBob and his friend Mr. Krabs.

Just a Little Bit More is a great read. Good history, intriguing and thought-provoking discussion, and a few surprises along the way. And as the tale is told it doesn’t fail to ask another foundational question: What does the glorification of the pursuit of wealth do to a society’s shared common good?

4 Comments

Filed under Commentary

The Culture of Excess

I want to tell you a story, captivating yet tragic, about a god that has been around for a long time. This deity has staked its claim, oftentimes successfully, in human hearts; through the ages its spirit has been manifested variously in peoples and their events from the Dutch tulip panic to the 2007-2008 financial crisis emanating from the US housing market. This god is not new; its inhabited forms and shapes, however, always seem to give the impression of novelty. Its liturgies and incantations allure, its high priests (mostly all male) impress, and burgeoning converts hold fast in the way. For the last one hundred years – what I call the long era – the new way of this god has promoted excess to the detriment of the common good. Specifically, for the last thirty-five years – the short era – a fundamentalist belief in the powers and ways of the market has pushed excess to new extremes. Excess is not solely the propriety of Wall Street; excess has filtered its way into numerous significant areas of American life.

Excerpt from T. Carlos “Tim” Anderson’s Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good, Blue Ocotillo Publishing, May 2014. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Excerpts