HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

October 8, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


I sometimes think we would be better off if everybody in the country made ten dollars an hour and our economy were based on ten-dollar-an-hour paychecks. I know that's not going to happen but we might be happier if it did.

The thought is on my mind because of some recent house repair bills I've had to pay. Compared to what they would have been just a few years ago they are astronomical. It cost twice as much to get some minor repairs to my roof as people in my youth paid for a whole house. Inflation is not the whole reason but, I admit, it is a part of it. Still, inflation itself is a psychological problem because as a people's money gets puny they begin to feel puny themselves. When I think of the mighty dollar of my boyhood compared with the virtual nothingness of the dollar today, it depresses me.

I'm not always a great fan of Stanley Fish but he does have a good column in the New York Times today discussing a TV series the BBC is doing titled "Why Democracy"? It involves interviewers asking people ten questions about democracy, its nature, its usefulness. I must say Mr. Fish's answers struck me as being far more intelligent than the material we normally find in newspapers. He says the BBC series is going to start tonight, so you may want to be on the lookout for it.

On Book TV over the weekend I saw Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, interviewed by Frank Foer of The New Republic.  She convinced me that capitalist ideologues welcome public disasters as ways not only to make a lot of money but also for advancing their ideology that the market is the only god that actually works. She makes no claim that capitalists conspire to create disasters, but they do see them as opportunities. Trouble is, under pure capitalist ministrations, great upheavals prove to be opportunities for skimming off piles of lucre but not for effecting repairs.

The new television season is underway and I find it less than underwhelming. The old standard of a dramatic or adventure series seems to be fading away. The only new series I've found reasonably diverting is Life, about a police detective who is released from prison after serving twelve years on false charges and returns to the force. Damian Lewis is quite good in the starring role. And a show which has a character say, "Maybe the universe is insecure," can't be all bad.

I have begun to read George Kateb's collection of essays titled Patriotism and Other Mistakes. I've read only a few so far, but based on them, I can report that there have been few books published over the past several years that would, if read, serve the American public better. Mr. Kateb is not shy in informing people of things they need to hear but that most commentators are afraid to tell them.

I've had no response, so far, to my new page about Frederich Nietzsche on wordandimageofvermont.com. So, I'll remind you once again that it's there and invite your comments.


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