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The Cutting Edge: Blog of Ed Knudson
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by Ed Knudson
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Ed Knudson's Passing  11/3/2017  (68)

Health Issue  10/21/2017  (108)

Not Much Planning in Houston  8/28/2017  (233)

Members of Trump's Religious Advisory Council Have Not Resigned  8/25/2017  (275)

Slavery, Original Sin, and Redemption: A Statement of Faith  8/21/2017  (210)

A Stampede of Charities has Canceled Planned Fundraising Events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club  8/21/2017  (202)

Church Leaders in Charlottesville Prepared for White Supremacists  8/16/2017  (217)

White House Staffer Fired Over Memo on Cultural Marxism (or, Critical Social Theory)  8/15/2017  (221)

Trump is a Drama Queen: Weak and Sniveling; Whiny, Weepy, Self-Pitying. But Fox News Loves Him  8/11/2017  (241)

Southern Baptist Pastor Calls for Holy War against North Korea  8/9/2017  (220)

There Will Be No Wall, Says John Kelly  8/1/2017  (253)

The Misuse of Martin Luther on Predestination  7/28/2017  (232)

John McCain Gives Heroic Speech Denouncing Terrible Thing That He Just Voted For  7/26/2017  (200)

Disgusting: Trump Attacks American Institutions in Speech to Boy Scouts  7/25/2017  (203)

Philosopher Richard Rorty Predicted Election of a Racist Strongman for President  7/24/2017  (239)

Washington Post Publishes Lots of Libertarian Nonsense  7/23/2017  (228)

The Spontaneous Order of James Buchanan; No Government Necessary for This Libertarian  7/19/2017  (236)

Republicans Fail Entirely on Health Care; Trump Turns Against His Voters  7/18/2017  (217)

Trump Had Morality Hammered Out of Him by His Family History  7/14/2017  (250)

Trump, Like Others Who Follow the Russian Atheist, Ayn Rand, is in Serious Trouble  7/14/2017  (278)

Trump and the Russian Mafia  7/13/2017  (223)

Ted Cruz's Free Choice Means Death to Thousands; the Myth of Personal Responsibility  7/13/2017  (229)

Trump Didn’t Win the Working Class. The Democrats Lost It  7/8/2017  (258)

NRA Thinks White Alienated Males are Feeling Sorry for Themselves  6/30/2017  (270)

Widespread Rebukes of Trump's Blood Tweets; Calls for Retraction  6/30/2017  (242)

Peter Berger Dies. Our Knowledge is Not Our Own  6/28/2017  (308)

Not All Lutherans are the Same. Supreme Court Favors One Type Only  6/27/2017  (269)

Obamacare is a Conservative Model of Healthcare and is Failing; Now It's Time for Single Payer  6/27/2017  (293)

It's Clear Now: Putin Wanted Trump, Not Clinton  6/24/2017  (292)

Politics is a Knife Fight with No Rules, Says Grover Norquist  6/23/2017  (276)

This Should Happen All Over:  Union Ironworker Has a Plan to Beat Paul Ryan  6/21/2017  (285)

Triangulation Has Been Terribly Hurtful to Democrats  6/20/2017  (316)

Kitzhaber Exonerated; Oregonian Debases Itself Again  6/16/2017  (337)

Trump is Too Ignorant to be President; Doesn't Even Know What Christians Believe  6/16/2017  (304)

Dissent: Organizing in Red America  6/16/2017  (266)

It's the Racists Who Want Guns  6/15/2017  (357)

It Can Happen Here  6/13/2017  (329)

Surprise Victory for Social Democracy in England  6/9/2017  (303)

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Americans, Hang Your Heads in Shame  6/1/2017  (372)

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NCC Urges Churches to Refrain From Intervening in Political Campaigns  5/4/2017  (390)

Where Your Tax Dollar Goes  4/18/2017  (432)

Talking It Through  4/15/2017  (422)

False Community Consciousness and Local Radio  4/1/2017  (457)

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An Avalanche of Absurdities: Chris Hedges on the Rise of Trump and American Fascism  3/21/2017  (377)

Of Course Obama Wiretapped Trump  3/21/2017  (399)

Trump Glorifies American Militarism with German Leader, Embarrassing Himself  3/18/2017  (362)

Most of Trump's Voters are Not Poor, but Regular Old Republicans  3/18/2017  (367)

Robert Mercer and Big Money Chose Trump to be President, not the People  3/17/2017  (481)

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Old Republican Tactic: Stoke Fear of Crime  3/13/2017  (540)

White People are Hurting Themselves  3/11/2017  (526)

Basic Civics Lesson for Libertarians  3/8/2017  (490)

Public Trust: Post-truth is Pre-fascim  3/8/2017  (576)

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The Crisis of Conservative Intellectuals  11/1/2016  (660)

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Privatization of Public Land is a Bad Idea  1/22/2016  (1040)

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Leading Republican Candidate Donald Trump: How Stupid are the People of Iowa?  11/13/2015  (1034)

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First Things has become Relevant to Only One Region of the Country: the South  11/2/2015  (1071)

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Protestants Need a Pope  9/30/2015  (1073)

R.R. Reno at First Things is Disappointed by Pope Francis  9/25/2015  (1071)

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Pray to be Filled with Awe and Contemplation  8/12/2015  (1127)

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Police Violence in Baltimore  4/29/2015  (1408)

Bonhoeffer's Vision: An Outcast Church on the Margins of Society  4/25/2015  (1289)

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Rand Paul Disqualifies Himself  2/4/2015  (1453)

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Martin Luther on Charlie Hebdo: Sick Secularism and Billy Graham  1/14/2015  (3516)

Whose Speech is Actually Free?  1/14/2015  (1369)

Historic Protestant Speech is Not Free in America Today  1/14/2015  (1567)

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Stop the Oil Train Bombs  10/2/2014  (1651)

The Terrible Self-Righteousness of George Weigel at First Things  9/19/2014  (1529)

Violence All Across the World, including Ferguson, Missouri  8/15/2014  (1683)

Reagan's View of History Still Prevails  8/15/2014  (1505)

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There is No Religious Left  7/22/2014  (1557)

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America, America, the Country that Kills Its Prophets  11/23/2013  (1999)

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Mothers and Grandmothers on Abortion  11/5/2013  (2039)

Why Obamacare is a Political Con Job  10/30/2013  (2049)

Very Disturbing Governance by Media Manipulation  10/4/2013  (2090)

A Reformation Pope  10/2/2013  (1960)

When the Big Money Mafia Rule  10/1/2013  (2031)

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Samantha Power: Protection of the Innocent  9/11/2013  (2188)

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Arab Spring: Transfer of Power in Syria  9/4/2013  (2097)

Religious Conflict in the History of Syria  9/3/2013  (2092)

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Business Predators Must Be Forced to Stop Their Damaging Behavior  5/26/2013  (2267)

Pastors Create Public Consciousness  5/26/2013  (2242)

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Occupy Theology: Obama has Broken the Hearts of the Young  5/20/2013  (2022)

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Manufactured Landscapes  3/23/2013  (2217)

About Death Camp Thinking  3/22/2013  (2214)

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Hope for the New Pope  3/14/2013  (2307)

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The Government is Making Us Old  3/11/2013  (2424)

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Business Predators Must Be Forced to Stop Their Damaging Behavior
5/26/2013

I have placed a couple articles on this website which together help explain what I believe is an important ethical approach to contemporary issues having to do with economic and environmental justice. The first is by Geoff Mulgan who discusses Predators and Creators in the Future of Capitalism. He makes a very helpful distinction that we should put into our minds as we think about things today. It is the obvious distinction between good and bad business. We all know there have been some very bad businesses, such as Ken Lay's Enron, which engaged behavior not untypical of many large businesses today. And we also know that without good business we could not eat or get around or enjoy living in our homes, though financial institutions were responsible for the 2008 crash of the economy. What bad business does is take advantage of us and others to maximize their benefit at the expense of others.

An example at the extreme is the Southern plantation. The slave system was a means to completely control one set of human beings, African black people, for the purpose of maximum profit of other human beings, European white people. Through a bloody civil war in the 1860s the North used military power to force the South to change its system of slavery. No amount of debate or polite discussion would have led to a change in the behavior of the South.

Furthermore, it was another one hundred years before the South actually was forced to treat black people as equals. The civil rights movement of the 1960s led to laws and the use of federal government force to compel the South to change its ways of segregation. This also led to the current configuration of political culture. The Republican Party was taken over by white Southerners hostile to the very idea of the use of federal power over states. The Democratic Party represents the idea of equality among the races. Though Republican leaders cannot explicitly express racist language, the extra hatred of the federal government stems from its use of force in the South beginning in the 1960s.

The Tea Party combines this Southern hostility to government with the economic libertarianism of right wing radio, dependent as it is on business advertising. If you go to websites of the Tea Party you will see statements in total support for the "free market," what can be called market fundamentalism, which means that business corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want without regulation by the federal government. There are no distinctions between good or bad business. All business is good, apparently, even when business engages in practices which severely damage the social fabric of the nation and the environment which must sustain life for everyone.

But I believe that it is necessary to think clearly about good and bad business, especially very large corporate business which make decisions to maximize their profits even when their behavior is damaging to society and environment. Such is predatory behavior and governmental force must be used to stop them.

If you don't believe some business can be called predatory just take a look at The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too by economist James K. Galbraith. An Amazon summary of the book reads as follows:
The cult of the free market has dominated economic policy-talk since the Reagan revolution of nearly thirty years ago. Tax cuts and small government, monetarism, balanced budgets, deregulation, and free trade are the core elements of this dogma, a dogma so successful that even many liberals accept it. But a funny thing happened on the bridge to the twenty-first century. While liberals continue to bow before the free-market altar, conservatives in the style of George W. Bush have abandoned it altogether. That is why principled conservatives -- the Reagan true believers -- long ago abandoned Bush.
As even demonstrated by Barack Obama, "liberals" have a hard time actually deciding to use the force of government in domestic policy. They have a tendency to want to talk everything to death. When I was involved in the civil rights movement of the 60s it was those we called "liberals" who were hesitant actually join the non-violent marches and demonstrations. In the mental frame of the time, it was necessary to go beyond liberalism to more "radical" action to force change in the way government dealt with those opposed to civil right for black people.

It is for that reason that I believe the article by Bhaskar Sunkara is especially helpful today. He writes in The Next Left: A Viable Political Strategy for the Multitude, which appeared in The Nation magazine that:
To radicals, the sad state of liberalism comes as no surprise. It represents merely the re-emergence of flaws embedded deeply in its roots, making so much of the social policy that The Nation supports difficult to revive. American liberalism is practically ineffective and analytically inadequate—and a jolt from its left is a prerequisite for its resurgence.

Liberalism’s original sin lies in its lack of a dynamic theory of power. Much of its discourse is still fixated on an eighteenth-century Enlightenment fantasy of the “Republic of Letters,” which paints politics as a salon discussion between polite people with competing ideas. The best program, when well argued by the wise and well-intentioned, is assumed to prevail in the end. Political action is disconnected, in this worldview, from the bloody entanglement of interests and passions that mark our lived existence.
What liberals cannot seem to get clear about is that sometimes force is necessary. If a business is engaging in predatory behavior it must be forced to stop doing what it is doing.

Think of a father who is sexually abusing his daughter. You can talk to the father all day but that is not helpful to the one being abused. What is necessary is to stop the abuse by force, to absolutely not allow the abuse to continue. And that is what must happen to those businesses today who are engaging in predatory behavior, whether financial institutions or oil companies intent on making profits despite that fact that their practices are heating up the planet.

Sometimes force is necessary even if it radical to say so.


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