The analysis of public response to the Great Recession of 2008 reveals those errors compounded in the Pandemic of 2020. The failure to produce a system change from the private and public realm regarding these two instances is evident and a little frightening—the time has arrived for writers to demand improvements in critical thinking from every mountain top.
Financial service companies, insurance agencies, and families went underwater on bad loans and poor judgment. Thousands of people have become sick and face financial disaster. A high percentage of the most vulnerable to infections have died. Fire, flood, drought, and a rising sea is encircling cities all over the world. Ending what is beginning to look like tragic cycles of change requires a summary of the public response to correcting the “money” problem. Money, faith in trade, and its use for the oblivious accumulation of goods is the root cause of this trouble. The use of it dominates the argument and the conversation. It is real but a distraction to the purpose of consequence. More plainly, my super wealthy grandparents just said, you cannot take it with you, and we (all of us) should only get a leg-up on confidence with a dose of tenacity.
In 2008, the American business community won the case – use federal funds and reestablish aggregate demand, sustain liquidity for global trade, keep employment up, but income marginal in a high percentage of households. Attack tax rates, government interference, and expose public incompetence. Continue to reduce and weaken mechanisms for public oversight into private financial practices. These are highly persuasive claims and strategic practices from the business community. They draw values such as individual freedom and independence that took over two centuries to establish a Republic built on a foundation of slavery.
The struggle for freedom of all people remains unexamined. Civil rights, social justice, equity, and a basic “leg-up” is falsely claimed as a strain and a distraction. Despite the depth of the 2008 and 2020 global economic tragedies, several questions go unaddressed under the heading of disproportionality. Why wasn’t it disproportionate when eight percent of the households in a Georgia county were slaves? You will hear that isn’t the issue today, but I have comparable questions. Why does the world function as if the acquisition of equity is the only means of power? Where are their attempts to succeed with alternatives? Where are the dividing lines that tell us what separates the ability to meet human needs in the private marketplace from those essential to the validity of a public realm?
The difficulty of challenging and changing the last two hundred years of the American communication experience requires new leadership. Only one modern American hero has a national day of remembrance for the courage it took to lead that kind of challenge. His agony became ours, and his name was Martin Luther King. He was murdered in 1968 by something much bigger and more heinous than the racism of his era.
King’s anguish for justice held the U.S. Constitution to account first, but this did not extinguish his view on economics. He believed the solution was not in a “thesis of communism or an antithesis of capitalism.” His demand was for synthesis based on two facts. An economic system built on slavery and imprisonment will not change the rules. Change must, therefore, come from changing the system.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income…” MLKWhere do We Go from Here? 1967
The economic crisis of 2008 and the health and financial crisis of 2020 has one word that tends to stop any discussion of system change dead in its tracks. That word is “debt.” Less understood is the concept of equity in our minds. An accountant will tell you that “equity” is a combination of your assets and liabilities. One of the first pre-eminent sources of it in the United States is homeownership. With the help of government mortgage guarantees, it is the prime asset held by most Americans. Still, confidence and trust in each household is the one thing that makes the liability expressed by a mortgage possible.
Recently the idea of retaining that trust and confidence was expressed by none other than the American Enterprise Institute in a map of the United States they tweeted to the world. The map illustrated the relative GDP of individual American States with other countries globally so that people would be more confident – to trust the system. I would call your attention to Wisconsin before you read the next paragraph.
In response to the pandemic, Europe understands the “system change” relationship between public and private equity. I have one example of why Wisconsin should have no difficulty changing the system if they were like Denmark. The Denmark government stepped forward to continue paying wages even when they are not working. People kept their jobs with their employers. Denmark retained some business and most family income and stopped the virus from spreading efficiently. The policy maintained the cultural status quo of the nation steady t anticipation of ending the crisis. The system allows business activity and production to restart with as little cost and disruption as possible.
I have a request in closing this bit of critical thinking about the need to produce a system change first with the idea that this would allow the rules to change. The first is to ask you to conduct a brief exercise, followed by taking the concept outlined above further in some way and sharing it with this blog – a link would do.
The habits of the mind that contribute to critical thinking involve the following types of thought. The first one should be on the word critical. In health, the word describes a “short term” condition. Here is a quick exercise. Run through the following ten words in ten seconds, asking.
- contextual perspective
- intellectual integrity
If you had a rapid response to each one of them, know three things 1) you have some or all the skills listed below and 2) if it took even a bit longer than ten seconds, you need more work on them when “critical” thinking is essential and 3) they are just words — you can pick your own ten if you choose.
- break the whole into parts to discover practical relationships
- list the parts piece by piece
- sort the things into things
- applying criteria
- judge using well-known rules
- apply personal, professional, and social standards
- compare and assess the means
- recognize differences and similarities
- rank things together or separate in groups
- differentiate categories or decern status
- information seeking
- logical reasoning
- inference stated
- conclusions made
- basis of evidence
- predicting if that then this
- envision events
- plan futures
- determine possible consequences
- transforming knowledge
- changing conditions
- converting function
- alter concepts
Pick Your Own
Critical thinking can be brief, momentary, temporary, short-lived, impermanent, cursory, fleeting, passing, fugitive, flying, and like lightning. It can also be transitory, transient, temporary, brief, fading, quick, and meteoric. Not being curious enough is a problem — inquisitiveness exercises human intuition. It helps a person run inference, seek integrity, and demand contextual change. Therefore, differentiating the language to become more demanding, improves hearing. To solve problems adequately, or ask more satisfying questions. I use the following chart to create a system change.
Just after the election of POTUS45, one message kept getting repeated about the need to produce change at the level of the local law that moved to the city, county, and state governments. Only then would a system change have a chance for federal legislation or be recognized as a new cultural norm. The example given most often was the demand to make laws governing marriage far more inclusive. The changes began locally but rapidly across the United States. The rules change issues regarding women’s rights and a voting rights act. All noted here because none of them go unchallenged, and all of them require leadership demanding a civil discourse and faith in the law. The following table or chart is one of the easiest to read summaries of the process.