A Dangerous Division

Partisan loyalties and antagonism toward other groups, a deep psychological predisposition in humankind, can become mutually destructive when a society has deep economic disparities. Is there a path forward?

Lessons of the Titanic

The one-hundredth anniversary of an iconic human tragedy is also a time to look back and learn from an easily avoidable disaster.

Economic Inequality Is the Culprit

A landmark book details evidence of the many kinds of harm caused by extreme economic inequality. What can we do?

And the Moral Is…Morals Matter

The cri de coeur by a disillusioned Goldman Sachs’ executive this week underscores a fundamental truth that is not found in Ayn Rand’s novels, or in most mainstream economics textbooks.

Have you noticed? We’re in a battle for our survival.

The dustbin of history is overflowing with dead civilizations that were victims of too-little, too-late. Stay tuned.

“Moral Hazard” or Moral Myopia?

Punishing the “undeserving” few at the expense of the many who deserve to be helped is a misguided moral stance.

Laughter as Therapy

Traditional medicine and grim political diatribes can do only so much to heal our wounds as a society. Why not try, yes, laughter.

Adam Smith’s Psychology

Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” image was not a license for greed. In an earlier work, he was an advocate for morality and the Golden Rule. Too bad economists have cherry-picked his writings.

A Matter of Life and Death

Both ends of the political spectrum have been myopic, or in denial, about our basic needs. It’s time to recognize these biological imperatives as a “social right.”

The American Dream: A Replay

A popular theme in science fiction and Hollywood movies is the idea of a do-over in life. What if income had been distributed in this country over the past 30 years the same way it was in the 1950s and 1960s? It would be a very different country.

The American Dream: Time to Wake Up

The “land of opportunity,” rags-to-riches dream has long been a part of the American narrative, but it is sadly out of date and now serves mainly to justify the status quo. It’s time to confront this harsh reality.

Darwin’s Psychology

Darwin’s name has long been used to justify an every-man-for-himself, “survival of the fittest” ideology. But the Social Darwinists are wrong. Darwin’s Darwinism was radically different, and the emergent science of human nature supports his model.

Occupy a "Fair Society"

With some 50 million people living in or near poverty in this country, our capitalist economy is falling far short. The Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted the need for a fair society. Here is a vision for a new social contract grounded in our innate sense of fairness.

“How to Lie with Statistics”

A classic 1950s book reminds us that the numerical precision of statistics can mask anything from an irrelevant average to a flat out falsehood. Here are some of the tricks to watch out for during the coming election year.

Mind the Gap!

There are two radically different narratives in our political rhetoric these days but only one reality in our disgraceful national statistics. It’s time for our politicians to “Mind the Gap.”

A Broken Nation?

The senior British journalist Ed Vulliamy believes this is exactly what is happening in his own once great country. He sees the recent widespread riots there as a symptom of a cultural collapse. Is our country on a similar path?

Blaming the Victims

The age-old claim that the poor are condemned to poverty because they are lazy, or free-loaders, has been joined by the charge that the poor have only themselves to blame for not getting a college education—the ticket to a better life. The critics obviously know nothing about poverty, or human diversity.

Liars and Lying! Who Cares?

There was a time when lying in politics was viewed as a betrayal of the public trust. Liars were often punished at the polls. Now the reverse is true. Lying often pays, and we’re to blame for this. How about creating a “Liars Hall of Shame”?

The Value of Trust

The “free market,” competitive, capitalist model that still dominates our economic thinking, and our business ethics, short-changes other social values that are vitally important. One of them is trust. It seems our markets also depend on oxytocin.

Compromise? Consider the Alternatives

With growing street protests and another test of the political gridlock in Washington just ahead, it may be time to reconsider the conventional wisdom. Compromises may have both practical and moral consequences.

Text Message to the 99 Percent

Text message to the 99 Percent: “Focus your anger on a demand for a 'fair society'.” Open letter to President Obama: “If you want to lead the 99 Percent, stop triangulating. It’s time to get behind your 2008 campaign promise and champion radical change. In case you've forgotten, here’s the agenda...”

“Class Warfare?” Absolutely!

“Class warfare” is the pejorative du jour in Washington these days. Behind the rhetoric there is a deep conflict of interests – nothing new but it's getting much worse. It has ominous implications.

What’s the Big Idea? It’s Fairness!

The Wall Street protesters need a “big idea” if they are to coalesce into an effective reform movement. Fairness is the key, and the vision (and the political agenda) described in “The Fair Society” provides a road map going forward.

Debunking “The Age of Empathy”?

From the brutal and bloody government crackdown in Syria to the full-bore Republican attacks on our economic safety net, empathy seems to be in short supply these days. Now some critics cite contrary evidence. Maybe the recent flood of books about empathy are wrong? Or maybe only insufficient.

The Three Pillars of Fairness

Republicans and Democrats have very different views of fairness in the current political debate. So who’s right?

The New Barbarians

A once-civilized society, known for its tolerance, compassion and a sense of fairness seems to be losing its moral compass. How come?

Is It Fair to Soak the Poor?

Warren Buffet, among many others, thinks the rich should pay more taxes. Some Robin Hoods in reverse claim the poor should be paying more taxes instead. How come?

Warren Buffet versus Ayn Rand

Multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet has called for the rich to do their “fair share” to help solve our deep economic problems. The right wing has responded with quotes from the high priestess of selfishness, novelist Ayn Rand. The choice is clear.

The Hidden Cost of Inequality

Most Americans seem to think our income disparities are modest, like Scandinavia. In fact, ours' is among the worst of the democracies, and the outlook for the long term is ominous.

Why Not Try Stakeholder Capitalism?

Modern capitalist business firms often resemble Feudal aristocracies. However, there is a more democratic model, called “stakeholder capitalism,” that is better aligned with what we have learned about human nature. It is arguably a more effective form of corporate governance.