Good Without God: Why “Non-Religious” Is the Fastest-Growing Preference in America

Written on May 10th, 2011

Authors Phil Goldberg and Greg Epstein share their provocative views on why a quarter of Americans now call themselves agnostic, atheist or nonreligious.

May 10, 2011 | Currently more than one billion people around the world define themselves as agnostic, atheist or nonreligious — including 15 percent of Americans. Perhaps more striking, “nonreligious” is not only the fastest growing religious preference in the U.S., but also the only one to increase its percentage in every state over the past generation.

Phil Goldberg and Greg Epstein have provocative perspectives on who these people are, what they believe, and how they arrived at their worldviews and their moral codes.

In February, 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness.

With these words, interfaith minister Goldberg begins American Veda, his look at India’s impact on Western culture. From Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, succeeding generations absorbed India’s “science of consciousness,” and millions have come to accept and live by the central teaching of Vedic wisdom: “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names.”

Acccording to Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, recent bestsellers from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris stress the irrationality of belief and what’s wrong with religion, while offering few positive alternatives. In Good without God, Epstein explains how humanists strive to live well, build community, uphold ethical values, and lift the human spirit…all without a god. “It’s not enough to just ‘discover’ the meaning of life. Humanism is concerned with one of the most important ethical questions—what we do once we’ve found purpose in life.”

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How You Can Have a Billion-Dollar Income in America and Pay No Taxes

Written on April 20th, 2011

Tax journalist David Cay Johnston explains what’s so rotten about our taxation system and the distribution of wealth in this country.

April 20, 2011  | When I was growing up, people joked about how much they hated taxes, but they paid them, and we had a solid middle-class society. Real wages rose from WWII through 1973.

Today one of our two major political parties — nationally and in state capitals — is unwilling to consider raising taxes no matter the circumstances. Though most of Washington’s officials and media are hysterical about the deficit, and willing to hurt anyone in an effort to reduce it, both parties voted in December to extend tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans for two more years.https://aworldthatjustmightwork.com/wordpress/wp-admin/post.php?post=947&action=edit

Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year. Its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, recently replaced Paul Volcker as leader of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board as its name was changed to the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

David Cay Johnston worked as an investigative reporter for several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times from 1976 to 1988, and the New York Times from 1995-2008 where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system. He now teaches at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management and writes a column at Tax.com. He is the author of two bestsellers, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. His next book, The Fine Print, will be published later this year.

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Alone Together: Why We’ve Started Expecting More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Written on March 18th, 2011

Author Sherry Turkle on her new book arguing that relentless connection through technology leads to a new solitude.

March 18, 2011  |   “This is a book of repentance,” Sherry Turkle has said of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. “I have been studying computers and people for thirty years. I didn’t see several important things. I got some important things wrong.”

“Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude.”

Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A licensed clinical psychologist, Sherry is the author of several books including The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Alone Together completes a trilogy.

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Why Germany Has It So Good — and Why America Is Going Down the Drain

Written on October 14th, 2010

Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, and nursing care. Why the US pales in comparison.

October 14, 2010 | While the bad news of the Euro crisis makes headlines in the US, we hear next to nothing about a quiet revolution in Europe. The European Union, 27 member nations with a half billion people, has become the largest, wealthiest trading bloc in the world, producing nearly a third of the world’s economy — nearly as large as the US and China combined. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than either the US, China or Japan.

European nations spend far less than the United States for universal healthcare rated by the World Health Organization as the best in the world, even as U.S. health care is ranked 37th. Europe leads in confronting global climate change with renewable energy technologies, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process. Europe is twice as energy efficient as the US and their ecological “footprint” (the amount of the earth’s capacity that a population consumes) is about half that of the United States for the same standard of living.

Unemployment in the US is widespread and becoming chronic, but when Americans have jobs, we work much longer hours than our peers in Europe. Before the recession, Americans were working 1,804 hours per year versus 1,436 hours for Germans — the equivalent of nine extra 40-hour weeks per year.

In his new book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?, Thomas Geoghegan makes a strong case that European social democracies — particularly Germany — have some lessons and models that might make life a lot more livable. Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, and nursing care. But you’ve heard the arguments for years about how those wussy Europeans can’t compete in a global economy. You’ve heard that so many times, you might believe it. But like so many things, the media repeats endlessly, it’s just not true.

According to Geoghegan, “Since 2003, it’s not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors — China foremost among them — Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They’re beating us with one hand tied behind their back.”

Thomas Geoghegan, a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, is a labor lawyer with Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan in Chicago. He has been a staff writer and contributing writer to The New Republic, and his work has appeared in many other journals. Geoghagen ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic Congressional primary to succeed Rahm Emanuel, and is the author of six books including Whose Side Are You on, The Secret Lives of Citizens, and, most recently, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?

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America’s Empire and Endless Wars Are Destroying the World, and Ruining Our Great Country

Written on September 6th, 2010

For more than 50 years, Washington has subscribed to the absurd notion that America can police the world with military action. All we’ve managed to do is bankrupt our country.

September 6, 2010  |   Andrew Bacevich speaks with a fairly unique mix of experience, authority, passion and wisdom in questioning our nation’s priorities: specifically our willingness to place so much of our national identity, wealth, attention, moral practice, and finally the life and blood of many thousands of our citizens and millions of those of other countries in the hands of our military. A professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Bacevich served twenty-three years in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of colonel. He lost his son in Iraq. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, he received his Ph. D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. He is the author of several books, including The New American Militarism; The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism; and his newest, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War