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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 24, 2007 / 9 Menachem-Av, 5767

Conservative author: Big business can be as dangerous a threat as big government

By Rod Dreher


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | What's the greatest challenge facing American conservatives today? Liberalism? Don't I wish. That would be relatively easy to defeat. No, it's capitalism.


You read that right. Conservatives have to come to terms with the fact that capitalism, in its current form, undermines not only the virtues necessary to the kind of society conservatives claim to want, but ultimately risks subverting itself.


Capitalism is an ingenious system for increasing material prosperity. It succeeded historically because the free market is the most rational device for meeting human wants and needs. It also thrived because it rewarded creativity and industriousness, and encouraged both qualities. And the most prosperous people under capitalism tended to be those who understood the value of self-denial and delayed gratification.


Today, however, capitalism is defined not by a producer mentality but by a consumer ethos. The prosperity we see is in some respects a mirage, purchased with a credit card. According to U.S. government statistics, the personal savings rate recently dipped into negative territory for the first time since 1933. Consumers are buying more and more stuff we can't afford. When bills come due, the whole pyramid scheme stands to collapse.


Our consumerist economy depends on people's inability to discipline their consumption. The best consumer sees no reason why he shouldn't have what he wants, right now. The best consumer, in other words, exists in a perpetual state of childishness.



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In his new book, "Consumed", political scientist Benjamin Barber writes that ours is the first society that acts as if its survival depends on keeping maturity — which involves learning to master one's impulses — at bay. There is little in American political, religious, social or economic life that prizes restraint and sacrifice for a higher purpose.


"This strategy makes good commercial sense," writes Mr. Barber, because of the market's need "to sell unnecessary goods to people whose adult judgment and tastes are obstacles."


Better yet for capitalists, cultivate a market among people who have no adult judgment and taste to overcome: children themselves. James McNeal, a Texas A&M marketing professor, has written: "Brand marketing must begin with children. Even if a child does not buy the product and will not for many years ... the marketing must begin in childhood."


Mr. McNeal's perverse ideas are the enemy of the family. If marketers train children to think of themselves chiefly in terms of consumer wants, they are teaching them to be faithful not to what their parents teach them but to their individual desires — prisoners of their own cravings.


So what? Shopping isn't bad in principle, and besides, if people want to behave as shopaholics, it's a free country, right? Of course. But as Mr. Barber warns, private choices have public consequences. If the credit bubble bursts, it's going to take down the good with the bad, the prudent with the spendthrift. More profoundly, adopting the consumerist mentality — which defines liberty only as individual choice, without respect to what is chosen — makes it difficult to inculcate a sense of obligation to any traditions or ideals higher than serving the autonomous self and its desires.


Democracy requires virtue. So does a healthy capitalism. A nation that cannot govern its own appetites will, in time, be unable to govern itself. An economy that divorces economic activity from the restraining virtues that make for good stewardship will implode.


We conservatives wail over the late, unlamented Republican Congress' deficit spending. Yet the truth is that any politician who told voters to do more with less — that is, to conserve for the sake of a higher good — would be punished at the polls.


President Bush is often derided for having responded to the Sept. 11 attacks by urging the American people to go shopping. But he faithfully represents the ignoble spirit of the consumer capitalist age, in which the public demands, in Mr. Barber's telling, "war without conscription, idealism without taxation, morality without sacrifice."


Socialism is not the answer. But we can't pretend that our prosperity does not present us with serious civic problems. Consumer capitalism contains within its unfolding dynamic the seeds of its own destruction, to say nothing of the way it chews up traditional loyalties to faith, family, community and place.


We don't talk about this much in American politics, especially not on the right, where we've been supposedly waging a culture war for the traditional values cause for some time now. But we're starting to: The American Conservative, which excerpted Mr. Barber's book as a recent cover story, is fast becoming the most interesting political magazine on the right because it recognizes a simple but radical truth: When it comes to defending the things traditional conservatives cherish, big business is as much a threat as big government.

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Rod Dreher is assistant editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News and author of the forthcoming "Crunchy Cons" (Crown Forum).

PREVIOUSLY

07/09/07: All quiet but the doleful pleas of a father who knows
06/28/07: When we let conspiracy theory masquerade as news, we fall prey to much more than deception
06/20/07: Stranded on Delta: They may love to fly, but it certainly doesn't show
06/13/07: When did conservatism start to mean never having to say you're sorry?
05/08/07: PBS darling gets abused by PC police
05/02/07: Impervious to beauty and deadened to depravity
04/20/07: What I know about being a loner
10/28/05: How the conservatives crumble

© 2007, The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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