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Capitalism Is American as Jazz, but the System Is Completely out of Tune
If a rising tide lifts all boats, why isn't America — a nation of such wealth and resources — a more egalitarian country? Actor Wendell Pierce says we've lost the true spirit of capitalism.
Wendell Edward Pierce is an American actor and Tony-winning producer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is best known for his roles in HBO dramas, such as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire, trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme, and Michael Davenport in Waiting to Exhale. Currently Pierce has a starring role as Teddy on the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple. Pierce is also the founder of Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp., a non-profit that builds new affordable solar and geothermal homes for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Wendell Pierce: There’s so many people that don’t believe a rising tide floats all boats. They see it as socialism. That’s what the response is to Bernie Sanders. And what Bernie Sanders is saying and what many people are saying is the two can coexist. We have the ability to be capitalists. A true capitalist wants everyone to have access to great schools, to capital because the more access, the more people, the more ideas, the more competition, the better the ideas and the growth will be. So the idea of growth comes from the more people participating in it. We have gotten away from the idea of true capitalism. Now we have people who claim to be capitalists saying I want to restrict our resources.
That we have a finite amount of resources so I’ve got to make sure only my kids get opportunities at school and we’re only going to have access to capital that my tax breaks are going to be here at the expense of other folks. And that’s actually not true capitalism. We grew as a country when people say, "Hey listen. It’s important that everyone has access to a good education." It’s something of great importance because that means more people that are educated — the more ideas, the more growth we’re going to have and that’s what capitalism is based on. And I go back to art, music. That’s what jazz is all about. It’s an American aesthetic. It’s freedom within form. Yes, there’s confinement and restriction and technical proficiency, but the idea of the jazz solo as the improvisation is a finite amount of notes with an infinite amount of combinations. A finite amount of notes with an infinite amount of combinations. And so that’s what capitalism is, right. It’s ultimately an infinite amount of possibilities with this finite group of people. But the more people that are in the mix, the more ideas that are going to come about, which produces growth. That’s what jazz music is. Freedom within form. Within this confinement I still understand that I have a possibility to find my true north, my creative spirit, my infinite ideal.
Capitalism is no different than jazz in that it defines something fundamental about the American spirit. But in a nation of such wealth and resources, what explains the current level of income inequality? Actor and businessman Wendell Pierce says our economic system has lost its way, limiting the freedom and opportunity of many American citizens. But we needn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, he says. The genius of capitalism is that it creates abundance, which is meant to be distributed — that's what creates social and economic growth.
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.
- Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
- This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
- "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."
Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?
- A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
- This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
- The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.