Paul Nevins

Paul Nevins
Location
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Birthday
October 29
Bio
Paul Nevins is the author of "The Politics of Selfishness: How John Locke’s Legacy Is Paralyzing America "(Greenwood /Praeger/ABC-CLIO). The book examines American culture from the perspective of political theory. The questions asked include: Are the political and legal systems of this country on the verge of implosion? Why can’t self-regulation of the market economy work? Why are American labor unions and employees virtually powerless to effect change in the workplace? Why has economic inequality continued to grow and poverty become intractable in the United States? Why do lobbyists and special interests now exercise disproportionate influence over public policy? Why is America’s public education system dysfunctional and why does it fail to educate our citizens in contrast to Western Europe? Why is lawlessness so pervasive in this country? The book attempts to provide answers based upon a coherent perspective that is admittedly outside the paradigm of what passes for conventional political discourse in U.S. politics. Nevins’ book also predicts, based upon the existing evidence which is examined, that, if left uncorrected, things are likely to get even worse. The author explores a theme which runs throughout American history, politics, economics and law. The central thesis of this important and unconventional work is that the United States has begun to experience a number of profound, interrelated problems that are caused, both directly and indirectly, by the country's dogmatic and often unconscious adherence, collectively as a political culture and individually as Americans, to the political philosophy of John Locke. That ideology, which is the bedrock upon which the American liberal democracy has been founded, asserts that human beings are by nature solitary, aggrandizing individuals. Hence, preoccupation with the self in all of its manifestations and attributes - as opposed to the whole, the public interest - has become the primary focus by which political, economic and societal decisions are made. Consequently, the preferred form of social and political relationships with others, including the state as the organized expression of political society, is solely contractual and is designed primarily to protect private property in all of its forms. "The Politics of Selfishness" provides compelling historic and contemporary evidence that U.S. institutions, at all levels, are failing because of the country's uncritical embrace of the anti-social individualism which is John Locke’s legacy. Paul Nevins has been a trial attorney in private practice since 1982. His areas of concentration include public and private sector employment law and litigation, related civil rights and constitutional law claims, and contract claims. Mr. Nevins is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the American Association for Justice and the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA ). He is also member of the American Bar Association, and serves on its national advisory committee. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Paul Nevins taught History and English in the Boston Public Schools. He also taught the "National Street Law" project, and a moral development curriculum which he created based upon his work with Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg. While teaching, Mr. Nevins served as a member of the Executive Board of the Boston Teachers Union, Local 66, AFT/AFL-CIO, as the first chairman of its desegregation committee, and he was a delegate to the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. Mr. Nevins is also former member of the Executive Board of the Citywide Education Coalition, where he served as chairman of its personnel and grievance committee. Paul Nevins served as a conscript in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970, as a personnel specialist and as a German language translator-interpreter. In 1969, he was a founder and the first chairman of GIs for Peace at Fort Bliss, Texas.This was the first organization of active duty soldiers who publicly opposed the Vietnam War. Mr. Nevins received an A.B. Degree from Suffolk University, a Master of Arts Degree from New York University, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University Law School. Nevins is a member of the Dean's Advisory Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences at Suffolk University, and the Alumni Board of Directors for the College of Arts and Sciences. He lives and works in Boston.

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DECEMBER 31, 2011 3:58PM

What Can We Learn From Iowa and New Hampshire?

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                                     cross-posted@politicsofselfishness.com

       Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, in a democracy, we get the government we deserve.   By and large, the historic record does not bode well. Sadly, the highest rate of voter turnout in a presidential election in the last half century was in 1960 when 63.1 percent of those registered to vote, cast ballots. By the time of the 1996 Presidential election only 49.1 percent, less than half the eligible voters, voted. Even in the throes of a growing recession and a bitterly fought Presidential  Election, a mere 56.8% of eligible voters participated in the 2008 presidential election while, as a consequence of the 2010 elections in which an obstructionist, ideologically reactionary Tea Party majority assumed control of the Republican -dominated House of Representatives, a mere 37.8 % of eligible voters turned out.

The red

 

       Ignorance and apathy by citizens have enabled the political system of the United States to become totally corrupted. A large part of the problem may be traced to this country's failure to create a literate, educated citizenry. For example, the National Adult Literacy Survey found that over forty million Americans age 16 and older have significant literacy deficiencies. More than 20 percent of Americans read at or below a fifth grade level which is far below the level needed to earn a living wage. In addition, studies have shown that. Americans in general do not understand what molecules are, less than one third can identify DNA as a key to heredity, and one adult in five thinks that the Sun revolves around the Earth.
 
       These disturbing trends are replicated the area of citizenship education. In a 2005 report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 14,000 freshman and seniors at fifty colleges and universities were administered 60 multiple-choice questions which were intended to measure their knowledge of American history and government, world affairs, and the market economy. The first of its major findings was that "America's colleges and universities fail to increase knowledge about America's history and institutions. There was a trivial difference between college seniors and their freshman counterparts regarding knowledge of America's heritage. Seniors scored just 1.5 percent higher on average than freshman, and, at many schools, seniors know less than freshman about America's history, government, foreign affairs, and economy. Overall, college seniors failed the civic literacy exam, with an average score of 53.2 percent, or F, on a traditional grading scale."

       As a consequence of voter indifference and literacy deficits, gerrymandering, voting restrictions and distorted, misleading political advertisements, fueled by millions of dollars contributed by  monied interests, have turned the electoral process into a lottery in which the intelligent, the principled, the bold leaders and the visionaries have little chance to be elected. By contrast, the peddlers of nonsense and the demagogues - witness the current GOP presidential contenders - are rewarded by their wealthy benefactors for supporting proposals to further reduce tax rates on the wealthy and corporations; gut regulation of the economy in the public interest; eliminate environmental protection laws; and, in a sop to the many religious lunatics who inhabit the current Republican Party, enable governments at all levels to invade the uteruses of every woman and female child in America.

       Given all of the problems that currently bedevil the American political system and its economy, it is inexcusable that two largely rural, monochromatic  white states, populated by large numbers of gun fetishists, climate-change deniers, evangelicals and recluses should be permitted to play the leading role in choosing Presidential candidates in either of the two alleged political parties.  These two states and their voters have little experience or understanding of the complexities of life in an increasingly cosmopolitan, urbanized society populated  by large numbers of people who do not share their ethnicities, races or religions or worldviews. Further, the rural orientations and nostalgic pining for a mythological American past make it difficult for many of the voters in these two states to understand the complexities or government and economics in the twenty- first century. 

       Because of the forums provided by the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, the GOP presidential candidates have been permitted, without any serious criticism or scrutiny by the media, to argue that, instead of  the current, grid-locked, paralyzed status quo - which already heavily favors the powerful and the wealthy - this country should revert to the kind of laissez-faire Social Darwinism that dominated American political thought duringthe post Civil War era. When that ideology controlled, labor unions were prosecuted as combinations in restraint of trade, child labor laws were outlawed, industrial accidents were not compensated for, and the poor, the inform and the elderly were left without any safety net except that which their families, churches and charities could provide.    
     
        John Adams warned that "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide." Empowering a small, unrepresentative sample of poorly informed voters, who are easily manipulated and persuaded by the propaganda of wealthy special interests, to set this country's political agenda is a prescription for collective suicide.    

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