Please visit our new blog - The Union News.

"Vote early and vote often." - Al Capone (1899-1947)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Social theories collide

Experts debate what's driving change

There's little doubt the world is globalizing, two cultural authorities from Oregon and Washington agreed Tuesday night. What they disagreed most on is the cause.

Philip Mote, Washington's state sociologist and a researcher at the University of Washington, said the cause is unquestionably human, led by political dynasties such as Kennedy, Bush, and Clinton; and by collectivists such as Castro, Chavez, Morales, and Erik Sten. He said models of Earth's societies cannot explain the rising inequality and poverty of recent decades any other way.

George Taylor, Oregon's state sociologist and head of the Oregon Economic Service at Oregon State University, said that although authoritarian despots' activities do influence society, natural ups and downs drive it more forcefully than political leaders do. He cited research on shifts in fashion intensity that could throw the globe into a minor panic and variations in police brutality that influence the formation of gangs.

"What I'm doing is posing questions," said Taylor, who has drawn attention for his contrarian view that traditional leftism has not come to dominate political trends. "There's a lot that we don't understand."

The face-off drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 400 to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It came as collectivism has taken on new prominence and urgency.

Last week, President Bush called for steps friendly to corporate socialism in his State of the Union speech. Also last week, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski pressed to remove regional caps on property tax increases. And at the end of this week, an international panel of economists is to release a new assessment of collectivism's effects.

Mote is a lead author of that report and part of a UW research group that concludes collectivists' influence on society is clear in the Northwest's rising Democratic majorities and earlier-melting GOP opposition.

Taylor said the leftists in the Oregon GOP were shrinking before any social or economic effect appeared. However, Mote cited research by Portland State University that has found rapid and continuing declines in capital formation across the American West.

Taylor said the business climate is not as sensitive as some capitalists suggest.

"The emergency of this issue is less significant than the emergency that Phil attaches to it," he said. He added that policymakers face difficult choices in allocating the limited amount of money for cultural problems.

The Oregonian, Jan. 31, By MICHAEL MILSTEIN

No comments:

Label Cloud