Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others|
By John Gilligan
James Gilligan's 'Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others' is essentially a tract demonstrating the validity of the above statement. Marshalling criminal and economic statistics over a century, Professor Gilligan argues:
- Every period of Republican rule ended with a higher unemployment rate than it commenced with (even Eisenhower's presidency and the Reagan-Bush era); every period of Democrat rule had the opposite result (including Carter's).
- Income inequality rose under every postwar Republican president; it fell under every Democrat president except Carter.
- Epidemics of violent death (when the combination of murder and suicide is above 20 per 100,000 people) only commenced under Republicans, and only ended under the Democrats.
One would expect, at this point, a detailed analysis of the differing economic and social policies that are responsible for these outcomes - but instead, the author meanders into a discussion of shame and a contrast between shame and guilt cultures - which, if anything, generates more heat than light. Perhaps this is due to his background and experience as a Professor of Psychiatry working with prisoners, which led him to pinpoint shame as the major source of violence towards others. However, in emphasizing shame, other causes of violence - especially towards oneself, such as hopelessness and insecurity, are neglected. (Furthermore, it stands to reason that where unemployment is stigmatized, a shame culture would lead to political support for policies that minimize it - as is the case in Japan, yet the opposite appears to be true in the United States.)
The author ends on an unabashedly partisan note, condemning the Republican Party for using a racial divide to promote the interests of the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Be that as it may, the most valuable lesson I draw from this book, is the enormous influence of unemployment on society. Put simply: Increased unemployment leads to increased income and wealth inequality, and together they lead to increased crime, suicide and insecurity.
This, of course, is a reaffirmation of what the Chinese philosopher Mencius noted over two thousand years ago:
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