Daniel Little

Philosopher of the social sciences

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A lifetime of activism – Grace Lee Boggs

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I was able to visit with Grace Lee Boggs this week at her home in Detroit, along with several of her fellow activists involved in the project of re-envisioning urban America.

Dr. Boggs is a truly exceptional American. She has been steadfast throughout a life of activism in support of equality and freedom for all Americans. She has been an anti-racism activist since the 1940s, and she has been tireless in support of economic opportunity and economic equality for the powerless in industrial America. And now, at the age of 99, she is devoting her thinking and speaking to the task of helping urban Americans create more satisfying lives for themselves outside the casual cruelties of contemporary capitalism. For her and her fellow activists it is a question of “reimagining the American dream” (NAR 10). The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership (Boggs Center) is a...

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Why does a tech company succeed?


Engineers and scientists have a lot of ideas, and some of those ideas have potential commercial value. They can contribute to a new or existing company by creating a new product, enhancing the capabilities of existing products that will extend the market, or helping to lower costs. But relatively few of these ideas eventually develop into new businesses or components of existing businesses. Can we say anything substantive about the factors that influence success or failure in the context of university research?

A couple of factors are fairly obvious. First, the investigator. Many engineers and lab researchers are brilliant at the arriving at the insights and doing the problem-solving that are involved in scientific and technical breakthroughs, but have little interest in business and commerce. Many give little thought to the ways in which their areas of research might have...

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Entrenched poverty

America is a rich nation. But many of its citizens live in deeply entrenched poverty (46 million, with 20.6 million in extreme poverty), and the country hasn’t made much progress for decades. Why is that?
Peter Edelman has a few theories about this which he lays out in So Rich, So Poor: Why it’s So Hard to End Poverty in America. A former advisor to President Kennedy, Edelman witnessed the early decades of the war on poverty up close. The book provides a very clear, factual, and eloquent narrative analysis of
the twists and turns of the story of American poverty and poverty
policy since the 1960s.

Here you will find a comprehensible analysis of the ways in which economic change, including outsourcing of jobs and the elimination of many low paid jobs, has made even more difficult the task of addressing
poverty. It is a familiar story to all of us who have lived through
the events since...

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Why has racial progress been so slow since the Civil Rights Act was passed fifty years ago?

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Later this year it will have been fifty years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. We have seen some progress in the circumstances of race in the United States. But we have also seen persistent stagnation of the major gaps that exist between white and black Americans in the most important components of quality of life – health, employment, education, property ownership, and longevity, for example.

Why is racial inequality so sticky in the United States?

If I had to single out one primary factor, I would point to the continuing residential segregation of American cities. Segregation in housing is implicated in almost all the forms of social disadvantage experienced by black families in America today. A large portion of black America is crowded into high poverty, low quality-of-life inner cities across the country (link). Schools are typically poor and...

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