The Economy & Ethics: Or, What Does a Person Deserve?

Aesthetic Realism in the News

The philosophy founded by Eli Siegel

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On this Page
1. The Failure of Profit-driven Economics
2. What Does a Person Deserve by Being Alive? Health Care, Housing, & More
3. What Purpose Does Profit Economics Come From?
4. What Is the Importance of Unions in America?
5. Further Resources

"The thing that makes the profit system immoral ... is that in it, care for self is apart from what is just to other people. The profit motive is essentially contempt, which Mr. Siegel defined as 'the addition to self through the lessening of something else': you see a human being as someone to get as much as you can from while giving him as little as possible. You hope he is desperate for that job, because the more desperate he is, the less he'll work for and the more profit you can make from him." —Ellen Reiss, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known (issue no. 1299, 25 February 1998)

1. The Failure of Profit-driven Economics — See The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known

"There will be no economic recovery...unless economics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs becomes ethical, is based on good will. rather than on the ill will which has been predominant for centuries."  — Eli Siegel

• The Reason for the Crisis...& What Is the Answer?

bulletMetro New York, March 1, 2011

"Economics Lack Ethical Touch" by Matthew D'Amico

The current assault on labor unions across America is a shameful reminder of what has been going on for decades as greater wealth and power is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Let us not forget it was the labor movement that fought for the 40 hour work week, decent wages, pensions, health insurance and safe working conditions.... >more

bulletLouisiana Weekly, September 6 - 12, 2010

"An Economy Based on Ethics" by Anne Fielding

"I’m a New Yorker who fell in love with your city when I was performing there last August. Like thousands of others, I hate what people on our Gulf Coast have been made to endure these years, including from BP’s horrendous oil spill. I want your readers to know what Eli Siegel, the great historian and founder of the education Aesthetic Realism, explained in the 1970s: America’s economy, based on the contemptuous using of people’s labor for personal profit, had failed and would never recover despite all the attempts to save it..... > more

Detroit News, 12/11/2008

"Save automakers to create humane economy" by Matthew D'Amico, Political Coordinator Civil Service Employees Union

"As a political coordinator for a labor union in New York, I wholeheartedly agree with the Dec. 4 commentary "Cutting wages won't solve Detroit 3's crisis." There are individuals in this country who want to see GM, Ford and Chrysler go bankrupt so they can break the union. They want them to "reorganize" with workers who will not have the protection of a union contract.... > more

The Providence Journal, 12/25/2008

"How to get beyond culture of contempt" by Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education

"The election of Barack Obama is important not only because the American people have chosen a person of color to be our president. That fact, certainly, is a tremendous, historic victory for ethics. But the election is also an important ethical victory because the massive use of lies didn’t work. And the various scare words didn’t scare....For our president-elect to be a good president, for him to succeed, he must want, passionately, to answer this question, articulated by Eli Siegel: “What does a person deserve by being a person?” And he must make sure the economy of America is based on a true answer to that question….

The American people need to see that tinkering around with an unethically based economy will not work.  We now have to have economics based, not on profit, but on ethics, justice, usefulness...." > more

• What Are the Results of the Profit Motive?

bulletTime Herald Record, (Middletown, NY) 11/2/2010

"Outraged by fracking" by Michael Blaustein

"As a State University at Albany junior and a member of the student government, I was outraged about plans by gas companies to break up rock formations in upstate New York by using poisonous chemicals to release natural gas deposits.” > more

Also published in:
Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY), Daily Star (Oneonta, NY), The Courier (Elmira, NY), The Record (Troy, NY),
New Paltz Times (New Paltz, NY), Saugerties Times (Saugerties, NY)

Newsday, 9/26/2005

"The Bane of True Democracy" by Timothy Lynch, President of Teamsters Local 1205

Although Northwest Airlines declared bankruptcy, thousands of its employees are still on strike [“Northwest and Delta file for bankruptcy,” Business & Technology, Sept. 15]. In their fight, they stand for all Americans. They're protesting their employer's long-planned scheme to eliminate more than three quarters of them; slash pay and benefits for the remainder by more than 28 percent; and eliminate their hard-earned pensions....The beautiful, democratic solution was explained by Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism: “Jobs should be for usefulness, not for profit.” > more

The Wall Street Journal, 10/15/96

    "Layoffs and Sweatshops Threaten Our Economy" by Timothy Lynch, Teamsters local 1205

    WALL STREET JOURNAL. "Contempt is ... what makes one person see another in terms of how much money can be gotten from him or her.  It is what causes some employers to squeeze as much work as possible out of managers, secretaries, assembly-line workers, while giving them as little as possible and hoping to discard them." > more


• Road Accidents

Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) 9/4/00

    "When High Profits Drive Trucking, Accidents Happen" by Timothy Lynch, Teamsters local 1205

    LOS ANGELES TIMES.  What is the central reason for a drowsy trucker running over a car and killing four passengers? Why does a trucker "cut corners" and rush to get the delivery made and the truck back for the next load? Because a boss sees every truck, driver and load in terms of profit for himself. The quicker the delivery and the lower the wage he pays, the bigger the profit.  >  more

• The Health Insurance Failure

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 1/22/00

"Helping Firefighters Battle Hepatitis C Is Civic Duty" by Richel Clerkin, R.N.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  My heart goes out to the Philadelphia firemen who are being denied medical coverage for Hepatitis C. At least 125 firefighters, or nearly 6 percent of the 2,100 who were tested, have tested positive for Hepatitis C—a rate three times the national average  > more

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2. Aesthetic Realism asks, What Does a Person Deserve by Being Alive?

This fundamental ethical question of Aesthetic Realism, What does a person deserve by being alive? was asked by Eli Siegel as the beginning point for seeing what is just to any person whether affluent or impoverished. In articles like the following, writers explore the meaning of this question for the most critical fields in present day economics. Aesthetic Realism sees ethics as inseparable from the success or failure of our economy and ourselves as individuals.

• Do People Deserve Health Care?

Times Herald Record, 9/21/07

"Imagine health care that is compassionate and real" by Christopher Balchin

"In early March I got the call every child of an elderly parent dreads: My mother, Kathy Balchin, age 80, had fallen, breaking her left wrist and right leg. Coming home was out of the question. She needed hospitalization, nursing home care, then physical therapy. She was in a state of shock. My father, Robin, 83, was in crisis.
Imagine this scenario:
She and my father do not fill out a single insurance form. They don't have to worry about money. Every minute in the hospital and nursing home, and transportation, is free of charge. Is this even conceivable?..." > more

El Diario / La Prensa, 4/24/07

"One Health Insurance, for All, for Life" by Jaime Torres, DPM

"All over this country the crisis in our healthcare system is a burning issue,... Eli Siegel, the great philosopher and founder of the education Aesthetic Realism, showed its central failing when he explained that a healthcare system based on profit is unethical because it is based on “contempt for people.”...." > more

New York Newsday (NY, NY) 1/30/2003

" Stop Drug Industry!" by John Stern

I was infuriated to read "Drug Industry's Challenge to Maine Hits High Court" [Newsday, Jan. 23]. The drug industry is challenging Maine's kind program, which reduces bloated drug prices for its uninsured residents. > more

• Do People Deserve Good Housing to Live In?

Northport Journal (Huntington, NY) 12/19/99

American Planning Association

"Housing in America: A Basic Human Right" by Barbara Buehler

Housing in America is a basic right of every man, woman, and child. It is heartbreaking and shameful that we have gone so far away from our beautiful beginning purpose stated in the Declaration of Independence—to secure for everyone "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  > more


3. What Purpose Does Profit Economics Come From?

The writers of these articles ask what is the ethical--or unethical--meaning of some few persons using the hard work of many other people to make big profits for themselves?


• The Economy As a Whole

The Philippine Post Magazine, 2/02
"Purposes in America...Once and Now" by Ellen Reiss, Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism

PHILIPPINE POST.  It is often hard to see clearly something we are in the midst of, something that is very close to us. Yet we need to try, or we may make mistakes of a huge kind....[The] seeing of humanity and earth as existing to supply profit for oneself and a few others, is a form of contempt that has caused massive suffering through the centuries.  > more



4. What Is the Importance of Unions in America?

• The Meaning of a Strike

Herald News (Northern New Jersey) 5/8/04
"Unions Remain Strong, Vital" by Timothy Lynch, President, Teamsters Local 1205

There is now, not a decreasing, but an increasing interest in unions on the part of the American people. That's because the average American is working harder, longer and for less pay and fewer benefits than he or she did 30 years ago. There's a growing awareness in people... > more

Back Stage: The Performing Arts Weekly (New York, New York) 6/23-29/00

"Cheers for SAG-AFTRA" by Anne Fielding, Aesthetic Realism consultant / Director, Aesthetic Realism Theatre Co.

BACK STAGE.  Bravo to my fellow actors of SAG and AFTRA, striking against the advertising industry, demanding fair compensation for their work!  >  more

• Unions and Wealth

bulletMetro, New York 3/1/11
"Economics Lack Ethical Touch" by Matthew D'Amico, Political Coordinator Civil Service Employees Union

The current assault on labor unions across America is a shameful reminder of what has been going on for
decades as greater wealth and power is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. .... >  more

Financial Times (London, UK) 10/4/00
"We Actors Deserve Our Share of the Wealth We Help Produce" by Carol McCluer of the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company

FINANCIAL TIMES of LONDON.  As a member of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, who has worked making commercials, I am proud of our strike (since May 1) .... >  more

• Unions, Human Rights, and Study

Long Beach Times (Long Beach, California) 8/23/01

"Union Leader Outlines Most Important Study for America" by Alice Bernstein

LONG BEACH TIMES.  At the 26th Convention of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Las Vegas this summer, Timothy Lynch, President of Local 1205 (Melville, NY), spoke in a way that I see as a high point in labor history.  > more


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