The Policy Think Site has become a virtual encyclopedia of Jay B. Gaskill’s (JBG) views, articles and observations on the human condition. It continues to attract wide attention (more than 250,000 hits to date) so far without any advertising or promotion.
Themes and Passions
JBG’s personal passions and avocations are diverse. Having rejected his mother’s insistence that he play the piano (much preferring baseball at the time), he ultimately took a serious interest in the French horn, immediately after hearing Wagner’s Prelude to the third act of Lohengrin. JBG is now long out of practice, be he cherishes the time when played the French horn in a concert band and local symphony orchestra. His musical tastes remain eclectic, but they are centered in the romantic and spiritual traditions.
He listens with equal joy to the music of Phillip Glass and Ira Gershwin, Dave Brubeck and J. S. Bach; Merle Haggard and Gustav Mahler; Hector Berlioz and Johnny Cash.
JBG is a student of crime and punishment, good and evil, terrorism, war, and peace, theology and ethics, politics and policy. As a reader, he is equally enthralled by the fiction of Phillip K, Dick and Fyodor Dostoevsky; Earnest Hemmingway and Robert Heinlein; Ray Bradbury and John Mortimer; Douglas Adams and Tony Hillerman. He loves humor and philosophy equally; science and science fiction interchangeably; Manhattan and the western wilderness irresistibly.
JBG is sees a common thread running though the heroic creative assertion ethos of Ayn Rand, and the life affirming compassion ethos of Albert Schweitzer; detects the underlying common moral sense in the robust, practical humanism of Eric Hoffer and that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and recognizes the common spiritual sensibility operating in the lives of Carl Sagan and Thomas Jefferson.
JBG wrote his readers a prophetic message on January 2, 2012:
2012 is a year of major transitions, some of which will not be immediately apparent to the casual observer and many clueless policy makers.
Europe will begin the painful shift away from its incoherent blend of highly productive, self-sustaining economies linked at the aorta to unsustainably underproductive, dependency economies. The new European model, whether the euro survives as a unitary currency, in a two tier form or not at all, will have one key feature: The failing entitlement models will be decoupled and made more accountable for their own misallocation of resources. There is just not enough free-floating altruism in all of Europe for the highly productive economies to voluntarily carry the entitlement load of the highly unproductive ones. The governing institutions of the EU cannot operate as an uber-government over the strong objections of its members. The forms of governance may remain, but the reality of an EU super-state will not gel in its present form.
China will be forced by internal pressures to move from what is essentially a slave labor, subsidized-production economy to something closer to the current American one – a credit-fueled consumption model. The pressures to increase wages and to relax restrictions on consumption cannot long be resisted in China, especially when its sovereign lending represents unspent money-in-the-bank that can be used to ease the conditions of Chinese labor.
The common thread in all these shifts is the breakdown of the command economy model (whether socialist, communist, mercantilist, or crony-capitalist) and the collapse of the various liberal subsidized-idleness models. As a result, what we now think of as liberalism and conservatism will change. All in all, I am cautiously optimistic.
Certain themes recur in JBG’s writing, in both his fiction and non-fiction:
- the faux conflict between spiritual and material reality;
- the real tension between naïve idealism and moral realism;
- the ineluctable struggle between courage and fear;
- the conflict between moral integrity and ambivalent timidity;
- the essential struggle of good people with the question and reality of authentic evil;
- …and the recurring fracture between self-confident heroism and its detractors.
JBG’s stories (both factual and fictional) are peopled with likeable heroes and recognizable villains whose lives reflect these classic conflicts. In the present moment, in spite of all that has taken place, JBG’s optimism is undiminished.
Read more from Jay B. Gaskill by checking out his blogs below: