Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues


Former architect, city planner, and lawyer. Practiced architecture in New York and Boston for about five years. Went back to graduate school for professional degrees in city planning and law. Practiced law in Boston for about 20 years, mostly representing developers, lenders, syndicators, and contractors with regard to development and financing uctmixed income, government assisted rental housing. Worked outside the US for about 20 years as a free-lance consultant on international development projects funded by USAID, The World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and others, mainly on capacity-building for local governments. Now retired, living with my partner, Janet, in Brooksville, and a board member of the Blue Hill Concert Association and Bagaduce Music. I've had a long interest in politics, political theory, and international relations.

Living wage

During our 3 January meeting, we agreed to discuss a living wage at our 10 January meeting. There are lots of ways to approach that topic, but here are some suggested questions for discussion:

What is a living wage? I suggest that we not spend much time on how much a living wage should be in Dollars, but instead focus on the economic, social, and political concepts behind the idea of a living wage, and whether and how those concepts might differ from those behind the ideas of a minimum wage or a guaranteed minimum income.

Who would support a mandated living wage? Why? Who would oppose such a mandate? Why?

Who would/should bear the economic burden of paying for a living wage? Employers? Consumers? Taxpayers in general?

Most, if not all, living wage mandates in the US so far have been at the municipal level. What are the economic and political implications of a locally-mandated living wage?

What might be the economic, social, and political implications of mandating a living wage at the state or federal level?

Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen.” Karl Marx (and many others)

The Wikipedia entry for a living wage ( is long, but pretty thorough for our purposes. The following are a few articles I found that might be of interest:

Romeo living wage

Executive Privilege

Last Monday, we chose “executive privilege” (in the context of the Federal government) as the topic for Monday, 20 December. I found a pretty comprehensive article on the subject in Wikipedia.

There are a number of ways I can think of to approach this topic, including:

Who should be able to assert executive privilege, and under what circumstances?

In particular, should a former president (he who shall not be named) or a former member of the executive branch be able to assert executive privilege, and under what circumstances?

Do the answers to the previous questions change, depending on which branch of government (Congress or the judiciary) has subpoenaed testimony or documents over which the privilege is asserted? If so, why?

Under what circumstances should a claim of executive privilege be deemed to have been waived, for example by prior publication? Would the waiver apply only in the case of prior publication by the person claiming the privilege?

I’m sure there are other questions that can be raised about executive privilege.

Topic for 2 October: What were US political and economic expectations at the end of the cold war? Have those expectations been met?

Many politicians, and some economists and historians, claimed that the US had “won” the cold war when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991, and that the result would be “end of history” (i.e., world-wide adoption of US-style democracy and capitalism) and a “peace dividend” resulting from the anticipated fall in US defense spending. Were there other US expectations at that time as the result of the end of the cold war? What were they?

Have those US expectations been met? If not, how has reality differed from those expectations, and why?

One aspect of reality vs. post-cold war expectations is described in an article in the Business Section of The New York Times for Sunday, 24 September (

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