News and Announcements

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Live Oxford Debate: Do "Gig Economy" Workers Need Protection?

Come watch a live debate on the contentious topic of the "gig economy."

Here's the final debate resolution:
"We must end the exploitation of 'independent contractors' by passing legislation that appropriately classifies workers and reaffirms their rights."

Chuck (https://www.meetup.com/debateclub-6/members/80554492/) and Rob (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/191279019/)
will team up against Paul and Jeremy to engage in a civil and thoughtful debate on this topic.

The debate will be in an "Oxford-style" format (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Oxford-style_debating).

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The event schedule:

7:00 -- doors open
7:30 -- introduction by the moderator
7:45 to 9:45 -- the debate!
9:45 to 10:00 -- event wrap-up

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Political Thinkers: Frederick Douglass

We'll continue the "Political Thinkers" series. It critically examines the political and ideological viewpoints of prominent public figures, considered to be tremendously influential as a trendsetter.

Here, the goal is to discuss fresh viewpoints -- some of which might be "unconventional" in nature -- in analyzing its applicability in our ever-increasingly complex society. Just like every issue that our group discusses, we examine and evaluate it with an independent and critical lens, at the highest level of intellectual rigor.

For this discussion, we'll evaluate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, including:

▨ His role as the most influential African-American of the Nineteenth Century.

▨ His role as a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

▨ His work and advocacy on behalf of other reform causes, including: women's rights, land reform, public education, and the abolition of capital punishment.

▨ His role as an influential intellectual, with emphasis on agitation and antagonism of the institutional status quo.

▨ His wide appeal to the both modern day Conservatives and Progressives.

▨ Finally, we'll evaluate how his complex personal life shaped his outlook and his legacy.

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On being "woke" (and cultural relevatism)

As mentioned in our previous "Decade in Review" discussion (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/events/267274587/), the concept of being "woke" had been a major trend in the past decade. As we now chart out into this new decade, what does it mean to be "woke" (or "stay woke") ?

To that end, we'll discuss a handful of social norms and societal occurrences that are widely acceptable today, which might be unacceptable -- or even shockingly abhorrent -- to the future generations.

The examples include the following:

▨ The consumption of meat, especially with the advent of "factory farming."

▨ The paradox of abundance of food and obesity epidemic vs. the global hunger and systemic malnutrition.

▨ The paradox of the advancement of "modern medicine" vs. the lack of access to affordable healthcare.

▨ Being part of the "consumer culture" of goods manufactured under "slave labor" conditions.

▨ The continued existence of a "traditional" nuclear family.

▨ The criminalization of controlled substances (i.e., "drugs").

▨ The state sanction killing (i.e., capital punishment).

▨ The proliferation of nuclear weapons.

▨ The inaction on climate change.

▨ Certain personal hygiene habits.

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"Beyond Vietnam" (by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

As we mark the MLK Day, we'll read and discuss "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" (circa April 1967).

It can be accessed from various sources online, including at the following link below:

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/beyond-vietnam

(Note: the audio version of the speech can be accessed from the same webpage).

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Some questions worthy of further exploration:

- Who is the intended audience of the speech, and has he pursued the audience?

- Do you find the moral, philosophical, and religious references to be relevant and persuasive?

- Does the philosophy of "nonviolence movement" have any universal appeal or virtues?

- What was the impetus for Dr. King's evolution of civic activism from Civil Rights to foreign affairs?

- Does the speech appeal across today's ideological boundaries, namely the Left and the Right?

- Is the speech still relevant in today's society? If so, how?

IMPORTANT: the reading assignment is mandatory, if you wish to attend.

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Previous MLK Day discussions:

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Live Oxford Debate: "Healthcare should be a fundamental human right."

Come watch a live debate on the contentious topic of "healthcare." Here's the final debate resolution: "Healthcare should be a fundamental human right."

Erik (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/12950328/) and Danielle (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/12111958/) will team up against Rob (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/191279019/) and Fred (https://www.meetup.com/debateclub-6/members/68578742/) to engage in a civil and thoughtful debate on this topic.

The debate will be in an "Oxford-style" format (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Oxford-style_debating).

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The event schedule:

6:00 -- doors open, cellist performance of British-themed compositions
6:20 -- introduction by the moderator
6:30 to 7:45 -- the debate!
7:45 to 8:00 -- event wrap-up

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Live Oxford Debate: Brexit . . . leave or remain?

Come watch a live debate on the contentious topic of "Brexit." This is probably the most salient question of the time, not just for the U.K., but for the fate of the E.U. as well.

Fred and Andy will team up against
Nancy
and Tanya to engage in a civil and thoughtful debate on this topic.

Here's the final debate resolution:
"This House supports the U.K. leaving the E.U."

The debate will be in an "Oxford-style" format

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The event schedule:

7:00 -- doors open, cellist performance of British-themed compositions
7:30 -- introduction by the moderator
7:45 to 9:45 -- the debate!
9:45 to 10:00 -- event wrap-up

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On Empathy and Politics

As the Holiday Season draws near, let's reexamine the role of "empathy" in our lives and society. In particular, we'll focus the discussion on how "empathy" conflicts (or enhances) the public policy priorities, as well as our current state of politics.

The discussion will primarily be based on Prof. Paul Bloom's book, entitled "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion." This thought-proving book provides a refreshing perspective on "empathy" -- especially when it comes to both major policy decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives.

Here's the central question: is limiting our impulse toward empathy, perhaps the most compassionate choice that we can make?

To that end, we'll examine the following topics:

• Is empathy the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society?

• Is empathy a product of a capricious and irrational emotions that appeals to our narrow prejudices?

• Are important public policy decisions — such as budgetary priorities, the criminal justice system, foreign relations, the use of military force, and how to respond to climate change — are too often motivated by honest, yet misplaced, emotions?

• How does empathy distort our judgment in every aspect of our lives, from philanthropy and charity to the justice system; from medical care and education to parenting and marriage?

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Presidential Primary Debate Watch Viewing Party!

Join us for the November 2019 edition of the Democratic Party Primary Debate Watch Party!

Come cheer or jeer the crowded field of ten (or so) candidates who will take the stage for yet another televised debate for the 2020 election! We'll play political bingo and have pre-debate social gathering. It's been a long primary season already, and this debate is sure to be a doozy!

There's no fee to attend this event and you can purchase food and / or drinks on your own tab.

Here's the proposed schedule:
7:30pm: the doors open
7:30pm to 9pm: pre-debate social gathering
9pm to 11pm: watch the televised debate!

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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The NYCPF is a nonpartisan organization. As such, we do not promote, endorse, or advocate on behalf of any particular candidates, parties, issues or causes. Rather, our aim is to foster independent, critical thinking by the exchange of views and ideas at the highest level of intellectual rigor.

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The Fall of the Berlin Wall . . . analysis and reflection after 30 years

Thirty years ago, on this very day, the border guards in East Germany opened the gates along the checkpoints a the Berlin Wall. This ostensibly marked the fall of the Iron Curtain, which ultimately resulted in the end of the Cold War.

As we look back at this pivotal moment in world history, we'll discuss the following:

• A very brief overview of the outcome of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.

• Post-War occupation and partition by the Allied powers.

• The construction of the Berlin Wall.

• Major reforms undertaken by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late-1980s for the Eastern Bloc.

• The influence of pro-democracy movements surging in authoritarian regimes (e.g., the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989).

• The Reunification of Germany.

• The role of the U.S. and the Allied powers in the Reunification.

• The aftermath of the Reunification, including obstacles arising out of fiscal, public policy and the "societal reconciliation."

• The international response to the Reunification vis-à-vis other nations separated in the aftermath of WWII (e.g., Vietnam and Korea).

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Here's the soundtrack for this meeting:

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The Great Crash of 1929 and Great Depression -- a reflection after 90 years

Ninety years ago, during this week, a stock market crash -- later to be known as "Black Thursday" -- shook the global market. By this time, the dire warning signs of a severe economic downturn were felt around the world, ushering in the Great Depression.

For this meeting, we'll discuss the following:

• The causes of the unprecedented economic downturn. What are the common myths and misconceptions, if any?

• The impacts and aftermath.

• A very brief discussion on the significance of WWI and the implications of WWII, vis-à-vis the Great Depression.

• The lessons learned.

• The role of government in response, and any criticisms of the policies before, during and after the Great Depression.

• The polices enacted under the New Deal -- by way of relief, recovery, and reform -- was this profound expansion in the scope of government justified and / or effective?

• Finally, as we fast-forward to 2019 -- are we headed for another significant economic downturn, amid global economic stagnation, rise of automation and trade wars?

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