TIME Books

Quiz: Which Alice in Wonderland Character Are You?

The Dodo solemnly presents Alice with a thimble Illustration by John Tenniel from the book Alices's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll published 1891
Universal Images Group / Getty Images The Dodo solemnly presents Alice with a thimble Illustration by John Tenniel from the book Alices's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Let TIME determine your Wonderland soul mate

Precisely 150 years ago, a fantastic story written by an Oxford mathematician starting circulating around England—and breaking all the Victorians’ rules about children’s literature. This unpredictable tale didn’t have pious morals; it had talking animals and death jokes and buckets upon buckets of nonsense.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has enchanted artists, thinkers and readers in the last century and a half, partly because of its wonderful clash of characters, from the curious to the brave to the chronically decapitating. Take TIME’s quiz and find out which one is most like you.

 

 

TIME Books

See How Lewis Carroll’s Alice Evolved Through the Decades

The world first met Alice in July of 1865

It was precisely 150 years ago this week—on July 4, 1865—that the world first met a very special girl, who in the decades since has taught countless readers (and movie- and theatergoers) about the importance of believing in the impossible.

lewis carroll
Oscar Gustav Rejlander—The Morgan Library & MuseumPhotograph of Lewis Carroll, 1863.

Charles Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll, had taken a boat trip exactly three years earlier, on July 4, 1862, with a group that included a girl named Alice Liddell. Liddell was a daughter of the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford, where Dodgson was studying mathematics. (Some people have questioned the nature of Carroll’s relationship with Alice, although there appears to be little firm evidence that it was not benign.) As the Lewis Carroll Society tells it, it was on that outing that he began to tell the story of another Alice, who found her way to a magical place underground. The character’s real-life inspiration loved the story and asked him to write it down for her, which he did.

That story became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was published in a very limited run by Macmillan on July 4, 1865, with illustrations by John Tenniel. A few weeks later, Tenniel announced that he didn’t like the quality of the first printing and asked to have the edition withdrawn. The book didn’t become more widely available until that holiday season, but according to the University of Florida libraries—which hold a collection of editions of the work—it was from the July 4 printing that Alice Liddell was given her very own copy of the book she helped bring into the world. July 4 is celebrated throughout Oxford as Alice’s Day.

Many other museums, libraries and groups will also celebrate Alice‘s birthday this week; one of the Tenniel illustrations in the gallery above, for example, can be seen at the new exhibit Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland, on view now through Oct. 11 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

In the 150 years since John Tenniel’s illustrations first helped the world imagine Alice, depictions of the character have evolved—but she has never lost her sense of wonder.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Powerful Books to Improve Your Life

A book is a powerful external force that can change everything about who you are

Quiz time: Can you name Newton’s first law of motion?

No? (Don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too.)

Newton declared, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”

In other words, if you are flying in the International Space Station and toss an apple out the window (come on, use your imagination), it will keep going in that same direction forever, unless something stops it (like a planet, gravity or alien life form).

Although Newton was talking about physics, little did he know he was also describing life.

People tend to move in the same direction as they always have unless some external force is applied. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my life to be lived in a straight line. I want to change, to improve, to crush it.

This is why I read.

A book is a powerful external force that can completely knock your life off its mundane straight line and change everything about who you are. The following are five books that did just that in my life.

  • 1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad

    rich-dad-poor-dad-cover
    Goldmann TB

    Something was eating me alive inside. (No, it wasn’t a parasite.) It was an idea.

    Something about work, life, money, wealth and freedom — but I couldn’t quite say what that idea was. For months it weighed on me, but I couldn’t find words to express it.

    Then came Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

    Finally, there were words for the internal dialogue that was taking place every minute of my life. I could finally form my abstract thoughts about money into actual speech — and it changed my life forever.

    It’s hard to say exactly what Rich Dad, Poor Dad is because it means so many different things to so many different people. But the gist of it is this: The poor work for their money, but the rich make their money work for them. It’s a mindset book more than anything, but with enough stories and examples to keep you captivated. It’s no wonder this book is hands down the most popular book recommended by guests on The BiggerPockets Podcast that I co-host each week.

    Kiyosaki taught me to stop saying, “It can’t be done,” and start asking, “How can it be done?” in every area of life. He started me on a journey that led me to buy my first rental property, followed by dozens of other investment properties that got me out of the “rat race” by the time I was 27.

    For the first time, I began to see that wealth is not an accident, but an action. (Yes, I expect you to tweet that! I worked hard on that line!)

    Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad this week.

  • 2. The Total Money Makeover

    total-money-makeover-cover
    Thomas Nelson Publishing

    A year after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a friend from church recommended I read through Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, and once again, my life took a turn for the better after a rude awakening: my spending was out of control!

    I was spending $1,000 a month more than I was making. How did I not realize this?

    The Total Money Makeover helped me to look at my personal finances with more seriousness and gave me a passion to pay off debt, live more frugally, and save more money.

    Suddenly, having a budget didn’t seem like a chore, it felt like I finally had a reign on my wallet. I was in control of my spending. My spending was not in control of me.

    As an entrepreneur, some months are financially better than others. However, because of the lessons I learned from The Total Money Makeover, I’m better prepared to handle the difficult times because I have a strong personal finance foundation.

  • 3. The 4-Hour Workweek

    4-hour-workweek-cover
    Crown Publishers, Inc.

    No, I don’t work four hours a week. No, I don’t travel to exotic countries to salsa dance. I don’t even know what Chinese kickboxing is.

    But Tim Ferriss’ story and philosophy about business and life resonated with me in a powerful way that altered my life, my relationships, my free time and my purpose.

    Whereas Rich Dad, Poor Dad taught me that wealth was mine for the taking, The 4-Hour Workweek taught me that life was mine for the taking.

    I don’t need to wait until I’m 62 to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I don’t need to have $1,000,000 in the bank to achieve the life that millionaires brag about. I don’t need to slave away at a job I hate just to pay the bills.

    There is another way.

    Part productivity handbook, part inspirational and part lesson in entrepreneurship, The 4-Hour Workweek refuses to be classified as anything but what it truly is: life-changing.

    I think critics of The 4-Hour Workweek tend to focus too much on the specifics of the book. “I can’t do that in my job” or “I don’t want to travel the world like Ferriss.” They are missing the point and can’t see the forest for the trees.

    You don’t need to hire a virtual assistant for $2 an hour to change your life (though, I did). You don’t need to start an online business that generates passive income (though, I did). You don’t even need to backpack Europe like a hippy (though, I did). However, there are ways you can improve your business and life through efficiency and optimization.

    For example, I hate talking on the phone with tenants, so after reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I hired someone part time to answer phones for me and show vacant units. The cost to me is tiny compared the amount of mental space it cleared up in my life, time that I could spend doing business activities I actually enjoy doing.

    To sum up The 4-Hour Workweek: Find things in life that make you passionate, pursue them with all your soul, and enjoy a glass of red wine while you are at it.

  • 4. The Lean Startup

    lean-startup_book-cover
    Crown Business

    The fourth book to cross my path at just the right time was The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

    I had used real estate investing to get out of the rat race and was able to jump into my passion: teaching real estate to others. BiggerPockets was a small company at the time, with just the CEO and one developer. When I came on board, suddenly I was over my head in a world I knew nothing about: startup culture.

    This is when The Lean Startup changed everything for me. No doubt, you’ve heard of this book, as the entire startup world has been transformed by lean methodology. Rather than building something that I want, why not build something everyone will want?

    The Lean Startup got me excited about building a business that mattered, not just a business that made some money.

  • 5. The One Thing

    the-one-thing-cover
    Bard Press

    Life gets hectic, does it not?

    I was working 100 hours a week between managing my rental properties, flipping houses, working at BiggerPockets and working on side projects as well. And I was burning out.

    That’s when this final book book took me by the shoulders and gave me a good, hard shake. The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is an easy to read but profound book that helped me to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing in all areas of my life.

    The One Thing asks, “What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

    By asking this question a dozen times a day, I am finding more time in my day to work calmly, taking less work home with me at night, fielding fewer emails and producing more income each month. It’s like magic.

    Are you ready to escape the “straight-line life” and allow books to change who you are? If so, I highly recommend starting with these five books.

    This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

    More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME Books

The Business Whiz Behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones

Northern Songs Deal
C. Maher/Daily Express—Hulton Archive/Getty Images Allen Klein, left, with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, April 29, 1969. Klein was representing Lennon in negotiations over control of shares in the Beatles' Northern Songs company.

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

A new biography examines Allen Klein's life and career, including how he wooed John Lennon and spurned Paul McCartney, and made a hit out of 'Bittersweet Symphony'

The Beatles may have had reputations as laid-back peaceniks, but their former manager Allen Klein was known as a pitbull.

Klein made a name for himself in showbiz by auditing music labels’ financial records to make sure his clients weren’t getting shortchanged, and he usually retrieved funds for them in the process. It made him more than a few allies on the talent side, if not on the business side. His career took off in 1963 when Sam Cooke asked Klein to be his manager, and after acquiring the Rolling Stones as clients, he set his sights on the Beatles.

“No one wanted or needed to manage the Beatles as much as Allen did,” Fred Goodman writes in his biography Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll, out now. Though the manager was always looking for a creative new way to make a buck, Goodman writes, “he would have managed the Beatles for nothing. Klein saw handling them as final and irrefutable proof that he was the best.”

To do it, Klein took a divide-and-conquer approach. The Beatles’ finances were in terrible shape after the death of their longtime manager Brian Epstein in 1967 and the poor management of a company they started. Klein saw his opening. He invited John Lennon and Yoko Ono to dinner in his penthouse suite at a London hotel, serving “a carefully researched and prepared vegetarian meal—exactly the macrobiotic dishes John and Yoko preferred.” If Lennon had reservations, he was quickly won over by Klein’s pitch. He got the feeling that the manager “was cut from a different cloth than the others he’d met—the same plain, coarse, ordinary cloth that Lennon flew for a flag.” An understanding was reached, and Klein’s firm, ABKCO, was in business with the Beatles.

George Harrison and Ringo Starr warmed to Klein as well, impressed by his successes, but Paul McCartney was not on board—and Klein did little to win him over. One time, McCartney called for Klein while the manager was in a meeting with the Beatles’ company, Apple, and Klein told the receptionist to say he’d call back later. The receptionist came back to say McCartney was insistent: “Klein would talk to him now—or never. The Beatle clearly knew he was being snubbed in front of a roomful of his employees. Klein shrugged. ‘I can’t talk to him now.’

“Paul McCartney kept his word. He never spoke to Allen Klein again.”

Not long after that, the Beatles were no more, and the Rolling Stones, feeling snubbed by Klein giving so much of his attention to their rivals, took their business elsewhere. But Klein kept making money off the Stones in particular—though a series of negotiations, he ended up owning the rights to some of their music, and profited not only from compilation albums, but also from a later song that sampled from Stones music: The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” Klein drove a hard bargain with the song’s label, saying it could release the song as long as his company could purchase the rights to be its sole publisher. They agreed, and he paid them $1,000.

The song of course became a huge hit, and “ABKCO actively exploited the composition,” Goodman writes, “licensing it to be used in commercials around the world for various products, including Nike shoes and Opel automobiles. When the band decided the song was being overexposed and overused, they declined to license the original recording for any more commercials. As the publisher, ABKCO instead commissioned its own recording for commercial use.”

The move was typical Klein: a cunning gesture whose outcome he could see far clearer than his opposing party. That was how Klein ran his business, more or less, until his death at 77 in 2009.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Gary Hart: America’s Founding Principles Are in Danger of Corruption

Gary Hart is a former United States senator

Welcome to the age of vanity politics and campaigns-for-hire. What would our founders make of this nightmare?

Four qualities have distinguished republican government from ancient Athens forward: the sovereignty of the people; a sense of the common good; government dedicated to the commonwealth; and resistance to corruption. Measured against the standards established for republics from ancient times, the American Republic is massively corrupt.

From Plato and Aristotle forward, corruption was meant to describe actions and decisions that put a narrow, special, or personal interest ahead of the interest of the public or commonwealth. Corruption did not have to stoop to money under the table, vote buying, or even renting out the Lincoln bedroom. In the governing of a republic, corruption was self-interest placed above the interest of all—the public interest.

By that standard, can anyone seriously doubt that our republic, our government, is corrupt? There have been Teapot Domes and financial scandals of one kind or another throughout our nation’s history. There has never been a time, however, when the government of the United States was so perversely and systematically dedicated to special interests, earmarks, side deals, log-rolling, vote-trading, and sweetheart deals of one kind or another.

What brought us to this? A sinister system combining staggering campaign costs, political contributions, political action committees, special interest payments for access, and, most of all, the rise of the lobbying class.

Worst of all, the army of lobbyists that started relatively small in the mid-twentieth century has now grown to big battalions of law firms and lobbying firms of the right, left, and an amalgam of both. And that gargantuan, if not reptilian, industry now takes on board former members of the House and the Senate and their personal and committee staffs. And they are all getting fabulously rich.

This development in recent years has been so insidious that it now goes without notice. The key word is not quid-pro-quo bribery, the key word is access. In exchange for a few moments of the senator’s time and many more moments of her committee staff’s time, fund-raising events with the promise of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars are delivered.

Corruption in a federated republic such as ours operates vertically as well as horizontally. Seeing how business is conducted in Washington, it did not take long for governors of both parties across the country to subscribe to the special-interest state. Both the Republican and Democratic governors’ associations formed “social welfare” organizations composed of wealthy interests and corporate executives to raise money for their respective parties in exchange for close, personal access to individual governors, governors who almost surely could render executive decisions favorable to those corporate interests. A series of judicial decisions enabled these “social welfare” groups, supposedly barred from political activity, to channel virtually unlimited amounts of money to governors in exchange for access, the political coin of the realm in the corrupted republic, and to do so out of sight of the American people. Editorially, the New York Times commented that “the stealthy form of political corruption known as ‘dark money’ now fully permeates governor’s offices around the country, allowing corporations to push past legal barriers and gather enormous influence.”

Frustrated, irate discussions of this legalized corruption are met in the Washington media with a shrug. So what? Didn’t we just have dinner with that lobbyist for the banking industry, or the teachers’ union, or the airline industry at that well-known journalist’s house only two nights ago? Fine lady, and she used to be the chairman of one of those powerful committees. I gather she is using her Rolodex rather skillfully on behalf of her new clients. Illegal? Not at all. Just smart . . . and so charming.

There is little wonder that Americans of the right and many in the middle are apoplectic at their government and absolutely, and rightly, convinced that the game of government is rigged in favor of the elite and the powerful. Occupiers see even more wealth rising to the top at the expense of the poor and the middle class. And Tea Partiers believe their tax dollars are going to well-organized welfare parasites and government bureaucrats.

Recent months have seen, in effect, the legalization of Watergate. Who would have thought, forty years after the greatest political scandal and presidential abuse of power in U.S. history, that the Supreme Court of the United States would rule the practices that financed that scandal were now legal?

That is essentially the effect of the Citizens United decision. Bets may be taken as to the length of time that will expire before this tsunami of political money ends up in the pockets of break-in burglars, wiretap experts, surveillance magicians, and cyberpunks. Given the power and money at stake in presidential and congressional elections, it is inevitable that candidates or their operatives with larceny in their hearts will tap into the hundreds of millions of dollars that their campaigns are awash in to game the system in highly illegal ways.

And, of course, the ultimate victims of the corruption of the democratic process are not defeated candidates and parties but America’s citizens. Perhaps Supreme Court justices should have to experience a corrupted election process firsthand to recognize a hollowed-out democracy. As one who experienced Watergate in its multi-tentacled form, I know it is not pleasant to be placed under surveillance, to have your taxes audited, and to experience dirty tricks. All this happened to me, among a number of others, simply because we worked for an honest presidential candidate who dared challenge the authority and power of a president who had long since forgotten the integrity the democratic process requires.

The advent of legalized corruption launched by the Supreme Court empowers the superrich to fund their own presidential and congressional campaigns as pet projects, to foster pet policies, and to represent pet political enclaves. You have a billion, or even several hundred million, then purchase a candidate from the endless reserve bench of minor politicians and make him or her a star, a mouthpiece for any cause or purpose however questionable, and that candidate will mouth your script in endless political debates and through as many television spots as you are willing to pay for. All legal now.

To compound the political felony, much, if not most, campaign financing is now carried out in secret, so that everyday citizens have a decreasing ability to determine to whom their elected officials are beholden and to whom they must now give special access. As recently as the 2014 election, the facts documented this government of influence by secrecy: “More than half of the general election advertising aired by outside groups in the battle for control of Congress,” according to the New York Times, “has come from organizations that disclose little or nothing about their donors, a flood of secret money that is now at the center of a debate over the line between free speech and corruption.”

The five prevailing Supreme Court justices, holding that a legal entity called a corporation has First Amendment rights of free speech, might at least have required the bought-and-paid-for candidates to wear sponsor labels on their suits as stock-car drivers do. Though, for the time being, sponsored candidates will not be openly promoted by Exxon-Mobil or the Stardust Resort and Casino but by phony “committees for good government” smokescreens.

To add to the profound misdirection of American politics by the Supreme Court, we now have what might be called convergence in the garden of government influence.

Back in the 1960s Flannery O’Connor wrote the short story “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” It had to do with generational insensitivity between a mother and son, and between generations on the issue of race in society. In reading a piece by Thomas B. Edsall (“The Lobbyist in the Gray Flannel Suit,” New York Times, May 14, 2012), this title came to mind in a totally different context. The context is the lobbying maze in Washington and the convergence of dozens of noxious weeds in the garden of government into a handful of giant predator thornbushes now devouring that garden.

Of this handful, the largest by far is WPP (originally called Wire and Plastic Products; is there a metaphor here?), which has its headquarters in London and more than 150,000 employees in 2,500 offices spread around 107 countries. It, together with one or two conglomerating competitors, represents a fourth branch of government, vacuuming up former senators and House members and their spouses and families, key committee staff, former senior administration officials of both parties and several administrations, and ambassadors, diplomats, and retired senior military officers.

WPP has swallowed giant public relations, advertising, and lobbying outfits such as Hill & Knowlton and BursonMarsteller, along with dozens of smaller members of the highly lucrative special interest and influence-manipulation world. Close behind WPP is the Orwellian-named Omnicom Group and another converger vaguely called the Interpublic Group of Companies. According to Mr. Edsall, WPP had billings last year of $72.3 billion, larger than the budgets of quite a number of countries.

With a budget so astronomical, think how much good WPP can do in the campaign finance arena, especially since the Citizens United decision. The possibilities are almost limitless. Why pay for a senator or congresswoman here or there when you can buy an entire committee? Think of the banks that can be bailed out, the range of elaborate weapons systems that can be sold to the government, the protection from congressional scrutiny that can be paid for, the economic policies that can be manipulated.

The lobbying business is no longer about votes up or down on particular measures that may emerge in Congress or policies made in the White House. It is about setting agendas, deciding what should and should not be brought up for hearings and legislation. We have gone way beyond mere vote buying now. The converging Influence World represents nothing less than an unofficial but enormously powerful fourth branch of government.

To whom is this branch of government accountable? Who sets the agenda for its rising army of influence marketers? How easy will it be to not only go from office to a lucrative lobbying job but, more important, from lucrative lobbying job to holding office? Where are its loyalties if it is manipulating and influencing governments around the world? Other than as a trough of money of gigantic proportions, how does it view the government of the United States?

America’s founders knew one thing: The republics of history all died when narrow interests overwhelmed the common good and the interests of the commonwealth.

O’Connor took her story title from a belief of the French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard de Chardin believed that all good would rise and that all that rose would eventually converge. We pray that he was right for, at the present moment, we have only prayer and no evidence. In the realm of twenty-first-century American politics, the opposite is surely coming true.

Welcome to the Age of Vanity politics and campaigns-for-hire featuring candidates who repeat their sponsored messages like ice-cream-truck vendors passing through the neighborhood. If the current Supreme Court had been sitting during Watergate in 1974, it would not have voted 9–0 to require the president to turn over legally incriminating tapes but instead would have voted to support the use of illegal campaign contributions to finance criminal cover-ups as an exercise in “free speech.”

What would our founders make of this nightmare of corruption? We only know, in Thomas Jefferson’s case, for example, that his distrust of central government had to do with the well-founded and prescient suspicion that its largesse would go to powerful and influential interests, especially financiers, who knew how to manipulate both the government and the financial markets. In particular, Jefferson envisioned sophisticated bankers speculating in public-debt issues with some if not all the interest incurred going into their pockets.

He was way ahead of his time. The limits of his imagination would not have encompassed the early twenty-first-century financial world where vast sums of money are manipulated like the world’s greatest three-card-monte game and nothing tangible is being produced—except fees and more money. Even the titans ruling over this game confessed, after the 2008 financial collapse, that they did not know what collateralized debt obligations, bundled derivatives, and other tricky instruments devised by clever twenty-eight-year-olds were about. All they knew was how to respond to their industry lobbyists’ requests for very large contributions to compliant members of congressional finance committees and to do so quickly and often. And they did get their money’s worth.

The scope and scale of this genuine scandal (as distinguished from vastly more mundane behavior that passes for scandal in the media) is the single greatest threat to our form of government. It is absolutely incompatible with the principles and ideals upon which America was founded. At the very least, we Americans cannot hold ourselves up to the world as the beacon of democracy so long as we permit, as long as we acquiesce in, corruption so far beyond the standards of the true republic that our government cannot be proclaimed an ideal for other aspiring nations.

On a more personal level, how can public service be promoted as an ideal to young people when this sewer corrupts our Republic? At this point in early twenty-first-century America, the greatest service our nation’s young people could provide is to lead an army of outraged young Americans armed with brooms on a crusade to sweep out the rascals and rid our capital of the money changers, rent seekers, revolving door dancers, and special interest deal makers and power brokers and send them back home to make an honest living, that is, if they still remember how to do so.

What angers truly patriotic Americans is that this entire Augean stable is legal. Even worse, recent Supreme Court decisions placing corporations under the First Amendment protection of free speech for political purposes compounds the tragedy of American democracy. For all practical political purposes, the government of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder.

A harsh judgment? Indeed. But it is impossible to claim to love one’s country and not be outraged at how corrupt it has become. For former senators and representatives to trade a title given them by the voters of their respective states and districts for cash is beyond shameful. It is outrageous.

“I tremble for my country when I contemplate that God is just.” Those words of Thomas Jefferson, enshrined on the walls of his memorial, referred to the institution of slavery. Today he might readily render the same judgment about corruption in and of the American Republic.

Imagine if you will the response of George Washington, James Madison, Jefferson, John Adams, and even the financial pragmatist Alexander Hamilton were they to observe today’s lobbyists at work, especially former government officials, organizing fund-raising events and delivering bundles of checks. They would be appalled. Even more, they would be ashamed.

Can this bazaar of special interest stalls in the halls of Congress, the money changers in the temple of democracy, be justified by the realities of modern times? If so, it is not readily apparent how. America can be a mass democracy of 330 million people. It is engaged commercially, diplomatically, and militarily all over the world. We live in an age of instant communication and international travel. The amounts of money involved in administering our government are staggering, with appreciably more zeros than even in the 1970s and ’80s. But none of these facts lift the burden of ethics in public life, what the founders called virtue, from the shoulders of public servants.

It is an error of serious proportion to dismiss corruption in twenty-first-century American democracy on the grounds that this has all been going on from the beginning, that boys will be boys, that politicians are always on the take. Past incidents of the violation of public ethics provide no argument for accepting the systemic and cancerous commercialization of modern American politics.

For that is what it is. Political office, public service, and engagement in governance must not be monetized. Even if no laws are broken, even if a public servant can walk out the door one day and cash in his or her experience and title for cash the next, that does not make it right. Everything strictly legal is not therefore ethical. When the founders discussed virtue, they were harking back to ancient Athens and the ideal of the republic. And, as scholars of ancient Greek and Roman political texts, they knew in their minds and in their hearts that a republic with leaders who lacked virtue would not long survive.

That is the issue. With the dubious endorsement by the Supreme Court of the United States, which will have its own history to answer to, using First Amendment protection of free speech to legitimize the most egregious violations of the principles of the republic is to invite the eventual erosion of the ideal of the American Republic, to reduce this great nation and its heritage to the worst kind of mundane governance, to prostitute a noble experiment on the altar of expediency and greed, and to leave coming generations to ponder what went wrong.

“Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right” should be carved above every congressional doorway, every cabinet department, and even the White House itself. Contrast the fact that upon returning to Independence, Missouri, in 1953, Harry Truman refused to take even a pencil from the White House (“It didn’t belong to me,” he said, by way of explanation) with modern presidents whose political networks have graciously waited until they departed the White House to make them rich.

Though quaintly used in recent times to denote proper behavior for ladies, virtue as applied to public service is a powerful standard. It genuinely does require having no personal interest in the public’s business, not only at the time one is involved in decision making but also thereafter. The fact that many former presidents and prime ministers of European democracies have enriched themselves in questionable ways after leaving office does not justify similar behavior on the part of American politicians. We hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Our ancestors did not depart Europe and elsewhere to seek freedom and self-government alone. They came to these shores to escape social and political systems that were corrosive and corrupt. Two and a quarter centuries later, we are returning to those European practices. We are in danger of becoming a different kind of nation, one our founders would not recognize and would deplore.

Even as politicians and pundits alike pummel the fiscal deficit, we are developing an integrity deficit of mounting proportions. And one is not disconnected from the other. Because of the erosion of the integrity of our governing system, and the principles and ideals underlying it, the fiscal deficit increases. The government spending so many conservatives claim to abhor includes not only the social safety net of Roosevelt and Johnson, but also the war-making excursions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is all government spending. And it includes favorite pork-barrel projects of every member of both houses of Congress of both political parties, and every one of those most loudly condemning “wasteful government spending.” Those projects are produced by the lobbying interests that raise money for those members of Congress in direct proportion to their effectiveness at bringing government-financed projects to their states and districts. By definition, if it is a project in my state or district, it is not wasteful.

Restoration of the Republic of Conscience requires reduction and eventual elimination of the integrity deficit. Virtue, the disinterestedness of our elected officials, must replace political careerism and special interests. The national interest, what is best for our country and coming generations, must replace struggles for power, bitter partisanship, and ideological rigidity. This is not dreamy idealism; it is an idealism rooted in the original purpose of this nation.

We were not created to be like other nations. We were created as an alternative to monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, and corrupt political systems. The more we follow the easy path, the one paved for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful, the more we stray from our originally intended purpose and the more we lose our unique purpose for existence.

Will America continue to offer a comfortable life for many? I hope so. Will we continue to have a strong army? If we are willing to pay for it, yes. Will we continue to provide the world’s entertainment? I presume so. But these are not the real questions.

The question is: By adhering to its highest principles and ideals, will America continue to have the moral authority to lead all people of goodwill? The answer remains to be seen. And that answer will have much to do with whether we have the courage to drive the money changers from the temple of democracy and recapture government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

In addition to the rise of the national security state, and the concentration of wealth and power in America, no development in modern times sets us apart more from the nation originally bequeathed to us than the rise of the special interest state. There is a Gresham’s law related to the republican ideal. Bad politics drives out good politics. Legalized corruption drives men and women of stature, honor, and dignity out of the halls of government. Self-respecting individuals cannot long tolerate a system of election and reelection so dependent on cultivating the favor of those known to expect access in return. Such a system is corrosive to the soul.

Some years back a prominent senator was fond of saying with regard to the relatively modest lobbying influence of the day: “If I can’t take their money and drink their whiskey, and then vote against them, I shouldn’t be here.” That was then. And then campaigns cost much less than they do today. Few if any can now claim to take their money and drink their whiskey and vote against them. Anyone who does will soon find closed wallets and fleeing contributors.

Campaign funds now go to feed an army of consultants (or “strategists” in the coinage of the day), media advisors, media producers, television-time buyers, speechwriters, schedulers, advance specialists, crowd raisers, and more specialized campaign bells and whistles than everyday citizens can imagine. Campaigning is a major industry now that consumes hundreds of millions of dollars and, in national campaigns, billions of dollars. Almost all of it goes to the media, the same media whose commentators regularly deplore the costs of campaigns.

The headquarters of the permanent campaign industry in Washington are but a stone’s throw, if that, from the offices of the lobbying firms. The treasurers of most campaigns have only to funnel the checks from lobbyist-bundlers (those who collect bundles of checks) into the accounts of the campaign management companies. It is a great hydra-headed monster, one that is rapidly devouring American democracy.

The significant issue is the effect of this relatively recent conversion of a democratic process to a major industry that devours money. That industry and all it represents is a departure from the American ideal that is different not only in scale but also in kind.

We are not the same country we started out to be. We cannot conduct our political process the way we are doing in the twenty-first century and claim to adhere to our earliest principles. We must decide who we are. And if that decision is to restore our highest ideals, then major changes must be made in the way we elect our presidents and our members of Congress.

 

Gary Hart is a former United States senator and presidential candidate and the author of 21 books.

From THE REPUBLIC OF CONSCIENCE by Gary Hart. Published by arrangement with Blue Rider Press, a member of Penguin Group USA. Copyright © 2015 by GaryHart.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

How To Kill a Mockingbird Reflects the Real Civil Rights Movement

To Kill A Mockingbird
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images Actors Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson in the film 'To Kill a Mockingbird', 1962.

'Mockingbird' paralleled at least three real incidents from Harper Lee's hometown

Life Books has just released The Enduring Power of To Kill a Mockingbird, a volume exploring the lasting influence of Harper’s Lee’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, the making of the classic film with Gregory Peck, the world of Lee and her upcoming book Go Set a Watchman—as well as the issue of civil rights at the time that she was writing Mockingbird. Below is an excerpt from one of the chapters dealing with the subject of race in America:

In 1960, when To Kill a Mockingbird was published, much of white America viewed the coming together of the races as immoral, dangerous, even ungodly. A white woman would never admit to doing what the Mockingbird character Mayella Ewell does, breaking a “time-honored code” by kissing Tom Robinson, a black man. And after being caught, she seeks to save herself from the scorn of society by accusing Robinson of raping her.

Such an accusation was a death sentence for an African American man. “Rape was the central drama of the white psyche,” says Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer prize–winning Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. “A black man raping a white woman justified the most draconian social control over black people.” The vigilante punishment for such a sin was lynching, as would have been the case with the mob of white men smelling of “whiskey and pigpen” who herd up to Maycomb’s jail to cart away Robinson. While they are stopped, in Mockingbird, because Scout Finch shames them, many real-life incidents went unchecked. Between 1882 and 1951, 3,437 blacks in the United States died that way, 299 of them in Alabama.

Harper Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a lot like Scout’s father Atticus Finch, and she clearly sketched him and local events when creating the plot of Mockingbird. As with Atticus, A.C. Lee was a lawyer, and, like Scout, the young Harper recalled earlier, “I did sit in the courtroom watching my father argue cases and talk to juries.”

Mockingbird paralleled at least three cases that were objects of contention in the Monroeville of her childhood, and Lee once commented how, in her novel, “the trial, and the rape charge that brings on the trial, are made up out of a composite of such cases and charges.” Seven years before Harper’s birth (in 1926), the senior Lee defended two blacks accused of murder. At the time, “the idea that someone like Lee would represent a black is by no means abnormal or unusual, though not typical,” says Wayne Flynt, distinguished university professor emeritus at Auburn University and a friend of Harper Lee. “People like her father had grown up in churches. They were not threatened intellectually, economically or politically by blacks.” A.C. Lee’s clients were executed, and he was so overcome that he never took another criminal case.

Next: In March 1931, just before Harper turned 5 years old, a bold-headlines case gripped Alabama. A group of blacks and whites got into a fight on a train. As the police arrested the nine young blacks, they came across two white prostitutes. In order to avoid being charged with consorting with blacks, the women accused the men of rape. Tried in Scottsboro, Alabama, eight of them received death sentences. Over the next few decades the Scottsboro Boys, as they were known, became causes célèbres of the civil rights movement—their case twice advanced to the Supreme Court. It took until 2013 for the men to be exonerated.

Then, third: In November 1933, outside Monroeville, a poor white woman, Naomi Lowery, claimed that a black man, Walter Lett, had raped her. At the time A.C. Lee was editing The Monroe Journal, and his paper covered Lett’s trial. There was fear that Lett would be lynched. Many of the town’s citizens, including Lee, petitioned Alabama governor Benjamin Miller, seeking clemency, and Miller commuted Lett’s death sentence to life in prison. To say that these stories came home in the Lees’ house is to state the obvious.

Harper Lee shows signs of hoped-for change in her book. “Moral courage is really inconvenient and it rarely goes unpunished,” says McWhorter. But A.C. Lee would not be punished. Characters like the fictional Atticus Finch and real-life people throughout the South were suddenly agitating within the strictures of society, and Harper Lee was ready to join the proud parade—a parade that was very happy to have her. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., no less, would write in his book Why We Can’t Wait, about “the strength of moral force,” and how, “To the Negro in 1963, as to Atticus Finch, it had become obvious that nonviolence could symbolize the gold badge of heroism rather than the white feather of cowardice.”

 - Mockingbird - Mockingbird
LIFE Books

LIFE’s special edition The Enduring Power of To Kill a Mockingbird is available in stores today. Digital edition available at TimeSpecials.com.

 

TIME Theater

Everything We Know About the Harry Potter Play

Get ready for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Muggles the world over were excited to learn that a stage play about Harry Potter will soon become a reality. But what exactly will this theatrical experience entail? Here’s everything we know about the play so far.

What is the play called?

The project’s title uses the tried and true formula of all of the novels: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

What’s it about?

J.K. Rowling was reticent about sharing too many details in her Twitter announcement. She described the play as a “new story,” and previous reports have speculated that it might be about Harry’s early years or the adventures of his parents, Lily and James. Rowling, however, says the play is “not a prequel.” She said she will keep tight-lipped about further details for now.

Why a play instead of another novel?

Rowling says she is “confident that when audiences see the play they will agree that it was the only proper medium for the story.”

Did she write the script herself?

She says it is “the result of a collaboration between writer Jack Thorne, director John Tiffany and myself.” It seems that Rowling and Thorne worked together on the story, and Thorne wrote the actual script.

Is it a musical?

It doesn’t seem to be a musical based on reports so far; however, there will be music of some kind, courtesy of Imogen Heap.

Where will it run?

The show will be performed in London at the Palace Theatre.

When does it open?

Summer 2016.

When can I buy tickets??

Sometime this fall—more details will be found on the show’s website in late July.

TIME psychology

How Warren Buffett Keeps Up With Information

Warren Buffett in an interview on May 4, 2015.
Lacy O'Toole—CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images Warren Buffett in an interview on May 4, 2015.

Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

It's about having filters

A telling excerpt from an interview of Warren Buffett (below) on the value of reading. Seems like he’s taking the opposite approach to Nassim Taleb in some ways.

Interviewer: How do you keep up with all the media and information that goes on in our crazy world and in your world of Berkshire Hathaway? What’s your media routine?

Warren Buffett: I read and read and read. I probably read five to six hours a day. I don’t read as fast now as when I was younger. But I read five daily newspapers. I read a fair number of magazines. I read 10-Ks. I read annual reports. I read a lot of other things, too. I’ve always enjoyed reading. I love reading biographies, for example.

Interviewer: You process information very quickly.

Warren Buffett: I have filters in my mind. If somebody calls me about an investment in a business or an investment in securities, I usually know in two or three minutes whether I have an interest. I don’t waste any time with the ones which I don’t have an interest.

I always worry a little bit about even appearing rude because I can tell very, very, very quickly whether it’s going to be something that will lead to something, or whether it’s a half an hour or an hour or two hours of chatter.

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

Join over 50,000 readers and get a free weekly update via email here.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Had the Best Response to a Harry Potter Fan Who Is Fasting for Ramadan

Rowling tells a fan which book has the least amount of eating

J.K. Rowling is known for interacting with fans (and foes) on Twitter, but this Thursday the author sent a particularly sweet message to a fan who was fasting for Ramadan.

Mujtaba Alvi, a 21-year-old from Toronto on break from school, was rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when he tweeted at Rowling, telling her that the descriptions of food in the fifth Harry Potter book were hard to take while fasting. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, those who follow the faith abstain from all beverages and food from dawn until sunset.

To his surprise, Rowling tweeted him back with a helpful tip, suggesting that he read the seventh book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, next.

In that book, young wizards Harry, Ron and Hermione are often forced to go without food.

Alvi, who calls himself a “true Potterhead,” told TIME that seeing Rowling’s response was “surreal.” Plus, Thursday was his birthday—Rowling’s tweet, he said, was the “greatest gift ever.”

Alvi told TIME he probably will take Rowling up on her suggestion to read Deathly Hollows next. “JK Rowling told me to,” he said via Twitter direct message.

That should be an easy assignment for the Potter fan, who said he’s read the books “multiple times.”

H/t BuzzFeed.

 

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com