But Buddhism's focus is on liberation from mental suffering which one has to acheive through one's own efforts through investigation and training of the mind. All of the supernatural aspects of Buddhism play only a supportive role to that focus. If you take away all the supernatural aspects, the deities, rebirth, etc., you still have the focus of Buddhism: liberation
That's a little nearsighted. You may be right about Buddhism, but you're wrong about Judaism, and you may be wrong about Christianity and Islam as well but I am no expert on the later two. Not that I am an expert on Judaism either...
The central theme in Judaism is to do "mitzvas" — good deeds — in order to speed up the arrival of the messiah. Messiah is what the early Christians considered Jesus to be, but it seems to me (and I got the same vibe from even Chasidic Rabbis) is that the messiah is not meant to be taken literally. If you think about it, if everyone did "mitzvas" all the time then there would be no need for an actual messiah, we'd be living in heaven on earth anyway.
What are mitzvas? There's hundreds of them, ranging from being good to your wife, to studying and enhancing your worldview, from having a good time on a holliday to donating to charity.
Now, I know you're going to say that this is "secular humanism", but there's more.
In Judaism there are several levels (I believe, 7) of "holliness" or "enlightment" that one can achieve. Most people are on the lowest level — misery and ignorance. By doing "mitzvas" and by understanding that everything and everyone are connected, you raise yourself to the next level. Then by learning and meditating, you reach the next level, etc.
I've read a book some time ago about the idea of prophecy in Judaism. Prophets received god's word when they rose through all these levels, in many cases by completely ignoring worldly needs like food, sleep, and sex, and by spending their time in relaxation and meditation to the point where their mental filters were not so busy blocking the mundane noises that they relaxed and started receiving on a higher level.
So what's Judeaism if you take away the notion of god? You've got "secular humanism" with "focus ... on liberation from mental suffering which one has to acheive through one's own efforts through investigation and training of the mind."
Like I said, I don't know whether you're right or wrong about Christianity and Islam, but I suspect you've made your statement because you understand "something" about Budhism and nothing about other religions.
After reading this entire thread, I am amazed that not a single person pointed out that during the Clinton Administration, despite eight years of increasing productivity, eight years of decreasing manufacturing jobs, and eight years of record increases in imports from places like China, the U.S. economy ADDED 20 MILLION JOBS and poverty and unemployment dropped to their lowest levels in decades.
Compare that to the 3 million jobs lost, apparently for good, during les than three years of the Bush Jr. Administration.
I like Bill Clinton a lot and would not hesitate to give him credit where due, but just for completness' sake I would like you to connect the dots in your post.
During Clinton, the overall economy was good. In fact, as anyone who was paid 120k for Photoshop and HTML skills would tell you, it was too good. The stock market was setting a record every day despite any sign that the value of traded companies was rising. People felt wealthy and spent tons of money, thereby creating jobs. When you're doing well, you're not going to think twice about hireing that extra janitor, programmer, accountant, etc. The economy was good, jobs were created.
Alas, fall inevitably replaces summer, and good times don't last forever. People no longer feel wealthy because their Cisco stock isn't worth what it used to be. The overall mood changes, businesses are more likely to "trim the fat" than to hire.
You're saying that we gained 20 million jobs during the Clinton "binge" and lost 3 million during the Bush "purge." Can you prove that the jobs that are lost aren't because an equal or greater number were unreasonably created previously? To use an analogy, if you gain 20 lbs and then lose 3, you're not withering away...
Your post can be summed up in its essense as "things were good during Clinton and they're not so good now." You mention "eight years of increasing productivity, eight years of decreasing manufacturing jobs, and eight years of record increases in imports" and then shrug them off because these things didn't have an impact on the net "goodness" of things. Now that the times aren't so good and employers and investors are more likely looking at actual returns (for better of worse, one is now more likely to invest in a company w. plants in India than in a dot-com without a business plan), the fundamental issues come into play.
The economy's doing a bit better now but people aren't hireing because they have sufficient productivity w. their existing workforce to meet anticipated demand. The manufacturing jobs, as you said, aren't coming back anyway.
So how do you turn these facts into a compaign ad for Dean? What specifically did Bush by his "incompetency" that lead to this? What is Dean going to do differently in order to turn things around? I don't believe Dean can recreate the magical conditions where people invested blindly (and made returns!), leading companies to hire blindly (and receive investments!)