Please note: This website will undergo a major rebuild during May, 2017, hopefully with little or no interruption.  All the articles posted to this domain will remain available for viewing or download, except certain designated content that will be identified in user searches as part of soon-to-be published book length works.








Jay B. Gaskill (hereafter JBG), is the creator, editor and chief contributor to the Policy Think Site.


JBG is a criminal defense trial and appellate lawyer who served as the Seventh Alameda County Public Defender (headquartered in Oakland, CA), then left his “life of crime” to devote more time to his writing projects.  Heis a columnist, author, analyst, commentator - a writer with deep experience in the human condition and wide interests. His extensive personal and professional biography is posted at www.jaygaskill.com/Profile .


This website - Policy Think Site - was originally established by JBG in 2003 as a forum for “realistic liberals and creative conservatives” to find common ground. It quickly grew into a source of articles on a very wide variety of topics.


JBG is a core optimist. He is committed to fruitful dialogue and remains deeply uncomfortable with all ideologies. His lifelong study, his professional and life experiences have taught him that, while core morality is fundamental, ideology is provisional.


In JBG’s experience, a meaningful exchange of views is the exception in this ideology-driven culture, not the rule. But reasonable minds thrive only under certain conditions. They need dialogues held together by a common moral framework and a commitment to intellectual honesty, and a willingness to cultivate the art of authentic listening.  This is why reasonable minds are so rare.




The Policy Think Site has become a virtual encyclopedia of JBG’s views, articles and observations on the human condition.  The PTS 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. His Guides to Orchestral Music are published on the Web at these links:







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.   



Copyright © 2012, 2017 by Jay B. Gaskill