Saturday, July 28, 2012

If Obama Loses the Election Here's Why

7/28/12. Dr. Drew Westen, Professor of Psychology consults with Democratic politicians. Professor Westen outlines why Obama may lose --- and what he should do to win.

Aurora Beyond Us

7/28/12. Retired British prison psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple says the killings at the Colorado movie theater defy explanation.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Capitalism has an Image Problem


Charles Murray:

"Mitt Romney's résumé at Bain should be a slam dunk. He has been a successful capitalist, and capitalism is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn't take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased...

...But in today's political climate, updating the case for capitalism requires a restatement of old truths in ways that Americans from across the political spectrum can accept. Here is my best effort:
The U.S. was created to foster human flourishing. The means to that end was the exercise of liberty in the pursuit of happiness. Capitalism is the economic expression of liberty. The pursuit of happiness, with happiness defined in the classic sense of justified and lasting satisfaction with life as a whole, depends on economic liberty every bit as much as it depends on other kinds of freedom.

Lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole" is produced by a relatively small set of important achievements that we can rightly attribute to our own actions. Arthur Brooks, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, has usefully labeled such achievements "earned success." Earned success can arise from a successful marriage, children raised well, a valued place as a member of a community, or devotion to a faith. Earned success also arises from achievement in the economic realm, which is where capitalism comes in.

Earning a living for yourself and your family through your own efforts is the most elemental form of earned success. Successfully starting a business, no matter how small, is an act of creating something out of nothing that carries satisfactions far beyond those of the money it brings in. Finding work that not only pays the bills but that you enjoy is a crucially important resource for earned success.

Making a living, starting a business and finding work that you enjoy all depend on freedom to act in the economic realm. What government can do to help is establish the rule of law so that informed and voluntary trades can take place. More formally, government can vigorously enforce laws against the use of force, fraud and criminal collusion, and use tort law to hold people liable for harm they cause others..."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Missing the Point of the Aurora Killings

7/25/12.  Mona Charen:

"...For years, mental health authorities assured us that the mentally ill were no more dangerous than the average person. That's true of most, but not all. As Dr. E. Fuller Torrey documents in his essential book, "The Insanity Offense," rates of violence among the untreated mentally ill are significantly higher than among the general population and are also much higher than among those receiving medication. Between 5 and 10 percent of the untreated seriously mentally ill will commit violent crimes in any given year, accounting for at least 5 percent of homicides in the United States (a huge percentage in a nation of more than 300 million). For rampage crimes, such as the Aurora attack, the percentage of mentally ill perpetrators is much greater, as high as 50 percent.

Since the 1960s, when deinstitutionalization became intellectually fashionable and fiscally alluring to states looking to save money, the mentally ill have been dumped onto the streets. Today 95 percent of the in-patient beds that were available for psychiatric patients in 1955 are gone. The Treatment Advocacy Center explains that, "The consequences of the severe shortage of public psychiatric beds include increased homelessness; the incarceration of mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons; emergency rooms being overrun with patients waiting for a psychiatric bed; and an increase in violent behavior, including homicides, in communities across the nation." Imagine if we treated the mentally retarded this way.

In many cases of mental illness, a belief that one is not in need of treatment is part of the sickness. Yet most studies show that the majority of those who are medicated against their wishes retroactively approve and believe it should be done again if necessary. In New York, 62 percent reported that being ordered by a court into treatment was a good thing for them..."

Should We Make Tougher Gun Control Laws?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

7/24/12. This is a classic article written by Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick.

Open-minded politicians could learn something from Professor Nozick.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Why Does the World Exist?

7/21/12. Jeremy Bernstein reviews Jim Holt's book.

Jeremy Bernstein:

"...Mr. Holt cheerily refuses to heed interlocutors in his book who tell him his quest for a final answer is misdirected. But here is a story: A hedge fund manager, who has made all the money that he will ever need, reads Mr. Holt's book and decides to search for the meaning of the universe. He discovers a Buddhist monk who lives in a cave in the Himalayas and almost never speaks but, when he does, speaks only the highest wisdom. Our man undertakes a dangerous trek to ask the monk his question: "What is the secret of the cosmos?" The monk goes into a trance and comes out with a single sentence. "He says," the translator reports, "that the cosmos is like a bowl of cherries." Our man is outraged, so angry he even shakes the monk. "How can he possibly say that the cosmos is like a bowl of cherries?" The translator asks, and after a few minutes translates the monk's reply. "He says maybe the cosmos is not like a bowl of cherries."

Interview with Jim Holt in the NYT:

When Bad Theories Happen to Good Scientists

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Important Are Fathers in Child Development?

7/11/12. Kyle Pruett, M.D., child psychiatrist:

"How central are fathers to childhood development?

It depends on whom you ask. If you ask the child they would say, absolutely essential. You ask a mother, she'll say, if he does it the right way he's really important. If you ask the father he's likely to say, I'm not sure but I think probably pretty important. If you ask the experts, the answer will depend on how much they know about families and child development. I don't mean to be elusive in my answer.

It is a pretty well-accepted fact that we have not supported paternal engagement to the extent that would be helpful to our children. We're getting better at it now. We've come to understand that fathers don’t mother and mothers don’t father. Fathers can't really be replaced, in full, especially by somebody who doesn't feel like a father. We're beginning to understand that to the extent that dads are positively involved, the children's and the mothers’ lives are better..."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: "Why Does the World Exist?"

7/10/12. Kathryn Schulz reviews Jim Holt's book on why there is something rather than nothing. I enjoyed Jim Holt's book on humor:  "Stop Me If You've Heard This:  A History and Philosophy of Jokes."


"...Mind, matter, abstract ideas: Where does all this stuff come from? Why is the universe characterized by such abundance and complexity? Why does it exist at all? How did it come into being? Could there have been something else instead? Could there have been nothing else—that is, nothingness—instead? Is the human mind capable of resolving these matters? Can anyone do justice to all this in a 279-page book?..."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Quotation


"The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in the sociology department."

Thomas Sowell (1930 -    )