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Gained in the Translation

Have you ever listened to the words of recorded music and you could not believe what you though they said? So much the more entertaining when the music is sung in a foreign language, particularly Hindi. Yet it seems that the music is in fractured English except that it full of all sorts of humorous non sequiturs. For instance try this gem from India along with the pseudo-translations. See this link

The part I especially like went

“ Dish herpes on the head
Pull slinky and make me fart.
Do me hard, yes in the ear
Yes in the ear
Your brains will die.”

And especially dedicated on this Sunday morning to Brian Macker , this English hymn, with accompanying translation. I don’t know how these will sound to the grave and earnest men at DR( Dour Republic) but at least I get to try to link some clips. See this U-Tube Link
I didn't figure out how to put in those direct links to U-tube.


Brain Structure and IQ

Thanks to ThePenileFamily for binging to my attention the Steve Pinker video on Jewish IQ. I have a few comments and an additional reference.The interesting biochemical explanation is testable but single factorial explanations for IQ seem unlikely. This is especially ironic because of the attitude of some that IQ is some sort singularity. No, it is probably more like being a jock, the result of multiple innate abilities plus training.

It is interesting that other middlemen cultures such as the Chinese and Indian also produce an excess of high achievers in academia. Is there a biochemical basis for this? You can read this link.

I read this article in Scientific American that looked for the genetic linkages for IQ. There is no single gene or combination of genes controls IQ. Intensive DNA probing for genetic links to IQ have found no magic gene or combination of genes.

“ The researchers found only six genetic markers that showed any sign of having an influence on the test scores. When they ran stringent statistical tests to see if the results were flukes, only one gene passed. It accounted for 0.4 percent of the variation in the scores. And to cap it all off, no one knows what the gene does in the body.”

Many neuroscientists look at the brain not as an all purpose computer that may vary in power from one individual to another but as a coordinated system of behavior generating modules. Crude measures of brain weight are not sufficient . Sophisticated scans of the cortex show no one IQ center.

“Recently Haier and Rex Eugene Jung of the University of New Mexico surveyed 37 studies examining regional brain size or activity to look for an overall pattern to their results. As Plomin would have predicted, Haier and Jung found no one “intelligence spot” in the brain. Instead they identified a number of significant regions scattered around the cortex. Other studies have implicated each of these regions in different kinds of cognition. “It looks like intelligence is built on these fundamental cognitive processes, like attention and memory, and maybe language ability,” Haier says.

In Pinker’s lecture one of the possible causes of high Jewish IQ was the that people who have one copy of genes that promote various glycolipid accumulations in the brain, might lead to better neural transmission and hence a higher IQ . There is evidence that high IQ persons have larger amounts of white matter, possibly indicating better neural transmission within the brain.

“Along with describing the gray matter tissue that makes up the cortex, these studies also find the signature of intelligence in the white matter that links distant parts of the cortex to one another. People with high intelligence tend to have tracts of white matter that are more organized than other people. “The white matter is like the wiring,” Haier says. “If you think about it, you know intelligence really requires processing power and speed; the white matter would give it the speed; the gray matter would give it the processing power.”


Franklin D Hoover for President

One misconception about the Great Depression was that Herbert Hoover was a free market Republican Conservative. He was actually a technocratic government activist, with a disastrous track record. His predecessor Calvin Coolidge was a true conservative whose motto was “All freedom is individual.” Conservatives get a bad rap from libertarians because of modern day pseudo-conservatives. Unfortunately true conservatives today are even more peripheral than libertarians. Never fear, we are about to get some change. But what sort of change?

When Obama takes over will he be the new Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Introducing:
Franklin D. Hoover Obama, President.
Read This and This for more information.


Professors Attack Milton Friedman but Real Enemy is Freedom

In an interview in Reason Magazine Milton Friedman said

"I start from a belief in individual freedom and that derives fundamentally from a belief in the limitations of our knowledge, from a belief—that nobody can be sure that what he believes, is really right..so--.The most attractive position—is putting individual freedom first.

There's a great deal of basis for believing that a free society is fundamentally unstable—we may regret this but we've got to face up to the facts....I think it's the utmost of naiveté to suppose that a free society is somehow the natural order of things.

It's fortunate that the capitalist society is more productive, because if it were not it would never be tolerated. The bias against it is so great that—it's got to have a five-to-one advantage in order to survive.
I think a major reason why intellectuals tend to move towards collectivism is that the collectivist answer is a simple one. If there's something wrong, pass a law and do something about it."

More than 100 faculty at the University of Chicago, where Mr. Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize in economics, are trying to stop the university from putting Mr. Friedman's name on a 200-million dollar research center. The institute, which will focus on economic research was officially unveiled last May. A few weeks later, about 100 professors signed a letter calling on the university to reconsider the project. Since then, 172 faculty along with more than 1,000 students and alumni have signed a petition opposing the institute.

“He was the darling of the Reaganite revolution and the American right,” said Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religions who is leading the charge against the institute. “He was a scathing critic of the state playing a role of any importance.” If the institute goes ahead, Prof. Lincoln said it will attract “a certain kind of donor who is a great cheerleader for Friedman's politics,” and that donor will try to “steer research in a direction that's going to advance the cause.” He said the recent economic turmoil has bolstered opponents. “It's now a whole lot more obvious to everyone that [Mr. Friedman] got us into some problems and that he didn't have the final solution to everything that makes an economy work.”

Friedman Attacked

However, Friedman had long warned of the dangers of easy credit backed by the government.

“Therefore active monetary (e.g. easy credit) or fiscal (e.g. tax and spend) policy can have unintended negative effects. In Capitalism and Freedom (1967) Friedman wrote,
"There is likely to be a lag between the need for action and government recognition of the need; a further lag between recognition of the need for action and the taking of action; and a still further lag between the action and its effects.[9]”

Wikipedia on Friedman

A book by Naomi Klein defaming Friedman http://reas
has become popular in leftist circles while fellow economists have both praised and criticized Friedman. Krugman On Friedman.


Get Ready for More Taxes, Spending and Regulation

This article in today's Wall St Journal predicts that a big Democrat victory will result in the biggest swing to the left since FDR or LBJ. Massive new programs that will be difficult to reverse will be enacted. Huge new revenues subject to all sorts of political patronage, such as national health and Cap and Trade Carbon credits will flow in. The party will attempt to consolidate power by suppressing dissent through regulation of the internet and radio stations and changing voter laws. Secret ballots for unions will be eliminated, opening the way for union strong arm tactics. I can't believe it when I hear the some "libertarians" actually lean to the Democrat side.
Obama's Super Majority


Poverty Wiped Out Life Expectancy Plummets

You often hear that the privileged are at fault for inequality because they selfishly tolerate poverty, thus preventing minorities from getting an education, good housing, proper health care or a decent paying job. Look at the Indians on reservations, living at subsistence levels.

For example the Colville Indian Reservation in Okanogan County Washington which ranks in the top 10 in a five-year average of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, and juvenile arrests for alcohol violations. Okanogan County had 62 drug- or alcohol-related deaths out of 367 total deaths in 2006.

“-- Addiction knows no bounds,” said Ben Descoteaux, behavioral health program manager for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. He said income levels are more likely to play a role in addiction problems. “If you look at the economic data of the county, or the unemployment rate — those figures are some of the highest,” he said.

But, what would happen if poverty were to be wiped out?

See this link:

With annual revenues from casinos and other businesses that have topped $1.4 billion, the tribe provides each of its 3,300 members with an income of about $120,000 a year, a free education and a guaranteed job. And many college-educated Seminoles are coming home to work in the tribe's Hollywood headquarters.

Despite these positive developments, young Seminoles die at an alarming rate from drug overdoses, alcohol-involved car crashes and suicide.”

The stunning thing about this situation is that the life expectancy of tribe members actually decreased since casinos began operation. The average age of a Seminole at death has dropped from 59.7 years old in 1997, similar to the rate on many reservations, to 48.5 in 2007, an analysis of state records shows.

“A recent spike in accidental deaths among tribal members, along with a troubling school dropout rate and an eroding work ethic, is linked to growing prosperity, many Seminoles believe.

Simmons, who as a teenager went through years of drug use and rebellion, said she sees a correlation between money and excess.


Fundamental Economic Problems of Urbanized Society

The European leftists, the folks admired by the hard left in this country, oppose consumerism but offer no realistic alternative. Just do away with the economy, then life will be a perpetual vacation according to this group.
First a quote from Sixties radicals in France. See link for much more.

"Proposals to spread the work around by implementing a slightly shorter workweek seem at first sight to address the matter rationally. But such proposals do not face the fundamental irrationality of the whole social system based on market relations. While reacting to one manifestation of this irrationality (the fact that some people work long hours while others are jobless), they tend at the same time to reinforce the illusion that most present-day work is normal and necessary, as if the only problem were that for some strange reason it is divided up unequally. The absurdity of 90% of existing jobs is never mentioned.
It’s absurd to demand the “creation of jobs.” Enough riches already exist to take care of everyone’s basic needs; they only need to be shared around. As for all the production that serves no real purpose, a social revolution will close more factories and eliminate more stupid jobs in twelve hours than capitalism does in twelve years. We will no longer have any reason to produce such things as food colorings, aircraft carriers or insurance contracts. We don’t want “full employment,” we want full lives!
* * *
It is both morally and strategically justified to make particular demands, such as for higher unemployment benefits or free public services. But a social movement should not limit itself to such demands. To do so amounts to asking for justice from the very forces that are based on injustice---Whether we are workers, students or unemployed, what we all really need is the space and time to meet, to share dreams, to recreate our lives. We should demand full enjoyment, not full employment!"

Capitalism’s Headache
This economist gives the counter argument to the radical’s argument about the evils of consumerist capitalism by claiming that it is the only engine of long term prosperity, the other being massive investments in infrastructure, public works and exports which is ultimately unsustainable. Since economic development is the only known successful way out of poverty, what validity do anti-consumerists sentiments have?

Comparing Japan and China’s Economy

"The two countries have experienced similar cycles. A decade ago, a mainland investment boom led to a Chinese nonperforming loan crisis even bigger than Japan's 1990s bust. A massive, painful restructuring of China's debt-laden state-owned enterprises ensued. Now, China risks a repeat of that painful adjustment. The good news is that, in stark contrast to Tokyo's decade of denial, Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders have publicly recognized that today's imbalances must be addressed.

As in Japan, consumer spending is too low to keep the economy motoring ahead. In China, consumption was only 50% of GDP in the 1980s and today an astonishingly low 37%. Typically, poor countries devote about 60% of GDP to personal consumption. The problem is not lack of desire to spend, but lack of money: Household disposable income has been shrinking as a share of GDP. The annual flow of 10 million workers from countryside to city has suppressed wage growth while regulated rates give consumers negligible returns on their savings deposits.

Up to a point, less consumption meant China could devote more resources to investment, and thereby grow faster. Back in 1980, most Chinese citizens lived on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. By 2015, only 13% of the population will do so. The issue is not that consumption is not rising fast enough on an absolute scale. Rather, as in Japan, a development strategy that brought enormous success has been taken to an unhealthy and unsustainable extreme. With consumption not growing as fast as GDP, China had to find other sources of demand.

Total investment -- residential, business and public works -- has been pushed to a sky-high 45% of GDP. Even that is still not enough to absorb all of China's output. To avoid recession, China lends money to foreigners to buy Chinese exports, giving China a trade surplus of 9% of GDP, way up from the 2-3% of GDP that prevailed during most of 1990-2004. As Japan's experience shows, this strategy is unsustainable. Excess investment is likely to be wasteful investment, which eventually ends up undermining growth while building up nonperforming loans.

Meanwhile, China can only keep increasing its trade surplus if other countries increase their deficits, but the main deficit country, the U.S., has been sharply decreasing its price-adjusted deficit."

See Link To Wall Street Journal


Knee Jerk Deontology

Spiritual entities were once said to determine what was right and what was wrong. This force was thought to be God. Atheists and rationalists rejected this saying that the mind is best equipped for this duty. In this view, what is right or wrong is best judged by the smart educated people because they are most capable of being rational. Thus we have philosophers of ethicists and people who cruise the internet who tell us what is right and wrong. If you don’t believe me, just look at how many posts deal with right and wrong.

Ordinary people get by on a blend of consequence and principle in which they feel principled themselves and expect others to be that way too but their own behavior is arrived at situationally by deciding what is best at the moment.

Since deciding what is principled is difficult, only the most qualified, and smartest people can decide in advance what is right and by looking back hundreds of years they can also determinine what the correct things that everyone in the past should have done. Many of these people, since they no longer go to church inhabit certain departments of certain big time colleges, as I understand it.

Yet if deontology requires such great intelligence, why is it that the anointed get so emotional when their principles are violated. Since brainpower and thus philosophical acumen are unequally divided, as readers here should know, why would one be more emotional about a deontological error than if someone forgot a phone number or muffed an arithmetic problem?


The answer comes from neuro-imaging and psychologic studies
that seem to show that deontological decisions, despite being based on supposedly intellectual considerations, actually are knee jerk responses that take less mental work than utilitarian decisions. They are feelings individuals invest in. In this way deontology and ideology are similar. The thing that takes more mental work is when you have to weigh and balance the inevitable utilitarian trade offs, having to choose the better of two evils.

How much simpler life was when superstitious primitives only had to ask if God approved of their deeds. If a violation of His will occurred sacrifice or prayer would tend to make things right. No worrying about the morality of racism, patriarchy, homophobia, global warming, and saving the lives of panda cubs. Whereas you used to have to worry about being persecuted for failing to attend church, now you are labeled as immoral if you don’t recycle, or if you drive an SUV, smoke, discipline your children or go fishing. And you wonder why some people are conservatives.


Forget Diversity; Pass the Wine and Spaghetti Please

Socioeconomic Inequalities vs. Health in 22 European Countries

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine points out that there are health outcome disparities in European countries too. I thought it would generate a lot of newspaper articles and public discussion but there has been silence as far as I can tell. Inequity in health outcome among groups of various socioeconomic status (as measured by education, occupation, and income) constitutes part of the debate about American health care.

It is unknown to what extent such inequalities are modifiable or exactly how they arise. This does not keep persons with strong political agendas from using these disparities to demand specific changes.

For example this list from the Commonwealth Fund gives a rundown of things that need to be done in order to ameliorate health care disparities in the United States.

  • Effective evaluation of disparities-reduction programs.
  • Minimum standards for culturally and linguistically competent health services.
  • Greater minority representation within the health care workforce.
  • Establishment or enhancement of government offices of minority health.
  • Expanded access to services for all ethnic and racial groups.
  • Involvement of all health system representatives in minority health improvement efforts.

But how much benefit should we expect if we do make these changes? Perhaps it would be appropriate to look at conditions in other parts of the world.

Data on mortality according to education level and occupational class in this study came from census-based mortality studies. Deaths were classified according to cause, including common causes, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, smoking, alcohol use and causes amenable to medical intervention, such as tuberculosis and hypertension. Data were also obtained from health or multipurpose surveys given to 350,000 persons asking them about their general health. For each country, the association between socioeconomic status and health outcomes was measured with the use of regression-based inequality indexes.

Europe offered an excellent opportunities for this type of research because of the intercountry variety of political, cultural, economic, and epidemiologic histories and because good data on inequalities in health are often available.

In almost all countries, the rates of death and poorer self-assessments of health were substantially higher in groups of lower socioeconomic status, but the magnitude of the inequalities between groups of higher and lower socioeconomic status was much larger in some countries than in others.

Findings of interest included the following:

  1. Inequalities in mortality between socioeconomic groups and genders were small in some Southern European countries and very large in most countries in the Eastern European and Baltic regions.
  2. Though higher education was associated with lower mortality in all countries the ratio differed markedly between countries. In England, Wales, and Sweden lower education was associated with less than twice the mortality rate of the more educated persons. In Eastern Europe there was a four fold increase in mortality among the least educated. In the Basque country of Spain the disparities were less pronounced than anywhere else. Southern Europe seemed to be the healthiest area over all.
  3. Among men and women, smaller inequalities in the rate of death from any cause in the Southern European regions are due mainly to smaller inequalities in the rate of death from cardiovascular disease. For example, among men in the Basque country, where the education-related inequality in the rate of death from any cause is below the European average, decreased death from cardiovascular disease accounts for 45% of this difference. Larger inequalities in the rate of death from cardiovascular disease make an important contribution to larger inequalities in the rate of death from any cause in the eastern and Baltic regions as well; however, important contributions are also made by cancer in the eastern region and injuries in the Baltic region.
  4. I wonder about the effect of the Mediterranean diet on this reduction in cardiovascular mortality in men. The custom of eating a high fiber diet rich in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, washed down with a little wine seems a more pleasant alternative to the Commonwealth Fund plan described above. Smaller scale studies really do show unexplained disparities in the way people are treated according to race and gender. But the reasons for this are not clear( See Below)
  5. Smoking and Drinking in Europe as whole, inequalities in mortality from smoking-related conditions, account for 21% of the inequalities in the rate of death from any cause among men and 6% of those among women. In Europe as a whole, inequalities in alcohol-related mortality account for 11% of inequalities in the rate of death from any cause among men and 6% of those among women.
  6. Deaths from conditions amenable to immediate to medical intervention account for 5% of inequalities in the rate of death from any cause when measured among social groups.

Discussion: The authors state that Smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and deficiencies in health care represent only some of the determinants of inequalities in health. Yes, Social inequality is important. Yet within Western Europe, there is little evidence that among-country inequalities in health are related to variations in government support for health care. For example, Italy and Spain have welfare policies that are less generous and less universal than those of Northern Europe but they appear to have substantially smaller inequalities in mortality. Do overriding cultural factors, such as the Mediterranean diet and the reluctance of women to take up smoking outweighing government health care activities? Evidently they do. Cultural factors seem to have prevented differences in access to material wealth and other usual health related resources in these populations from translating into inequalities in lifestyle-related risk factors for mortality.

The study also found no evidence for a leveling of health inequalities among classes in countries in Northern Europe. This was surprising, because these countries have long histories of egalitarian policies, reflected in, among other things, welfare policies. These policies provide a high level of social-security protection to all residents of the country, resulting in smaller income inequalities and lower poverty rates. The studies results suggest that although a reasonable level of social security and public services may be a necessary to prevent inequalities in health, it is not sufficient. Lifestyle-related risk factors have an important role in premature death in high-income countries and also appear to contribute to the persistence of inequalities in mortality in Northern Europe.

New York Times Story June 5,2008


This kind of news report
is typical of media hype but is this where the real problem is?

“Race and place of residence can have a staggering impact on the course and quality of the medical treatment a patient receives, according to new research showing that blacks with diabetes or vascular disease are nearly five times more likely than whites to have a leg amputated and that women in Mississippi are far less likely to have mammograms than those in Maine.

The study, by researchers at Dartmouth, examined Medicare claims for evidence of racial and geographic disparities and found that on a variety of quality indices, blacks typically were less likely to receive recommended care than whites within a given region. But the most striking disparities were found from place to place.

For instance, the widest racial gaps in mammogram rates within a state were in California and Illinois, with a difference of 12 percentage points between the white rate and the black rate. But the country’s lowest rate for blacks — 48 percent in California — was 24 percentage points below the highest rate — 72 percent in Massachusetts. The statistics were for women ages 65 to 69 who received screening in 2004 or 2005.

In all but two states, black diabetics were less likely than whites to receive annual glycolated hemoglobin testing.( a test that monitors long term diabetic control) But blacks in Colorado (66 percent) were far less likely to be screened than those in Massachusetts (88 percent).

The study was commissioned by the nation’s largest health-related philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which on Thursday planned to announce a three-year, $300 million initiative intended to narrow health care disparities across lines of race and geography.
Such variations may be partly explained by regional differences in education and poverty levels, but researchers increasingly believe that variations in medical practice and spending also are factors.

“In U.S. health care, it’s not only who you are that matters; it’s also where you live,” wrote the study’s authors, led by Dr. Elliott S. Fisher.”

The fact that there are marked state to state variations seems to argue against racism as the cause of these disparities unless Colorado is more racist than Massachusetts. If the European study sited in the first part of the post holds true in the United States, changes in welfare and medical care should be expected to have only marginal effects on mortality as compared to life style and cultural changes. Perhaps the Johnson Foundation would get more bang for the buck by distributing cases of olive oil and wine to the disadvantaged.


Why Are High Housing Prices Good?

Have you ever read a news story like this?

“In other reports, sales gasoline rose in May, although prices continued to drop, according to the Petroleum Institute Sales rose 2 percent to a pace of 499 million gallons. The median sales price per gallon, however, fell to $3.75, down 6.3 percent from a year ago. That was the fifth biggest year-over-year price decline in records that go back to 1999. Many analysts think gasoline prices need to stop falling or start rising for the ailing petroleum market to get back its health.”

This is a slightly doctored version of the story below.

The Associated Press:
“In other reports, sales of previously owned homes nudged up in May, although prices continued to drop, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales rose 2 percent to a pace of 4.99 million units. The median sales price, however, fell to $208,600, down 6.3 percent from a year ago. That was the fifth biggest year-over-year price decline in records that go back to 1999. Many analysts think housing prices need to stop falling or start rising for the ailing housing market to get back its health.”

I hope prices of houses go up enough so I can afford to buy one.


What Can be Done About the Knife Culture?

A phenomenon first reported in the British Isles is now gaining in strength in Japan. What can the government do? The Brits have launched a massive education program and started sentencing people caught carrying knives over 3 in. in length to up to four years in prison after having 16 knife deaths.
Google Link

In Japan a 25 year old anime watching, Internet using mad man killed seven with a large sports knife. One legislator called for banning sports knives with long blades. These weapons which might be labeled assault knives include knives with blades over five inches in length.

A quick check of the kitchen shows ten knives that would be affected by the ban, some with blades up to 10 inches in length. Some of them were owned by my dear mother. Oh well ,I guess we are already all felons anyway.

Link

Yes,The links work,now get ready to rummble!


Small Picture Thinking and the Left

As best I can tell Hillary’s greatest passion is to develop government programs to help women and children who are not wealthy. You would think all the left would love her.

It is interesting to examine the cognitive dissonance in leftist minds. Here are some quotes from commenters reacting to Ampersands post on Alas. It is all about the pervasive racism theme and they are not about to let up.

Here is what Hillary actually said. “Well, Kathy you know there was just an AP article posted, uhh, that … found how … Senator Obama’s …uh… support…among, um…, working…uh hard working Americans, uh, white Americans, is, um…weakening again, uhh and how, uhh … the … whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me and, in independents, umm, I was running even with him, and…doing even better with Democratic-leaning independents. I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on.”

So evidently it was just an off the cuff remark, just the kind certain sports announcers and TV personalities have made to their everlasting regret. She appears to have just been commenting on some AP article. Translated and condensed by the press it comes out sounding like a prepared statement pandering to white racists.

It is interesting that some on the leftist are as intolerant of her gaffe as they were of Don Imus and other unfortunates. Examples of negative reactions include-- “this is part of a larger pattern and an apparent strategy to use race as a weapon against Obama. At this point, it doesn’t matter how much she hems and haws or “didn’t mean it” as she says it, any whiff of racist tactics from her will now appear to be part of that strategy.”

“--- many working-class people that I know who support Obama but don’t count because they’re for the most part not White. And it’s not like the White working class people are all gravitating to Hillary.” They are mostly republicans.

“Clinton is still a fool though: whether or not she meant A or B, she’s supposed to be smart enough to avoid insults. Accidental insults are still insults.”

“But Clinton’s running a campaign that for the most part has been implemented by White male Republicans.
It’s crap like this that makes me question feminists willingness to dismantle patriarchy or simply change who’s in charge of it and why “patriarchy” itself is a problematic term for many women.”

“It’s not just one off-the-cuff statement that’s being misunderstood; it’s like her entire campaign. And if appealing to White Americans as if they’re the only votes that matter is necessary to “win” an election or a nomination, then our country’s in an even sadder state than I thought.” So sorry, but Blacks are a minority and have placed themselves in the Democrat’s pocket already.

“I agree that it is entirely possible that Clinton was not intentionally trying to connect “hard-working Americans” with “white Americans”. However, if she wasn’t that almost makes it worse. She either revealed an implicit association between “hard-working” and “white” or she made a cynical statement designed to appeal to racists.”

“Look, racism is not just personal prejudice. If you encourage racist views, it does not matter whether you personally believe what you are pushing or not. It is racist either way.”

The message seems to be that intentions don’t matter. Words have a life of their own for which you will be held infinitely responsible. Is it any wonder that we will never reach the desired level of linguistic and moral purity so that these fanatics will someday say “Mission accomplished; now let’s move on to something more interesting and fun.” That goal has been placed perpetually out of reach meaning that the left must just enjoy being tiresome, scolds.


Can Obama Lead us out of the Racial Wilderness?

In the wake of Obama’s speech concerning progress in racial conciliation, one pundit, noted that Obama was talking to Americans about the issue as though we were adults.This brought to mind an incident from the past when I was living in an extravagantly racist world. Ask me about it some time. 1967

In my world the only way whites like me got to know blacks was as workers in the same place. In the late Sixties this guy I worked with, Eddie, told me about the Christmas party the white boss put on and Eddie was invited too. Yes, he could be the bartender. I think most blacks have experienced this type of blatant racism, so I can see why they were pissed off. The only trouble was that Eddie sometimes acted childishly. Perhaps it was effects of racism.

For example one time I came in and saw him and his co-worker pretending to sodomize another black employee, an older, introverted Uncle Tom type with a broomstick. These guys were thirty five years old and still acting like high school kids. How do kids act? They are narcissistic and have demands combined with a lack of a sense of reciprocal responsibility. The more you become an adult, the more you move away from this. When two equal adults relate there is ideally equal reciprocity. Betweens equals, non- reciprocity soon leads to tensions. In the case of an infant, there is little expectation for reciprocity. The price the infant pays is that of inequality and submission, because giving non-reciprocal benefits makes the adult more powerful. The infant only gets what he is given and the only way he can get more is to cry more loudly.

What if an adult acts in same way as a child? The same rules apply. If you help someone temporarily there is the joy of altruism in the giver and the relief of suffering in the recipient. But the self respecting person will avoid becoming a sponge. I don’t think I need to go into more detail here, nor do I think it is the whole story. Racism is surely debilitating both to the victim and the perpetrator, as is slavery. The question is does this have any bearing on racism. Is a one way or two way street?

The Old Program

There is a massive ideological program in our society that justifies permanent dependency on the part of some persons. Adults are too old to cry but they can think up slogans or adopt them from some ideology of entitlement. Old former Marxists know what I am talking about. Stalin is dead but the propaganda slogans manufactured in that era live on. Here is a quote from Doris Leesing, Nobel Prize winner in literature for 2007. The subject is not race consciousness but its derivative radical feminism.

Doris Lessing on dogma

Referring one of her books "The Golden Notebook" The book's exploration of a woman's inner life, feelings of hostility and resentment, and unhappy experiences with men came off as inflammatory and "man-hating." Critics initially savaged the book. Feminists, however, embraced it, much to Ms. Lessing's annoyance. "I hated the 1960s feminists," she says. "They were dogmatists, you see. In comes ideology, and out goes common sense. This is my experience of life."

Ms. Lessing points to a current dogma: political correctness. "It's a continuation of the old Communist Party. It is! The same words, the same attitudes. ‘The Communist Party has made a decision and this is the line.'" At first, she says, political correctness had a good beginning; she remembers saying that the language that we use is sexist, racist and so on. But then, "that became a dogma. Because we love a dogma, you know, we really do. We can never just let things develop easily from an idea, it seems to me there's always a group of fanatics who grasp it and make it a dogma."

This is why political discourse has become so negative. Radical leaders maintain power by stoking divisiveness. Ideology justifies the attitude of adults who still act like children. Permanently low expectations inevitably keep the balance of power and status on the side of the dominant culture. This in turn provokes even more anger and a staunch denial of the fact that many grievances are being addressed and that reciprocal activity, not more ranting is apt to be productive.

Does Obama Have a New Program?

How does this apply to Obama’s speech? Is he is calling for an end to this situation, at least for race? Is old fashioned identity politics obsolete? All the working class blacks I know act as though they are ready to move on. Blacks I know and meet don’t fit the stereotypes perpetuated by the media and academia. Real job holding black people seem to want reciprocity, respect and to be treated as adults. Or maybe I am being naive.

I will not quote any of the childish ranting of Obama’s minister saying how he hates America and his Uncle Sam who makes sure that American blacks are the richest black people on earth except to note that he has never threatened to run away from home. Besides, according to many apologists, many black preachers make comments like this in the privacy of their own church as a way to entertain the congregation by poking Whitey in the eye or like my friend Eddie, figuratively using a broomstick on him. Instead I will bring to the attention of the reader the philosophy one of Reverend Wright’s own mentors, James Cone a professor at Union Theological Seminary.

Racial Catch 22 and Black Liberation Theology

Most information from this section was obtained by me reading: Theological Studies December 1, 2000 by MASSINGALE, BRYAN N.
AT A CATHOLIC SPONSORED justice conference, Professor James Cone gave what he called "a theological challenge to the American Catholic Church." What is "Racism"? Where are Catholics wrong?

Fighting racism the wrong way.

The Louisiana Catholic bishops in 1997 wrote: "The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on racism is clear. Racism is morally wrong.” "Racism is the theory or practice which assumes that one race or ethnic stock is superior to another." "Racism perpetuates a basic untruth that purports an innate superiority of one group over another because of skin color."

No, no, this is all wrong.

OK how about this: “What is racism? Racism is a personal sin and social disorder rooted in the belief that one race is superior to another. It involves not only prejudice but also the use of religious, social, political, economic or historical power to keep one race privileged.... Racism is personal, institutional, cultural, and internal."

And how do the Bishops propose to correct the sin of racism?

They employ a strategy of moral suasion in their ethical argumentation. That is, they assume their audience's goodwill and moral acceptance of the basic faith tenets that they delineate. Therefore, the bishops presume that if the incompatibility of racist behaviors is pointed out to them, this will lead to personal conversion that will result in social transformation.
The faithful are to avoid using racial slurs and telling racial jokes. They are also to challenge such behaviors among their family members, friends and co-workers. Parents are asked to instill in their children the values of racial tolerance and an appreciation for ethnic diversity. Individuals are asked to cultivate interracial and cross-cultural friendships.
Unacceptable! Unacceptable!-- according to Black Liberation Theology.

Fighting racism the “right way.”

All this well meaning stuff is hopelessly out of date. To advocates such as Cone and the multiculturalism the remedy is as frightening as it is vague. The problem is presented in the most puffed up and horrendously exaggerated verbiage. It isn’t just that blacks tend to get a raw deal sometimes both individually and collectively like everyone else.
Cone says "We live in a nation committed to the perpetuation of white supremacy," that is, a nation committed to maintaining relationships of White cultural, political, and social dominance.

“The response of black theologians to white racism (in the past) was based too much upon moral suasion and too little upon the tools of social analysis.-- Although the un-Christian behavior of whites caused us to question their Christian identity, we still assumed that if the contradiction between racism and Christianity was clearly pointed out to them, they would change and act in a Christian manner. We were naive, because our analysis of the problem was too superficial and did not take into consideration the links between racism, capitalism, and imperialism, on the one hand, and theology and the church on the other. --- If we had used the tools of the social sciences and had given due recognition to the Christian doctrine of sin, then it is unlikely that we would have placed such inordinate dependence on the methodology of moral suasion.”
Even when it is manifest institutionally is cannot be reduced to demonstrable manifestations of personal prejudice or the racially pejorative beliefs of individuals that are expressed in interpersonal actions and omissions. Instead racism is a systemic and structural characteristic of the culture which seems float invisibly in the air. Even if a white person tries his best to not do or think racist things it is hopeless. Whitey is still a racist because of cultural determinism and must live in a state of perpetual guilt until the offending culture is reformed or replaced. Whites are automatically the beneficiary of unjust power and privilege whether they know it or not and thus are guilty whether they know it or not.

Correlates of Black Liberation ideology:

1.)Only whites can commit racist acts.
2.)Only blacks are qualified to tell you whether a racist act has not been committed or when racism is cured.
3.)Since white people lack the ability to judge racial matters, the government must be given the power to do what ever it takes to being justice to black people. According to Cone "How, indeed, is a mind to become conscious of its own bias when that bias springs from a communal flight from understanding and is supported by the whole texture of a civilization? Given the racial ethos of American society, there may be only so much that (White) people can "see." An alternate strategy of fostering liberating awareness and "consciousness raising," through moments of interruption needs to be seriously explored and developed.”

Cone’s program has long been in effect.

One irony is that much legislation directed at curing racism was passed almost 40 years ago was explicitly justified as a cure for institutional racism which was blamed for the massive rioting in towns throughout the nation in 1968. These writing by Cone were from at least 15 years after the Voting Rights Act the EEOC, huge affirmative action programs, the War on Poverty and other government programs were established that were explicitly designed to counter America’s racist society. One might ask if they have been effective. If, as I explained in the first part of my post, these programs foster permanent dependency they will never create equality. Politicians need to issue some sort of report card on these activities and accesses their negative effects.

At least Obama declared that there had been some progress and also acknowledged that white people were hurt by these programs which have rolled on relentlessly under every administration since Johnson’s presidency ended in 1969.

My reading of hard leftist and even moderate Democrat literature indicates they believe that American society is still basically racist and requires much more social engineering. I look for Obama to behave as any activist Democrat and try to saddle us with more of these programs, which I repeat, have been enforced and even strengthened even during Republican administrations including the Nixon and Reagan administration. Since many Americans still disagree with the underlying thesis of America’s inherent racism, they will have to decide just what Obama’s national dialogue on race will really mean. Please pardon a little skepticism.


Health Care Conundrum: Quality, Cost, Longevity, Goals

Unfortunately no one has tackled the problems Arthur raised in his post above about getting out of socialized medicine. Other things that no one has honestly dealt with are the problems of transitioning into a socialistic system as seen in Europe or as proposed by the Democrats.
This weeks New England Journal of Medicine has this article explicitly attacking private health care. It’s free on line.

“U.S. health care expenditures rose 6.7% in 2006, the government recently reported. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, total health care expenditures exceeded $2.1 trillion or more than $7,000 for every American man, woman, and child. Medicare costs jumped a record 18.7%, driven by the new privatized drug benefit. Total health care spending, now amounting to 16% of the gross domestic product, is projected to reach 20% in just 7 years.

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/6/549

Relentless medical inflation has been attributed to many factors — the aging population, the proliferation of new technologies, poor diet and lack of exercise, the tendency of supply (physicians, hospitals, tests, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and novel treatments) to generate its own demand, excessive litigation and defensive medicine, and tax-favored insurance coverage.”

It is fairly easy to explain why healthcare costs are accelerating in this country without a proportional superiority in longevity compared to other advanced countries which spend less. We also have bigger cars, houses and closets full of stuff. This is America, for Christ sake. Just don’t forget that longevity is increasing and new modalities often provide significant quality of life benefits and extend life for individuals even if this not reflected in gross mortality statistics nor are they equally distributed among all people.

Let’s look at an example at the micro level, far from the pontifications of public policy experts. Healthcare for individuals advances in ways that are not publicized since this kind of publicity would do nothing to promote the media’s socialist/ sensationalist agenda. Commercial interests which are ceaselessly pilloried by the media develop these advanced technical methods silently, for profit. This does not mean that corporations don’t have higher missions than just money. It is just that, unlike government bureaucracies, businesses can’t survive without eventually generating profits.

For example manufacturers are introducing super accurate methods of measuring a protein that escapes from the heart that increases if you are getting ready to have a heart attack. Scientists are using the same chemical process to measure the protein that fire flies use to glow in the dark, chemo-luminescence. The chemicals are bound to chemically created “Senso Beads” that glow when exposed to minute amounts of troponin, the myocardial protein in question. If the measured protein is inappropriately high this predicts a heart attack. We can already accurately measure this protein when it is grossly elevated and you already have had a heart attack. If doctors repair your coronary arteries before you have a heart attack it could save your life. Thus commercial companies adapt processes used by insects to develop methods of saving human lives. But for the profit motive would any such thing happen? I doubt it.

Critics of the fee for service medicine would homogenize and “rationalize” medical care. If successful it would depend more on public health measures such as coercive life style and state supported therapeutic regimens to ameliorate chronic diseases. Salaried primary care physicians would work at a more relaxed pace, order less tests, and practice less aggressively. For instance VA hospital MDs, so I am told, see about half the number of patients seen in private practice and get paid about as much. Manpower needs would increase not decrease.

If successful in remolding society to preventing deaths we suffer today this public health effort this would only delay deaths from other forms of decrepitude. This would consist of degenerative joint disease, various forms of organ failure that would not have supervened if one had died earlier. For example dementia, loss of senses such as vision and hearing and advanced forms of degenerative bone and joint disease already loom large in the elderly population. Just how much bionics, custodial care and organ supplementation does the government want to provide for oldsters? The sky is the limit without explicit rationing, which would be a political quagmire. Failsafe procedures, check lists devised by the aircraft industry are now available to prevent oldsters from that one in a hundred “mistake” that might be a friend in disguise that would push the fragile ones over the edge.

Sweeping generalizations are easy but lives are lived and end individually. There will be no lessening of the demand for care in the long run. Americans, many of whom are used to Cadillac care at minimal personal cost will make the system very expensive regardless of what is done. Either way your beloved dog has a better chance of a dignified death than you or your grandma does.


This Section Needs More Contributions so Here Goes

In 1960 Thomas Szaz wrote The Myth of Mental Illness.

He proposes that the term “mental illness”, unlike a physical illness is a phony term similar in explanatory power to the concept of witches that people use to explain conditions they don’t understand. He says this term is outmoded and he wants to retire this concept since he claims it describes two unrelated conditions, neurologic conditions or ordinary social conflicts inherent in life.

If he is proposing that attaching labels to things is not the same as understanding them of course he is right. Proposing taxonomy for things that are perplexing is a first step to understanding them. With new observations, theories, advances in pharmacology and neurosciences the classification of mental illness has expanded and changed. No one should assume that these classifications are anything but working diagnoses, anymore than the classification of bacteria. With the advent of DNA probes, PhD microbiologists routinely throw MDs into mass confusion by showing that the previous classification of bacteria was in error and renaming common microorganisms. Likewise, refuting old theories and practices of mental health does not refute the concept of mental health.

The question Szaz asks is “To what use is the concept of mental illness put?”

I have already said it is used in order to construct taxonomy, so as to develop a working understanding of the phenomenon. This is not the answer he wants to hear.
He compares it to witchcraft, for which there is no objective evidence.

As mentioned above he divides mental phenomenon into physical disease such as neurosyphilis or stroke where there is a loss of function and the trials and tribulations of daily life that affect some people and that are often labeled mental illness. Of course we now know that mental phenomenon act within the substrate of the physical brain. It is false that all brain pathology is composed of neurologic deficits. Mania and schizophrenia have positive symptoms that correlate with hyperactivity in areas of the brain. Some psycho-pharmacy relates to suppressing excessive function of neurotransmitters while other drugs boost the production of neurotransmitters, but mostly no one really understands how they work. There is also a borderland between neurology and psychiatry where you have conditions that can simulate mental illness such as psychomotor epilepsy. In other words, things aren’t so simple.

According to Szaz physical symptoms such as pain require no social interpretation in order to register in the diagnosticians mind as being a sign of disease. If a man says “ my abdomen hurts”, the MD thinks that the man has physical disease. Not true. The disease could be “functional”, psychosomatic, or otherwise non diagnosable as physical and hence possibly mental.

If a man reports that he is being persecuted by Communists, or that he is Napoleon, Szaz thinks the situation needs to be weighed against the possibility that he is telling the truth. Thus situational reality, he thinks, is based on the actual sociological fact that he is not Napoleon or those Communists are not really after him. Thus Szaz implies that what differentiates the mental state we call insanity from normal belief in reality is its veracity. But as they say, just because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean people are not after you. Insanity may cause a delusional state. It offers no protection from real Communists nor does really being Napoleon protect you from insanity. He is wrong that there is a simple dichotomy between physical and psychiatric illnesses.

He makes the same logical error when he posits that other psychiatrists claim“ people cannot have troubles -- expressed in what are now called "mental illnesses" -- because of differences in personal needs, opinions, social aspirations, values, and so on. All problems in living are attributed to physicochemical processes --”

No one claims this, or if they do they are wrong but this does not prove the reverse, that all problems experienced in their mind other than simple bodily misery or lack of function are due to personal or interpersonal dysfunction. Some people get elected to suffer serious psychic pain, depression schizophrenia, anxiety and what have you, that other persons in the identical situation would tolerate with less difficulty and it isn’t their fault.

Szaz then proceeds with the now familiar tactic of setting up straw men and making them commit logical errors. For example “the notion of mental illness is used to identify or describe some feature of an individual's so-called personality. Mental illness -- as a deformity of the personality, so to speak -- is then regarded as the cause of the human disharmony. It is implicit in this view that social intercourse between people is regarded as something inherently harmonious, its disturbance being due solely to the presence of "mental illness" in many people. This is obviously fallacious.”

If people say that all social dysfunction is due to mental health problems they are wrong. This does not prove the reverse statement that there are no mental illnesses besides those caused by known brain pathology.

He then goes on to criticize psychiatric ethics for participation in law, social control and other areas and to point out certain abuses. This section I don’t disagree with, except that physiatrists are needed in some forensic application but should not disguise themselves as therapists in this case. If he would confine himself to these points he would not be so controversial. In fact he would not be famous. He probably be like most shrinks sitting listening to boring patients and chain smoking and drinking coffee to stay awake.

The key point that may get lost in his thinking is that most psychiatric patients are hurting with a painful condition. If the psychiatrist remains an advocate for the patient who tries to use his powers, if any, to help the patient; he is no different from any other physician or ethical healer. If he deviates from this he is wrong but is no different from any other person who is guilty of a breach of trust. I have personally observed that there are usually a few quacks in every town and at least one of these is a psychiatrist.

This does not mean psychiatry or the concept of mental health is invalid.