Friday, October 07, 2016

Democratic Doctors Deal With People, Republican Doctors Deal With Bodies

An interesting new Yale study measured the partisanship of doctors in different medical specialties.  Many specialities split close to evenly between Democrats and Republicans.  Overall, doctors who have a party are slightly more Democratic than Republican, 54% to 46%.

At the extremes, though, there are significant differences in partisan alignment by medical specialty.

The two most Republican specialties are Surgery, at 67%, and Anesthesiology, at 65%.  The two most Democratic specialties are Infectious Diseases, at 77%, and Psychiatry, at 76%.

The thing that stands out to me is that the doctors who most have to deal with conscious people who talk about lives quite different from the doctor's own are likely to be Democrats.  The doctors who deal with unconscious bodies whose lives they need to know the least about are likely to be Republicans.

Some have speculated that Republicans go into the highest paying specialties for the money.  I think, though, that is is more likely that Democrats are more likely to chose to deal with patients most harmed by the way they live and have been acted on.  Care for the Harmed is a core liberal value.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Can Dictators Be Leaders? Authoritarians Say Yes, Democrats Say No

One battle in the vice-presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence was over Pence's claim that Vladimir Putin was a stronger leader than Barack Obama.

Kaine said a dictator could not be a "leader."  Pence said Putin had a bigger impact on world affairs than Obama, so therefore was the stronger leader.

Authoritarians fear that their world is threatened.  They see the options as black and white, want a muscular response, and reject contrasting information.  Political scientists have noted that, in past generations, the authoritarian fraction of the population was split between the two parties more evenly.  Since the Civil Rights Movement, however, the Republican Party has been courting them. Authoritarians are the core of the Trump base.

To authoritarians, the strong man is what it means to be a "leader."

To a (small d) democrat, by contrast, a leader is someone who can work a compromise among opposing interests to create a functioning consensus.  A good leader is one who can see the way forward that serves the varied groups in society, and who has the skill to work the compromise.

Trump and Pence praise dictators as strong leaders, regardless of which policies they impose.  Clinton and Kaine reject the idea that dictators can be leaders, because imposing policies is oppressive to parts of society, and undemocratic.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Nobel Prize Shows Mrs. Thatcher's Continuing Gift to American Academia

When Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Great Britain, she drastically cut support for higher education, and reduced the security that academics there had in their jobs.

The result was a mass exodus of academic talent to the United States.

Today the Nobel Prize in Physics was announced.  It went to three British scientists.  And where did they do their prize winning work?  The University of Washington, Princeton University, and Brown University.

Thank you, Mrs. Thatcher.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Just Grievances of Trump Supporters

The Democratic Party aims to "care for the harmed", especially those harmed by the government itself. Trump appeals to those who believe that they have been harmed by the government because the government helps those who have been harmed by previous government policies. The Trump people - working class white men, in particular - believe they were in line for the American Dream, and that Democratic "care for the harmed" policies amount to letting other people - women, people of color, gays and lesbians, the handicapped, immigrants - jump the line ahead of them for no good reason. The Trump people are right that they are losing a benefit (a privilege) they used to have. But on this point I think the Democratic Party policy is fundamentally right.

The best Democrats can do to address this real grievance is the plan to reduce the cost of college, especially community college, for the ambitious part of the white working class. I would trumpet that policy right at the Trump supporters.

The harder issue to address is about the effects of globalization. The leaders of both parties are internationalists, for good reason. The world is safer with a free-trade regimen, our national economy benefits, all consumers benefit, and many workers benefit. But not all. Here the Trump supporters have a real grievance, which cannot be easily addressed by either party. Low-skilled manufacturing jobs are not going to come back in sufficient number to re-employ them at family-supporting wages. They refuse to take farmworker jobs, which can fill that gap for people willing to do very hard work (as the immigrants show).

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sovereign Immunity Protects the United States the Most

Congress passed a law to allow U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments - specifically, Saudia Arabia, for their possible role in the 9/11 attacks.

President Obama vetoed that bill, on the grounds that the doctrine of "sovereign immunity" - foreign governments are immune from suit in our courts for their government actions - protects us.  If we allow U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments for their acts, that opens the door for foreign citizens to sue the U.S. government.

The United States invades, bombs, and intervenes in more countries than any other - probably more, these days, than all others combined.

Congress overrode President Obama's veto - the first time they have done so.  And immediately the Republican leadership regretted what they had done.

The President is right.  Our self-interest, rightly understood, should lead us to preserve sovereign immunity.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Irony of Suburban "Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions" Is That Private Government Is More Intrusive Than Real Government

Many suburban subdivisions are minutely regulated by Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions.  These can cover just about anything that is visible from outside your house.  Legally, it is like living in a shopping mall.

Suburban homeowners give up a great deal of their freedom in the interests of keeping up the property values of the whole neighborhood. The task, and bane, of Homeowners Associations is enforcing these rules.

The irony is that these same suburbs are also more likely to be home to the kind of conservatives who resent government regulation of their lives and property.

There is no logical contradiction here - choosing to enter into a private contract to give up your liberty is different from being subject to regulation whether you personally chose it or not.  But in practice the homeowners association restricts many "small government" conservatives much more than the government does.

And the people who live in the super-liberal bohemian neighborhoods in the city have, in practice, much more freedom about what they do with their property.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Revealing Dialogue About What Trump Supporters Think is Not Great About America

A friend posted a Statista poll on Facebook. The lead finding was in response to this question: "Compared to 50 years ago, life in America today is ...".  Clinton supporters said "better" by a margin of 59 - 19%; Trump supporters said "worse" by a margin of 81 to 11%.

In the comment thread, I asked "What is it that Trump supporters think is worse today?" My friend, humorously, responded "Apparently everything and it is all Obama's fault?" 

The dialogue that interests me today is what happened next.  A guy I don't know, who uses the "Don't Tread on Me" flag as his profile picture, entered the discussion.  I will call him "Tread".  I have edited the discussion that followed for concision, but not changed Tread's responses.

Tread: it actually isn't ALL Obama's fault. He had help. LOTS of help

Me: To do what, exactly?

Tread: nothing good

Me: But, specifically, what is worse now than in the early '60s? By nearly every measure of social development, with a couple of exceptions, things are much better now, especially for black people, women, handicapped people, gay and lesbian people, immigrants, youth, and educated people. The core Trump constituency - less educated white men - seems to think that making America better for all of those people (the majority of Americans) somehow has made America as a whole worse. Is that what you think?

Tread: and you are blue and I am not. there's no use arguing with you or trying to proove ANY point that is contrary to your view. So now, I stop. ... I do not want to go down the rabbit hole "to do what" 

Buck [another friend who uses "Buck the NRA" as a profile picture]:  I will venture a few guesses for you on what Trump supporters believe was better before:
1) Jobs for those who are uneducated paid a living wage ... 2) Women were more likely to stay home with kids ... 3) Being white was not a liability in any sense. ... 4) More children were born within wedlock and more of those who weren't were put up for adoption into heterosexual married homes.

Tread:  "Family Values" was a thing & so was being raised. Respect for others....and things. Traditions. [Note: the ellipses were in the original.]

Buck: I consider "political correctness" respect for others. That was most definitely NOT a thing in the 1950s.  I consider family values, valuing all families of all shapes sizes, religions, and make-ups. Not judging children on the perceived sins of their parents- in fact not judging others sinners at all.

Tread: "political correctness"... in my opinion, the single largest detriment to the continued existance to this country. It allows an encroachment of values which are opposite to the good order and continued existance of this country. That encroachment will not cease until this country mirrors certain other less desirable locales.

Buck: When I hear you complain about "encroachment", I hear equality. You are unhappy with being required to treat people you look down your nose at as if they are worthy of equal respect.

Tread: if "equal respect" means changing the values this country has held since long before you and I were born, then yes. I live in Christian country. We can coexist peacefully together, untill you try to change the values of this country from that of a Christian view to that of a value set that is directly contrary to the Christian founding principles, then yes, absolutely I find fault in it.