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).