Thursday, June 11, 2015

Connectedness and drugs

I have written on several occasions (here, here and here) about the importance of connectedness to human health and thriving.  We need other people both psychologically and practically.  Man is a social animal and all that.

It is stronger in some people than others -- with Anglo-Saxons probably the most independent -- if French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd is to be believed.   At the other end of the scale, an Australian Aborigine will do his best to kill himself of you put him into solitary confinement, his distress at being even temporarily disconnected from others of his kind is so great.  The macho cultures of the Mediterranean are somewhere in between.

And I have also previously argued that conservatives have a great advantage in developing feelings of connectedness with others --  while Leftist hatred of the world about them militates against such feelings in them.  No doubt they have some connectedness with friends and family but their anger and hostility must make it difficult for them in general.

"The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood"

The above quotation from George Orwell is a fairly classic Leftist comment. "All men are brothers" is a cry from Leftists that goes back at least to the 19th century.  And we must not forget that "fraternite" was one of the 3 aims of the French revolution.

And it all fits in very well with the emotional importance of "connectedness" in human beings. Because of their disgruntlement with the world about them, Leftists tend to feel disconnected from their own society but do nonetheless miss that sense of connectedness badly. So they make up a fantasy (and impossible) world in which they have a superabundant amount of connectedness: A world in which all men are brothers.

It is therefore interesting that Johann Hari has  argued that lack of connectedness lies behind drug addiction.

Hari's dishonesty is well-known so I would normally ignore him but, once you get past the smarminess, the facts he recounts are correct and moderately well-known among psychologists.  And his summary of the findings concerned as hinging on connectedness covers the facts well.  And I of course agree with him that feelings of connectedness are hugely important to mental wellbeing and, indeed, mental health.

So is drug addiction more common among Leftists?  I have a subjective impression that it is but only a carefully sampled study would give a real answer.  I cannot in fact imagine a conservative doing drugs but maybe that just shows how little I know.

A major caveat is that the examples Hari relies on concern heroin and that heroin is a social addiction rather than a physical one has long been known.  What is true for heroin may not be true of other drugs -- methamphetamine, for instance.  There is also a view that there is to some extent an addictive personality, probably mediated neurologically.  So different personalities might give different results.

So there is room for a study there.  What are the politics of drug users?  Do heroin users and (say) marijuana users have similar politics?  And how does race and income affect it?  If most users are black and poor, that alone would produce a correlation with Leftist politics.  But a careful study using (say) partial correlation, should be able to disentangle all that.  The very first computer program I ever wrote was to do partial correlation but I don't have the energy to do original survey research any more -- JR.


John Wayne Schooled Liberal Author on American Freedom and Giving Thanks to God

The people who founded and built America did not rely on big government for a hand-out or demand “insurance for their old age,” but were rugged individualists, self-reliant, real “men” who looked up at the sky and said, “thanks God, we’ll take it from here,” said the actor John Wayne in the movie Without Reservations.

Wayne, himself a conservative, portrayed U.S. Marine Capt. “Rusty” Thomas in the highly successful 1946 film. In the movie, while traveling by train to California, liberal author “Kitty Kloch,” played by Claudette Colbert, expresses her optimism about a “new world” where the “advantages of citizenship” are shared by all and the “laissez-faire attitude” is cast aside.

John Wayne, “Rusty,” sets her straight.  As the dialogue rolls out,

Kitty Kloch (Claudette Colbert): “It never fails to surprise me that there are still vast lands in the United States literally uncultivated.

Rusty Thomas (John Wayne): “Well, it won’t be this way long. Come the private airplane, people will start spreading around.”

Kitty Kloch: “Won’t it be wonderful to be part of the new world?”

Rusty Thomas: “Well, I don’t think it will change as much as some people think.”

Kitty Kloch: “Oh, but it must!”

Rusty Thomas: “Why?”

Kitty Kloch: “For too long we’ve had that laissez-faire attitude towards executive operations. We must educate ourselves to share the responsibilities as well as the advantages of citizenship.”

Rusty Thomas: “Oh, I read that book too. It certainly made an impression on you what that writer had to say. But it’s a lot of hooey. Fixing everybody up when they let out their first squawk. Giving them pointers on good government between bottle feedings, and teaching them in school to be good little ladies and gentlemen and not smack each other around.”

Kitty Kloch: “Oh, it’s very easy to make fun of everything.”

Rusty Thomas:  “Listen, Miss Kloch, have you ever heard of some fellows that first came over to this country? You know what they found?  They found a howling wilderness, with summers too hot and winters freezing.”

Rusty Thomas: “Did they have insurance for their old age, for their crops, for their homes? They did not. They looked at the land, and the forests and the rivers, they looked at their wives, their kids and their houses, and then they looked up at the sky and they said, ‘Thanks God, we’ll take it from here.’”

Marine Lt. “Dink” Watson (Don DeFore): “They were rugged fellas!”

Rusty Thomas: “They were men.”

Without Reservations, by RKO Radio Pictures, was made in 1946 with a reported budget of $1,683,000, and it grossed $3,000,000 at the box office.

John Wayne (1907-1979), one of America’s beloved actors, was nominated for three Academy Awards in his career and he won the “Best Actor in a Leading Role” in 1969 for the film True Grit.



The "feelgood" factor is what matters to the Left

By Dennis Prager

A fundamental difference between the left and right concerns how each assesses public policies. The right asks, “Does it do good?” The left asks a different question.  One example is the minimum wage. In 1987, The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage. The title of the editorial said it all — “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00.”

“There’s a virtual consensus among economists,” wrote the Times editorial, “that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market . … More important, it would increase unemployment. … The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable — and fundamentally flawed.”

Why did The New York Times editorialize against the minimum wage? Because it asked the conservative question: “Does it do good?”

But 27 years later, The New York Times editorial page wrote the very opposite of what it had written in 1987, and called for a major increase in the minimum wage. In that time, the page had moved further left and was now preoccupied not with what does good — but with income inequality, which feels bad. It lamented the fact that a low hourly minimum wage had not “softened the hearts of its opponents” — Republicans and their supporters.

As second example is affirmative action. Study after study — and, even more important, common sense and facts — have shown the deleterious effects that race-based affirmative action have had on black students. Lowering college admissions standards for black applicants has ensured at least two awful results.

One is that more black students fail to graduate college — because they have too often been admitted to a college that demands more academic rigor than they were prepared for. Rather than attend a school that matches their skills, a school where they might thrive, they fail at a school where they are over-matched.

The other result is that many, if not most, black students feel a dark cloud hanging over them. They suspect that other students wonder whether they, the black students, were admitted into the college on merit or because standards were lowered.

It would seem that the last question supporters of race-based affirmative action ask is, “Does it do good?”

A third example is pacifism and other forms of “peace activism.”

The left has a soft spot for pacifism — the belief that killing another human being is always immoral. Not all leftists are pacifists, but pacifism emanates from the Left, and just about all leftists support “peace activism,” “peace studies” and whatever else contains the word “peace.”

The right, on the other hand, while just as desirous of peace as the left — what conservative parent wants their child to die in battle? — knows that pacifism and most “peace activists” increase the chances of war, not peace.

Nothing guarantees the triumph of evil like refusing to fight it. Great evil is therefore never defeated by peace activists, but by superior military might. The Allied victory in World War II is an obvious example. American military might likewise contained and ultimately ended Soviet Communism.

Supporters of pacifism, peace studies, American nuclear disarmament, American military withdrawal from countries in which it has fought — Iraq is the most recent example — do not ask, “Does it do good?”

Did the withdrawal of America from Iraq do good? Of course not. It only led to the rise of Islamic State with its mass murder and torture.

So, then, if in assessing what public policies to pursue, conservatives ask “Does it do good?” what question do liberals ask?

The answer is, “Does it make people — including myself — feel good?”

Why do liberals support a higher minimum wage if doesn’t do good? Because it makes the recipients of the higher wage feel good (even if other workers lose their jobs when restaurants and other businesses that cannot afford the higher wage close down) and it makes liberals feel good about themselves: We liberals, unlike conservatives, have soft hearts.

Why do liberals support race-based affirmative action? For the same reasons. It makes the recipients feel good when they are admitted to more prestigious colleges. And it makes liberals feel good about themselves for appearing to right the wrongs of historical racism.

The same holds true for left-wing peace activism: Supporting “peace” rather than the military makes liberals feel good about themselves.

Perhaps the best example is the self-esteem movement. It has had an almost wholly negative effect on a generation of Americans raised to have high self-esteem without having earned it. They then suffer from narcissism and an incapacity to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. But self-esteem feels good.

And feelings — not reason — is what liberalism is largely about. Reason asks: “Does it do good?” Liberalism asks, “Does it feel good?”



Regardless of Court's Decision, ObamaCare Is Falling Apart

In 2013, Jeb Bush made a comment critical of Republican efforts to defund ObamaCare, saying that we should instead let the law fall apart on its own. It was kind of an insensitive approach, given the number of lives that depend on a health care system that actually works, and I believe he was tactically misguided, but he was right about one thing: ObamaCare is falling apart, slowly but surely.

We are only a couple of weeks out from the King v. Burwell decision that many are saying could deal a staggering blow to ObamaCare, by putting an end to illegal subsidies currently propping the law up. Supporters of the law are, therefore, hoping for a ruling to preserve the subsidies, with the administration actively not planning for any other outcome.

But even if the Court rules in favor of the defendants, it will merely be delaying the inevitable, The fact of the matter is that ObamaCare is so badly broken that no amount of subsidies will be able to keep it afloat forever.

My colleagues have repeatedly pointed out how the state insurance exchanges are collapsing under their own weight, and rising premiums and deductibles are keeping these supposedly “affordable” insurance plans out of reach for many Americans. Now, we’re seeing new enrollment numbers that confirm what we’ve always known: the system doesn’t work, and it’s getting worse every year.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that there would be 21 million enrollees by 2016. Over the last five years, the administration has continually fallen short of its estimates. This month, the Department of Health and Human Services posted current enrollments at just 10.2 million - only half of the target for next year. There’s no way they’re going to reach this target, considering that the people most eager to enroll - the low-hanging fruit - have already done so. This is bad news for pretty much everyone.

It’s bad news for President Obama, because it means that his signature - and practically only significant - accomplishment in two terms in the White House is a failure. It’s bad news for insurance companies, because they are not taking in enough revenue to cover all the people they are being forced to cover by law. And it’s especially bad news for American citizens, because it means that prices will have to skyrocket for insurers to make up the difference. As prices get higher, fewer people will be able to pay them, meaning they will have to drop off the plans, meaning that prices will have to go still higher - a repeating cycle known as the insurance premium death spiral.

King v. Burwell is going to be a significant crossroads for the Affordable Care Act, make no mistake, but in this case, all roads ultimately lead to the same place: collapse. It’s just a matter of how we get there and how many people are hurt along the way be irresponsible policies.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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