Tuesday, July 31, 2012


1. Fractal Politics.

It was either Adolf Hitler or his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who said that the people will believe any lie, if it is big enough and told often enough, loud enough. Although the Nazis were defeated in World War II, this part of their philosophy survives triumphantly to this day among politicians, and nowhere more so than during election years. -- Thomas Sowell

Venality, cynicism, deceit and conscious exploitation of their offices have come to be the governing characteristics of the overwhelming majority of our elected officials. Some are so completely "converted" to the gospel of "Power Uber Alles" that they'll literally lie to our faces, as Barack Hussein Obama and his closest henchmen have recently done. The exceptions -- thank You, God, that there are still some -- are fewer in number than ever, and terribly besieged.

As the Chinese say, "The fish rots from the head." The blatant disregard of right and wrong displayed by federal officials has "licensed" their counterparts at the state and local levels to do similarly. Time was, local Tammanites (my neologism; analogous to "Sodomites," but concerning political rather than sexual corruption) believed that a high degree of discretion was essential to the preservation and perpetuation of their powers and privileges. This appears no longer to be the case.

But wait: there's more! Endemic political corruption cannot be confined to persons in or pursuing high office. It invariably reaches the "civilian population." The mechanism is the use of income redistribution and licensure of various forms to evoke partisan allegiances from identifiable sectors of the nation. The practice spreads according to its internal dynamic, such that over time, an ever greater fraction of the nation will choose to support one party over the other as "boughten loyalists."

Exit from the pattern is via either an access of patriotic idealism, maximized cynicism, or corruption blatant enough to elicit impeachment or indictment at the top. As the fish rots from the head, it must also be cleansed that way.

As the Wiccans say, "As above, so below."


2. The Dog Days Of Summer.

While we're on the subject of cynicism, an interesting video on FOX News this morning proposes several approaches for curbing the "summer slacker season." It's a recognized phenomenon, especially among white-collar workers, that when school is out and the weather it warm, we work fewer hours per week per capita, and generally display lower productivity than at other times of year (except for the pre-Christmas Octave season, which might even be worse).

Toward the end of the video, the interviewee makes an important point: companies that try to "compensate" employees for the "pain of the choice" between work and other opportunities with company-organized outings and other extrinsic rewards are missing the point. Such things actually sharpen the pain by adding new quasi-obligations to the worker's vistas. The most fruitful approach is to make work and the workplace attractive, involving, and interesting: in other words, intrinsically rewarding.

As usual, the great Robert C. Townsend put it best:

"It isn't easy, but what you're really trying to do is come between a man and his family. You want him to enjoy his work so much he comes in on Saturday instead of playing golf or cutting the grass." -- from Up The Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits


3. Medicine, the Healer’s Ethic, Turf Wars, and ObamaCare.

Guy Benson aggregates a few of the "outrider" effects of ObamaCare in his Tipsheet entry for today. It's too important to excerpt; please read the whole thing.

That there will be further deteriorations in the availability of medical care and products is both inevitable and wholly apparent, by the laws of supply and demand, unless a Romney Administration should succeed in repealing the PPACA. But some of the second-order effects are less visible, and therefore less well appreciated or understood:

  • Doctors animated by the Healer's Ethic -- i.e., those who entered their fields because helping others toward better health, less pain, and longer lives is their #1 personal priority -- will gradually be outnumbered by doctors animated by less praiseworthy motives. The better ones will naturally be severely tested by the floods of patient preferences for them.
  • Medical schools, their enrollments severely pressed by the changes in incentives and disincentives to practice medicine, will lower their admissions standards, resulting in less intelligent, diligent, and ethical doctors.
  • Those doctors will engage in union-like conflicts with one another over "turf:" which sorts are permitted to diagnose what sort of ailments, prescribe what sorts of medications, and perform what sorts of treatments. Some such conflicts could get very ugly indeed.

I had a personal preview of the "turf wars" we can expect just yesterday afternoon. My orthopedist, upon learning that my PCP had ordered MRIs of my shoulder without first consulting him, was visibly angry. Indeed, he harped on it, to the extent of both refusing to believe that she'd ordered the right ones and differing diametrically with the radiologist's interpretation of the images. I was sorely tempted to ask for another specialist; indeed, I'm not sure why I refrained.

You don't need a weatherman, folks. Truly, you don't. Just ordinary intelligence and a common-sense assessment of ObamaCare's provisions.


4. Informal, Self-Administered Shoulder Therapy.

Apropos of matters medical: Laughter is the best medicine, or so the old saw goes. And indeed, it's made my affliction easier to bear when I've managed to retain my good humor, which is made far easier by the application of music. But there is a downside:

  • Not everyone will share your taste in music;
  • If you share my tendency to "join in," you must be aware of your surroundings; there are numerous environments in which singing or whistling will get you "looked at" or worse;
  • Most singing or whistling is at least somewhat degraded by issuing through clenched teeth or accompanied with gasps of pain.



Joseph said...

The aim of socialized medicine proponents is quite simple: They aim to do to medicine what they have already done to education.

Which reminds me... I think we reactionaries have put insufficient emphasis on rolling back past government encroachments. It has been done in a few areas (e.g., Prohibition, financial and transportation regulation, confiscatory income taxes, and, to some extent, gun control) and should be done in more.

Mark said...

Regarding Item 2. I'm reminded of something from one of Scott Adams' "Dilbert" books, the Out At 5 (OA5) company. One item jumped out at me: "Companies use a lot of energy trying to increase the employee satisfaction. That’s nice of them, but let’s face it - work sucks. If people liked work they’d do it for free. The reason we have to pay people to work is that work is inherently unpleasant compared to the alternatives. At OA5 we recognize that the best way to make employees satisfied about their work is to help them get away from it as much as possible."