Friday, August 08, 2014

A Few Old Rants, Re-Heated

Because I still think these are good rants.  This one is about the definition of political participation, this one is about my eternal frustration with the research popularizers and this one is about the unattainable perfection which we are, nevertheless, expected to try to attain.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Most Hilarious Cadillac Ad. And Thoughts on Paid Vacations.

This post talks about the ad.  On the question of guaranteed paid vacation days and vacation time taken the US fares terribly.  Or very well if you view this from the employers' point of view.

And then there's this map about the countries which don't guarantee paid maternity leave (or parental leave!):

Remember that the countries the US competes against are mostly not among the ones who have similar policies?  Just pointing out that the usual competitive argument (we can't afford it because "they" don't do it) fails here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Women, Get Your Mrs. Degrees Before It Is Too Late! A Re-Post

The post, from last February, is here.  On reading it I'd like to stress one aspect of these eternally-repeating warnings:  They are always aimed at women who are going to college or who want to have a career instead of a job.  That it's those women who are most likely to marry and stay married is immaterial, because the objective of the stories is not to address single-motherhood or childlessness or anything similar but to assert that women must choose between their brains and their uteri.

The way the message is told to women who are not planning to go to college and/or to women who come from lower income classes is slightly different:  There the problem is all those men who have given up and play computer games at home on unemployment benefits.  Those men need good jobs so that they can become worthy of marriage, but the road to the good jobs is blocked by --- guess what? --- the society (coughfeminaziworldfavoringgirlscough) pushing girls to fill up colleges etc.

I have no idea if similar stories are told to men about their chances of marriage, to ignite that terror of ending up all alone except for several cats.  But I doubt it because the social scripts differ by gender.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Economics Tuesday 4: The Economics of Health Care

Dry horse-food granola posts, these are.  But worth wading through if you have stamina.

This old post talks about some of the basic reasons why market-based solutions do fairly poorly in health care, this post explains why price competition in health care is unlikely to work very well except for a few commodities (preventive care, dental care).  This post turns the idea of death panels in health care (a common conservative imaginary threat) into a boring topic about how all systems, whether government- or market-based, end up having to ration care in some ways.  Finally, this post explains the meaning of the much-hated individual mandate.*

*I just realized that I haven't done a general post on international comparisons of health care costs and health care outcomes!  An odd omission.  The gist of that post would be that the US runs the most expensive health care system in the world, that the US does not do terribly well on crude quantitative measures of health (such as increasing life expectancy or reducing infant mortality) but that it might do somewhat better on qualitative measures of care.  Access to health care remains a problem which ACA might be able to solve.

On the other hand, many of the reasons for, say,  the lower life expectancy figures in the US might not be easily influenced by anything that the formal health care system does.  This is because life expectancy is very much affected by deaths at younger ages (because each such death causes a lot of future years of life to be lost), and the US has high figures of early-age deaths from violence and accidents.  But it would be possible to affect infant mortality rates by providing better access to prenatal care. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Research Monday 4: The Kanazawa Files

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist (well, a sociologist, really) whose research can be used as the example for almost everything that makes me grind my teeth about a certain kind of evolutionary psychology (the kind some people denote by capital letters: Evolutionary Psychology).

I've written a lot about his work.  If you need to get irritated for a few hours, the links are in this post from last fall.   You can go backwards to find out why he's a Big Deal.  Or you could begin with this funny-ha-ha and sexist Psychology Today article, or this racist study by him.  Then find out what I say about his work.  To get relief, perhaps.