Saturday, February 02, 2008

Can't Pay the Mortgage? Just Burn down the House.

MSN money has a story on the growing number of arsonists setting their house on fire due to the mortgage crisis:

Many observers say there's no question that people commit arson under economic stress. "Traditionally, there will be some acts of fraud that are driven by the economic conditions, no question about it," Scafidi says. A slice of the normally law-abiding population -- in every economic stratum -- will seize on arson as a solution under the right set of pressures, he says.

I love the way the article makes it sound like any normal law-abiding citizen will burn down his or her house if the pressure gets high enough. Sorry, this is like saying that law-abiding citizens with gun permits shoot people just because they are mad and have a gun nearby. It almost never happens. Arsonists are a particular group of people with a particular strain of negative psychological traits. They are not "normal" mentally healthy people who just get a wild hair up their ass when the economy takes a downturn.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's Right with the World?

The Anchoress asks her readers an intriguing question, "What's Wrong with the World?" and answers with the words of G. K. Chesterton:

About 100 years ago, a British paper invited many writers to answer the same question, What’s Wrong With the World? They extended the invitation to G. K. Chesterton who wrote back,

Dear Sirs;

I am.

G.K. Chesterton

I will take his answer for my own. Have at it.

My answer to that question is to answer it with a more important question: "What's Right with the World?"

So many times, people use negativity to describe the world and their place in it. Believe it or not, I do this myself--alot. But if you actually look at the world around us, much of it is amazing--including people.

As a psychologist, I find it fascinating that people have so many different ways of viewing the world and so many different rationales for why things should be a certain way. One could get angry that we are all so different and want different things, particularly in the area of politics and how governments should behave. But perhaps there is an ebb and flow to the way that people are that help us balance each other out. Those who believe 100% in personal responsibility may tend to overlook when circumstances leave someone unable to care for themselves and they need a helping hand, whereas those who believe that the government should be the helping hand at all times may overlook the damage they are doing by not teaching people to solve their own problems. In the end, maybe we need different types of people to provide our society with different ways of viewing the world--maybe, like hybrid vigor, this is how the world improves.

Maybe much is right with the world.

No Waiting Necessary

I just got back from my annual check-up with my cardiologist--for those of you who like this blog, my heart is doing great, for those who don't like it--tough, I'm going to live to antagonize you another day! I always drag a book or other reading material with me to occupy my time in case there is a wait. Since we're heading into tax time, I took It's Never Too Late to Get Rich: The Nine Secrets to Building a Nest Egg at Any Age thinking I could read about municipal bonds or how to save on taxes but I never got a chance to pull the book out. Instead, I was whisked from the waiting room into the examining room within a few minutes and given an EKG, had my blood pressure taken, my heart listened to and an exam in a timely and efficient manner.

Since I didn't have any big complaints, I shot the breeze with the doctor for a bit and told him how nice it was to be seen so quickly and the conversation turned to socialized medicine. He expressed concern that heart patients, especially those who needed to be seen quickly for emergencies would not be seen in the timely manner they are seen now should universal care come to pass. "I was recently at a medical convention of cardiologists," he stated, "and ran into a cardiologist from England. He said that the waiting list over there was for a period of months for those with heart problems and even those with emergencies such as heart by-pass were not being seen quickly. Somehow, those with the most moolah were ending up getting treatment, while everyone else waited."

Many people who clamour for universal healthcare have never been sick or involved in the healthcare system--right now, care is generally available for various illnesses, not 100% of the time, but a good portion of the time. The current system may not be perfect by any means but those who have emergencies at least have the emergency room, lower fee clinics and other means of getting care--sometimes for free from doctors who volunteer their time. Imagine being on a waiting list for heart bypass or another emergency for months or having others with more cash or connections go in front of you. A universal system seems ripe for corruption. It sounds more fair, but often, like so many other government-run organizations, those with the most clout rise to the top and the rest of us sit and wait....

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Comeback Liberalism

John Hawkins has an interview up with David Frum, author of
Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again. Frankly, after reading the interview, I couldn't tell many of Frum's supposedly conservative responses from that of a liberal Democrat--don't worry about cutting taxes, give even more government handouts to low income groups, etc.

It seems that eventually politics gravitates towards the liberal side of the aisle. I think it's because in our society there are so many rewards for thinking like a Democrat--mainly because of the media--and coming up with liberal solutions to problems, and so few rewards for being in the conservative camp. Even Bill Gates, after making all of his billions, has drifted from being a capitalist to sounding like a socialist on many of the issues. Of course, it's always easier to use the system you're mocking to make your own cash and then to want to deny that method to other citizens once you're set. And then you can preach from on high about what a noble philanthropist you are!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Invasion of the TV People

I spent part of the morning helping our local production company with a new pilot they are doing for a cable station. They needed an expert to talk about drug problems, addiction and how a difficult childhood could affect a person's tendency to abuse drugs. It was a lot of fun--but what I am most amazed by was how fast and efficiently they turned my podcast studio into a TV studio. Take a look!

The Unethical "Ethicist"

I don't know about you, but I rarely read and rarely agree with The New York Times' Randy Cohen, aka "The Ethicist." He is so stuck in being PC that his responses are often dripping with condescension, immorality, and reverse discrimination. Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess pickes up on his questionable ethics in a recent post:

The New York Times' Randy Cohen, aka "The Ethicist," argues for affirmative discrimination (and made me feel like I needed a shower after reading his reply).

Personally, I don't believe you resolve discrimination by discriminating. Furthermore, "minority candidates" who are qualified must find it pretty insulting to be assumed to be "affirmative action" hires. Here's the question:

Go over and read the question and answer at the Advice Goddess's place while I go take a shower.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finding Missing Items: A Relationship RorschachTest?

After reading the Dear Prudence letter and response here, did you wonder if the saying "Honesty is the best policy" was becoming a thing of the past? Well, apparently, it's not as evidenced by this charming story out of New York (Thanks JG):

At dusk on New Year's Eve, Erika Gunderson got into a taxi in New York City and entered a digital-age mystery. Sitting on the back seat was a nice Canon digital camera. Gunderson asked the driver which previous passenger might have left it, but the cabbie didn't seem to care. So Gunderson brought it home and showed it to her fiance, Brian Ascher. They decided that the only right thing to do was to find the owner.

Compare this woman's actions to the sneaky thief in the Dr. Prudence column and how she dealt with her boyfriend. I think the camera-finding couple have a better future, don't you?