Monday, September 8, 2008

The economy, more Lipstick on a pig

One thing I have never understood is how giving relief to corporations translates into relief for the middle class without regulation from the government. This is a belief usually toted by the right and supported by Senator McCain

One concept I don't understand is why people feel giving corporations tax breaks and benefits will stimulate the economy. This is nothing new that McCain is pushing. It was called "Reaganomics" by Reagan and "Trickle Down Economics" by Bush senior, Bush Junior would have called his tax policy something trendy had he been clever enough. But anyway the basic premise is this: You give big companies more money they will in turn create more jobs and the economy will grow. Now each administration of the three examples that I just mentioned: Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II all had recessions during their terms. Why is that? If easing the load on the top was better for society shouldn't each of these administrations have been the most profitable periods in history?

The answer is simple trickle down economics as a theory maybe sound, but so is communism as a theory. The problem is it is never implemented in its theoretical form.

To put it simple for those of us who have siblings lets say mommy gave oldest brother $100 and said give your younger brothers some without saying how much you had to give them what would happen? In theory you would split your good fortune equally, but in reality what would probably happen, if you didn't pocket the whole thing, is that you would give your sibling the smallest amount you could without them telling mommy. Now if they never knew you got any money they would be happy for whatever you gave them.

Same thing happens when you give industry breaks with the expectations it will improve society. Companies get to increase their profits, the shareholders get more profits and what do we get? We get to watch companies and shareholders increase their profits. Companies have already figured out in times of economic hardships they can increase productivity with out increasing work force (i.e production cost) by just making you work harder. They know when times are rough people are too scared of losing their jobs to complain. What's more is they don't have time to complain thanks to the extra work they have to do. Jobs still get shifted over seas because they can. Why would they reduce their profits by paying you minimal wage when they can go where there is no such thing? More money in big brother's pocket (and you thought big brother was the government.)

Now on the other hand if you strengthen the middle class you create more consumers, thereby increasing demand for products and services which in turns increases the need for companies to expand to meet this demand by creating jobs. Simple huh, makes common sense to me.

I started writing this post obviously before the big news of the markets crashing. Now McCain is all for governmental regulation of the market. I wonder if I would have never published this at all would he have changed his mind on Top down economics

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why school vouchers wont work

The following is my response to a debate that me and a friend have been having on school vouchers he states states he is the product of public schools and goes on to say:

"I believe make efforts to educate our children. I also however believe that there are students that are comfortable with the current enviroment and don't have a desire to gain more than athletic and social interaction within school."

My reply:

Well, I too am the product of public education. One thing I would like to point out is you cant make the assumption that kids who dont take advantage of voucher arent "academiclly" focused as those who do. The problem is a lack of education. It is not a simple matter of lack of motivation.This is one fundamental problem I have with the right. Its the assumption that people dont succeed because they dont wont too. Trust me nobody who knows better wants to be ignorant. That is the definition of ignorance "the persitant lack of knowledge" People arent ghetto, hood, redneck white trash or whatever derogatory label that they might even assciate themselves with, because they like it. They are that way because they dont know any better. If you give a person a pig intestines their whole life they will love the taste and will teach their children to love its taste as well. And this would be acceptable unless by some chance they get to taste steak, then they would know there was something better. I know it seems as though I digress, but the point I am trying to make is that it is an incumbent responsibility of those of us who have made it to teach people who have fallen in love with the taste of chitlin that they too can have a steak dinner. And how can we do that if we take money from public school systems and from afterschool programs and the arts in poor so called "under performing schools".

We cant solve a problem of the masses by giving opportunities to the few. Parent should have the rights to have their child educated. But they shouldnt have to bus their child cross city. Every school in America should be a good performing school. That is the only was the country can remain competive globally with foreign countries who consitently out perform us in education. Makes sense to me

Drug Wars (legal ones)

There has been a debate going on in the country for the last couple of decades about the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutic industry.

My problem isnt that pharm companies "exert to much control" over my prescribing habits (by the way I am a psychiatrist.) It's that the common thought is I dont know how to handle commercials.

The argument has been made that drug reps should be limited in their exposure to doctors because of the amount of influence they exert over the prescribing habits of doctors. This has been supported by many studies in the medical literature for a couple of decades. And while statistically this is true I have yet to be impressed by any debate as to why this is a problem.

It is true that drug companies expend a large amount of money in marketing drugs, and they would not be doing this if this didnt work--a given. But this is a capitalistic society so how else are drugs to be brought to market?

Let me simplify. Now lets suppose Toyota came out with a new car next year, and lets supposed it had a new feature that allowed it to miraculously sense when drivers were sleep at the wheel and automatically pull over. Now this sounds like something that could potentially save lives and property. Now lets say that Toyota never made a commercial for this car. Further more lets say the makers of this new feature couldn't even tell other car makers they had invented this life saving feature. Could you picture this spectacular new car with this wonderful new feature sitting on a lot with no one aware of its existence. Would sound kinda silly wouldn't it? How would we tell people about this amazing discovery? Oh yeah commercials.

The medicine industry is an industry, and just like every other industry in a capitalistic society the bottom line is profit driven. And while I am no big fan of pure capitalism managed health and pharmaceutics operate more on these principles without much regulation. While I do believe there should be some governmental regulation of these two jauggernaut industries, I dont believe we will see that change anytime soon given the sheer amount of money they can throw around Washington

As a blog I read from The Last Psychiatrist explains. The pharmecuetics industry and the field of medicine are inextricably linked. Aside from giving out pens and note pads, drug companies sponsor education conferences for doctors, buy text books for residents, and give lectures on new drugs. If they go who is going to fill the void? Academia?They get most of their funding from the government. Is the government going to pick up the tab? Expecting the government to do the research, and teach the doctors about the drugs is a big leap of faith. Our government wont even spend money to educate the masses in the public educational system do you really think they are going to spend money to educate the so-called educated?

If we are going to talk ideals, let's assume the government was willing to impose regulations on these companies. With all the money it would take to lobby politicians do you really want to waste your fifteen minutes with a senator griping about a $0.25 ink pen or $15 lunch a doctor got to hear a talk about something that could potentially save your life? Or we should lobby decreasing restrictions on patent laws to get cheaper drugs to market quicker and increasing stringency on generics to make sure they are up to par with trade brands. If you could only hold patents but so long and generics were better this whole debate would be moot. If all medicines cost the same and worked just as well then it would decrease the motivation to create new ones that did the samething as the old ones.

Now we are in this debate in the first place because in the past there were serious abuses of this relationship between pharm and physicians. Paying docs to enroll patients in studies, kick backs for prescribing etc. But now we have over corrected the problem by saying NO commercials. Seriously a pen is not a roundtrip ticket to Hawaii. A dinner talk on HOW THE DRUG WORKS is not a payment for prescribing it. We need to focus on the real problems between the pharmecuetics industry in the practice of medicine. We should focus less on "Did my doctor give me this medicine because he got a ink pen" and more on "Why doesnt my medicine cost the same as this pen"

Makes common sense to me

I have to give a shout out to The Last Psychiatrist. check it out, i put some of this post all throughout that blog.(in my comments, I'm no thief)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are there really only two kinds of Americans?

I initially started to name this Article "Throw your set up. GOP-v-Dems". I had this whole colorful tirade ready comparing our two party system, and the gang mentality we have when it comes to our allegiance to them, to the Crips and Bloods (you know red state vs blue, clever right?). But then it donned on me how incredibly offensive to the Crips and Bloods that would be.

Well, I guess there are a lot of similarities between political parties and street gangs:

1) They both act like they are concerned about the welfare of their members when they are really only concerned about those things that keep them in power:

Like gangs political parties offer very little to its members. In gangs, the profit from its members( ie. corner dealers etc) goes to its leaders and is then redistributed. In politics the members of the parties contribute money in return the candidates the party chooses gets support, but all the constituents get are cookie cutter politicians who have to appeal to a base regardless of its members personal likings. Works great if you are running for office. In major parties you already have voters and money waiting there for you. But what do we the average voter get? A sorry consession. That's what we get. You get to settle for a politician who will have to tow a rigid party line with no room for independent thought. Which brings me to my second point

2) They both demand you follow their ideologies with out question:

In a gang you are defined by how the gang defines itself. If you are a Blood, you wear what all bloods wear, think like all bloods thinks. I see very little difference between that and staunch party loyalists who tow party line ideals with little deviation(ever notice the dress of the parties at the state of the union, black suited GOP grey suited Dems?). Want a candidate who is pro-choice, and pro 2nd amendment, going to be hard to find. Want a candidate who supports drug legalization and wants tax reform, not likely in these two parties.

3) They both fight over territory.

Red neighborhoods versus blue neighborhoods; Red States versus Blue states-- Sound familiar? Gangs don't fight hard over areas they already control. Neither do political parties. This hurts the voters because campaigns concentrate on "swing states" areas that may or may not be representative of the majority of the country. Red states -v- blue states gives a feeling of disenfranchism to people who disagree with the politics of which ever state they live in. This re-enforces the also flawed system of the Electoral college which really has outlived its purpose. I would have to start another post to get into this good.

Well I guess the comparison between "Crips and Bloods" and "Dems and Pubs" is fair after all. Well, maybe since they are similar they can learn from each other. The failure of Congress to pass legislation on topics both sides feel are important, like energy, the economy, security; shows that currently political parties are more concerned about who gets credit for the solution, than the actual solution itself. I mean street gangs are able to call a truce and stop fighting when they see the need for the common good (although their common good maybe bangin' or drug dealin).

It seems to me that our political system would benefit from the same competition they say our free market needs. We need more independents and more groups to pick from, but in the meanwhile can our two parties call a truce and work for America? Seems like you should worry less about what "set you claim" and how you can solve America's problems-- Makes common sense to me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Guns don't kill, people. Dumb Cats with guns do

This wont be a very long post. I just want to know why a ban on assault riffles and hand-guns is a bad idea to some people. I can buy into the hand gun for protection idea if there was evidence that possessing them actually saved anyone from crime. Think about the last time you saw "Hero" footage on the news of somebody stopping a robbery by pulling out a .44 and going Clint Eastwood on somebody. In fact the last couple of times when I have seen on the news somebody thwarting a theft they weren't armed. It is usually some grandma whooping the hell out of someone with her cane or a 7-11 clerk with a broom just telling the thief "NO!" and beating him with a broom.

The truth of the matter, well in my opinion, is that if hand-guns and assault rifles were banned then there would be less hold ups. I could almost buy into low powered hunting riffles being legal for sport. I still think that would cut down on stick ups. I mean its not impossible to do, but it seems like it would be kinda hard to mug someone with a hunting riffle. Could you imagine Elmer Fudd trying to rob a Qwicky Mart?

Again I'm not saying all guns should be illegal, just certain types. How would this help reduce crimes? Simple. If hand guns and assault riffles were illegal then it would decrease demand for production, resulting in less guns in circulation. Also guns recovered from illicit activities would be destroyed. This would also raise the black market cost for guns so maybe they wouldn't be as easy to get as boot-leg movies. Eventually some guns would be rare to come by until they are rare to have at all. Makes sense to me

Friday, August 15, 2008

God and Country?

As I was getting dressed this morning, I was undergoing my usual morning lobotomy: CNN, Fox News, Headline News. While on CNN I came across a commercial advertising that the presidential candidates were having yet another forum on faith. Again each candidate had to explain to the American people that they are faithier than their opponent and that their faithiness qualifies them to lead our country.

I often wonder why this isn't a more disturbing image to more people. People will often point out that our founding fathers were Christian and that Christianity is ingrained into our culture as Americans. They would be quick to pull out some form of currency and say "See, it says in GOD we trust!". And I wouldn't argue with them there. The founding fathers of this country were immensely Christian, and probably did view this country as one set on Christian beliefs. They also were elitist who's vision of America was from the reference of rich white men. Lest we forget the only people who originally could vote were land-owning white men, and they saw fit to call my great,great,great,great grandparents 3/5ths human, extending them a very christian reception to forced labor after that free cruise.

But I digress. The original settlers established this country in refuge from governmentally instituted religious intolerance. In establishing our government they sought to ensure that the same religious intolerance that plagued them in England would not follow them across the Atlantic. Drawing on their experiences with a government(the king) instituted religion, they chose to separate church and state in order to protect their freedom of religion. The fact that they were only truly concerned with protecting Protestant Christianity is moot because in separating church and state, despite any apparent hypocrisy I might point out in their beliefs, they were smarter than themselves. In the constitution church and state are deliberately separated to maintain the integrity of both institutions. So why now are we trying so hard as a society to integrate them into one entity?

Many people ask me,"Whats so bad about a candidate making decisions based on their personal moral compass or faith?". I say absolutely nothing. My problem isn't that people have deep religious views that they use to inform GOOD RATIONAL decisions. My problem is that the political climate today focuses more on rather the person has faith than the decision that faith is supposed to be helping them reach. The idea is if they are able to sell themselves as a person of high moral and religious value than people just assume they are making moral decisions in office without consideration of the actual issues of their campaign. My example of this is in 2004 on CNN a woman who lost her husband to, and had a wounded son returning from the Middle East conflict was interviewed. They asked her if she supported the war--no, If she felt the country was domestically better off --no, Would you vote for Bush again--yes, Why? "'cause he's a Christian."

Again, I am a Christian myself and this isn't a suggestion that people shouldn't be allowed to profess their faith, but it should not be the premise on which we choose our leadership or expect our government to base law. More war, pain and suffering has been caused in history by people professing to be religiously moral people. We should let their acts and testimonial speak to their morality not the other way around. It was silly when Kennedy had to defend being catholic, and it is silly now to hear candidates now having to proclaim their personal faith. If people have good ideas that are in line with the issues you care about than would it matter if they came from a Christian, Muslim or Atheist?

Makes Common sense to me.

How to End Hazing, really

One man is a former student government president recruited to a fortune 500 company and new father. The other a doctorate of pharmacy candidate with numerous hours of community service. Neither man has any legal history, ever been in gangs, or trouble with the law. Yet both men are now currently in jail, convicted felons.

How did this happen? It was the trial case of a law in Florida which made hazing a felony. As a member of a National Greek Fraternity, I get asked all the time How do we end the problem of Hazing on our campuses, but is this the solution?

Hazing has a simple common sense solution. Punish everybody involved. The trouble we have with ending hazing on college campuses is that it focuses entirely on the so called "perpetrators" and creates a "victim". Parallels have been made to the victims of hazing to that of domestically abused women in that people subjugated to hazing are victims who are psychologically unable to defend themselves against their assault. As a psychiatrist, I cant wholly reject the notion that the need to fit in doesn't greatly influence a young persons mind. But also, you cant practically let a person off the hook for committing a crime simply because of peer pressure. Most people involved in hazing know way in advanced that what they are engaging in is wrong. I know in the case of my fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc.; young men sign contracts acknowledging that participation in hazing is wrong and promise to report if they encounter hazing. Plus, many college campuses hold workshops on hazing. Yet when ever there is a case like mentioned before it becomes "poor victim" and punish the "horrible criminal" that did this to you.

Lets be real. A battered woman never walked up to her husband and said beat me silly. She didn't get a card on the first date that says beware I might be crazy and should I start beating you call the police. Yet no person involved in any hazing activity entered it thinking they were doing something legal. Yet when someone cries I have been hazed, we are quick to react harshly, but half-assedly. Punishing only half the guilty party is like raiding a crack house and sending all drug dealers to prison, but saying all the crack heads caught with a pipe in their mouth shouldn't get in trouble because their addiction "isn't their fault." They knew drugs were illegal. Society has taken every step possible to educate them on the dangers of drugs, yet they chose to light up anyway. Same thing with college hazings. People know better. My question is if the family of the person hazed is entitled to money for pain and suffering; why aren't they liable for breech of contract? And if those two young men are guilty of a felony crime punishable with two years of prison, Why isn't he sitting right by them?

Want to end hazing? When you sue the organization for hazing, sue the people willingly subjecting themselves illegally to hazing too. When you expel students for hazing, expel students for allowing themselves to be hazed. Offer them the same punishment you offer everyone else involved. We need answers that don't make criminals out of people otherwise heading towards acheivement, nor do we need answers that don't hold EVERYONE involved in the problem accountable.

Makes common sense to me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nigger please? To Nigger or not to Nigger?

I know this topic has been beat to death. Literally, seeing as the NAACP buried the term last year. But since I am new the the blogasphere, I feel like this is the perfect topic for me to pop my blogging cherry.

I have never understood why this is such a controversial topic in America. It seems to me like it should be pretty simple. If your context allows you to say Nigger than say it; if it doesn't than leave it alone.

What do I mean? Remember when you were in elementary school and they talked to you about using "context clues" to figure out the meaning of something you didn't understand. For example If I were to say "Johnny checked the lights before klubugging the house". You would automatically know what klubugging meant although I just made the word up. In that context you know exactly what I was implying by my word choice. The same thing applies to using the N-word, and by N-word I mean Nigger.

To know if it is okay to use the word let your context i.e: the company you are in, and the intent in which you wish to use the word be your guide. I don't want to really get into the morality of using the word. I don't think there is an absolute right or wrong here. You really should apply the same principles you use when using any other curse word and believe me I fucking love to curse myself.

Without getting into the rightness or wrongness of applying the word, I tend to wonder why non-blacks want "the right" to use it. Why do you want to use it so badly? Its not the "white supremest "racist people who this debate usually resonates with. They say Nigger unabashedly and with the intent they mean for it to have. It is usually the "I'm not a racist" person that feels like they are shut out of some part of the "black experience" they want to be included. Get over it! Personally I think it speaks to the strong sense of entitlement of the majority (or according to CNN the soon to be minority) in this country. Shouldn't you feel awkward using a term that doesn't apply to you in the same cultural sense of the people using it? I don't think I would feel right going up to one of my Hispanic friends saying Hey Essay! or bowing to every Asian I met. And besides trying to interject yourself into someone else's cultural "thang" to feel cool in mixed racial crowds is akin to your granddad showing up with you and your date telling you to "raise the roof!"

If its an Asian Thang (math) let them have it, If its a Latino thing (low riders), let them have it. Ain't nothing wrong if its a Black Thang. White people you have your own thang (good credit)! I feel like this: Whats wrong with a culture having something unique to it that you are not privy to? Makes common sense to me.