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Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

writes: One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.

”Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

“The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens.”

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

Jasu Hu

The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

[Read the full story here, at The Atlantic]

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Great Recession Enabled ObamaCare. Now the Law’s Failure Makes Reform Possible

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The Four Legs of a New Health-Care System

James C. Carpetta and Scott Gottlieb write: Donald Trump announced this week that he had chosen Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), a leader in the efforts to replace ObamaCare, to be his secretary of Health and Human Services. This is a consequential choice. Mr. Trump’s election, and the political realignment it represents, offers a generational opportunity to pursue a new direction for American health care. Mr. Price will now be leading the charge.

The new system should be fully consumer driven, empowering individuals to be the surveyors and purchasers of their care. Past reforms in this direction became stilted and ultimately incomplete, but the current moment offers a chance to truly rebuild from the ground up. If Messrs. Trump and Price want to make the most of this short window, they should keep four central reforms in mind.

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1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans. There’s ample evidence that enrollment in insurance doesn’t always lead to improvements in health—but access to health insurance is important nonetheless. A 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found higher insurance enrollment from reforms in Massachusetts led to better results in several measures of physical and mental health.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Health insurance is also important for financial security. The ObamaCare replacement should make it possible for all people to get health insurance that provides coverage for basic prevention, like vaccines, and expensive medical care that exceeds, perhaps, $5,000 for individuals.

Those Americans who don’t get health insurance through employers, or Medicare and Medicaid, should be eligible for a refundable tax credit that can be used to enroll in a health-insurance plan. The credit would be set at a level comparable to the tax benefits available to individuals with employer-sponsored insurance plans. The subsidy would be enough to make a basic level of catastrophic coverage easily affordable for all Americans.

2. Accommodate people with pre-existing health conditions. The price of insurance naturally reflects added risk. That’s why beach houses cost more to insure than a typical suburban home. Yet there is a reasonable social consensus that people should not be penalized financially for health problems that are largely outside of their control.

So as long as someone remains insured, he should be allowed to move from employer coverage to the individual market without facing exclusions or higher premiums based on his health status. If someone chooses voluntarily not to get coverage, state regulation could allow for an assessment of the risk when the person returns to the market. Read the rest of this entry »


Childishness and Intolerance on College Campuses Embody What’s Wrong with American Liberalism

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Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election.

George Will writes: Many undergraduates, their fawn-like eyes wide with astonishment, are wondering: Why didn’t the dean of students prevent the election from disrupting the serenity to which my school has taught me that I am entitled? Campuses create “safe spaces” where students can shelter from discombobulating thoughts and receive spiritual balm for the trauma of microaggressions. Yet the presidential election came without trigger warnings?

“Only the highly educated write so badly…the point of such ludicrous prose is to signal membership in a clerisy.”

The morning after the election, normal people rose — some elated, some despondent — and went off to actual work. But at Yale University, that incubator of late-adolescent infants, a professor responded to “heartfelt notes” from students “in shock” by making that day’s exam optional.

Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election. The compound of childishness and condescension radiating from campuses is a reminder to normal Americans of the decay of protected classes — in this case, tenured faculty and cosseted students.

[Read the full text of George Will’s column here, at The Washington Post]

As “bias-response teams” fanned out across campuses, an incident report was filed about a University of Northern Colorado student who wrote “free speech matters” on one of 680 “#languagematters” posters that cautioned against politically incorrect speech. Catholic DePaul University denounced as “bigotry” a poster proclaiming “Unborn Lives Matter.” Bowdoin College provided counseling to students traumatizedby the cultural appropriation committed by a sombrero-and-tequila party. Oberlin College students said they were suffering breakdowns because schoolwork was interfering with their political activism. California State University at Los Angeles established “healing” spaces for students to cope with the pain caused by a political speech delivered three months earlier . Indiana University experienced social-media panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight”) because a Catholic priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads, was identified as someone “in a KKK outfit holding a whip.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Sanders: Racists and Sexists Make Up ‘Very Small Minority’ of People Who Voted for Donald Trump

Marissa Johnson, left, speaks as Mara Jacqueline Willaford holds her fist overhead and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stands nearby as the two women take over the microphone at a rally Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in downtown Seattle. The women, co-founders of the Seattle chapter of Black Lives Matter, took over the microphone and refused to relinquish it. Sanders eventually left the stage without speaking and instead waded into the crowd to greet supporters. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

 


Elite Campuses Offer Students Coloring Books, Puppies to Get Over Trump

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The post-election freak-out on elite campuses is total, and is made all the worse because students on these campuses never meet anyone who disagrees with them.

soaveRobby Soave writes: In the wake of the election, many college students at elite colleges and universities have come down with serious cases of PTSD: President Trump Stress Disorder.

Their inability to anticipate this outcome—the election of Donald Trump—should prompt the Ivy League to consider whether it’s really preparing students for life outside the liberal bubble of campus.

To equip students with the resources they need to refute Trumpism, colleges have to stop shielding them from ideas that offend their liberal sensibilities. They have to stop pretending that shutting down a 200181253-001discussion is the same thing as winning an argument. Silence is not persuasion.

“There were actual cats and a puppy there. The event as a whole seemed to be an escape from the reality of the election results.”

— UPenn student, Daniel Tancredi

Elsewhere, at campuses across the country, students begged professors to cancel classes and postpone exams, citing fear, exhaustion, and emotional trauma. Such accommodations were frequently granted: Academics at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and other institutions told students to take some time to come to terms with what had happened, as if the election of Donald Trump was akin to a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

safe-space

That wasn’t all. Law students at the University of Michigan were provided with a post-election “self-care with food and play” event, complete with “stress busting” activities like play dough, coloring books, legos, crying-little-girl
and bubbles. Columbia University’s Barnard College offered hot chocolate and coloring. The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, created a healing space: more coloring books, and also puppies.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Beast]

“There were actual cats and a puppy there,” one UPenn student, Daniel Tancredi, told The College Fix. “The event as a whole seemed to be an escape from the reality of the election results.”

One wonders whether some campuses have routinely provided too much of an escape from reality, if the election has reduced their students to tears, play dough, and a whole lot of coloring books.

Read the rest of this entry »


Restraining Donald Trump

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Trump’s Administration and Expertise

Noah Rothman writes: “Everybody who has signed a never-Trump letter or indicated an anti-Trump attitude is not going to get a job. And that’s most of the Republican foreign policy, national security, intelligence, homeland security, and Department of Justice experience.”

“122 members of the Republican national security community put their names to an open letter…Their denunciations of Donald Trump as fundamentally ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces were thorough and compelling.”

This was the assessment of Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior official in George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security. He speculated that President-elect Donald Trump would not lack for top-tier GOP talent to fill high-profile Cabinet slots, but that thousands of positions at lower levels of the administration within the nation’s national security apparatus would be harder to staff.

“But on Tuesday, they lost the argument.”

Without the GOP expert class, the lower ranks of the Trump administration’s will be staffed with novices and political sycophants.

trump-hair-tv

“Now that the public has decided, the question is: Can Trump do without them? Doubtless, he and his people think they can.”

Trump ran explicitly on a message of resentment toward the expert class, whose members, he contended, were responsible for the increasingly dangerous international security environment. They returned the favor: Nearly 200 of Republican foreign policy and national security experts came out publicly against Trump as a candidate who could not be trusted to lead this nation’s armed forces.

Hillary Clinton Discusses Donald Trump's Policies At Reno, NV Campaign Event

[Read the full text here, at commentary]

In early March, 122 members of the Republican national security community put their names to an open letter. “We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria,” the letter read.

[ALSO SEE – Bare, Ruined Choirs – ‘Democrats overlooked their gradual decimation because of the sense of cultural ascendancy Obama provided them. That’s gone’. – commentary]

“But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency.” Another 50 GOP international affairs experts–including John Negroponte, Robert Zoellick, Tom Ridge, and Michael Chertoff–also put their names to a missive declaring Donald Trump a “risk” to American national security. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Reactions: ‘Trump’s Alpha Male Darwinian Feat in the US Election is the Power of Disruption in Full Play’

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Andrew Sheng says the way of the tech age is ‘disrupt or be disrupted’, and achieving the unthinkable rests on sheer willpower, as exemplified by the rise from nowhere of Donald Trump and Shenzhen.

andrew_shengAndrew Sheng writes: I was going to write about disruptive technology, but the whole week has been taken up with the disruption of Donald Trump, as he upset the American establishment by winning the US presidential election.

“There was something quite Darwinian about the US election. Here was an alpha male challenging the establishment, both on the Republican and Democratic sides. Against all odds, he defeated the Bush dynasty and the Republican party leadership to win the nomination.”

Trump’s victory repeated the Brexit phenomenon: that the elites don’t get it. Trump basically tapped into the anger in the dominant American white voter that life has not been good the past 30 years – attributing this to globalisation, immigration, disruptive technology and, mostly, the failure of the elites to listen.

Two Iranian women surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, in September, when authorities briefly lifted blocks on social networks and then restored them. Ebrahim Noroozi / AP file

Two Iranian women surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, in September, when authorities briefly lifted blocks on social networks and then restored them. Ebrahim Noroozi / AP file

“Increasingly, societies are networks across which goods, services, information and value are traded, exchanged and created. Those who have access to these networks grow wealthier, outstripping those who are not.”

There was something quite Darwinian about the US election. Here was an alpha male challenging the establishment, both on the Republican and Democratic sides. Against all odds, he defeated the Bush dynasty and the Republican party leadership to win the nomination. Then he crushed the alpha female (Hillary Clinton), partly because somehow no one could quite trust what she really stood for.

“Hong Kong is a perfect example of how cities become successful by being a free port, with low transaction costs, rule of law and access to free information.”

We are likely to see some major changes affecting Wall Street. Remember how, in 1934, newly elected president Franklin Roosevelt sent Joseph Kennedy Senior to go after Wall Street?

“An American friend had this insight – most of his friends refused to tell anyone that they supported Trump. They did not want to appear politically incorrect in supporting a ranting candidate who was not singing along to the traditional songs. But they wanted change – and Obama had not delivered.”

How did Trump get here? Firstly, as a businessman, he understood that the old model was broken because he read the signals right – the average American voter was angry and wanted their issues fixed. Secondly, he knew that the mainstream establishment media was against him but they didn’t get what his pollsters were reading.

[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]

The web traffic was showing that his outrageous statements were touching raw nerves. Politics is, ultimately, about the gut rather than the rational mind. Thirdly, the pollsters were reading the old tea leaves, not appreciating how voters were refusing to show their hand till the last minute.

An American friend had this insight – most of his friends refused to tell anyone that they supported Trump. They did not want to appear politically incorrect in supporting a ranting candidate who was not singing along to the traditional songs. But they wanted change – and Obama had not delivered.

obama-trump-handshake

“The election also showed that what concerns voters most is the need for good jobs. This is where globalisation and technology disruption have upset the status quo. Jobs either go abroad where wages are cheaper, or technology is such that most manufacturing can be done onshore, but robotics is replacing grunt labour.”

So, what next for Trump and for Asia? Based on his campaign language, Trump is likely to be quite tough on allies and competitors alike; essentially, everyone will have to look after their own interests. Read the rest of this entry »


LA Times Final Map Shows Clinton Winning with 352 Electoral Votes

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…We’ve updated our electoral map for the final time in this topsy-turvy campaign year.

For this version, our goal was no toss-ups. We’re giving you our best estimates, based on public polling, state vote histories and the reporting done by our campaign staff, on which way we think each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia will fall this year.

The previous version of the map had five toss-up states. In the end, we’re predicting that three of them — North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona — will go for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary-Clinton-Pantsuit-Rainbow

Iowa will go to Donald Trump, we expect. So will Utah, where independent candidate Evan McMullin has been threatening Trump, but seems likely to come up short. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Conservatarian Novelist Brad Thor: ISIS Exemplifies Islam, Trump and Clinton are Terrible

In an unbroken chain of best-selling and page-turning thrillers featuring special-ops agent Scot Harvath, Brad Thor has created a fictional universe that reflects our chaotic contemporary world.

Enemies are everywhere and up to all sorts of evil, but there are good guys who are not only principled but even victorious most of the time. His books are also chock full of philosophizing and political and economic commentary from a “conservatarian” perspective. 2013’s ‘Hidden Order’, which revolved around attempts to assassinate nominees to head the Federal Reserve, quoted extensively from libertarian economics writer Henry Hazlitt and histories of the Fed. Thor notes that he was raised in a part-Objectivist home and exposed early and often to the works of Ayn Rand. That upbringing infuses his fiction with a love of ideas and his education at the University of Southern California with acclaimed novelist T.C. Boyle helps imbue his work with literary flourishes.

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Thor’s latest book, ‘Foreign Agent’, engages the threat of extremist Islam and provocatively argues (amidst the action scenes and plot twists) that the truest form of the faith isn’t practiced by contemporary reformers but by fundamentalist Muslims and the terrorists in ISIS and Al Qaeda. A native of the Chicago area, Thor talked to Reason in his adopted hometown of Nashville. During a wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie, he says,

“I believe that if Mohammed came back today…and handed out trophies for who the best Muslims were, ISIS would get them. Al Qaeda would get them. They’re practicing Islam exactly the way he told them to practice it. So they’re not perverting the religion. Technically, its the people that we like, the moderate, peaceful Muslims, who are actually perverting it.”

No stranger to stirring the political pot, the “conservatarian” author also discusses his discussion with Glenn Beck about the hypothetical removal of a President Donald Trump. Thor’s #NeverTrump call to action got him in hot water with Sirius XM after a vociferous exchange last May on Glenn Beck’s radio show, with some listeners claiming he was talking about assassination (a charge Thor absolutely rebuts in this interview).

His discussion of his early development as as writer is of interest to his many fans. A writer who can turn the Federal Reserve Bank into a nail-biting thriller – as Thor did in ‘Hidden Order’ – has valuable lessons to share in the arts of espionage and storytelling. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] America: Not So Great, Anymore? 

According to a new poll, most Americans think our country is not as great as it once was. Who do we blame?


[VIDEO] Rand Paul Demonstrates a Modest Approach to Improving the Tax Code

The video invites viewers to click through to see Paul destroy the code by setting it on fire, shredding it with a chainsaw, and reducing it to pulp in a woodchipper, all soundtracked by an electric guitar wailing the Star Spangled Banner.

Tory Newmyer writes: How would Rand Paul lower tax rates? By feeding them into a woodchipper, apparently.

“Hey, I’m Rand Paul and I’m trying to kill the tax code, all 70,000 pages of it.”

The libertarian-minded Kentucky senator and Republican presidential candidate released a video Tuesday that showed him using a variety of techniques to physically assault a printed copy of the tax code.

Shulman, Lerner and Wolin take their seats to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington

“Hey, I’m Rand Paul and I’m trying to kill the tax code, all 70,000 pages of it,” Paul, clad in a black “Detroit Republican” t-shirt, tells the camera. He flogs his plan for a 14.5 percent flat tax that would fit on one page with a one-page tax return. The video then invites viewers to click through to see Paul destroy the code by setting it on fire, shredding it with a chainsaw, and reducing it to pulp in a woodchipper, all soundtracked by an electric guitar wailing the Star Spangled Banner….(read more)

Fortune.com


Arthur Brooks: Playing the Music of Capitalism

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To become a majority again, conservatives need to reassert the moral case for free markets

William McGurn writes: Before he was president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks played the French horn. Not on the side. For a living.

It’s not the standard route to the top job at a Beltway think tank. Then again, not much about Mr. Ken-Fallin-WSJBrooks is standard. From dropping out of college to go to Spain to play for the Barcelona City Orchestra, to earning his B.A. degree via correspondence courses from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, his life makes for an eclectic résumé.

“Our side has all the right policies. But without the music, the public hears just numbers and we have no resonance.”

Today he boasts a Ph.D. from the RAND Graduate School and enjoys an honored spot in the capital’s intellectual firmament. But the horn still defines how he sees the world.

jazz-orch

“We don’t need to write an opera about free enterprise to reach people. But it’s not a bad idea.”

“The French horn is the harmonic backbone of the orchestra,” Mr. Brooks says. “The physics are tricky. It’s as long as a tuba but with a mouthpiece as small as a trumpet’s. This gives the French horn its characteristic mellow sound but also makes it easy to miss notes. The metaphors here form themselves.”

Indeed they do. Not least because think tanks have distinct personalities in addition to their politics.

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“The liberation of hundreds of millions from desperate poverty ranks among the greatest success stories in history. But it’s a story that remains largely untold and mostly unheralded.”

The libertarian Cato Institute, for example, looks as though it had been designed by Howard Roark, the hero architect of Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead.” The Liberty Bell on the Heritage Foundation logo evokes a classic conservatism 087196e06cea0f75cad96f9da0ec0528rooted in the American founding. The clean modernist lines of the Brookings Institution suggest its faith in good, rational government.

“Capitalism has saved a couple of billion people and we have treated this miracle like a state secret.”

In Mr. Brooks’s hands, AEI has beome an orchestra. Sure, it is sometimes labeled “neocon” (almost always deployed as a pejorative) because of the home it provides for former George W. Bush administration officials such as John Bolton and
Paul Wolfowitz, not to mention scholars such as Fred Kagan who write on military matters. 51If4pLhXLL._SL250_These people are all vital to AEI, but they are only part of a larger ensemble.

[Order Arthur Brooks’s bookThe Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America” from Amazon.com]

“Our side has all the right policies,” Mr. Brooks says. “But without the music, the public hears just numbers and we have no resonance.”

“We need to know Adam Smith who wrote ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ as well as we do the Adam Smith who wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations,’ Because when you do, you begin to understand we are hard-wired for freedom by the same Creator who gave us our unalienable rights.”

He is speaking over lunch in his corner office overlooking 17th and M streets in northwest Washington, D.C. The office bullfighterisn’t standard-issue, either.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The walls are bereft of the signed photos and tributes from presidents, senators and other pooh-bahs that are de riguer for the capital’s movers and shakers. The largest piece in the room is a poster featuring José Tomás, Spain’s greatest bullfighter. Mr. Brooks once saw him in the ring. “A true master artist,” he says.

The other poster is from the Soviet Union circa 1964. It features two workers. One is a drunk scratching his head as he looks at the one-ruble note in his hand. The other is a hale-and-hearty type proudly looking at the 10 rubles he has earned. The caption: “Work more, earn more.”

“It was part of a public-information campaign to raise productivity by paying people more,” Mr. Brooks says. It’s the sort of irony he loves, a confirmation of basic market wisdom—courtesy of communist propaganda. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Everything is Amazing’: The Physical Results of Capitalism and The Paradise of the Real

The Paradise of the Real

Kevin D. Williamson writes:

“We treat the physical results of capitalism as though they were an inevitability. In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry, to say nothing of a 2014 Mustang, the quintessential American Everyman’s car. But who notices the marvel that is a Toyota Camry? In the 1980s, no chairman of the board, president, or prime minister could buy a computer as good as the cheapest one for sale today at Best Buy. In the 1950s, American millionaires did not have access to the quality and variety of food consumed by Americans of relatively modest means today, and the average middle-class household spent a much larger share of its income buying far inferior groceries. Between 1973 and 2008, the average size of an American house increased by more than 50 percent, even as the average number of people living in it declined. Things like swimming pools and air conditioning went from being extravagances for tycoons and movie stars to being common or near-universal. In his heyday, Howard Hughes didn’t have as good a television as you do, and the children of millionaires for generations died from diseases that for your children are at most an inconvenience. As the first 199,746 or so years of human history show, there is no force of nature ensuring that radical material progress happens as it has for the past 250 years. Technological progress does not drive capitalism; capitalism drives technological progress — and most other kinds of progress, too…”

Read the full text here…

Dana has good taste. (And a great laugh) In a comment to Dana, Kevin D. Williamson notes: “It’s actually an old piece that’s been making the rounds…” Fooled me, too. I also thought it was new column. Good to see it circulation again.

National Review


Charles Murray: The Trouble Isn’t Liberals. It’s Progressives.

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Not everyone on the left wants to quash dissent or indulge President Obama’s abuses of executive power

Charles Murray writes: Social conservatives. Libertarians. Country-club conservatives. Tea party conservatives. Everybody in politics knows that those sets of people who usually vote Republican cannot be arrayed in a continuum from moderately conservative to extremely conservative. They are on different political planes. They usually have just enough in common to vote for the same candidate.

 “To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.”

Why then do we still talk about the left in terms of a continuum from moderately liberal to extremely liberal? Divisions have been occurring on the left that mirror the divisions on the right. Different segments of the left are now on different planes.

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 “That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.”

A few weeks ago, I was thrown into a situation where I shared drinks and dinner with two men who have held high positions in Democratic administrations. Both men are lifelong liberals. There’s nothing “moderate” about their liberalism. But as the pleasant evening wore on (we knew that there was no pointliberal-fascism in trying to change anyone’s opinion on anything), I was struck by how little their politics have to do with other elements of the left.

[Jonah Goldberg‘s classic “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change” is available at Amazon]

Their liberalism has nothing in common with the political mind-set that wants right-of-center speakers kept off college campuses, rationalizes the forced resignation of a CEO who opposes gay marriage, or thinks George F. Will should be fired for writing a column disagreeable to that mind-set. It has nothing to do with executive orders unilaterally disregarding large chunks of legislation signed into law or with using the IRS as a political weapon. My companions are on a different political plane from those on the left with that outlook—the progressive mind-set.

“It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power.”

Wait, doesn’t “progressive” today reflect the spirit of the Progressive Era a century ago, when the country benefited from the righteous efforts of muckrakers and others who fought big-city political bosses, attacked business monopolies and promoted Good Government?

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“As a libertarian, I am reluctant to give up the word “liberal.” It used to refer to laissez-faire economics and limited government.”

The era was partly about that. But philosophically, the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century had roots in German philosophy ( Hegel and Nietzsche were big favorites) and German public Obama-incandescentadministration ( Woodrow Wilson’s open reverence for Bismarck was typical among progressives).

“Making a clear distinction between liberals and progressives will help break down a Manichaean view of politics that afflicts the nation.”

To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.

That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.

[read the full text of Charles Murray‘s article here, at the Wall Street Journal]

[Speaking of abuses of executive power, read Charles C.W.Cooke‘s “Obama Defies the Will of the Senate” at National Review Online]

[Also see Fred Siegel’s book “The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class at Amazon]

[Jonah Goldberg‘s “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change” at Amazon]

[And Jonah’s other popular book, The Tyranny of Cliches, also available at Amazon]

It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I’m saying, read Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.

“Too many of us see those on the other side as not just misguided but evil. The solution is not a generalized ‘Can’t we all just get along’ non-judgmentalism. Some political differences are too great for that. But liberalism as I want to use the term encompasses a set of views that can be held by people who care as much about America’s exceptional heritage as I do.

Here, I want to make a simple point about millions of people—like my liberal-minded dinner companions—who regularly vote Democratic and who are caught between a rock and a hard place. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Department of Labor’s Big Fat Lie

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None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. 

Jim Clifton writes: Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

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“There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

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“And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.”

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] New York City Council Chamber Councilman David G. Greenfield Exposes and Passionately Denounces Anti-Semitic Outburst

New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield makes remarks on the floor of the council moments after Pro-Palestine activists protested the commemoration of 1.1 million people killed in Auschwitz. Greenfield is the grandson of holocaust survivors.

 


Gov. Scott Walker Sworn in for Second Term as Wisconsin’s Governor

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MADISON (WITI/AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is using his inaugural address to tout his record in Wisconsin, and draw a contrast with the federal government, as he considers a run for president.

Walker said in his inaugural speech Monday that the nation’s founders looked to states, not the ht_scott_walker_unintimidated_kb_131113_16x9_992federal government, as the source of hope for the country. He says, “We will not let them down.”

Walker also says that “in contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State.”

Walker also says in his speech that he is dedicated to reducing the size of government and building the needed infrastructure to support a thriving economy.

Below are Governor Walker’s complete remarks:

Today, I thank God for His grace; for the privilege of living in such a remarkable country; and for growing up in the greatest state in the nation.  As the son of a small town pastor and a part-time secretary in Delavan, it is quite an honor to serve as your Governor.  Thank you for that cherished opportunity.

I want to thank my family: Tonette—who is my rock and an amazing First Lady; our sons, Matt and Alex—who have done an outstanding job serving as our masters of ceremony here today; my parents, Llew and Pat Walker—who always set a powerful example of how to serve others; my brother, David, sister-in-law, Maria, and their girls, Isabella and Eva; and to all of my other family members—I am grateful for all of your tremendous love and devotion.

Thanks go out to all who are participants in our ceremony today.  I am particularly grateful to the members of the 132nd Army Band and all of the other members of the Wisconsin National Guard—not only for your services today, but for the ongoing support of our many brave men and women who are deployed even as we speak.  Our prayers go out to each and every one of you.

And a special thank you as well to all of our outstanding veterans who served our country so faithfully.  We salute you.

And thank you to all of the people across Wisconsin who have offered your support and prayers to my family.  We are so very grateful. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Empire State of Mind

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View of the chrysler building from the empire state building

… sending postcards


Boy Trouble

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

Kay S. Hymowitz writes:  When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.

Economists have scratched their heads. “The greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” MIT’s Michael Greenstone told the New York Times. If boys were as rational as their sisters, he implied, they would be staying in school, getting degrees, and going on to buff their Florsheim shoes on weekdays at 7:30 AM. Instead, the rational sex, the proto-homo economicus, is shrugging off school and resigning itself to a life of shelf stocking. Why would that be?

This spring, another MIT economist, David Autor, and coauthor Melanie Wasserman, proposed an answer. The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. Boys and young men weren’t behaving rationally, the theory suggested, because their family background left them without the necessary attitudes and skills to adapt to changing social and economic conditions. The paper generated a brief buzz but then vanished. That’s too bad, for the claim that family breakdown has had an especially harsh impact on boys, and therefore men, has considerable psychological and biological research behind it. Anyone interested in the plight of poor and working-class men—and, more broadly, mobility and the American dream—should keep it front and center in public debate.

Read the rest of this entry »


Who Dreams of Being Average?

The American Dream has long evoked the idea that the next generation will have a better life than the previous one. Today, many Americans feel that dream is in jeopardy.

The American Dream has long evoked the idea that the next generation will have a better life than the previous one. Today, many Americans feel that dream is in jeopardy.

 Average Is Over—But the American Dream Lives On

Who dreams of being average? Americans define personal success in different ways, but certainly no one strives for mediocrity. The children of Lake Wobegon, after all, were “all above average.”

Perhaps this explains why some reviewers have understood the glum predictions of Tyler Cowen’s Average Is Over—that shifts in the labor market will cause the middle class to dwindle—as heralds of the death of the American Dream. This understanding misses the real thrust of Cowen’s book.

Everyone has their own notions of what constitutes the American Dream, but when writer and historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase in the 1930s, he wrote that in America “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Cowen’s vision of our future actually reinforces this idea. Read the rest of this entry »


The Luckiest Generation

Why those born in the late 1930s and 1940s are richer than those who came before — or after.

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Kevin D. Williamson writes:  One of the great American assumptions — that while individuals and families may rise and fall, each generation will end up on average better off than the one that preceded it — has been the subject of much scrutiny in the past decade. Democrats and their affiliated would-be wealth redistributors have argued that the large income gains enjoyed by the highest-paid workers threaten the American dream of ever-upward generational mobility, while others have worried that the housing meltdown and the Great Recession, which inflicted serious damage on the net worths of many American families, now stand in the way of that dream. Deficit hawks, including yours truly, have long worried that the entitlement system, with its unsustainable wealth transfers from the relatively poor young to the relatively wealthy old, would eventually leave one generation — probably mine — on the hook, having paid a lifetime’s worth of payroll taxes to support a system of retirement benefits likely to fall apart before we’ve recouped what everybody keeps dishonestly insisting is an investment. It’s fashionable to hate the Baby Boomers, who are numerous and entitlement-loving, for the problem, but in fact they may be the first generation to feel the sting of the reversal.

Read the rest of this entry »


Social immobility erodes American dream

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If there’s one issue on which both the left and right agree, it is the crisis of declining mobility. The American dream at its core is that a person, no matter his or her background, can make it here. A few weeks ago, four economists at Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley released a path-breaking study of mobility within the United States. And last week the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a series of essays tackling the question from an international standpoint. The research is careful and nuanced, yet it does point in one clear direction. The question is, will Washington follow it?

Read the rest of this entry »