Job-killing (and person killing?) regulations

Loved this letter in yesterday’s N&O.  At first I thought it was just another true-believing libertarian, but then I realized it was great satire:

Your Aug. 4 editorial calling for stricter regulation of interstate buses highlighted the excessive regulation and anti-business stance that permeate the current administration – and obviously the editorial staff of The N&O.

Enforcing limits on the number of hours a driver may be behind the wheel of an interstate bus will impose an unfair burden on small businesses. Likewise, mandatory safety inspections are nothing but an unwarranted government intrusion in the free market. To call for things like child restraints, seatbelts and stronger bus structures will just increase the cost of the buses and take us another step down the road toward socialism.

Surely it is cheaper to pay for the occasional injury claim (especially if the company declares bankruptcy and changes its name) than better buses. If a company starts killing a few patrons here and there due to its operating procedures, people will stop buying seats on that carrier – driving that carrier from the market.

The “invisible hand” will triumph again. Markets do regulate themselves; just look at the financial system. Occasional crashes must be looked upon as nothing more than the price to be paid for economic freedom.

Ken Jones

Chapel Hill

Nice.

IUD’s for all!

When one considers what’s at stake, I’m absolutely amazed at how careless people are with their birth control.  Most “failures” of birth control are not actually about the birth control not working like it’s supposed to, but rather people failing to actually use it like their supposed to.  Of course, in the real world of preventing unwanted pregnancies, that’s a real problem.  Thus, it turns out that the new versions of the IUD (not the problematic ones of the past) are enormously effective birth control.  From Slate:

We’ve learned that some kinds of contraception are more prone to human error than others. But have we taken the lesson to heart? Half of the 3 million annual unintended pregnancies at any age in the United States occur among people using birth control. The pill is the most popular method, used by more than half of all women trying to avoid pregnancy. People believe it is highly reliable because it is over 99 percent effective when “used correctly” in supervised drug trials…

But the most dramatic result of Peipert’s study was that the risk of contraceptive failure was 22 times higher with the pill than with IUDs in adult women, and double that for teens. Just imagine, Peipert recently told me, if a miracle drug suddenly slashed cancer deaths or heart attacks by 95 percent. Every patient would demand it and no one would want the older therapies. The parent in the above example would sleep better at night knowing the teen’s risk of pregnancy was only 0.3 percent, instead of 10 percent. However, only 2 percent of teens and 4 percent of American women now get IUDs. More couples than that rely on withdrawal, which has an estimated 25 percent risk of failure, as their preferred contraceptive method.

Peipert makes another persuasive argument. Though this aspect of his research is still in peer review and awaiting publication, he suspects that the abortion rate can drop by half when women are given free access to IUDs. Again, imagine if a magic treatment suddenly made half the country’s abortions unnecessary. For what good reason would anybody be opposed?

Wow– I’m sold.  Doing all they can to dramatically expand the use of IUD’s could probably be the single most effective thing that pro-life persons could do to reduce abortions.  Something tells me that’s not going to happen.  That said, I don’t know exactly how to achieve it, but clearly we need to make IUD use way more widespread.

Photo of the day

An Ohio State physiology professor found the time to construct this amazing scale replica of Ohio Stadium using Lego:

Ohio State Lego

Disability parenting and “having it all”

Really enjoyed this essay on what it’s like to be a parent to a child with disabilities.  Sounds like our family’s definitely got it better than the author as Alex usually is quite good dealing with new situations (of course, when he’s not, it’s a disaster, but we still try often enough because it usually does work out.  Here’s a bit:

This is, sadly, a very typical exchange, not just with the experts in our lives, but even close friends: How do we stand our hellish life with a child who functions at 1 percent and starts to bite and hit when he is in situations he doesn’t understand — often, multiple times a day? Once, watching our son having a hard time, a friend even blurted, “I’m so glad this didn’t happen to us!”

While our friends worry about the quality of middle schools, our parental duties include bringing our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window, then arranging for a window replacement and for a special treatment for all the glass in our house so it won’t shatter — at a pretty penny. Other friends declare, “I couldn’t do what you do.” If I am to conform to their expectations, I’m not sure what I am supposed to do: Beat my son? Kill myself? (Sadly, parents with kids like my son have done exactly that.)

Maybe it’s my Buddhist outlook, but I’m not consumed with worry and frenzy and despair like I’m “supposed” to be. I don’t enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law’s pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile.

When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, “Can we have it all?” — with “all” being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, “Do we have enough?”

I don’t think it is the Buddhist outlook.  The truth is, humans for the most part, are pretty amazing at dealing with what life throws them.  I like to think Kim and deal somewhat better than most.  But, truth is, most people who say some variation of “I don’t know how you do it” would probably do just fine themselves if it was them in our shoes.

Does Alex make life extra tough sometimes?  Hell, yeah.  But on the whole, we’ll take him.

Romney = Gore

Nice piece from Brendan Nyhan on how the press’ treatment of Romney is really coming to resemble their treatment of Gore in 2000.  In an election that looks to be quite close (though hopefully not quite as 2000), this is not good news for Romney.  Long exceprt, but too good to cut short:

By early 2011, it wasapparent that many reporters viewed Romney as inauthentic and were selecting anecdotes to report that were consistent with this narrative. Coverage during the GOP primaries and the ensuing months was oftensimilarlyhostile. Fearful of the media focusing on the mistakes of its error-prone candidate, the campaign has locked down Romney so tightly that the traveling press were only granted a total of three questions during the seven-day foreign trip (though Romney did conduct substantive interviews with broadcast and cable networks).

As I’ve notedbefore, the best comparison for the Romney/media dynamic is the way the press covered Al Gore in the 1999-2000 period. Like Romney, Gore was portrayed as inauthentic by a hostile press corps (which even jeered him at a debate) and burned by “gotcha” coverage during his primary campaign with Bill Bradley. As a result, the Vice President became very cautious and restricted media access later in the primary season. The cycle of hostility and access restrictions continued during the general election, helping to produce some of the worstpoliticaljournalism in recent memory.

The media’s focus on authenticity and gaffes is helping to fuel a similar dynamic with Romney today. Of course, reporters have every right to be frustrated with the lack of access they are being given to the candidate. But journalists and news organizations are responsible for how they respond to this situation—which has no obvious solution—and should be careful to avoid letting their grievances fuel pathological coverage. The most dramatic example from Romney’s trip overseas was The Washington Post’s Phil Ruckerdesperately shouting “What about your gaffes?” at Romney, a question that Salon’s Alex Pareene called “maybe the dumbest question I’ve heard” and “a perfect beautiful little 2012 campaign zen koan.”

Beyond the frustration and resentment, an underlying problem is that the demand for gaffe news far exceeds the public’s interest in substantive reporting, especially during a general election in which only 5% of adults are truly undecided. The average news consumer follows presidential politics more like a sports fan than some sort of ideal citizen. Though there’s little evidence that gaffes prompt voters to rethink their loyalties, Romney’s missteps seem like news in this context.

On a related note, Nate Cohn suggests that Romney could use a “Sister Souljah” moment.  I think he’s right and that this might really help with the tone of his coverage.  However, I don’t think there’s anything in Romney’s character to suggest he’ll deliver such a moment.  Cohn:

Most presidential candidates adopt an image that distinguishes them from the most partisan wing of their party, whether it was Bush running as a “compassionate conservative,” Clinton’s “New Democrat,” Obama’s post-partisan appeals to change, or McCain’s “maverick.” And realistically, Romney needs it as much or more than any of those prior candidates. The Republican Party is decidedly unpopular—more unpopular than the parties were in any of those prior presidential elections (with the exception of McCain in 2008). Yet here’s Romney, a candidate who entered presidential politics positioned to run as a moderate, running as a generic conservative Republican candidate with a splash of Bain Capital.

It’s important to remember that Romney needs moderate, independent, and even traditionally Democratic-leaning voters to win this election. It’s not 2004 anymore: The influx of non-white voters into the electorate over the last eight years, as well as their movement toward the Democratic party, has raised the bar for what Romney needs among white voters. Romney

Honestly, I think Romney is just too scared of the response fro that “most partisan wing” of his party.

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