Video of the day

So, this is an amazing 12 seconds.

The feminist case for me doing less house work

Loved this essay from Stephen Marche in the NYT.  Very short version– since women get the unfair brunt of housework, we should all do less of it.  Hooray from me!  Actually, though, it really does bug me that women are simply judged on this in a way that men are not.  I’m perfectly happy to have people come to our home in a state of quasi-chaos simply because I want to see them and if they want to judge me for my disorder, they can kiss my ass.  Kim is not so happy for this to happen (and thereby pretty much prevents it) because she knows that ultimately she will be dhe one judged for quasi-chaos, fair or not.  Anyway, here’s Marche:

Unlike many other rubrics by which you can establish the balance of power between men and women, there isn’t much evidence of a cohort shift in housework. Younger men are doing roughly the same amount of work around the house as their fathers did. It doesn’t look like they’re going to start doing more, either.

Women today make up 40 percent of America’s sole or primary breadwinners for families with children under 18, a share that has quadrupled since 1960. And yet in America as well as in several other countries in the developed world, men’s time investment in housework has not significantly altered in nearly 30 years…

In the United States, men’s participation in housework topped out at 94 minutes at day in 1998, but by 2003 was down to 81 minutes, not much different than the 76 minutes it was in 1985.

Think of all the other changes that men have undertaken in the period between 1980 and 2010. Taking care of kids used to be women’s work, too, but now the man with his kids is an icon of manliness. Foodie snobbism has taken on a macho edge in some circles, to the point where the properly brined Thanksgiving turkey can be a status symbol of masculine achievement…

So why won’t men pick up a broom? Why won’t they organize a closet? Why can’t housework be converted — as the former burdens of food preparation and child rearing seem to have been for some men — into a source of manly pride and joy? Why would housework be the particular place to stall?

At least one thing is becoming clear: The only possible solution to the housework discrepancy is for everyone to do a lot less of it.  [emphasis mine] …

Here is the good news: Men’s behavior may not be changing, but women’s is. According to a 2000 study by University of Maryland sociologists, time-diary data from American adults show that the number of hours spent on domestic labor, not including child care or shopping, has declined steadily since 1965. This finding is mainly due to declines among women, both those with jobs and those without jobs. They have cut their housework hours almost in half since the 1960s…

Those who were cutting their numbers of hours spent on domestic work most rapidly were those with the most time available for it, according to the University of Maryland researchers. The sociologists’ term for this process is “disinvestment.”

Hooray for disinvestment. Caring less is the hope of the future. Housework is perhaps the only political problem in which doing less and not caring are the solution, where apathy is the most progressive and sensible attitude. Fifty years ago, it was perfectly normal to iron sheets and to vacuum drapes. They were “necessary” tasks. The solution to the inequality of dusting wasn’t dividing the dusting; it was not doing the dusting at all.

The solution to the gender divide in housework generally is just that simple: don’t bother. Leave the stairs untidy. Don’t fix the garden gate. Fail to repaint the peeling ceiling. Never make the bed.

A clean house is the sign of a wasted life, truly. Hope is messy: Eventually we’ll all be living in perfect egalitarian squalor.

Alright, clearly getting a little tongue-in-cheek at the end there and I’m not quite ready for filth and squalor but I will unfailingly embrace untidyness.

David Simon on capitalism

No, he doesn’t think it’s evil.  Just a nice explanation for how we should not worship at the god of the free market:

That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.

We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we’re supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?

And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we’re going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed…

Labour doesn’t get to win all its arguments, capital doesn’t get to. But it’s in the tension, it’s in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional, that it becomes something that every stratum in society has a stake in, that they all share…

Ultimately we abandoned that and believed in the idea of trickle-down and the idea of the market economy and the market knows best, to the point where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It’s astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don’t need anything but my own ability to earn a profit. I’m not connected to society. I don’t care how the road got built, I don’t care where the firefighter comes from, I don’t care who educates the kids other than my kids. I am me. It’s the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar…

I’m utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument’s over. But the idea that it’s not going to be married to a social compact, that how you distribute the benefits of capitalism isn’t going to include everyone in the society to a reasonable extent, that’s astonishing to me

Mistaking capitalism for a blueprint as to how to build a society strikes me as a really dangerous idea in a bad way. Capitalism is a remarkable engine again for producing wealth. It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox if you’re trying to build a society and have that society advance. You wouldn’t want to go forward at this point without it. But it’s not a blueprint for how to build the just society. There are other metrics besides that quarterly profit report.

The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. [emphases mine] It’s a juvenile notion and it’s still being argued in my country passionately and we’re going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I’m astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?

Okay, the whole thing is pretty much brilliant.  I’m pretty sure I agree 100%.

Photo of the day

Great African safari gallery from Big Picture.  Somebody seems to be a little out of place in this one:

Wildebeests and zebras are commonly seen grazing together in the Masai Mara Triangle area of Kenya and Tanzania. The mammals were amassing to cross the Grumeti River in search of better grazing lands. (Essdras M Suarez/EMS Photography)

Yes, pharmaceutical companies are evil

Wow.  Really, really good Washington Post story about how there’s a $50 treatment for a serious eye disease that affects the elderly, but doctors regularly choose the $2000 treatment, bill Medicare, and we all pay.  Ugh.  The lede:

The two drugs have been declared equivalently miraculous. Tested side by side in six major trials, both prevent blindness in a common old-age affliction. Biologically, they are cousins. They’re even made by the same company.

But one holds a clear price advantage.

Avastin costs about $50 per injection.

Lucentis costs about $2,000 per injection.

Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.

How can that be you ask?  Why politics, of course.  Especially serious pharmaceutical industry lobbying and questionable behavior from the drug manufacturer:

Many ophthalmologists, however, are skeptical that it provides any added value over the cheaper alternative.

“Lucentis is Avastin — it’s the same damn molecule with a few cosmetic changes,” said J. Gregory Rosenthal, a Toledo ophthalmologist who, outraged by the price, co-founded a group called Physicians for Clinical Responsibility to protest its use. “Yet Americans are paying a billion dollars every year for no good reason — unless you count making Genentech rich.” …

Why does Medicare pay 40 times as much for the same efficacy?  Because it has to by law and there’s your story:

To begin with, the Medicare agency is blocked from seeking better drug prices by negotiating directly with the drug companies, as health agencies in other countries do. Authorities in Britain, for example, have negotiated a price of about $1,100 per dose of Lucentis, and in the Netherlands a dose sells for about $1,300.

Moreover, in cases in which two equivalent options are available, such as Lucentis and Avastin, Medicare is forbidden from restricting payment to the amount of the less costly alternative. [emphasis mine] After it sought to do so in 2009, a federal appeals court said it lacked that authority…

Medicare officials said they have no choice but to pay the bill when a doctor prefers to use Lucentis.

“We do not have the authority to dictate treatment based on cost,” Tami Holzman, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. “Under current law, Medicare must cover treatment that is deemed reasonable and medically necessary by a physician or other provider.”

Pharmaceutical firms argue that this is the way it should be.

The industry’s main lobbying group, known as PhRMA, opposes allowing the government to negotiate prices with companies — a process it calls “price controls” — and similarly opposes attempts by Medicare to pursue a policy of paying only for the least costly alternative.

But why would doctors order this way more expensive but not at all more effective (or any more lacking in side effects) drug?  Well, there is this:

Doctors, meanwhile, may benefit when they choose the more expensive drug. Under Medicare repayment rules for drugs given by physicians, they are reimbursed for the average price of the drug plus 6 percent. That means a drug with a higher price may be easier to sell to doctors than a cheaper one. In addition, Genentech offers rebates to doctors who use large volumes of the more expensive drug.

A long, sad story.   And another great example of why health care is so much more expensive in the US than the rest of the world.  Other countries simply don’t get lobbied into wasting money on Lucentis when Avastin will do the trick nor are their doctors financially rewarded for doing so.  And do you know what you call a federal bureaucracy that says don’t waste money on Lucentis?  A “death panel.”

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