The Morning Grumpy – 8/7/12

7 Aug

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Government employment is at its lowest level since 1968. Yes, that’s right. Obamasmuslimsocialistkenyancommiepinko has led us into the longest period of government downsizing in decades.

The public sector, comprised of federal, state, and local government employees, has now cut more than 680,000 jobs since 2009, the worst three-year period on record.

Without those public sector cuts, the unemployment rate would be a full-point lower.

I know, it doesn’t necessarily fit with that Tea Party worldview, now does it?

2. Liberal media bias? Yeah, not really a thing. Sorry.

David Graham of The Atlantic notes:

  1. Obama has a track record as president to discuss. There’s no apples-to-apples comparison between Romney, a former governor running for president, and Obama, with four years of deeds to critique. Given the state of the economy, et al, it’s natural that there would be negative coverage.
  2. By the same token, Obama needs less oxygen in the media. He’s got the famed bully pulpit; many of the conservative pundits who appear on the air are there to respond to things the president has done or said. If the president were Republican, the ratio would likely be different. I’m sure Obama would much rather have the presidential podium than a seat at the table for a surrogate.

While Graham may be correct in his caution and skepticism, it’s quite clear that the constant screeching from the right about “liberal media bias” is at least, overblown. Aside from the well-known fact that reality has a liberal bias, corporate controlled media is not in it for the bias, they’re in it for what sells. Framing the President as the opposite and equal of loudmouth Republican pundits (as cable news tends to do) does the viewer/listener/reader a massive disservice. There should be voices on the panels which are to the left of President Obama. Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Thom Hartmann, Jane Hamsher, and others are the voices of the actual progressive movement and they deserve a seat at the table if we’re complaining about bias. If they were invited, we’d have the full ideological spectrum represented in debate.

3. What can healthcare companies learn from The Cheesecake Factory? A lot, I think.

You may know the chain: a hundred and sixty restaurants with a catalogue-like menu that, when I did a count, listed three hundred and eight dinner items (including the forty-nine on the “Skinnylicious” menu), plus a hundred and twenty-four choices of beverage.

The place is huge, but it’s invariably packed, and you can see why. The typical entrée is under fifteen dollars. The décor is fancy, in an accessible, Disney-cruise-ship sort of way: faux Egyptian columns, earth-tone murals, vaulted ceilings. The waiters are efficient and friendly. They wear all white (crisp white oxford shirt, pants, apron, sneakers) and try to make you feel as if it were a special night out.
The chain serves more than eighty million people per year.
They benefit from their scale and also a corporate precision and standard of excellence that is nearly unrivaled in their industry segment. So, the question remains, what does this have to do with healthcare?  Chains, standardization, technology, quality control and a transfer (via Obamacare legislation) to a focus on outcomes and results. A really fascinating read.

4. As a Dad who lets my kids make mistakes, break stuff, and explore, my confirmation bias tells me that this article contains some pretty great parenting advice.

Hanging back and allowing children to make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. It’s easier when they’re young — tolerating a stumbling toddler is far different from allowing a preteenager to meet her friends at the mall. The potential mistakes carry greater risks, and part of being a parent is minimizing risk for our children.

While doing things for your child unnecessarily or prematurely can reduce motivation and increase dependency, it is the inability to maintain parental boundaries that most damages child development. When we do things for our children out of our own needs rather than theirs, it forces them to circumvent the most critical task of childhood: to develop a robust sense of self.

Don’t be a helicopter parent, you’re raising children who can’t live or work without constant supervision and direction. If you’re a member of GenX (like me), our parents let us fail, learn, achieve, and discover the world on our own, why aren’t we letting our kids do the same? Too many of us aren’t.

5. Legendary developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan thinks our overwhelming tendency to medicate our children is doing a massive global disservice to their generation.

A ranking of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century published by a group of US academics in 2002 put Kagan in 22nd place, even above Carl Jung (23rd), the founder of analytical psychology, and Ivan Pavlov (24th), who discovered the reflex bearing his name.

Yeah, he’s kind of a big deal. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he states that the massive increase in diagnoses of ADHD and other associated illnesses are not born of proper diagnostic evaluations.

SPIEGEL: Experts speak of 5.4 million American children who display the symptoms typical of ADHD. Are you saying that this mental disorder is just an invention?

Kagan: That’s correct; it is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.

SPIEGEL: So the alleged health crisis among children is actually nothing but a bugaboo?

Kagan: We could get philosophical and ask ourselves: “What does mental illness mean?” If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be categorized as anxious or depressed. But if you take a closer look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent. Describing every child who is depressed or anxious as being mentally ill is ridiculous. Adolescents are anxious, that’s normal. They don’t know what college to go to. Their boyfriend or girlfriend just stood them up. Being sad or anxious is just as much a part of life as anger or sexual frustration.

SPIEGEL: What does it mean if millions of American children are wrongly being declared mentally ill?

Kagan: Well, most of all, it means more money for the pharmaceutical industry and more money for psychiatrists and people doing research.

SPIEGEL: And what does it mean for the children concerned?

Kagan: For them, it is a sign that something is wrong with them — and that can be debilitating. I’m not the only psychologist to say this. But we’re up against an enormously powerful alliance: pharmaceutical companies that are making billions, and a profession that is self-interested.

Teachers, school administrators, and physicians are very quick to label children who deviate from the norm once they get into a school setting. A pervasive culture of “over-diagnosis” has crept into our schools. Perhaps the founder of developmental psychology might help correct the ship with his new book.

Fact Of The Day: $1 US dollar has the same buying power as $0.12 in 1955. Cool inflation calculator.

Quote Of The Day: “I think Bigfoot is blurry; that’s the problem. It’s not the photographer’s fault. Bigfoot is blurry and that’s extra scary to me. There’s a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. ‘Run, he’s fuzzy, get out of here.'” — Mitch Hedberg

Video Of The Day: You thought the Mars Curiousity Rover was pretty cool, right? If so, call your Congressional Representative and ask that they double NASA’s funding so we can get more cool stuff like that. Let Neil DeGrasse Tyson explain why increased NASA funding is a good idea.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Song Of The Day: “Going To A Go-Go” – Rolling Stones

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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8 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 8/7/12”

  1. Jesse Griffis August 7, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    On #1: You guys can’t win for actual numbers so you manufacture crap stats like “number of people working in government compared to the total number of people” as if that somehow measures a “reduction” in government.

    Sorry Chris, that’s just dumb.

    It’s exactly the same as your “progressive” buddies whining that government spending is down because of some magical comparison to GDP, as though that means anything whatsoever.

    • Mike_Chmiel August 7, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      Exactly how is that dumb?  An increasing population would seemingly always require additional manpower to perform the same basic government services.

    • Christopher Smith August 7, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      There are 680,000 fewer government employees than there were in 2009, pretty straightforward statistic. As a percentage of the populace, government employment is at its lowest level since 1968, +1 to Mike’s comment explaining why that matters. IOW, we’ve got a whole lot more people who need a lot more government services (roads, bridges, food inspection, financial regulation, police/fire protection, education, etc.) yet the percentage of people who provide those services to the greater populace has declined rapidly under this President. It’s not “fuzzy math”, it’s just math.

    • Jim_Holstun August 7, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      OK, so the mystery remains: why do fiscal conservatives (who have
      adopted the baffling Hooveresque theory that cutting government spending
      is the royal road out of depression) hate Obama? And why do liberal
      Keynesians continue to love, or refrain from criticizing, the suicidally
      Hooveresque policies of this president?

      With the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the Sainted Bill Clinton threw more
      black Americans into abject poverty than any Republican ever had–yet
      Toni Morrison proceeded to celebrate him as “the first black president.”

      Mysteries! Well one thing we can count on: a capitalist tool will win the 2012 presidential election.

  2. Jesse Griffis August 7, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    On #4 and #5: Thank you, thank you, many times thank you.

  3. Jim_Holstun August 7, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Chris, I see the contradiction you’re emphasizing between what the Tea Party charges Obama with, and what he has actually done. But I’m confused: are you glad that Obama has thrown all those public sector employees out of work, diminishing social services in the process, or are you sad?

    If the former, isn’t this kind of like hearing the Tea Party say, “He’s a Muslim!” and responding, “But look at all the Muslims he’s helping to kill and impoverish in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine, Yemen, etc.!”

    In other words, are you quietly adopting Tea Party standards?

    • Christopher Smith August 7, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      No, I’m not adopting tea party standards. The article debunks the idea that government is growing at historic rates, as claimed by conservatives.

  4. BlackRockLifer August 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I think the negativity towards Romney is much greater than the media reports. My wife advocates for seniors and one of the senior centers she visits is in a very heavily Republican suburb. Many of these elderly Republicans can’t get past Romney’s refusal to release tax returns and especially his use of off shore accounts.
    Down in the southern tier I have been keeping an eye on the lawn signs, so far only the “2012 America versus Obama” are to be seen, (usually on the lawn of the most poverty stricken homes) not one Romney sign yet. Back in 2008 the streets of Machias and Franklinville were lined with McCain signs by this time of year. 
    Romney has real problems, he is seen as arrogant, pretentious, and lacking any real convictions, hopefully most Americans will reject his call to return to the failed Republican agenda that got us into this mess.

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