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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

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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