Commentary: On Media Bias and News Reporting Norms and Impacts

media-logoIt never ceases to amaze me that when the chips are down and all else is failing, the fallback position of any failing campaign – particularly a Republican one – is to blame the messenger, i.e. the media.

Just Google: “Romney unfair media” and you will see a litany of complaints from the right on this subject.  This came up briefly Saturday in a comment.

Back when I was an aspiring political scientist, I actually studied public opinion and media effects.  The research that I have seen, including a good portion of research for a dissertation that was never completed, all squarely shows that the impact of media on actual voter behavior is small.

There is a good reason for that.  The ability for media to impact people’s views of the political world is dependent on two variables that are actually at odds with each other – exposure and receptiveness.  In short, you need to be exposed to the message and receptive to the new information.

Now it turns out, not surprisingly, that the more attentive people are to media sources, the more likely they are to have already made up their minds.  And the people who are most likely to be influenced by media coverage are those least likely to be exposed to it.

In addition to studying media effects, I was interested in the literature on media bias.  The problem was, there was not much of it and most of it was quite poor.  The problem with studying media bias is figuring out how to measure it.

Usually when I get into these discussions, UCLA researcher Tim Grosecloses’ research comes up.  This is a top scholar, who used very sophisticated cutting-edge methodological techniques to get at this question.  He developed what we might call a proxy-measure.

In short, that is a measure that was not directly measuring the critical variable but something that might be a proxy for it.  The proxy measure is, of course, easier to detect and thus analyze, and the one he used was mentions of think-tanks.  Using that, he was able to show that some media sources were biased to the left.

The problem is that his research rests on the assumption that mentions of think-tanks as authoritative sources of information represents an ideological component and therefore a bias on the part of the media.  I am simply not convinced that his key variable – innovative as it is – actually measures what he thinks it does.

The other problem that I have with this conversation is that we are still arguing and discussing it like it is 1992 and like there is one media.

Increasingly, there is no center.  An increasing number of viewers watch either Fox News, which is clearly highly-partisan to the point this year that many of their contributors are advisors to the Romney campaign, and to the point where even conservatives are complaining about it, or other cable outlets like MSNBC which have modeled themselves after the very successful Fox News business model.

As political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it: “The Fox business model is based on securing and maintaining a loyal audience of conservatives eager to hear the same message presented in different ways by different hosts over and over again.”

We also have the proliferation of blogs, citizen news cites, and, of course, social media.

So, while there are still traditional news organizations – ABC, CBS, NBC and the Associated Press, among other news services, along with a few of the major newspapers – NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc – their influence is clearly on the wane.

The networks covered exactly one hour of convention time this year per night.  Their audience is diminishing and being replaced either by partisan cable news or equally-partisan internet sources.

So if you want to argue for media bias of the mainstream news – you have to convince me that it matters, and within either a traditional framework or an emerging media industry framework, I simply am not going to buy it.

Nor do I buy the premise that the mainstream media are biased to the left.

The Vanguard once argued that fair and balanced could be less accurate.  The mainstream media, in fact, are guilty of this.

Professors Mann and Ornstein have written a book describing the dysfunction of Washington government and that book contains a very explicit critique of the mainstream media.

As they note: “It is traditional that those in the American media intent on showing their lack of bias frequently report to their viewers and readers that both sides are equally guilty of partisan behavior.  Journalistic traditions notwithstanding, reality is very different.”

Attacks on the media for being liberally biased go back, at least, to the days of Richard Nixon.

Ironically, John Dean in his review of the Mann and Ornstein book, writes about “the remarkable failure of American journalism to report on the extremism and governing intransigence of the Republican Party.”

The campaign against the media might be working, as he adds, “It appears that the journalistic mainstream fears being cast as partisan for simply being honest.”

In a May op-ed from Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, they argue that a core of the problem in American government is the increasing extremism of the Republican party.

They write, “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

They add, “When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”

This analysis forms the backdrop for their critique of the news media.

Here they write: “We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.”

They advise the press: “Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?”

They continue, “Stop giving balanced treatment to unbalanced tactics and strategies, in situations where Republicans clearly rely on such homogenized news coverage to hide their obstinacy and obstructionism, not to mention their radical policies.”

Furthermore: “Fact-check and report the fact-checking results prominently, and then become increasingly critical toward politicians who repeat falsehoods.”

As John Dean writes: “Just these few basic reporting changes by the giants of the news media could seriously lessen the impact of our political polarization.  Yet, these salutary changes are not likely to happen, because most mainstream news media journalists, editors, and producers – and their corporate overlords – worry more about offending viewers, than about telling the audience what is really happening.”

He adds, “What is disquieting about mainstream journalism now is that the journalists know full well what is going on, but they fear being called partisan for simply accurately and fully describing this situation.”

Much of what they say here is accurate and it is a frequent criticism of the media – the creation of false balance that actually distorts.  In my view, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own facts.  By creating a phony balance, you end up distorting the facts and the media is clearly guilty of this.

Bottom line, the media should not serve one side or another.  But they should not allow their practices to be used to manipulate the coverage in the name of balance, either.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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116 Comments

  1. Frankly

    sigh…

    All this proves is that a liberal is quite unable to look outside his ideological bias to recognize the same.

    Amazing analysis and conclusion. It is that same Democrat political template…. The GOP has gone extreme, so the poor Democrats and media cannot even talk honestly for fear of upsetting them. So, the Democrats and the media are the victims of those GOPers! There is so much bullshit in that template I can’t even approach it for the stench.

    Is the occupy movement a GOP thing? I suppose that is not extreme in the eyes of a liberal.

    Go hang out reading the comments from the posters on the Huffington post and come back with a straight face and tell me you are not reading the views of extremists.

    I talk to my hard working friends all the time about their political views and they parrot the main talking points of the main media. I have to deprogram them. They say “why didn’t they explain it that way?”. While I agree that CBS, NBC and ABC news are becomming less and less relevant, you also have to include all the daytime talk shows, nighttime talk shows and entertainment (shows and movies). All of this stuff tilts way left. That is why Clint Eastwood got so much attention… how dare he step out of the liberal entertainer box!!! Saturday Night Live last night did a piece making fun of the GOP Party. It probably was hillarious to the average viewer brainwashed by the Democrat-Left-Media conglomerate; but it was unprecedented… especially just a few weeks away from the election.

    All of this helps set and cement a narrative that is increasingly anti-GOP and pro liberal-progressive and out of touch with conservative values and views.

    The Vanguard here is a reliable tourch carrier for the liberal Democrat Party. That Party has done a tremendous job capturing and controlling the education system and the media… two of the three institutions most responsible for shaping minds and public opinion. The third is the church… which many liberals clearly hate.

    The only light at the end of the tunnel for this conservative is that these wrong-headed liberals will continue to paddle toward the cliff. Maybe the best thing for this conservative to do is to support all they want to do so to expedite the enevitable fall so we can again begin to climb back to greatness.

  2. J.R.

    For someone who is not on the far left, the Vanguard’s objectivity is what Fox News is to leftists. Articles like this do nothing but confirm this.

    Just out this week, from Gallup:
    [quote]Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. [/quote]
    [url]http://www.gallup.com/poll/157589/distrust-media-hits-new-high.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication[/url]

    Gallup states that
    [quote]This year’s decline in media trust is driven by independents and Republicans.[/quote]

    I will say that the comments in the Vanguard often have original and refreshing perspectives. And to be fair, when the Vanguard reports on local issues it often does a reasonable job.

  3. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]The only light at the end of the tunnel for this conservative is that these wrong-headed liberals will continue to paddle toward the cliff. Maybe the best thing for this conservative to do is to support all they want to do so to expedite the enevitable fall so we can again begin to climb back to greatness.[/quote]

    And I would opine that this paragraph demonstrates how at lease one conservative has been “brain washed”
    (your frequent expression ) by the likes of Ayn Rand. All you needed to add is “who is John Galt” !

  4. David M. Greenwald

    “Amazing analysis and conclusion. It is that same Democrat political template…. The GOP has gone extreme, so the poor Democrats and media cannot even talk honestly for fear of upsetting them.”

    The research that I cite actually tracks all of that.

    You cite the Huffington Post, which suggests that there are liberals as liberals as conservatives are conservative. No argument. The problem is you are not accounting for numbers and there are far more conservatives than liberals in that class and more importantly there are far fewer moderate Republicans than Moderate Democrats.

    Is that an accurate analysis? I don’t know, but you are certainly not taking on the data.

  5. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]”And I would opine that this paragraph demonstrates how at lease one conservative has been “brain washed”
    (your frequent expression ) by the likes of Ayn Rand. All you needed to add is “who is John Galt” ! “[/i]

    Brain washed? From whom? Which institutions? Certainly not the education system… Aynd Rand was never required reading. I didn’t even have to read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. However, I had to read books on Marx, and even Mein Kampf!

    From the media? From Hollywood? I hope you don’t think these are brainwashing me!

    I read everything I can from all viewpoints. I have been working hard to try to understand how a liberal thinks, because frankly it is perplexing. I have changed my views a bit during this process… some have moved a bit closer to that left view, and some farther away. I come to my own conclusions for what I believe and think is right. Always have. Always will.

  6. Frankly

    [i]The problem is you are not accounting for numbers and there are far more conservatives than liberals in that class and more importantly there are far fewer moderate Republicans than Moderate Democrats.[/i]

    I don’t know that to be a fact, and I don’t even know what relevance it has to your thesis. If there are fewer liberals, then it is even more worrisome that they are concentrated in controlling the institutions that provide most of the services that shape minds and public opinion.

    A center-right country, with a center-left (being generous) education system and media? Huston, we have a problem!

  7. David M. Greenwald

    “I don’t even know what relevance it has to your thesis”

    I’m not sure if you’re intentionally being obtuse here, remember the point (not necessarily my thesis) is that there is a greater concentration of extremist republicans than democrats, obviously the greater numbers lends itself.

    “If there are fewer liberals, then it is even more worrisome that they are concentrated in controlling the institutions that provide most of the services that shape minds and public opinion.”

    You’re begging the question here.

  8. Siegel

    Fox News and now the internet are game changers. I don’t see a liberal media. In fact, I don’t see “a” media. The media has become decentralized which is good and bad. Good that there is no one view. Bad in that, I think it’s aiding the polarization of the electorate.

  9. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]I come to my own conclusions for what I believe and think is right. Always have. Always will.[/quote]

    I am sure that you believe this. And yet, the language that you use frequently, “looters and moochers” for example borrows heavily from the writings of Ayn Rand, as does your insistence on the idea of “blowing it all up” and starting over with a philosophy and process very similar to what Ayn Rand espoused leaves me skeptical about how original your thinking and positions actually are. You will note I did not make any claim that any institution or school made you develop these ideas. Indeed, I believe that the strongest of all “brainwashing” is what we obtain culturally and organically, because it is this process that is the most likely to cause us to believe without questioning our own ideas.

  10. J.R.

    [quote]The research that I have seen, including a good portion of research for a dissertation that was never completed,[/quote]

    Well, that inspires a lot of confidence.

    [quote]And I would opine that this paragraph demonstrates how at lease one conservative has been “brain washed” [/quote]

    I have a different view. It seems to me that Jeff thinks things through for himself. This leads him to sometimes arrive at opinions that are not shared by the majority of his fellow Davis residents. In contrast, people like medwoman have largely predictable views that are in conformity with the majority in Davis and require no courage to voice.

    By the way, who is renting out Jeff?

  11. rusty49

    Is it any surprise that liberals think that most the media isn’t obviously left wing biased? They say this because they know having a biased left leaning media is to their benefit so they always deny it.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty: Just because you expect someone to say something, does not make them inaccurate. In this case, I have to question you: what media? It’s not like there is one “media” or a unified media.

  13. Don Shor

    I think that legacy media has generally had a left bias, not so much in how stories are presented but in what stories are covered. Modern media is so much more diverse that I think that — other than a couple of outliers like Fox — it is harder to characterize. HuffPost is left wing, Drudge is right wing, but since they’re mostly aggregators you can just click through directly to the source they’re linking. Think about it: where do you get your news nowadays?
    Growing up in San Diego, with just the Union, it was odd constantly hearing how left-biased the media was. Copley papers were very, very right-wing, and that was all we had. Plus three (3) channels to choose from on our TV.

  14. Frankly

    J. R. [i]”Who is renting Jeff out?”[/i]

    LOL!

    My dear sweet kind hearted wife. It is amazing that she keep this mean old conservative guy around to rant a rave.

    I’m sure several of us can make the same claim!

  15. rusty49

    Jeff:
    “My dear sweet kind hearted wife. It is amazing that she keep this mean old conservative guy around to rant a rave.

    I’m sure several of us can make the same claim!”

    LOL… My wife is a school teacher in town and even though she too is conservative she likes me to try and tone it down because of the backlash she knows she would get from parents in the People’s Republic of Davis. That’s the main reason I don’t use my real name on this website.

  16. Frankly

    medwoman, RE: “looters, moochers, producers”.

    I certainly see the world and humans as being much more diverse and complicated than this classification would suggest. It is only a metaphor for a filtering of ideological thinking. Rand had the advantage of living in soviet Russia and then experiencing the American system. She was blown away by the contrast and this led to her motivation to craft her stories and her philosophy. I am not an Ayn Rand disciple. In fact, I think she was quite weird. However, most people that we quote in the ideology realm, are weird.

    However, she I think she nails the psychology of humans and the related group-think that forms the current of social constructs that we individually and collectively will paddle downstream on. The problem… if we are paddling down the wrong flow, is becomes impossible to paddle back against current to get on the correct tributary. See Argentina for a recent example. So much about where seem to be headed looks like the wrong flow to me. We only have to look around at all the historical and cuurent examples of failure. Even so, we seem to be predisposed to make these same mistakes.

    I was shy and introverted as a young person. More an artist than I was business minded. I have a good life now precisely because I was able to stuggle and strive and grow and eventually make a good American life for myself. But I was well into my mid 30s still living pay check to pay check. Now my kids do not have the same options and opportunities I had. I think a big part of that reason is the advance of the global economy and the resultant global labor wage leveling… combined with our failure to adjust to it approriately. My experience in business tells me that change is always inevitable, and it is only how you deal with it that determines your success or failure. We have not dealt with it appropriately and we are still not dealing with it appropriately.

    We are in fact shrinking from competition at a time when we should be increasing it. We are bowing down to the pressure of stuggle to try and force a more stress-free life that is largely funded by increased debt. The meek simply cannot inherit the earth unless we are willing to accept a less free, less prosperous, less rich life for all. I am not willing to accept that and will I fight its advance until my last breath.

    We have always celebrated the producers in this country. They held the brass ring that we all aspired to grab. In our quest to grab it we would get knocked down only to get back up again and try again. Now we seem tired. We get knocked down and we curl up in a fetal position, get therapy and take on a victim’s story. We want someone else to do the hard work for us. We don’t want the stress and the struggle. We want a little brass ring and we want it to be secured. We want a cush government job that pays us a wage we can be pround of, and benefits that allow us to retire early and travel the world. We don’t want to worry about aquiring shelter, food, healthcare. This is a looter/moocher mentality and it is fatal.

    Human life has never been easy. It has always been a struggle. Those that figure out how to struggle, strive, persevere are generally able to make a good American life for themselves. This fact has been the reason that so many have wanted to migrate here.

    We need a government that gets this… A government that helps with the struggle, but not in a way that rewards those that stop struggling.

    I can tell when my heart is getting in the way of my head. People that need help breaking their destructuve habbits will likley hate you for telling them what they need to hear. That is not any justification for shrinking from the responsibility to tell them.

  17. Steve Hayes

    Jeff Boone:09/23/12 04:20PM “….Human life has never been easy. It has always been a struggle. Those that figure out how to struggle, strive, persevere are generally able to make a good American life for themselves. This fact has been the reason that so many have wanted to migrate here….”

    Excellent observation, Jeff! Even though this may be off topic, the personal characteristics you have just described (drive, desire, dedication, determination, and durability) cannot be measured by our “beloved” GATE testing. Maybe that is partially why it is so unpopular.

  18. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]The meek simply cannot inherit the earth unless we are willing to accept a less free, less prosperous, less rich life for all. I am not willing to accept that and will I fight its advance until my last breath.

    We have always celebrated the producers in this country. They held the brass ring that we all aspired to grab. In our quest to grab it we would get knocked down only to get back up again and try again.[/quote]

    Here is an essential difference in our thinking. You seem to think that we all view success in the same way.
    You define success, at least here, in terms of material plenty. I simply do not believe in that portion of “the
    American Dream” that seems to imply that each generation should do better economically. We have as a society reached a point where I believe that we could easily all have “enough” to have satisfactory lives. And I believe that this could be done in such a fashion that no one would have to sacrifice having “more” if they were willing to put in more time and energy into having it. But this would involve a societal willingness to accept the cooperative drive in men and women as equal to the competitive drive. Yes, Jeff , that probably would mean that we would have to honor the contributions of women as much as we honor those of men. And we would have to start valuing psychological strength as much as physical strength. And we probably would have to consider the measure of our prosperity as a people as something more than financial prosperity. And, we would have to stop pretending that our system has ever provided equal opportunity for greater prosperity for all.

  19. J.R.

    [quote] But this would involve a societal willingness to accept the cooperative drive in men and women as equal to the competitive drive. Yes, Jeff , that probably would mean that we would have to honor the contributions of women as much as we honor those of men. And we would have to start valuing psychological strength as much as physical strength. And we probably would have to consider the measure of our prosperity as a people as something more than financial prosperity. And, we would have to stop pretending that our system has ever provided equal opportunity for greater prosperity for all.[/quote]

    That’s quite a collection of cliches, but it doesn’t really amount to much. No one is forcing you to have one opinion or another about any of these items, so you can believe and honor whatever principles you want.

    I get the impression that what you really want is to force your particular viewpoint on everyone else.

  20. medwoman

    JR

    Since I do not know how old you are, it may well be that you are not old enough to remember why the points that I made about equality and equal valuation of disparate traits are anything but cliche.

    For example, if you are not old enough to remember the draft for the Viet Nam war, you may not understand that people were most certainly forced to either fight, leave the country or risk imprisonment. You could attempt to get conscientious objector status, but this was generally reserved for those who could prove that they were affiliated with a church. Life or death in this situation is hardly what I would call “cliche”.

    If you are not at least in your 50’s, you may not be able to remember a time when a woman did not have any
    realistic chance of becoming a CEO of a major company, a surgeon, or a politician at the national level.
    I also do not consider this type of discrimination to be “cliche”. This lack of opportunity most certainly “forced”
    women to earn less than men even if they were the sole support of their family. So while no one may be “forcing” me to believe a certain way, the beliefs of the dominant culture have most certainly limited opportunities for many ( women, blacks, hispanics, gays, immigrants) within my lifetime if not in yours.

  21. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > there are far fewer moderate Republicans
    > than Moderate Democrats.

    The term “moderate” depends how you look at the world…

    I super liberal guy might call a Republican who goes to church once a year a “crazy religious extremist” and a super conservative guy might call someone that does not want to start every high school class (and sport) with a prayer a “crazy got hating pagan” (I would say they both sound fairly moderate)…

    Then medwoman wrote:

    > And I would opine that this paragraph demonstrates
    > how at least one conservative has been “brain washed”
    > your frequent expression ) by the likes of Ayn Rand.

    Most Americans (even most liberals) believe in God. Almost all conservatives believe in God and most have a hard time that Ayn Rand was an atheist. Just because many conservative believe in less government regulation like Ayn Rand does not make them “brain washed” by Ayn Rand any more than liberals (who mostly love public transit) were “brain washed” by Hitler since they both like trains to run on time…

  22. medwoman

    For all of those who are taking me too literally on my comment to Jeff about a single “brainwashed” conservative, I trust you have not followed the many conversations between Jeff and myself in which he has extolled on the “brainwashed” liberals. It was within this context that I made the somewhat “tongue in cheek” comment addressed specifically to Jeff. I think I may have struck a nerve I did not intend to strike.

  23. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > For example, if you are not old enough to remember the
    > draft for the Viet Nam war, you may not understand that
    > people were most certainly forced to either fight, leave
    > the country or risk imprisonment.

    “People” were not forced to fight, “Men” were.
    Woman had the choice to join the military if they wanted to, but most didn’t just like woman had the choice to pursue careers but most didn’t want to…

    > If you are not at least in your 50’s, you may not be
    > able to remember a time when a woman did not have any
    > realistic chance of becoming a CEO of a major company,
    > a surgeon, or a politician at the national level.

    To be fair let’s remember that a lot (almost all) woman didn’t want to be CEO’s Surgeon’s or national politicians. My Mom wanted to stay at home and raise kids so that is what she did. My Mom’s first cousin didn’t want to stay home with kids so she went to an Ivy League business school and became the CEO of a major international company. Through most of the 1960’s NONE of the undergrads in the Ivy League were woman and until the 1970’s very very few woman even applied for the Ivy League graduate schools (I forget the exact numbers, but I think something like 25 woman got MBAs from BOTH Harvard and Columbia business schools from 1949-1969). I’m not going to argue that it was harder to women to get ahead in business medicine or politics years ago, but since today most graduates of top med schools are women and close to half the graduates of top business and law schools are women it is easy to forget that maybe 1% of the grads of these top schools were woman 45 years ago and the reason that we still don’t have as many woman in as many top positions is that you don’t just walk out of business school with a MBA and become the CEO or get a degree from the Kennedy School of government and become a State Senator…

  24. civil discourse

    Jeff Boone wrote: “We have always celebrated the producers in this country. They held the brass ring that we all aspired to grab. In our quest to grab it we would get knocked down only to get back up again and try again. Now we seem tired. We get knocked down and we curl up in a fetal position, get therapy and take on a victim’s story. We want someone else to do the hard work for us. We don’t want the stress and the struggle. We want a little brass ring and we want it to be secured. We want a cush government job that pays us a wage we can be pround of, and benefits that allow us to retire early and travel the world. We don’t want to worry about aquiring shelter, food, healthcare. This is a looter/moocher mentality and it is fatal.”

    This sounds like you are describing Mitt Romney. He literally makes money off of money. He doesn’t produce anything, and his company doesn’t produce anything. He doesn’t earn a salary or a wage for his work, he simply earns money from investing and playing games with money. He mooches off of the production of others and hedges bets in a financial gaming system. You call that honest work?

  25. jimt

    “Human life has never been easy. It has always been a struggle. Those that figure out how to struggle, strive, persevere are generally able to make a good American life for themselves. This fact has been the reason that so many have wanted to migrate here.”

    But with the advent of technology, by the mid-twentieth century it has no longer been strictly necessary to “struggle” in order for most people to have a good life, by modern standards (i.e. “struggle” has been rendered obsolete by technology). Nearly all humans could have a good life if the following two factors are addressed: (1) overpopulaton, and how to stabilize the human population at numbers comparable to or somewhat lower than they are now (2) preserving and increasing incentive and sense of personal responsibility to contribute to society, while preventing the hoarding of wealth by a small percentage of the population.
    Both of these challenges are significant; though the Chinese have demonstrated that population control is feasible; and there have been men of political genius such as the founding fathers of the USA; it is possible that men of equal genius could come up with and implement a solution to (2).

    By the way the sort of social Darwinism promoted by Rand and other uber-capitalists is also obsolete; we are at the cusp of being able to alter germ-line DNA in humans to select for desirable characteristics (e.g. less susceptible to illnesses for which there are genetic predispositions; enhancement of desirable characteristics such as strength and intelligence). This germ-line DNA modification revolution will change the entire game.

  26. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]To be fair let’s remember that a lot (almost all) woman didn’t want to be CEO’s Surgeon’s or national politicians[/quote]

    To be even more fair, let’s admit that we really don’t know what “almost all women” really wanted. What we do know is how almost all women were taught by our culture over all. The lesson, from our families, churches, schools and media was that women stayed home and took care of children. Women who wanted ( or needed) a career were largely encouraged to go into nursing, teaching, social work, sales, secretarial work. This was still the model into the sixties and in some areas into the seventies. It is very hard to aspire to do something that you do not know that you can do….and that people in authority are telling you that you cannot do.

    I did not meet my first woman doctor until I was interviewing for medical school. I had been told many times that I would not be able to get into medical school, and subsequently that I would not make it into the field of ob/gyn, not because of my grades or abilities, but because of my gender, and my age. I was a whole four years older than most applicants. This exclusive system of favoring males was already breaking down when I came along, but the message was still pervasive. True, there have always been exceptions and women who broke through either because of their individually strong determination or because they happened to be born into a family, or set of circumstances that encouraged them. But for the majority of women, options were very limited prior to the seventies. To say that is what “nearly all women wanted” is a generalization that I think would be as erroneous as to say that “nearly all women” want careers outside the home today. I think if would be much more accurate to say that some women did and do aspire to be homemakers, some women did and do aspire to careers outside their home. The difference is that previously the deck was extraordinarily stacked against outside careers for women, while there is now much greater opportunity.

  27. SouthofDavis

    I wrote:

    > To be fair let’s remember that a lot (almost all)
    > woman didn’t want to be CEO’s Surgeon’s or national
    > politicians

    Then medwoman wrote:

    > To be even more fair, let’s admit that we really
    > don’t know what “almost all women” really wanted.

    medwoman is correct that I don’t know what “almost all women” really want (or ever wanted), but to argue that I was wrong she needs to believe that women in every survey of what they wanted to do for the last 50 years were lying and that my sister (who was pre-med at UCD) & wife are lying about what they want to do. She also needs to believe that the majority of female MDs I know who are now staying home with their kids are lying about what they want to do. Does anyone (even medwoman) really think that even 10% of woman will answer CEO, surgeon or national politician” if you ask them what they want to do for a living today?

    > What we do know is how almost all women were
    > taught by our culture over all. The lesson, from
    > our families, churches, schools and media was that
    > women stayed home and took care of children. Women
    > who wanted ( or needed) a career were largely
    > encouraged to go into nursing, teaching, social work,
    > sales, secretarial work.

    So now years after our culture and the media have been telling woman that they don’t need to stay home with kids we still have the majority of women that don’t “need” the money staying home with their kids. We also have the (all volunteer) military spending millions to try and get more women to sign up and after all their work less than 15% of the military is female. What do most of the 15% of women in the military do? Nursing, Teaching, Social Work, and Secretarial Work. The media does not interview as many white males as they used to, but just like media bias won’t change many votes it will not change what most people want to do…

  28. Frankly

    Wow, I came in to work this morning and got to read some very good posts by medwoman, SouthofDavis, civil discourse and jimt. I think we are on to something.

    On the subject of social Darwinism and Rand. Very interesting observations.

    jimt: [i]”But with the advent of technology, by the mid-twentieth century it has no longer been strictly necessary to “struggle” in order for most people to have a good life,”[/i]

    I get your point here, but there are many problems with this “Jestsonian” view that technology will prevent human struggle:

    1.What will people do with their time? Frankly, I think we can safely assign this growing lack of material pursuit as being responsible for many social problems. Humans were not designed, or have not evolved, to sit idle and have all their material needs and wants provided for them. You can see an example of the problems that would develop looking at Saudi Arabia. With all the oil wealth, and minimal industry, there are not enough jobs and not enough career opportunities for young people… even those that have been provided a top-level college education. They come back home and quickly become bored and resentful. Some join Al Qaeda.

    2.Related to the previous, there is that Darwinian consideration of what we would become without the need to struggle. For example, if a Lion does not need to hunt, she would lose her hunting skills. She would lose her essence of lion-ism. She would become lion-less. Or, she would just become different… a different animal.

    3.IMO, the physical and psychological development of humans demands struggle. We will never solve the puzzles in our head and heart having everything provided for us. Young people intuitively know this… it is why they take risks and pursue challenge and adventure. When being interviewed for a new job a typical and respected justification is to seek new challenges. It is natural. And… few of us can satisfy these needs by surfing the web and hanging out at the library all day.

    The Jestons model was a cartoon. In reality, the math does not work in a global economy. This is one of the problems with the Rand view… the economics behind the story and the philosophy was decidedly focused on the domestic economy. That made sense at the time. In a domestic economy, there is a larger market-community-benefit-goal that all would work toward. Competition and creative destruction was good for the community as efficiency and invention would advance to constantly add value. The problem in a global economy is that national interests can trump the interests of the global market community. Or, even when the market community goal interests are shared, the winners and losers can be located in different countries. Rand didn’t really address this issue because globalism was not in the cards back when she wrote Atlas Shrugged (we were still in the Cold War).

    My observation is that lack of struggle corrupts the human soul. It prevents the development of surviving and coping skills and expands the demand for entitlements. Just think about this on a micro scale. If your one of 100 people colonizing a new land, how do you think you would evolve as a society if the existing natives produced everything you needed for you, and you didn’t have to work?

  29. K.Smith

    “1.What will people do with their time?”

    The vast majority of people have *something* to which they would devote their time if they did not have to spend upwards of 40 hours per week striving for material gain. Almost everyone I know has some kind of avocation that they would pursue if they had more time: for example, playing a musical instrument, volunteering in various capacities, writing a book, or pursuing athletic opportunities.

    Like Medwoman has pointed out before, not everyone measures their personal well-being and success strictly in terms of financial and material gain. Plus, I think it’s been abundantly suggested in the medical and psychological literature that this constant striving is detrimental to both physical well-being and mental well-being. If you’re inordinately focused on this hyper-individualized acquisitive drive, you are most likely not getting the kind of social interaction that humans, as deeply social creatures, need.

    “3.IMO, the physical and psychological development of humans demands struggle.”

    True–but not necessarily in the way that you seem to be advocating. And I’m making a huge assumption here, but I think you’re advocating each person having some kind of a workweek of at least 40 hours. I would argue that this type of struggle is not necessary, and is not borne out by human physical and psychological development. Take traditional hunter-gatherer societies, for instance. According to what I’ve read (and I’m reaching way back into a few undergrad anthropology classes, admittedly), they enjoy/ed the highest proportion of leisure time. Their work was very skillful, but not very -labor- intensive.

    So, there could be surrogate ways that humans could ‘challenge’ themselves, keep their skills up, etc. that would not necessarily relate directly to constantly striving for material well-being. I would argue that being active in the community in various capacities, and having an art, craft, or discipline that you practice on a regular basis (and one that does not necessarily materially support you) would serve this same need.

    I, for one, believe that there is much more danger in a human soul being corrupted if that person’s sole existence is geared toward material acquisition and piling up money in their bank account. That seems a pretty hollow existence to me.

  30. Frankly

    K. Smith,

    We live in a market-based economic system. It is not “piling up money in a bank account”. Money is required to exchange for goods and services. So, you have to earn money if you want the goods and services. You can certainly go off grid and grow your own food and live off the land. However, that would be a very big struggle and a tough existence with limited opportunity for growing prosperity. However, the struggle should certainly fill the physical and psychological needs.

    If you really get to know someone that has been successful creating a lot of wealth, you will discover that most of them were driven by things other than the pursuit of wealth. Steve Jobs is/was a great example of this.

    I am not defining struggle as just the pursuit of wealth. As you point out, there are a lot of things a person can do besides pursue wealth. However, if they are not earning money to needed to pay for their human needs and wants – assuming they have the ability to do so – then they are checking out from the required human struggle in a market-based system.

    I disagree that “most” people have something to do with their time”. I think most people – if not working for a living – will be bored and lost. Many of them will be prescribed medicine for depression and anxiety. They will increasingly expect others to provide for their needs and wants. Welcome to the growing entitlement state!

  31. SouthofDavis

    K.Smith wrote:

    > The vast majority of people have *something* to
    > which they would devote their time if they did not
    > have to spend upwards of 40 hours per week striving
    > for material gain. Almost everyone I know has some
    > kind of avocation that they would pursue if they had
    > more time: for example, playing a musical instrument,
    > volunteering in various capacities, writing a book,
    > or pursuing athletic opportunities.

    I have no doubt that “almost everyone” K Smith knows would keep busy playing music, volunteering, or writing a book.

    Unfortunately “almost everyone” in America (K. Smith does not know everyone) would not spend much time playing music, volunteering or writing, they would spend their time sleeping, watching TV/surfing the internet or drinking/doing drugs.

    Like K. Smith “almost everyone” my wife and I are close friends with would “keep busy playing music, volunteering, or writing a book.” Our friends are a lot different from the “average American” and even more different from the “average at risk kids” I’ve worked with over the past 20 years trying to get to stay in school…

  32. David M. Greenwald

    “Unfortunately “almost everyone” in America (K. Smith does not know everyone) would not spend much time playing music, volunteering or writing, they would spend their time sleeping, watching TV/surfing the internet or drinking/doing drugs.”

    Almost everyone?

  33. Frankly

    [i]Almost everyone?[/i]

    I think this an irrelevant question in the context of what we were discussing. I think there would be more than enough people that would be wasting their time, being bored, or getting into trouble. We see that already. In fact, we see that all over the world.

    By contrast, Davis is filled full of strong middle-class academics. Hell, just give them more time to read to increase their intellectual superiority and they would be happy. However, it does not work that way for most people.

    I detect a potential breakthrough for me in this discussion. I am always on the lookout for bits of information that help me understand how my left-leaning friends think so differently than me on some things.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think many of the people pushing back on this concept of needing to pursue money must be employed in the public sector, or otherwise find themselves in a job or lifestyle that seems to not provide significant opportunities to grow wealth… or maybe just don’t like to or want to chase dollars instead of other things that provide them greater life value.

    If you are employed in the public sector, then unless you support a collectivist move for state-owned business, all the funding that pays your compensation is derived from those earning wealth in the private economy… and you should celebrate the existence of as many people as possible chasing wealth.

    If you are in a job/career/lifestyle that does not provide much opportunity to grow wealth… I have some empathy for that. But, in the good ol’ US of A, there really should not be many situations like this unless it is by choice. People find a way to make a good living if they are motivated to do so. However, they do NOT have to. They can choose to NOT compete in the drive to earn more wealth (some call it the “rat race”). You can make a good American life without becoming wealthy. Even people with moderate skills and ambition should be able to make a good life.

    My sense here is that some have chosen, or by circumstances landed in, a life that does not provide them opportunity to increase their wealth (or so they think) or they have tried and failed. But they have grown resentful for some reason at others that appear to have greater opportunities and greater success at earning wealth.

  34. Frankly

    I’m fine with everything until we get to this last point. It is my main rub with the Democrat Party and with my President. Both are responding to the resentment from people that are refusing to inject themselves into the struggle of our competitive market economy. Both are sending a message that life should be less of a struggle, and that others having faced the competitive pressures and won, should share more of their winnings with those that did not. In other words, Obama and the Dems loot from the producers to give to the moochers.

    I think this is an unattainable and unsustainable nirvana; a recipe for Greek like financial collapse.

    It will always be more appealing to sit on the couch and play video games and watch TV, or work a low-stress eight hour day with a good salary and benefits, plenty of paid time off, lots of job security… and healthy pension that is accessible at a young enough age to enjoy a few decades of work-free life.

    However, we can’t afford to give that to 310 million people. I would argue that we cannot afford to give it to anyone.

    We need many more producers in this country. We need more people trained with marketable skills and confidence to face economic struggle head on. We need more people starting and growing a business. This will take working more than eight hours a day, and it will take accepting some more financial risk.

    If you don’t want to do this, I say fine. Just stop with the envy of others that do and succeed, and the demand that they owe you anything more.

  35. wdf1

    JB: [i]I disagree that “most” people have something to do with their time”. I think most people – if not working for a living – will be bored and lost. Many of them will be prescribed medicine for depression and anxiety.[/i]

    Those would be people who don’t get their existential lives in order. People are capable of finding purpose to their lives that doesn’t necessarily require earning a salary. As far as I’m concerned, there’s too much worthwhile to do around here to spend it watching TV or playing video games.

  36. jimt

    Jeff,

    I mainly agree with your points except for a semantic difference; how about replacing “struggle” with “challenge”? I think challenge is indeed inevitable and is positive for human beings.

    Also, I do not think working and contributing to society necessarily need involve struggle (although perhaps some challenges involved, which I personally enjoy). From the 1950s thru 1990s in most of the first world countries; I would say most people did not “struggle” to get thru life; unless you consider working 40 hours/wk a struggle (most jobs don’t involve struggle, I don’t think). Remember when a single breadwinner could work 40 hrs/wk and support a family; the wife stayed home and kept up the house so that when the husband came home from work he had some down time where he could put his feet up? A relatively easy life; I don’t call that struggle. But we are moving closer to “struggle” now for a large proportion of the USA population, where even two people each working 40 hours/wk or more may not necessarily earn enough to live in a decent environment; life has just gotton more complex so that even when not working there is more volume and complexity of paperwork, computer work, etc. needed just to keep a household going. So I would say that we may be transitioning from a golden age (1950s thru 1990s) when most people did not need to struggle to live decently; to one in which perhaps there will be some significant degree of struggle involved for a much higher proportion of the population, including most of the middle class.

    The problem of too much free time is mainly one of young males, who are testing their power and dominance and limits; I agree this contributes to all kinds of criminal behavour and more needs to be done to fill these years with more positive alternatives.

    It seems to me ‘struggle’ is not the dominant natural condition of most animals in nature, even; applying in only narrow slices of time in which an animal is in danger or is fighting with another animal.
    I guess when I think of the word “struggle” I visualize an animal in a trap; and I certainly hope that we are not evolving toward the psychological equivalent in the human social environment

  37. Frankly

    wdf1: [i]”
    Those would be people who don’t get their existential lives in order.”[/i]

    And what percentage of the population have their existential lives in order? Especially those that do not work for a living?

    No problem as long as they make enough money to pay their own way doing all this other stuff… most of which costs money. Just don’t ask for others to pay for it and we will have peace and harmony.

  38. Frankly

    [i]I mainly agree with your points except for a semantic difference; how about replacing “struggle” with “challenge”? I think challenge is indeed inevitable and is positive for human beings. [/i]

    jimt: I understand your point, but frankly I think “challenge” is too soft a word because it tends to support those that give up. As in, “the challenge wasn’t right, so I am looking for the next challenge.”

    Life is a struggle for most people… I would say ALL people at times are faced with struggle.

    There is that saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I think it is largely accurate… unless a person gives up.

    When we consider what our pop culture identifies as struggle, and compare it to just a century ago, we can easily identify ourselves as wimps.

    It is both our strength and our potential weakness that we will reset a new normal. If we set a new normal that life will be easier, then we will have less success coping when the evitable crises that hits us. Instead of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps to solve our problems and try again, we will look around for someone else to help us. That help comes at an increasing cost that taxes (literally and figuratively) that makes it even harder for people to overcome struggle.

    I think the whole is better than the sum of its parts, only if the parts are all working and striving and learning how to overcome struggle.

    It is a lesson in leadership that you can help those that follow you…to your and their detriment. They need a nudge, some coaching, some encouragement… but you know that they eventually have to learn how to do it themselves. They will dislike the performance stress at first… it is not natural to embrace struggle. But when they overcome it… and then learn how that feels, they can become self-sufficient and solving more of their own problems. They become confident and competent. They become a producer.

  39. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]Correct me if I am wrong, but I think many of the people pushing back on this concept of needing to pursue money must be employed in the public sector, or otherwise find themselves in a job or lifestyle that seems to not provide significant opportunities to grow wealth… or maybe just don’t like to or want to chase dollars instead of other things that provide them greater life value. [/quote]

    Ok, you are wrong on at least two of these counts. I do not work in the public sector, my job has definitely provided opportunities to growth wealth far beyond my expectations. However now there is that third part that you added. At least one of us feels that our society would be much better off if we were not so wealth obsessed. Most people that I know that live in Davis have far more than we actually need financially. Our houses are bigger than we actually need. Many of us have more than one care per family. Virtually everyone has multiple electronics. Most of us have far more clothes than we need. Many of us have enough to have second homes and/or take expensive vacations. So, why, Jeff is it not “greed” for those of us at the upper end of the economic scale to be always seeking more materially ? And why is it not “greed” to resent helping those who have less, especially through no lack of their own efforts ? Why do you only see it as “greed” when those who have not been so fortunate need assistance. This you call “class warfare”. I would say that if there is such a thing as “class warfare” it is definitely being engaged in, and being won, by the upper class.

  40. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]So now years after our culture and the media have been telling woman that they don’t need to stay home with kids we still have the majority of women that don’t “need” the money staying home with their kids[/quote]

    We do not have the majority of women that don’t “need” the money staying home with their kids in the sense that they used to when that was virtually the only attractive option available.. What we tend to have is women making the choice to spend part of their lives home with their small children and then career building when the children get older, or building a career that allows them to work part time, or to work from home thus fulfilling both roles. Looking at the numbers a little differently than you have presented, what has happened in my field alone, is that over the past thirty years we have gone from far less than 10 % of Ob/Gyn physicians being women to over 50 % today. This did not happen because the media or any other part of society said that we should, but because the opportunity became available and it was what women wanted to do. Certainly many of us could not be said to “need ” the money. Many of us are in two physician marriages. We do it because it is fascinating, challenging, exciting and presents an opportunity to make a real difference in the world using our full intellectual and emotional capacity.

  41. Frankly

    medwoman: to answer your questions… there is a place on your tax return to pay more than the government already takes. There are all sorts of charitable organizations that will take your excess cash. Let me know if you need help and I can recommend some good charities.

    But, you can also invest your excess money into the stock market where the money will be used for business expansion… or you can invest it opening your own small business… both providing much needed jobs for people that cannot find them. You can work fewer hours and use your extra time to teach others what you learned to create that great American life. You can do all these things. Other people can do all these things too.

    But in the end if the people you help don’t beeome self sufficient (assuming there is nothing really wrong with them preventing it), you have not really helped them. You just gave them something to get them by for a little while. Maybe that makes your feel better about yourself… or makes you feel better about humanity. And maybe that is a worthwhile thing for generating good feelings all around. But, I have extended family members that use that kind of help to keep them from facing their demons. They can “just get by” on the generosity of others combined with the “safety net” provided by government. In this situation, you and Obama are not so much saviors with your giving… your are enablers of growth-stifling codependecy.

    One more thing… your point about people having too much. With our atrocious saving rates most Americans are spending what they earn. For example, they go out to dinner, they travel, they renovate their house and their landscaping, All of these things create and sustain jobs. They hire people to manage their finances, maintain their property, assist them with managing their assets. But, they invest too. They are not saving their money because the interest returns suck. So, they invest. They invest in business… business that hires other people so they have a chance to become prosperous too.

    But US business is sitting on trillions. Equity is growing despite this… because there is nowhere else to invest and demand is driving up stock values. These businesses are not investing the cash they are accumulating in expansion because they are uncertain about the future. They are accepting meger rate returns rather than risk it on growth strategies. They are being threatened by our President and Democrats in the Legislature with more regulations, higher taxes and a mega health care bill. Frankly they are waiting for the next shoe to drop. The economy is still at risk of another recession. There is no “clear path” for them to get confident that expansion will not end up in big losses or big liabilities.

    The rise of the stock market is in fact false… just like the previous real estate bubble. Business knows this. Their owners are thankful for the equity expansion, but know that there is a great risk it can disappear.

    So, if you are confident in this President like you say you are, I suggest you invest in the stock market. Then when you make the killing on your bet, you can give it all away to people in need.

  42. David M. Greenwald

    “So, if you are confident in this President like you say you are, I suggest you invest in the stock market. “

    It’s actually kind of remarkable just how much you lack the capacity to think outside of your own paradigm.

  43. Frankly

    [i]It’s actually kind of remarkable just how much you lack the capacity to think outside of your own paradigm.[/i]

    David, I feel the exact same way about you and medwoman much of the time.

    However, instead of the slight, why don’t you explain yourself? It is not true that investing in the stock market provides capital that business uses to expand? Is it also not true that business expansion leads to more jobs? Is it also not true that a job is better than handouts?

    If you disagree with any of this, I would be interested to undertand your thinking.

    Do you not agree that a job is better than a handout?

    Do you not agree that people should work to earn money to pay for their needs and wants?

  44. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > We do not have the majority of women that don’t
    > “need” the money staying home with their kids
    > in the sense that they used to when that was
    > virtually the only attractive option available.

    I have no idea what you mean by “in the sense that they used to”?? Do you really think that I am wrong when I say that the “majority” (over half) of women in the US that have young kids and a ton of money are home with their kids and not working full time?

    > what has happened in my field alone, is that over
    > the past thirty years we have gone from far less
    > than 10 % of Ob/Gyn physicians being women to over
    > 50 % today. We do it because it is fascinating,
    > challenging, exciting and presents an opportunity
    > to make a real difference

    You need to remember that you are unique in that not many woman are MDs, less than a third of the adult women in America even have an undergrad degree and very few women (and sadly not that meny men) will describe their job as “fascinating, challenging, or exciting”…

  45. David M. Greenwald

    “However, instead of the slight, why don’t you explain yourself?”

    It wasn’t a slight, it was an observation. But I find it actually fascinating that you missed the point, unexplained as it was of my comment. I quoted the portion I was responding to and yet somehow you still believe my point was broader than it was. The driving force in my life is not material acquisition. In fact, I laugh at the notion that without pay people would do drugs and watch TV all day. I don’t. There are people who would, there are people who do now. But I don’t think most people would live their lives that way. I don’t derive my meaning from the material compensation I receive. That was the point of my comment.

  46. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > It wasn’t a slight, it was an observation.

    That is like telling someone that they are “fat and ugly” and then telling them that you were merely making an “observation” that their BMI is probably above average and that most people would consider them attractive”…

    > The driving force in my life is not material acquisition.

    It is not the driving force of many people (even most Republicans like the guy running for president who gives millions to charity every year)…

    > In fact, I laugh at the notion that without pay people
    > would do drugs and watch TV all day. I don’t. There are
    > people who would, there are people who do now. But I
    > don’t think most people would live their lives that way.

    I don’t want to speak for Jeff, but I thing he was talking about “work” not “pay”. Many people do a lot of work for no pay (like retired people that tutor kids or volunteer as docents) and it is good for the soul and makes them better people. On the other hand people that do not do any work (both the poor living in housing projects and the rich trust fund kids living in condos are messed up people and sadly most really do just sit around all day and watch TV, drink and do drugs (you may not personally know any able bodied people under 50 that have not worked in a decade but if you ask around say talking to law enforcement and/or shrinks that work with the very rich and unmotivated you will see that not working is not a good thing)…

  47. Frankly

    David, I do appreciate your perspective.

    My youngest son is pursuing a career in music. We have talked numerous times about this plan as it relates to him earning enough money to have a good American life. For example, we talked about the possible need for him to develop skills in some other discipline that can pay well enough that he can moonlight doing music until he sees a clear path for making it a sustaining career. We also talked about the business side of a music career… helping him envision a way to make a good living doing what he loves and is good at. His older brother wanted to be a grade-school teacher before he enlisted. We talked to him about the same… possibly needing to supplement his teaching income by working summers, etc.

    I don’t have any problem with people choosing a life that does not derive meaning from material compensation. However, outside of clear evidence of uncorrectable deficiencies and extreme adversity, I do have a problem if that life requires me to subsidize it with taxation-redistribution.

    I also have a problem with people choosing a less material existence demonizing and disparaging others that choose to pursue wealth. This, and demands for greater taxation, are the ugly underbelly of this low-materiality, free-spirit, model. The complaints and moral equivalency arguments tarnish it as a respected lifestyle choice and provide a more sinister indication that dreams of collectivism are lurking.

    I don’t think you are a better or worse person for not pursuing material wealth, just like I don’t think a person that is driven to pursue wealth is a better or worse person. But, competing in the material rat race is difficult. Many of us work long hours, and don’t get to spend as much time with family and friends. We don’t have as much time to read, and to travel. We make choices, just like you make choices. I would not judge your choices as long as you didn’t expect me to help subsidize them after I work those long, stressful, competitive hours. I would hope you also do not judge my choices if they do not materially impact you.

    The problem with a circumstance where people can make a choice to check out of the material rat race (produce less) and expect government subsidies is a lack of sustainability. We need lots of producers. In fact, I would argue that we need everyone capable to at least produce enough to sustain themselves. And then practice being happy doing so.

  48. wdf1

    JB: [i]The problem with a circumstance where people can make a choice to check out of the material rat race (produce less) and expect government subsidies is a lack of sustainability. We need lots of producers.[/i]

    I follow you somewhat, but as always, I have a problem with the way you define moochers and producers. Materially/monetarily, by your definition, you will probably be more of a producer on balance in your lifetime than Mozart, Beethoven, Van Gogh, and scores of well-known artists from all kinds of different fields. But in a clear sense they have produced greater contributions to humanity than you or I could ever aspire to. And in fact, we have been mooching off the fact that we enjoy their (Mozart, Beethoven, and Van Gogh, at least) works and pay no royalties to their estates, as if we don’t owe anyone anything.

  49. Frankly

    wdf1: Those artists did not exist in a capitalist market system like we have. If they had, they would have been very wealthy as they produced something of value that they could market and many would pay for.

    This is exactly that point that you and David and medwoman are missing I think.

    Now, there are things that people do that provide social value, but not that can be marketed or exchanged for payment. Three points to that:

    1. I think there are very few of those things when using an enterprising mindset (assuming you live in the USA and not Cuba). Frankly, anything that provides value to society has some marketability.

    2. We do have government services that compensate people that choose these careers that suffer marketable value. Also, we support many of these things with private charities. They are noble career pursuits. But they do not pay very well so the person choosing this career better be happy making less.

    3. If more people were working and producing we would need less of these hard to market services.

    I’m sorry about the “moocher”, “looter” offense. Frankly, I cannot think of another way to make the point. It is a label that is no less offensive than “greedy”, and “uncaring” uses to label successful people. It is a mindset label… not meant to denegrate any individual or group.

  50. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]I have no idea what you mean by “in the sense that they used to”?? Do you really think that I am wrong when I say that the “majority” (over half) of women in the US that have young kids and a ton of money are home with their kids and not working full time? [/quote]

    I apologize for not having been clear. What I meant by “in the sense that they used to”, is that for my mother’s generation, it was the norm for a woman to stay at home and raise the children and be a homemaker as her life’s work. I do not see this pattern frequently today. Amongst my colleagues and more universally, amongst my patients, what I see is that there are many, many women who are choosing to spend some time with their very young children on a full or part time basis while maintaining a full time or near full time career either using flex time, job sharing or reentering the work force and vigorously building a career once their children enter school. Amongst the professional women I meet, the majority of them are doing this not because they have to financially, but because they want to. For the majority of women I know, and being a gynecologist, this is many, work is a matter of self fulfillment, not just making money. To claim that the majority of women would not work outside the home unless they had to is, in my opinion, a serious misreading of the motivation of many women.

  51. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]You need to remember that you are unique in that not many woman are MDs, less than a third of the adult women in America even have an undergrad degree and very few women (and sadly not that meny men) will describe their job as “fascinating, challenging, or exciting”…
    [/quote]

    I do not think that I am so unique. My perspective is somewhat different. For example consider this current
    information from the AMA:
    According to new analysis of American Medical Association Physician Masterfile data by Medical Marketing Service, Inc. (MMS), women now comprise 31% of physicians, up from just 12% in 1981. In my department of over 60, most of us are women. I do not believe that the nearly 1/3 of physicians today that are women are putting in the years of study, long, physically and emotionally demanding hours just because we have to earn money to get by. I think that this is a personal, aspirational, and intellectual choice as well as a financial one. I think this is true for the many other professions in which the number of women has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

    [quote]very few women (and sadly not that meny men) will describe their job as “fascinating, challenging, or exciting”…
    [/quote]

    I also disagree with this statement. I am not sure where you are getting this information, but it does not correspond with what I see on a daily basis. I will concede that working in a university town may affect the proportion of women who would describe their work as “fascinating, challenging, or exciting” but I meet them every day and find that the majority of my professional patients are very happy with their work.

  52. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]I don’t think you are a better or worse person for not pursuing material wealth, just like I don’t think a person that is driven to pursue wealth is a better or worse person. But, competing in the material rat race is difficult. Many of us work long hours, and don’t get to spend as much time with family and friends. We don’t have as much time to read, and to travel. We make choices, just like you make choices. I would not judge your choices as long as you didn’t expect me to help subsidize them after I work those long, stressful, competitive hours. I would hope you also do not judge my choices if they do not materially impact you.
    [/quote]

    I think that the difference in our attitudes revolves around your last sentence. I would agree if many of the choices of those you call “producers” truly did not materially impact others. But the fact is that they do.
    When those of us who can afford fresh produce are able to get it more cheaply because harvesting is done by very low paid workers, that materially affects them. When we buy clothing that is produced in factories that do not pay their employees what we would consider a living wage in other countries, that materially affects not only the foreign employees, but those who are not employed in this country. When jobs are outsourced because the company owners and investors can make more money, that materially affects potential workers. I simply do not believe that the choices that your described “producers” make do not impact their workers and those who lose their jobs because of these decisions are not “materially affecting” others in a detrimental fashion, thus largely invalidating your argument.

  53. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]They are noble career pursuits. But they do not pay very well so the person choosing this career better be happy making less. [/quote]

    I see no reason why this has to be the case.
    A major problem I have with our system is that we are obsessed with money as opposed to value. We pay lip service to the “noble career pursuits” but do not choose to compensate them for what they are clearly worth to our society. I do not believe that it has to be this way. I think that we would be much better off as a society if we made the choice to compensate people for the time that they put into any positive contribution to society rather than arbitrarily paying some folks more than others on a completely arbitrary monetary scale. There are models for this form of economic system in which one is compensated for hour spent working as opposed to the particular type of work that is done. The most basic form of this is a barter system in which an hour of my office time is worth one hour of house cleaning or one hour of yard maintenance.

    What we have created is a system which is obviously skewed. We do not have a demand for as many doctors as say field workers or retail employees. This automatically means that not everyone who has the ability and the drive will be able to be a doctor because we artificially hold down the number of medical school slots. Since this is done throughout our economy, we deliberately maintain a system in which not every one has the ability to pursue their dreams, but which we stubbornly insist offers equal opportunity for all.

  54. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > I do not think that I am so unique.
    > According to new analysis of American
    > Medical Association Physician Masterfile
    > data by Medical Marketing Service, Inc.
    > (MMS), women now comprise 31% of physicians,
    > up from just 12% in 1981.

    You may not “think” that you are unique, but you are since less that 0.25% of the woman in America are physicians (to put things in perspective the top 0.25% income in America is between $500K and $1 million). Here in California there are about as many female physicians as there are Ferraris. Telling me that the percentage of female physicians has increased since 1981 would be like me telling you that the percentage of blue Ferraris has increased since 1981 (it really has) trying and prove that a Ferrari is not a unique car…

  55. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]You may not “think” that you are unique, but you are since less that 0.25% of the woman in America are physicians (to put things in perspective the top 0.25% income in America is between $500K and $1 million). Here in California there are about as many female physicians as there are Ferraris. Telling me that the percentage of female physicians has increased since 1981 would be like me telling you that the percentage of blue Ferraris has increased since 1981 (it really has) trying and prove that a Ferrari is not a unique car…
    [/quote]

    The context in which my comment was made is critical to understand my point. I was not implying that women physicians are a dime a dozen. It was that the number or women going into medicine, and other demanding fields has been increasing steadily. It was made specifically in the context of what women will choose when they have broader opportunities than what were typically available to women prior to the ’60s, namely homemaker, teacher, nurse, librarian, secretary…
    I may have been incorrect that your central point was that given the financial resources, most will stay home with the kids. It is this statement that I find erroneous as the number of women in the professions has steadily climbed over the past 30 years despite the various swings in the economy. If I was misinterpreting your remark, I apologize for that.

  56. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]medwoman: to answer your questions… there is a place on your tax return to pay more than the government already takes. There are all sorts of charitable organizations that will take your excess cash. Let me know if you need help and I can recommend some good charities.
    [/quote]

    I am truly baffled by your response. First, you did not answer any of my questions which were:

    “Many of us have enough to have second homes and/or take expensive vacations. So, why, Jeff is it not “greed” for those of us at the upper end of the economic scale to be always seeking more materially ? And why is it not “greed” to resent helping those who have less, especially through no lack of their own efforts ? Why do you only see it as “greed” when those who have not been so fortunate need assistance?

    Instead of addressing my questions about greed as it might relate to the rich as opposed to only how it might relate to the poor, you turned this into a somewhat snide and personal discussion of how you might suggest I deploy my resources. I am not sure where that came from. I have come to expect better in terms of actually addressing the issues from you.

  57. Frankly

    [i]Instead of addressing my questions about greed as it might relate to the rich as opposed to only how it might relate to the poor, you turned this into a somewhat snide and personal discussion of how you might suggest I deploy my resources[/i]

    Medwomna, that is not how I intended it to sound. Romney, for example donated 30% of his income in 2011. Yes, most of it went to his church; but then his church does all sorts of amazing charitable work all over the world. That was my point… it should be an individual decision, not the act of central planning looters taking wealth from others so they can get the feel-good rise of “saving” poor people.

    In terms of that competitive drive to get ahead, you seem to be wired a bit differently than the average human. I don’t know what motivated you to become a doctor, but apparently it wasn’t the money. I have to ask… why you are not working in an inner city medical clinic for much less if you don’t care about the money? I’m sure you have your reasons.

    I love the fact that you wear your big heart on your sleeve and are unabashedly honest about your liberal political and social views. However, most of what you advocate for has been tried before and has failed. I don’t think you can come up with any working example of the model you advocate for. Please prove me wrong.

    From my perspective, you seem to more quickly gravitate to a view of economic class statism; where people are stuck into whatever economic situation they are born into. If that were actually the case, I could get behind some of your egalitarian ideas… where government should step in to equalize wealth distribution. However, with respect to the US, that statist view is 100% incorrect. The US has been so successful precisely because it does not materially discriminate on anything except individual capability and self-determination. Sure individuals can have more difficulty handed them by their life circumstances. But if they get past their emotional baggage, they are not going to be any more or less gifted with the opportunity to achieve a great American life than is the next person.

    I have a view of a pyramid-shaped economic ladder… where there are more lower-income people working to climb to higher rungs representing higher socio-economic status. In the US, there is movement up and down that ladder. There are no significant cultural, social or government barriers like in other countries.

    Some people reach a rung that they are content with.

    Other people are not content until they reach the top.

    My support of government involvement is where we provide hand-ups to people that want to climb up; and services that maintain the overall ladder (infrastructure, help with economic development, tax incentives, etc.).

    What I do NOT support is government hand-outs that allow people that should be climbing, to hang out on the lower rungs, but without enough money to sustain themselves. This destroys their motivation to advance. It creates a pyramid shape that is much wider at its base with a steeper and narrower top that is more difficult to climb. It is the shape of Cuba’s economy. That is not a good shape.

  58. Frankly

    Time for a war on the liberal media. This has gone too far. The First Amendment does not protect stealth campaigning.

    [url]http://www.mrc.org/press-releases/bozell-and-conservative-leaders-call-public-tune-out-liberal-media[/url]

  59. Frankly

    [i]That link was hysterical! Thanks for the laugh. Given the content of their letter, the list of signatories was especially funny. [/i]

    Don, I thought you might react that way.

    Some of think this is serious.

    But glad I could provide you some levity.

  60. wdf1

    JB: [i]Time for a war on the liberal media. This has gone too far. The First Amendment does not protect stealth campaigning.[/i]

    As far as I know, the mainstream media isn’t covering this protest.

  61. Frankly

    So apparently, the left-media is using 2008 voter turnout demographics instead of the typical mid-term election demographics to weigh their poll results. Rasmussen is using mid-term demographic statistics and has Romney and Obama in a statistical dead heat in the swing states. The liberal media polls have Obama up several points more.

    Most analysts expect lower Democrat and independent voter turnout this election over disgust over Obama’s performance and the economy.

    The liberal media polls are skewing the poll results in an attempt to discourage Republic voters by painting a false picture of Obama popularity.

    This is war folks. The Liberal media needs to be destroyed.

  62. Don Shor

    I have read Dick Morris’es analysis of the polls, which is what you and others are citing. Nobody else believes it. But if you want to believe Rasmussen and Dick Morris, go right ahead.
    Blaming the pollsters is about the fourth stage of grief for a losing campaign. The problem with Romney’s campaign isn’t the media or the pollsters. The problem with Romney’s campaign is Romney, plus the baggage he was saddled with by his party through the primary process. The 2006 version of Romney might have been able to beat Obama this year. You know: the pro-choice, pro-health-reform moderate governor of a blue state? That one? Hard to find any vestiges of that Romney any more.
    Why wouldn’t polling reports mobilize Republican voters, rather than discourage them?
    Again: I’d bet Obama at 300+ in the electoral college.

  63. wdf1

    JB: [i]So apparently, the left-media is using 2008 voter turnout demographics instead of the typical mid-term election demographics to weigh their poll results. Rasmussen is using mid-term demographic statistics and has Romney and Obama in a statistical dead heat in the swing states.[/i]

    I’m sure nothing and no one is beyond accusations of bias these days, but I think Nate Silver has a good record for polling analysis, and notes that Rasmussen leans Republican in its polling ([url]http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/22/calculating-house-effects-of-polling-firms/[/url]). In 2010, Silver noted that Rasmussen was notably off the mark in the Republican direction ([url]http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/rasmussen-polls-were-biased-and-inaccurate-quinnipiac-surveyusa-performed-strongly/[/url]) compared to the only results that matter — voting day.

    Your claim of bias will be assessed in about a month. Maybe you’ll be right, but right now it’s hard to give your argument credibility with respect to Rasmussen.

  64. Frankly

    [i]The problem with Romney’s campaign isn’t the media or the pollsters. The problem with Romney’s campaign is Romney, plus the baggage he was saddled with by his party through the primary process.[/i]

    Yeah sure Don, and the Seattle Seahawks won fair and square, right?

    There is so much media fodder out there to go after Obama on. For example… what about the media talking about the Obama attack of our first amendment rights over the killing in Benghazi when it is clear that the government NEW it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.

    Look for that story in the main media, and check to see the frequency and intensity of reporting compared to Romney’s 47% comments.

    You folks that ignore this obvious left bias are selfish and/or blind. You pat yourself on the back that FINALLY YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS ARE VALIDATED! … when it is the media carrying your water for you. America has always been a center-right nation. What has changed? The effing media is what has changed. They are now unabashed in their left bias. Look at all the effing Hollywood actor and entertainer idiot spouting their damn mouth about their love of things left. It is the epitome of dysfunctional elite white guilt and it is disgusting. For every Clint Eastwood there are 50 leftist celebrities spouting off.

    Is Obama the Teflon President? Is it because he is a minority that a predominately white liberal media is pulling their punches?

    I don’t know what the reasons are, but it is more than troubling. We cannot have a working Democracy without a fair and balanced media. If advertisers use the media to influence purchasing decisions, then it is obvious that the same can be used to influence voting decisions. The Democrat-media industrial complex is the new enemy of freedom and Democracy exceeding the risk from Al Qaeda. In fact, it appears that it supports Al Qaeda.

    The good news is that more people are losing their trust of the main media. Maybe folks in Davis are just a little slow.

    [url]http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/16/158938210/news-medias-credibility-ratings-have-slipped-sharply-survey-says[/url]

  65. David M. Greenwald


    So apparently, the left-media is using 2008 voter turnout demographics instead of the typical mid-term election demographics to weigh their poll results. Rasmussen is using mid-term demographic statistics and has Romney and Obama in a statistical dead heat in the swing states. “

    Even if you are accurate that the “liberal” media is using 2008 projections, it boggles the mind that you think the voter composition would resemble the mid-term electorate. Moreover, it also boggles the mind that you believe it’s a deadheat. Even Gallup has moved into Obama’s camp.

  66. Frankly

    [i]Even if you are accurate that the “liberal” media is using 2008 projections, it boggles the mind that you think the voter composition would resemble the mid-term electorate.[/i]

    Why? Why would this midterm be any different than other midterms… other than the fact that the liberal media is working hard to get Obama re-elected?

    And why wouldn’t you accept the historical evidence that people unhappy with the economy and the state of leadership will either come out to vote for the other guy, or not vote at all?

  67. Frankly

    [quote]The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows both President Obama and Mitt Romney attracting support from 46% of voters nationwide. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. [/quote]

  68. David M. Greenwald

    “Why? Why would this midterm be any different than other midterms.”

    I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. The question is whether the midterm will be sufficiently different from this year’s electorate, and the answer to that is clearly yes. 2010 was a historically bad year for Democrats probably only topped by 1994 in recent memory and 2012 appears to be at worst even and maybe a slightly Democratic year. That would suggest that modeling for 2010 will produce a more republican poll.

    I’d also suggest that some of the critical differences between Rasmussen and the other polls are far more complicated than weight. There are problems that have increasingly led Rasmussen to be inaccurate. They were the most inaccurate in 2010 and the reasons for their inaccuracy (again not weight) are likely to produce even more inaccuracies in the future.

    You did not answer my question: do you really believe that Romney is tied with Obama?

  69. David M. Greenwald

    “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows both President Obama and Mitt Romney attracting support from 46% of voters nationwide. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. “

    If you explain the fact that Rasmussen is far off from all other polls in terms that all other polls are wrong, then how do you explain the fact that in 2010 using the same techniques, it was Rasmussen and not all other polls that was way off? And also to what end? Who is advantaged if there are a bunch of bad polls out there? Also, campaigns run their own internal polls – the body language of the two campaigns is certainly telling, no? Your argument defies logic and reason. And not only that, if is ignorant of methodological analysis.

  70. Frankly

    I don’t think you understand the statistical issue here. When pollsters call 1000 people, they don’t have any idea who they are going to get. They tend to get more women, since women tend to answer the phone. They tend to get fewer young people, because young people use cell phones. Etc., etc., etc.,

    They then weigh the results for each demographic based on how they expect the voter turnout to be. The number of young people and minorities voting in the 2008 election was larger than ever and had a lot to do with Obama’s wins in several swing states. Most analysts expect those numbers to fall back to midterm election norms… and maybe less given the voter malaise. For example, black support of Obama has fallen. It is expected that many blacks will just not vote rather than vote for the other guy.

    However, these left-biased pollsters are using the 2008 voter demographics to over-inflate the number of Democrat voters that will come to the polls this election. If you think the Obama support turnout is going to be similar to the 2008 election, you are the only smart person believing this.

  71. David M. Greenwald

    No, I used to work in this field, and you don’t understand how this stuff works.

    First of all, there is a differential in voting levels in a presidential election to a midterm election.

    So here was the turnout for the past ten elections:

    37.80%
    56.8
    37.1
    55.3
    37
    51.3
    36.4
    49.1
    38.8
    55.1

    The low was in 1996, but the smallest differential there was still at around ten percent.

    Yes, you see that the voter participation in 2008 was higher than before, the electorate this year is going to look a lot more like 2008 than it is 2010.

    Regardless, your theory falls apart when we examine Rasmussen. There are systematic problems in the way they conduct their polling that has nothing to do with weight. The result was that Rasmussen was least accurate.

    How do you account for Gallup and how come you still haven’t answer the question twice posed, Romney is not acting like someone winning, he’s acting like someone in trouble. His campaign like all campaigns do internal polls, they know full well what the results are and are not going to be susceptible to any media bias. Moreover, look at the attacks by republicans on romney’s campaign, if there were internal polls that showed him in front, you know we wouldn’t be reading that.

    To me that tells me that the body language is aligned with all national polls except for one, the one poll that was least accurate last time and the poll that has consistently had a republican lean.

  72. Don Shor

    [i]”America has always been a center-right nation.”
    [/i]
    I think this may be a core problem. Your statement is very arguable. The only people who believe ‘America is a center-right nation’ are people who are to the right of center-right.
    Media Matters did a good job of rebutting this in 2008 when it was a popular right-wing theme, and did it again this year: [url]http://mediamatters.org/research/2011/10/26/fox-revives-myth-that-america-is-a-center-right/183869[/url]
    But maybe if Romney and the other primary candidates had run on center-right positions, they would be doing better.
    I’ll have to look up your reference to the Seahawks.

  73. Frankly

    From the US Census Bureau:
    [quote]About 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million from 2004, according to a new table package released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained statistically unchanged.

    Additionally, voters 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004. Blacks had the highest turnout rate among 18- to 24-year-old voters — 55 percent, an 8 percent increase from 2004. The increased turnout among certain demographic groups was offset by stagnant or decreased turnout among other groups, causing overall 2008 voter turnout to remain statistically unchanged — at 64 percent — from 2004.

    “The 2008 presidential election saw a significant increase in voter turnout among young people, blacks and Hispanics,” said Thom File, a voting analyst with the Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “But as turnout among some other demographic groups either decreased or remained unchanged, the overall 2008 voter turnout rate was not statistically different from 2004.”[/quote]
    [b]Young voter turnout expected to decrease in 2012 election[/b]

    [url]http://the12.washingtonpost.com/post/25094877074/young-voter-turnout-expected-to-decrease-in-2012[/url]

  74. Frankly

    [b]Gallup: Economic Conservatives Outnumber Economic Liberals 46% to 20%[/b]

    [url]http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gallup-economic-conservatives-outnumber-economic-liberals-46-20[/url]

    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/conservativesrule.jpg[/img]

  75. Frankly

    David, I think Romney’s chances will hinge on how the debates are conducted and how he performs. Obama is a better showman, but even though he has the heart message, his material sucks. We will see. I see it as 50/50 at this point with the expectation that Obama has nowhere to go but down.

    However, it is my belief that if the media had treated Obama like it has all Republican candidates over the last four elections, and all Presidential candidates before that… Romney would be an easy win.

    Obama is a rich target… but they are not shooting.

  76. David M. Greenwald

    I’m not someone convinced that debates will matter. The two worst showings I have seen by candidates Reagan 1984 and Bush 2004 ended up winning despite the poor showing.

    Secondly, I don’t think there is “the media” anymore. It’s too fragmented, too many people get their news from outside what is traditional.

    Romney is losing because he’s a bad candidate, because has not offered a great alternative, because his party has moved too far to the right, and most of all because the state of the country is not as bad as the Republicans have tried to portray. At this point I think Obama wins by a similar margin to Bush in 2004.

  77. Don Shor

    That’s irrelevant, Jeff. I’ve seen that chart many times, including a prior version just before Obama got elected in 2008.
    1. Note that you’ve narrowed down your definition from ‘center-right’ to ‘economic conservatives’ — which are two different things. “Center-right” doesn’t just apply to fiscal issues.
    On issue after issue, the American public is moderate to liberal. Especially and increasingly on social issues, such as contraception, abortion, and gay rights — just as Republicans chose to use those as major wedge issues throughout the primaries and on.

    2. In an article in the American Prospect in 2008, a political scientist was aptly quoted about survey results:

    “a substantial portion of the population — nearly a quarter, according to the General Social Survey — are what political scientist James Stimson calls “conflicted conservatives,” those who pick “conservative” when asked their ideological identification, but nonetheless support liberal policies. As Stimson wrote:

    The conflicted conservatives are the interesting group. Large enough to swing all elections one way or the other, their votes are potentially available to both parties. They want liberal policies and respond to specific Democratic appeals to do more and spend more on various domestic priorities. They think of themselves as conservatives and respond to Republican identification with conservatism. Which is the stronger appeal, liberal policies or conservative symbols, is a close call and so varies with the times.”

    [url]http://prospect.org/article/america-center-right-nation-0[/url]

    3. Even on fiscal issues, what people say when they call themselves ‘economic conservatives’ doesn’t translate to policy. A majority of Americans supports the major features of the Affordable Care Act, notably opposing only the mandate. A majority of Americans thinks it is fine to raise taxes in various ways. A majority of Americans believes the president and Congress should work together on fiscal and deficit issues. And a strong majority of Americans believes Social Security and Medicare are good programs that should largely be left alone. In fact, a sizable majority would pay higher Social Security taxes and would support higher SS benefits.

  78. David M. Greenwald

    Don: I actually agree with Jeff, I think the country is center right – what ever that means. The problem is that the Republican party is probably further to the right of that center than the Democratic party is left.

  79. David M. Greenwald

    If you look at nominate-scores (google if you want a description, the math involved well defies me), you’ll see from 1974 to 2004, the parties have polarized, but within that stat is the fact that it’s almost entirely on the Republican side. Democrats moved to the left by six points over that time, but republicans moved 22 points to the right to the point where there was almost no overlap by 2004. And the trend has begun, with recent estimates suggesting as much as a 40 point shift by republicans.

    [img]http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/dw-nominate-1973-2004.png[/img]

  80. Frankly

    [i]Romney is losing because he’s a bad candidate[/i]

    Disagree 100%. He is not a cool minority President, but he has a very, very, very strong resume for what we need right now… especially compared to Mr. Community Organizer and Senator that voted “present” 80% of the time. I think Romney’s campaign is not strong. But Romney is solidly center-right, nice guy, that should be doing better than he is. He is more than competent enough for the job. You libs jump up and down about hard-right candidates, and then you attack one that comes in with a softer approach as being wishy-washy. It just proves that your opinion of Republican candidates does not have any credibility.

    Assuming Obama wins, I have a premonition that things are going to get real ugly in our political environment in the coming months and years, and the left will be the big losers and will mostly have themselves to blame. The right is going to grow more angry and hostile about media bias and the left is going to continue to screw up the economy and put us deeper in debt. The end result will be a Tea Party candidate will win. I don’t want that to happen, but I think it will be cause of the behavior of the left and left media. The GOP move to the right is NOT SOCIAL ISSUES as the left and the left media want everyone to believe. The shift right for the GOP is 99% fiscal concerns. The same concerns that you and Don – two people that like to label yourself as independent thinkers – reject as being worthy of concerns.

    Extremism of the right is direct response to the economy, the debt combined with a Democrat shift left and the extremism of the left media. Fox News would not exist in a world where the rest of the media was balanced. The Tea Party would not exist if the left had enough fiscal conservative Democrats in power.

    [i]because has not offered a great alternative[/i]

    No great alternatives to lefties that want nothing more than a transformation to a new America that looks like Greece and smells like Venezuela. To those of us that want to return to a great and strong America, Romney has most of the answers.

    Here is the vote in a nutshell…

    America = weak, then vote Obama. America = strong, then vote Romney. It is clear.

    [i]because his party has moved too far to the right[/i]

    When you shift the stools farther left, the table appears farther right. The Tea Party is the result of the lack of fiscal discipline in government in general. The GOP has moved right on fiscal issues as a counter to the nut jobs that are spending us off a cliff. The GOP has moved right because it is the right thing to do. The GOP has moved right to save the country from the left and those idiot RINOs that have contributed to the fiscal mess. The rise of the extreme right includes more power to the social conservative nut jobs.

    [i]and most of all because the state of the country is not as bad as the Republicans have tried to portray.[/i]

    Right David. Because you say so? Have you really checked on what the state of the economy is David? So, is that what Obama is saying to the 47% “Naw, you don’t have it that bad!” Maybe the media is not giving you the real information. That would make sense. I could make a list for you… but it would take too long. Suffice it to say that this template that the economy is getting better is a manufactured one. It is not real. We are one step away from a total economic collapse. If it happens, there is nothing left that the government can do to buy their way back to the next fake recovery. Even today Obama is directing the Fed to print and dump billions of dollars to keep it propped up so he can win. He is destroying the returns that so many retirees and soon to be retirees were relying on. Of course he is not impacting his public sector union supporters who have those fat defined benefit plans.

    [i]At this point I think Obama wins by a similar margin to Bush in 2004.[/i]

    From your Party perspective, that would mean that Obama steals the election from Romney, right?

    How about this… I will buy the beer if Obama wins, and you if Romney wins!

  81. David M. Greenwald

    You went into quite a bit here… He’s a bad candidate because he’s running a poor campaign, I don’t know how to be more clear here. George Bush was a better candidate than him. He won. Romney is about where McCain and Dole were in terms of their candidacy.

    “Here is the vote in a nutshell… America = weak, then vote Obama. America = strong, then vote Romney. It is clear.”

    It’s comments like this that lead me to believe you to be not capable of escaping your paradigm. I thought we were having a discussion about why Romney is losing and you can’t separate your partisanship from it.

    You clearly are out of your league on discussing the shift with nominate scores, read up on them and then get back to me.

    “and most of all because the state of the country is not as bad as the Republicans have tried to portray.

    Right David. Because you say so?”

    I’m not the final arbitrator here.

    “From your Party perspective, that would mean that Obama steals the election from Romney, right? “

    No. How’s that?

    “How about this… I will buy the beer if Obama wins, and you if Romney wins! “

    It may have to diet coke, my body can’t process the carbs right now.

  82. Frankly

    [i] You went into quite a bit here[/i]

    Yes I did. Sorry all for the rant. I am agitated.

    I agree that Romney’s problem is his campaign. But apparently the GOP has to beat the media too. That is not fair and it is corruptive to the Democrat process. Essentially the media holds the keys to the information flow. If they alter or direct it in any political direction with any form of cooperation, they should not benefit from First Amendment protection.

    Note that good or bad campaigns are not necessarily indicative of good or bad political leadership. It has not been that long since the media exploded as a force in politics. I was born the year that the first televised debates happened. I remember all the chatter over the next decade about how TV would change politics. Well, it has… but not in a good way, IMO.

    [i]”From your Party perspective, that would mean that Obama steals the election from Romney, right? ”

    No. How’s that?[/i]

    The cry from the left was that Bush stole the election from Kerry.

    [i]”How about this… I will buy the beer if Obama wins, and you if Romney wins! ”

    It may have to diet coke, my body can’t process the carbs right now[/i]

    Diet coke it is! You can come run with me at lunch around the Arboretum to make room for some of those carbs. Actually, I had to go mostly Gluten free and it has dropped my carb intake to the point that I can have a beer now and then without wearing it! ;0

  83. David M. Greenwald

    I’m not sure what that means having to beat the media too. As I keep asking and get no answer – what media? There is no “the media” anymore.

    Like all technology, TV has positive and negative consequences. I don’t agree that it’s all negative.

    “The cry from the left was that Bush stole the election from Kerry. “

    I think that was the very fringe left. I don’t think there’s much legitimate complaint about 2004, 2000 is a different matter.

    I can’t run right now either, I hurt my six months ago and it hasn’t been the same since.

  84. Frankly

    [i]The Fox sample was 41 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, 20 percent independents, and one percent declined to specify.[/i]

    Do you think this is an accurate representation of the turn-out?

    It is well known that polls showing a candidate losing can reduce voter enthusiasm and cause lower voter turn-out.

    Funny… as I think about this.

    Obama has been campaigning since he came into politics. He was ushered into the Saul David Alinsky Chicago leftist politician school almost as soon as he won his Senatorial seat (requiring a lot of “present” votes) and was scouted out as having the image ad skills to be the messiah of the left and lead them to that promised land where everything they say and think is righteous (i.e., liberal heaven).

    He then proceeded to continue with his partisan ways even after being elected. Obama never did that shift you expect to put the partisanship of the election behind and work to become everyone’s president. He stayed pretty much in campaign mode from day one. This didn’t bother the left too much because it continued to satiate their need to be validated as being smarter than everyone else. However, it alienated conservatives and the GOP. It is a GOP that has grown weak from the lazy-ass strength it enjoyed for the preceding decades. That won’t last long. Money always wins in the end. The only hope the elite left has is to loot enough that they have more of the power money buys. That might work in Argentina and Venezuela, but not the good old USA for at least another several decades.

    Frankly, the liberal Dem message had never really resonated with the majority of Americans. Clinton by example was not much different than Bush from a policy perspective. Clinton was more of a communitarian that appealed to the left and center-right. Even so, he would not have won if it had not been for the divisions forming in the GOP that sent many votes to Ross Perot (Take note Don… you are completely wrong about the GOP divisions that led to the Tea Party… they had started back in 1992. It was only the roaring economy from the tech stock bubble and then the real estate bubble that sent them back to their caves for a while.) The prior Democrat, Carter, was truly a leftist and he was booted out resoundly after Americans got a taste.

    Obama has significant gifts. They are all in the image and campaign camp. But, he is a very, very, very weak leader. He is also a very unskilled and inexperienced executive. He routinely says things that only someone with responsibilities in and knowledge of leadership as a skill can identify as weak leader material. He makes a lot of mistakes that other chief executives would be roasted for. He gets around being managed by a group of handlers, exploiting his gleaming charisma, and by carrying a card that puts him a special protected class of people.

    He is the American Idol President.

    God help us if he wins re-election!

  85. Frankly

    [i]I can’t run right now either, I hurt my knee six months ago and it hasn’t been the same since. I’d say I’m getting old, but I’m afraid I’d offend the rest of my readers. 😉 [/i]

    If you are geeting old, I am in big trouble!

  86. Frankly

    [i]I’m not sure what that means having to beat the media too. As I keep asking and get no answer – what media? There is no “the media” anymore.[/i]

    Broadcast TV = Left Tilt
    Film = Left Tilt
    Music = Left Tilt
    Radio = Right Tilt
    Internet = Left Tilt
    Social Media = Left Tilt
    Books = Equal
    Magazine = Left Tilt (primary news magazines)
    Newspaper = Left Tilt
    Outdoor media (billboards etc) = Equal

    Funny too how libs complain about conservative talk radio… the only right-tilt media. Central controllers are just never happy until they control it all.

  87. Frankly

    Byt the way, as an example of the perpetually campaigning American Idol Obama, he rejects meeting with any UN leaders to go on The View. I’m guessing that would not have been President Romeny’s choice.

  88. Don Shor

    Broadcast TV:
    [i]Major networks = Left tilt
    Other networks = all over the lot.[/i]
    Film = [i]Left Tilt, but not really relevant.[/i]
    Music = [i]totally pointless to try to describe.[/i]
    Radio = Right Tilt,[i] for sure. [/i]
    Internet = [i]No “tilt” whatsoever.[/i]
    Social Media = [i]No “tilt” whatsoever[/i]
    Books = [i]NA, there is no way to even make the assessment. [/i]
    Magazine = [i]Time, Newsweek: left tilt. U.S. News, right tilt. Declining to the point of irrelevance. Lots of other options out there. [/i]
    Newspaper = Left Tilt [i]in some major cities, right tilt in others, no longer easily categorized. Markets too fragmented. [/i]
    Outdoor media (billboards etc) = [i]NA[/i]

    I’m not sure how you would rate the newspapers in the top ten cities:
    New York
    Los Angeles
    Chicago
    Houston
    Philadelphia
    Phoenix
    San Antonio
    San Diego
    Dallas
    San Jose
    My guess is that the major papers in several of those are not liberal.

  89. wdf1

    JB: [i]Frankly, the liberal Dem message had never really resonated with the majority of Americans.[/i]

    And you think Romney’s message resonates with the majority of Americans?

    [i]Money always wins in the end.[/i]

    How cynical. I don’t think Meg Whitman would agree with you. Good ideas and a clear message are worth more than their weight in gold.

    [i]But, he is a very, very, very weak leader. He is also a very unskilled and inexperienced executive. He routinely says things that only someone with responsibilities in and knowledge of leadership as a skill can identify as weak leader material. He makes a lot of mistakes that other chief executives would be roasted for.[/i]

    A similar case is made for G.W. Bush. And I’m seeing terrible leadership material in Romney.

  90. Frankly

    [i]And you think Romney’s message resonates with the majority of Americans?[/i]

    It should. It would have previously.

    [i]Money always wins in the end.

    How cynical. I don’t think Meg Whitman would agree with you. Good ideas and a clear message are worth more than their weight in gold[/i]

    Brown spent more if you assign a monetary value to all the free campaign labor he received from the unions. Whitman, like all GOP candidates, had to pay for most of her campaign labor.

    My point was/is that industry stays out of politics except for lobying for beneficial legislation. Business does not really care who is President. However, when it gets bad enough, they will be called to action. They will smash down all the Hollywood mouthpieces for the left. They will spend to replace all the business-unfriendly politicians with those that understand and support free market capitalism. They will stop the march toward socialism. I think US business has one – and maybe two – opportunities to pull us back and send the collectivists back to their caves. After that, the looters and moochers will likey take us down so that everyone can feel better about themselves by comparison to their neighbor.

    I do agree with you that good ideas ad a clear message can overcome money. But Obama does not have good ideas. And his message is only clear in that looters and moochers feel their heart swell when he says the things they want to hear.

    Bush was a strong chief executive. He was decisive. Able to spot, hire and retain talent. Bush lacked charisma, that’s all.

    I worked for a bank for 15 years that had four CEOs during that time span as each retired in succession. All four of them were named “George”. My coworkers called it the “era of George”. The George that did the best (we had our best years under his leadership) talked very slow and had the charisma of a block of wood.

    This is what I mean by Obama being our American Idol President. He is an empty chair. But that chair is modern, hip, cool, attractive, and looks good in our home decor.

    If I were casting a Movie that required someone to play the President, I would select Obama over Romeny. However, I don’t want any actor as my real President.

  91. wdf1

    JB: [i]The liberal media polls are skewing the poll results in an attempt to discourage Republic voters by painting a false picture of Obama popularity. [/i]

    The term poll trutherism ([url]http://www.google.com/#hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=poll+trutherism&oq=poll+trutherism&[/url]) is showing up to describe this phenomenon.

  92. Frankly

    Looks about right, but it is a sad commentary for our political system. I would add to this though the coordinated Democrat-Party-left-biased media attacks to paint Romney as something he is not. I would also add that Romney can improve some of this with a good debate performance… I think he can improve enough to win the election if he goes big as a free market guy explaining to people why that is good for them, and why Obama’s America is going to be bad… very bad, for them.

    [quote]Mike Allen, Jonathan Martin and Jim VandeHei on the home page capture the sentiment that has grown in and outside of Boston – the problem the GOP nominee has is less Mitt Romney’s campaign than the candidate:

    [quote]“With Republicans everywhere wondering what has happened to the Mitt Romney campaign, people who know the candidate personally and professionally offer a simple explanation: It’s the candidate himself.

    Slowly and reluctantly, Republicans who love and work for Romney are concluding that for all his gifts as a leader, businessman and role model, he’s just not a good political candidate in this era.

    It kills his admirers to say it because they know him to be a far more generous and approachable man than people realize — far from the caricature of him being awkward or distant — and they feel certain he would be a very good president.

    “Lousy candidate; highly qualified to be president,” said a top Romney official. “The candidate suit fits him unnaturally. He is naturally an executive.”[/quote]

    [/quote]

  93. medwoman

    [quote]My point was/is that industry stays out of politics except for lobying for beneficial legislation.[/quote]

    This depends upon which “industry” you are referencing. I am quite sure it is not true of weapons manufacturers and gun manufacturers and all of those whose business depends upon their sales. For these folks, it is as much about politics as it is about the immediate business specific beneficial legislation. In fact, the two are in effect one and the same.

  94. medwoman

    [quote]Bush was a strong chief executive. He was decisive. Able to spot, hire and retain talent. Bush lacked charisma, that’s all.
    [/quote]

    This statement depends upon the fact that you appear to agree with the policies of the “talent” that he spotted, hired and retained. As for decisiveness, the first lemming off the cliff is decisive. That does not mean the decision is beneficial for the group.

  95. Frankly

    Bush was not a great speaker, that is true. He had irritating mannerisms.
    But I would argue that has a minor issue compared to his lack of charisma. Charisma being defined as: “[b]compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others[/b]”

    When I go back and read the transcripts of Bush speeches, they are all pretty well done and pretty inspiring. His problem is that he did not grab the heart of all those voters that what to love their politicians rather than just vote for the more capable and competent.

    I think Gore and Kerry suffered some of the same problems as Bush.

    Reagan, Clinton were both an order of magnitude more charismatic than was Bush. I think Obama outshines all three substantially. Obama’s charisma is much more youthful. I think Romney has much more charisma than Bush, Gore and Kerry… but his problem is that he pales in comparison to Obama. And Romney has more of an adult image. To me, Obama comes off as someone that will never grow old and conservative. I think that is why he appeals so much to youth and to entertainers… entertainers that are lucky to have the talent to supplement their perpetual narcissistic child-like impulses.

  96. wdf1

    JB: [i]Obama comes off as someone that will never grow old and conservative. I think that is why he appeals so much to youth and to entertainers… entertainers that are lucky to have the talent to supplement their perpetual narcissistic child-like impulses.[/i]

    I’m really surprised how deferential and complimentary conservatives are to Clinton these days. When Clinton was in office, this quote above would have been readily applied to him by conservatives. And the current commentary of the time in the 90’s was that the tone in Washington had never been nastier. Perhaps Clinton was just ahead of his time with conservatives. I anticipate that in time conservatives will soften their tone about Obama, too.

  97. Frankly

    I think this a very interesting survey. I recommend that you take it and see where you line up compared to other contributors.

    I think it would be great to have something like this that we give to all journalists, all teachers, and all politicians. Then the results should be made public.

    [url]http://yourmorals.org[/url]

  98. Frankly

    Related to this survey is an interesting article in the WSJ about the findings:

    [url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444358804578016291138331904.html?KEYWORDS=inside+the+cold[/url]

  99. K.Smith

    “I think it would be great to have something like this that we give to all journalists, all teachers, and all politicians. Then the results should be made public.”

    Wow. So if they don’t give the “right” answers, then they get ran out of town (and their professions) on a rail?

  100. Frankly

    [i]Wow. So if they don’t give the “right” answers, then they get ran out of town (and their professions) on a rail?[/i]

    No. It would just help them and their constituents understand where they they stand to help filter their bias and response. It also helps establish these differences as simple human differences and makes them transparent… Instead of allowing leaders to hide behind a false front of objectivity that is used to enflunce others that biased views are some form of conventional wisdom.

  101. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]I think it would be great to have something like this that we give to all journalists, all teachers, and all politicians. Then the results should be made public. [/quote]

    Why stop there Jeff ? Why not also administer it to everyone, clergy, police, judges, doctors, lawyers, all businessmen ? Then we could all make decisions about who we wanted to deal with based on our agreement, or lack thereof with their principles. I am actually on board with this as long as it applies equally to everyone.

  102. medwoman

    [quote]I would add to this though the coordinated Democrat-Party-left-biased media attacks to paint Romney as something he is not.[/quote]

    I don’t think that it takes any coordinated effort at all to paint Romney as something “he is not”. Romney himself has painted over himself, or at least his former self and former postions, over an over again. It is very, very hard to know exactly who Romney is, let alone who he is not. Just listening to Romney’s own taped words is enough to tell one that he has been so inconsistent through the years as to be indecipherable. This hasn’t required any attacks at all, just a tape recorder.

  103. medwoman

    [quote]However, most of what you advocate for has been tried before and has failed. I don’t think you can come up with any working example of the model you advocate for. Please prove me wrong. [/quote]

    All right. I’ll be happy to, from my point of view. Many countries have living standards that are comparable to, if not as exaggeratedly affluent as ours. Think Canada, UK, Germany, all of the Scandinavian countries, France, Australia, New Zealand. All have achieved standards that most of us would consider acceptable, and yet they manage to provide food, clothing and medical care for their populations. So, how exactly does this equate to failure ? Unless of course, you are going to maintain that sacrificing all other goals to completely unrestricted materialism is the only moral course.

  104. Frankly

    [i]Why stop there Jeff ? Why not also administer it to everyone, clergy, police, judges, doctors, lawyers, all businessmen ? Then we could all make decisions about who we wanted to deal with based on our agreement, or lack thereof with their principles. I am actually on board with this as long as it applies equally to everyone.[/i]

    Medwoman, I only care about the professions with a role or opportunity to influence the population. I don’t, for example, care that you would be my doctor (hypothetically) having liberal views. Should I?

  105. medwoman

    Jeff

    You should certainly care about my morals. You will note that this quiz that you espoused is a measure
    of “your endorsement of five psychological foundations of morality that seem to be found across cultures”.
    The authors have then taken the data and compared scores of those who self identify as liberals or conservatives.
    But remember, the raw data measures morals ( not political identification ). So, yes, I think it would be an excellent idea to have a measure of the morality of anyone with whom we interact.

    As a matter of fact, I think that we have just identified one major difference in our world views. You seem to feel that certain groups
    of people have “higher morals” ( conservatives, Republicans, police, prosecutors, businessmen…as a few examples that I would garner from your posts ) while I am much more likely not to judge by group, but by individual. As regards this case, you seem willing to give some groups
    A pass over others on the basis of their profession.

    And as far as including “professions with a role or opportunity to influence the population”, I would think that the last four years would have taught us that those professions would certainly include bankers, investment brokers, economists, analysts and on a more local level DAs, and the police. Would you disagree ?

  106. wdf1

    JB: [i]So apparently, the left-media is using 2008 voter turnout demographics instead of the typical mid-term election demographics to weigh their poll results. Rasmussen is using mid-term demographic statistics and has Romney and Obama in a statistical dead heat in the swing states. The liberal media polls have Obama up several points more.[/i]

    Have you considered the possibility that the voting electorate might have a liberal bias?

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