Do Americans Work Too Much?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

I’m in the middle of reading Thomas Geoghegan’s Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life. The book is part travelogue, part prosecutors brief against American-style capitalism and in favor of European-style social democracy. It’s a very enjoyable read. Many of Geoghegan’s arguments are backwards or loopy (his claim, for example, that the reason Americans have plastic surgery is to avoid being laid off gets more points for creativity than for persuasiveness). But Geoghegan is a good writer and comes across as a really likable guy, and many of the point he makes warrant at least further reflection.

Geoghegan’s main argument in favor of Europe has to do with work/life balance. Yes, Americans tend to be richer than Europeans. But they also tend to work a lot less.:

# 1 Australia: 1,814 hours
# 2 Japan: 1,801 hours
# 3 United States: 1,792 hours
# 4 Canada: 1,718 hours
# 5 United Kingdom: 1,673 hours
# 6 Italy: 1,591 hours
# 7 Sweden: 1,564 hours
# 8 France: 1,453 hours
# 9 Norway: 1,337 hours

That’s not the whole story, of course.*

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In Memoriam: Tiananmen Square

Saturday, June 5, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

Yesterday, June 4, was the twenty-first anniversary of the brutal suppression of the pro-Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  Over 3000 of the protestors were murdered by the Communist government of China.  Tyranny won that round, but I have absolutely no doubt that Democracy will ultimately prevail in the Middle Kingdom.  When it does, the heroes and heroines of Tiananmen Square will be remembered and their murderers forgotten.

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

–Thucydides


The Lure of Authoritarianism

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

There seems an odd attraction towards Chinese-style authoritarianism among certain more technocratic/elitist segments of the left-leaning political elite. On the one hand we have we have people like Thomas Friedman arguing that Chinese one-party-autocracy is more efficient in passing the sort of regulations (“green” energy and nationalized health care) that he cares most about. On the other, we have Harold Meyerson’s claim that China is doing a better job of providing clean political process and economic recovery than the US, and that if Republicans don’t get in line behind Obama’s agenda the rest of the world will resolve to follow China’s autocratic example rather than American-style democracy.

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Some Disturbing Thoughts on the Eve of Obamacare

Saturday, March 20, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

Catholics have been preoccupied with the possibility that abortions will be paid for by the government, with their tax dollars, if the Democrats gain the votes required to pass their health care bill on Sunday. While I certainly share this concern, I must say that it appears to be too little, too late. In the first place, federal funds already make up 1/3 of Planned Parenthood’s budget – in 2008, they received 350 million dollars from the federal government. In the second place, given that 46% of private health insurance companies cover abortion, that means many of us have probably been paying for abortions with our own money as we pay our monthly premiums. Of course, if you use Windows, you’ve made Bill Gates a richer man, and Gates gives tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, because he and some of his fellow billionaires are obsessed with population control. Nothing to worry about there.

You might also live in one of the 32 states that fund abortion through Medicaid in the case of rape, incest, or the “health” of the mother, or the 17 states – 13 of which are forced by court orders – to cover all “medically necessary” abortions. If you pay state taxes, you’re already funding abortion with your tax dollars, and you have been for decades. Granted, you haven’t been funding abortion on demand, at least not on paper. In practice, who knows.

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Democracy in Action

Monday, December 28, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

(Biretta Tip: Lucianne)


Fiscal Health Care Reform: The Publics Option

Friday, December 11, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama continue to spend, spend, spend away money we don’t have.  With the public option now firmly established in the current Senate version of the health care bill, Election 2010 comes to mind.

Kick the bums out.

I love democracy.

(Biretta Tip: Glenn Foden of NewsBusters)


Why Have Democracy?

Saturday, February 28, 2009 \PM\.\Sat\.

I was somewhat fascinated the other day, when participating in a discussion of school vouchers on another blog, to hear someone make the assertion that public schools are “more democratic” than vouchers because everyone must use the curriculum which is decided via “the democratic process” in public schools, whereas with vouchers someone might attend a religious (or otherwise flaky school) teaching things you do not believe to be true.

This strikes me as interesting because it suggests to me a view of democracy rather different from my own. Thinking on it further, I think there are basically three reasons why one would consider deciding things democratically (defining that broadly here as “by majority vote, either directly or via elected officials”) to be a good thing:

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