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Jason Vines
I know where my towel is.
I know where my towel is.

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New blog post: In which I reduce a currently fashionable myth to absurdity.

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Today I had to go to a committee meeting on doctor burnout. According to a survey, a lot of doctors in one of our departments felt overworked and burnt out, and the committee was supposed to come up with suggestions.

The committee was mostly administrators, mostly female, and although they didn’t use the exact phrase “toxic masculinity”, they talked about “macho culture” a lot. I think their theory was that male doctors had a macho culture where they felt like they didn’t need to take any time for self-care, and they shouldn’t speak up about excessive workload, and they had to look perfect or else they would lose their aura of invincibility. And that having to be this way all the time produced burnout.

So then I, as the doctor representative at the meeting, got up and said that I knew a lot of the doctors in this department, I’d talked to them a lot, and they all said the same thing. They would all love to take some time off for self-care, but there were too many patients and not enough doctors to deal with them, and if any one of them took extra time off, then one of their equally overworked colleagues would have to work even more hours covering for them.

The reason they “weren’t complaining” was that they had already complained to every administrator they could think of, and the administrators had said stuff like “you shouldn’t just complain, you have to be proactive in coming up with a solution” and refused to devote extra resources to the problem.

I said that doctors were really good at complaining about things, and really some of the best complainers-about-things you will ever meet, but that they weren’t going to keep banging their heads against the wall when nobody listened to them and there was no good solution.

The administrators thanked me for my input and went back to talking about macho culture.

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1. Greatly expand definition of sexual harassment.
2. Make any accusation of sexual harassment career-ending.
3. Proclaim that women should always be believed when they accuse a man.
4. Complain that men won’t have 1-on-1 meetings with women.

"As an experienced software developer, manager, or anyone else involved in building or maintaining software, have you ever found yourself thinking: 'There must be a better way?' And then the murders began."

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Mill hoped that participation would make citizens more concerned about the common good, and would entice them to educate themselves. He hoped getting factory workers to think about politics would be like getting fish to discover there is a world outside the ocean. As he said, “Among the foremost benefits of free government is that education of the intelligence and of the sentiments which is carried down to the very lowest ranks of the people when they are called to take a part in acts which directly affect the great interests of their country.” (Mill 1975, 304.)

20th century sociologist and economist Joseph Schumpeter tendered a grimmer hypothesis about how political involvement affects us: “The typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in away which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again.” (Schumpeter 1996, 262.)

Both Mill and Schumpeter were scientific thinkers, but neither quite had the data needed to test their hypotheses. However, we now possess over sixty years’ worth of detailed, varied, and rigorous empirical research in political science and political psychology. The test results are in. Overall, Schumpeter was largely right and Mill largely wrong. In general, political participation makes us mean and dumb. Emotion has a large role in explaining why.

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Here come the death panels.

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Josh Barro believes that Trump has set a high bar for himself.


Trump has set a fairly low bar. Aside from promising to add 25 million jobs, about which more in a second, Trump's inaugural address painted a bleak world which doesn't exist. Because the US is not actually besieged by terrorists, experiencing high-crime, faced with urban decay, or being flooded with illegal immigrants, "solving" these problems is easy. Creating all those jobs is a trickier but not exactly herculean task.

To reach the promised 25 million jobs over ten years we have two options: job growth and slick hucksterism. One of these is definitely easy but neither are particularly hard. See, the thing to know about the first is that our current "sluggish" economy created about 10 million jobs, on net, in Obama's second term or about 2.5 million jobs per year. For those keeping score at home, that means 25 million jobs over a decade may be a cake walk.

Now, the other option is to make the cake a lie. We do this by subtly moving the goalposts. Normally, the numbers talked about are net jobs; all the jobs created minus all the jobs destroyed. One plant opens with 1200 positions, another closes with 1000; that's reported as "200 jobs created". But that's not strictly true: it's 1200 jobs created and 1000 lost. By reporting only the jobs created, you make the 25 million number trivial. Getting away with that would require finesse but it isn't impossible. Remember, people have been insisting that, say, the real unemployment rate is forty or fifty percent for years.

So, Trump's goals: totally doable because they're already done.

Well that was the most terrifying speech I've heard from an American politician. Donald Trump has already failed to protect American jobs, because apparently the wraith of Hugo Chavez is now president.
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