Archive for May, 2009

Happiness

May 27, 2009

Ross Douthat has a pretty good column about women’s happiness declining while men’s increase.  He runs through a whole list of possibilities but I think he may be starting from the wrong place.  After all, what is ‘happiness’ exactly?  And how desirable is it, if it means excluding other emotions?  As an example, studies find that people who voluntarily elect not to have children are, overall, happier than people who do.  Now, I may be less ‘happy’ with my kids, but there are other emotions, ones I don’t think we have names for, that take the place of happiness.  And although I can’t adequately describe them, the idea of going back in time and electing not to have kids and thereby exchanging them for ‘happiness’ is absurd.  I’m much more fulfilled with the kids than without them. So too might women’s lives be richer and more full, albeit with less room for ‘happiness’.

And what about men’s increasing happiness.  Just speculation, but one emotion we may have less of (and thereform more room for happiness) is pressure.  With two income earners in a household, the temporary loss of a job doesn’t necessarily mean swift loss of healthcare for the children and financial doom for everyone.

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Sarcasm and Contempt

May 2, 2009

Chief Justice Scalia sides with business over individual freedom too often, sometimes stretching logic and reason to the ripping point (ex: ruling a plaintiff bound by the time limit in reporting wage discrimination despite the fact the company had deliberately hidden the discrimination from her). But the thing that worries me the most is the sarcasm and contempt that permeates his public statements.  More often than not, sarcasm is used to reinforce weak arguments, or to mask mere opinion as intellectual rigor.  And contempt is used as a shield to keep from honestly evaluating the arguments from the other side.  Neither trait is desirable in any judge, much less one presiding at the Supreme Court.

“Specter the Defector”?

May 1, 2009

David Broder has a new column entitled “Specter the Defector” in which he lambastes Arlen Specter’s  character for “abandoning” the Republican party.  I’m no fan of Arlen Specter but I think this analysis is ridiculous.  It is also a window into the mindset of the Washington Conventional Wisdom crowd.  Specter switched to the Republican Party 40 years ago because he felt it was more aligned with his views and what he wanted to accomplish.  He switched to the Democrats now for much the same reasons.  Did he owe the Republicans loyalty?  Of course not.  Although the party leadership supported him in years past, they were not supporting him today.  In fact, a number of core Republican leaders were either actively working against him or passively standing by while others attacked.  The party was trying to push him out of the boat.  He just jumped to another ship before he drowned.