Alfie and the Failure of Medical Ethics

 

The case of Alfie Evans once again brings to light the ethical and moral landmines that are promulgated as governments intrude further and further into the personal lives of its citizens.

Young Alfie suffers from a so-far unknown and undiagnosed congenital ailment that has left him in a near-vegetative state since late 2016. As such, the officials of the UK’s National Health Service have brought it upon themselves to hasten the death of the child … for his own well-being.

More

Alert the Media

 

Sometimes the passage of time and the clouding of memories will make a cultural event seem like an old girlfriend — better in the recesses of the mind than revisited in person. Recently on a cross-country flight, I had the opportunity to see a film that I enjoyed greatly in my youth but had not seen in at least a quarter-century.

The shining performance in Arthur (1981) was Sir John Gielgud as Hobson, the title character’s valet. He is both the proper English gentleman and the man with the cutting sarcastic wit. (“What shall I wear?” “Steal something casual.”) He took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor* in that role and the performance was every bit as fresh and hilarious as the first time I saw it.

More

Truckers Help Police Prevent a Michigan Man’s Suicide

 

At about 1 AM Tuesday, the Michigan State Police were told that a person was threatening suicide. The unnamed man was perched on a bridge over I-696, outside of Detroit, as traffic sped beneath him. The police closed that section of the interstate and tried to talk the man out of jumping.

While they were chatting, they asked 13 semi-truck drivers passing through to see if they could lend a hand. The MSP let the drivers through the barricades and asked them to park their semis side by side underneath the overpass. The wall of trucks would cut any jumper’s fall enough that he could walk away healthy, outside of a few bruises.

More

AI is the Transformational Technology of Our Age … If Businesses Ever Adopt It

 

As I’ve blogged about at length in this space, the US economy won’t see sustained growth unless we can boost productivity. And there are a few different theories out there for why productivity growth has been so sluggish since the mid-2000s. Maybe ideas are becoming harder to find, maybe productivity has increased and we aren’t measuring it correctly, or maybe productivity growth is here but it’s just not evenly distributed yet.

If that last theory is correct, and there’s some reason to think it is (per a Commerce Department study, the digital sector has grown at an average annual rate of 5.6% over the last decade, compared to 1.5% overall), then the relevant question for policymakers is how to get these innovations to spread throughout the rest of the economy. That’s where the new McKinsey report “Notes from the AI Frontier” comes in. “Artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as a transformational technology of our digital age,” they write, and after studying 400 different use cases across 19 different industries, they estimate AI can “potentially enable the creation of between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in value annually” — if its use is broadly adopted.

More

U.S. House Win in Arizona for the (R)

 

So Republican Debbie Lesko has won a special election for Arizona’s 8th congressional district over Dem. Hiral Tipirneni.

Lesko, a former state lawmaker, will head to Washington to replace Franks, who resigned his seat in December midway through his eighth term over sexual-misconduct allegations. She will complete his term, which expires in January, and run for a full two-year term of her own in the fall elections.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Freeze Warning for the Infernal Regions

 

CNN has actually praised the current first lady, Melania Trump! Just in case it disappears under a torrent of leftist bile:

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Mob Rule In America? I Don’t Think So.

 

At the time of America’s rejection of British rule, the British aristocracy had found little purchase in the colonies and even less respect. When the revolution came, many of the stateside beneficiaries of the Crown’s titles and grants fled to Canada or moved back to Britain. Some sided with the States, abandoned their titles and embraced the new American republicanism. That is why the subsequent French revolution was such a barbarous thing. When America prevailed, there was hope in France that they could also transition from a monarchy to a democratic and representative form of government. However, the more the French aristocracy acquiesced, the more aggressive its opponents became. France went through waves of bloody revolution as the aristocracy, then waves of opposing revolutionaries, were summarily slaughtered in a hideous and extended display of violence that only ended when Napoleon commandeered the military and seized power.

Those ten long years of brutality in France reinforced and sparked the imaginations of future philosophers and economic theorists. Liberty, they announced, required revolution. However, Liberty had a different meaning among these new political thinkers. Liberty, in their view, was freedom from want. And the nemesis was those who had. This was the new political thinking. This was the kernel of political thought that grew into the credos of the modern left, this and the idea of a perpetual revolution to guide wealth redistribution. The irony of all this is the fact that it took a brutal dictator like Bonaparte to end that bloody decade in France. Egalitarianism was never achieved. Want was never satisfied.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Quote of the Day: Side of the Oppressor

 

“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor” — Ginetta Sagan

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Desmond Tutu (more recent quote)

More

Next Month, Ireland Faces a Battle for Its Soul

 

Many on Ricochet have asked me, as Ireland’s de-facto representative on this, what happened to the Catholic church in Ireland? That would be a long, long post which would put you off reading anything of note or interest. Rather instead, I will summarise it like I do with my high school students when they finish a historical topic. Brace for impact:

1. The sex abuse crisis. Sadly, abuse of teenagers and children has always been rife in Ireland and abroad. In Ireland, the numbers are much higher than most countries. Which, of course, alcohol and the vindictive character of some Irish have had a role in creating. It’s now known here that are 1 in 12 people have been abused or assaulted sexually, the vast majority by members of their family. Unfortunately, many disgusting priests and brothers contributed to this evil. Many raped or sexually abused the most vulnerable children in their care, be it in church schools, church hospitals, orphanages, or church-related activities. Oddly, very little sexual abuse was done by religious nuns. These were primarily, as in America, committed by men on teenage boys and the number of victims runs into the tens of thousands. Worse, and this is probably the worst part, many clergy members knew about it and many in the hierarchy moved priests or brothers around, covering it up, and then forcing silence on the victims and their families. Many times the abuser would go on defiling kids across the island after he had been moved.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Dems Go Full Monty on Socialism: Government Jobs For All

 

Cory Booker (aka, Snowplow Cory), Kristen Gillibrand, and now Bernie Sanders have gone full Socialist. Each has unveiled plans to guarantee a job (paying at least $15 per hour plus benefits) to any and all Americans who want one. Naturally, no word on where the money for this comes from.

I recall seeing a political cartoon from the glory days of the FDR makework programs of the 1930s.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

It’s Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out to Get You

 

True story: I’ve closely known just one true racist in my life. He was my mother’s half-brother, a dozen or so years older than she was. We’ll call him Elwood. Elwood and his two brothers joined the Navy together in 1942. They served together until separated after the Sullivan boys’ incident. Folks said Elwood was never the same after the war. There were rumors that he had something to do with the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. It was not a topic to be discussed in his presence, ever.

He followed his three older sisters and the paper industry to Houston after the war. The son of a New Hampshire farmer, it is doubtful he had much exposure to minorities early in his life. I’m guessing he developed most of his keen racism in segregated Houston. He was a stout, physical man, just over six feet and well over 200 pounds. He had a reputation at the mill for his natural strength, grabbing and tossing 40-lb. bags of materials with a single hand like loaves of bread. They called him “Yank.” He had a short temper, but it was rarely tested. He remained on the top of an uncontested pecking order until his retirement from United Paper after more than 40 years.

More

Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

 

For years we’ve been talking about the poor state of education. For conservatives, it’s even worse: our children are learning propaganda with a Progressive agenda; the government and teachers control the curriculum and textbooks to the detriment of the students; and there is no indication that anything will change soon.

It’s time that we took back education, and we can already see strategies that are beginning to support a balanced agenda for authentic learning.

More

Pro-Network Economics Is Pro-Growth Economics: A Review of Why Information Grows

 
Cesar Hidalgo’s “Why Information Grows” offers a model of economic growth that eschews the usual suspects of capital, labor, and innovation in favor of a model of the economy as a “collective computer.”

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies (Basic Books, 2015) by MIT’s Cesar Hidalgo offers a model of economic growth that eschews the usual suspects of capital, labor, and innovation. Hidalgo, a statistical physicist by training, sees an economy as a “collective computer” formed of myriad human networks. At the heart of Hidalgo’s model are matter, energy, and information. By “information,” Hidalgo means the physical order of atoms, how they are arranged. When that order is changed — say when a fancy car hits a wall — there has been a change in information, although not a change in the amount of matter.

Or think about when a child is born. Hidalgo sees the journey from womb to the delivery room as a “hundred-thousand-year journey from a distant past to an alien future.” The difference between those two worlds — the modern one filled with objects constructed from our imagination — resides in how the atoms constituting matter are arranged. And processing information, using energy to change physical order in a way that gives meaning or value, is what economies do. The greater such computational capacity, the greater capability an economy has to make information grow and the greater the possible complexity of economic activities such as making an iPhone or a Tesla.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Quote of the Day: Specialists and Generalists

 

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert Heinlein

I like this quote. A lot of people criticize it because there are a lot of advantages to specialization. As Adam Smith observes, specialization creates wealth. And there are some things you want to leave to specialists. Take brain surgery. If you need it, you would not prefer that someone who is simply a doctor does it, but want someone who is a surgeon, preferably one who specializes in brain surgery, and preferably the best brain surgeon around.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

How to Avoid a Civil War

 

John Hawkins has written a cautionary piece for Townhall.com titled “7 Forces Driving America Toward Civil War.” Those forces — upon which he elaborates — are:

  1. A Post-Constitutional Era
  2. Tribalism
  3. Federal Government Too Powerful
  4. Moral Decline
  5. The Debt
  6. Lack Of A Shared Culture
  7. Gun Grabbing

Looking at that list, it seems that there is sufficient overlap that it could be condensed to two: Disrespect for our Constitutional System and Lack of a Shared Culture. The reason I am reducing this list is that it results in a short-hand test for our national policies and laws:

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Global Shield, 1985

 

This video below shows a MITO (minimal interval takeoff) of B-52G and KC-135 aircraft at the launch of “Global Shield” in 1985. (I was the navigator in, as I recall, the second B-52 to depart in this video.) Although not coincident with Earth Day, this annual exercise truly was global as bombers and supporting tankers launched synchronously from every Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. Our intended audience was the Soviets and the exercise was intended to demonstrate the credibility of the bomber component of the strategic triad.

More

The False Allure of Libertarian Paternalism

 
Prof. Richard Thayler.

One of the great academic debates of our time revolves around how people make choices. On the one side, neoclassical theory assumes that individuals generally act in sensible ways in order to advance their individual self-interest. They are motivated to control aggression and monopoly, and to let private parties in competitive markets strike what bargains they like. In recent years, this neoclassical approach has come under attack from the field of behavioral economics. Its proponents argue that the neoclassical model of behavior, premised on the fact that human beings are rational decision-makers, does not sufficiently account for the many false heuristics and biases that lead people astray as they make decisions.

The two most prominent leaders in this movement are Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics, and the Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, who have advanced—most notably in their book Nudge–what they problematically call Libertarian Paternalism. This involves using both public and private institutions to “nudge” people to improve their lives without forcing them to do so, supposedly preserving their personal liberty. Resting on the foundational scholarship of Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky, Thaler and Sunstein deny that individuals are as rational as neoclassical theory holds: People often operate under the influence of systematic cognitive biases that prevent them from making sound decisions. In order to nudge people in the right direction, Thaler and Sunstein propose that the legal system set its “default” rules to induce them, without coercion, to act in ways that better advance their own welfare. In some cases, the switch is as simple as a move from “opting in” to “opting out.” People are permitted to reverse the default position if they prefer, so that their freedom of choice is thereby preserved.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

YAF at Brandeis: Christina Hoff Sommers

 

Thanks to Young America’s Foundation (formerly Young Americans for Freedom) our conservative club was able to host Christina Hoff Sommers last Tuesday. We had advertised her around campus thus: “Politically involved? Feminist? Engage in the campus dialogue.” Ironically, other than a graduate student, I was the only female club member to show up. But I enjoyed getting the VIP treatment — sitting in the front seats and being able to hang out with Sommers before and after the event.

The assistant dean (she’s great) started off by talking about how fortunate we were to have these forums for free speech and making it very clear that no disruptive behavior would be tolerated within the room. Then we got to hear from Sommers.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

From Commodity to Transformation: How Selling Coffee Points the Way to the Future of Healthcare Delivery and Why it is So Hard to Get Right

 

In his 2006 book The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, Joseph A. Michelli outlines how Starbucks takes a service (preparing coffee) and turns into an experience, a transformation that has not been without struggles and has proven difficult to maintain over time.

In the book, Michelli outlines the hierarchy of sales, showing that the highest margins are from those sales based on experience, using coffee as an example:

More

Jessica Valenti Made the Case for School Choice

 

Second grade. This is happening a second-grade classroom somewhere:

More

Can Government Cook Up Another Silicon Valley?

 
Apple campus, Cupertino, CA. | Shutterstock.com

Silicon Valley doesn’t seem too popular these days in Washington. Yet government planners in just about every place that has a government would love to replicate Silicon Valley. Since 2011, California has grown twice as fast as the rest of the nation, helped by white-hot 6% annual growth in the San Jose area — home to the actual Silicon Valley, according to JPMorgan. But what’s the secret sauce? What’s the right recipe? No one seems to know, exactly. But policymakers seem to have settled on what economist Ian Hathaway calls the More of Everything theory (which I would like to believe is a Seinfeld reference). It works like this, Hathaway explains in a blog post:

More of Everything thinking goes something like this: if we just get more of everything, we can create a vibrant startup community . . . more capital, more innovation centers, more accelerators, more incubators, more university programs, more startup events . . . more, more, more. It follows linear systems thinking whereby an increase in critical inputs (resources like capital and talent) results in an increase in desired outputs (startups, value creation), and by how much.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

“Keep My Hand From Striking” and Other Exercises of Self-Control

 

“…and he that ruleth his spirit, better than he that taketh a city.” — Proverbs 16:32

Self-control is an overlooked virtue it seems, especially in an indulgent culture. It seems it also comes in the positive and negative forms. First, the negative. Self-control as resistance to one’s own worst impulses. (Note: names changed to protect the guilty and less-than-innocent)

More

Massive Protests Force Armenia’s Prime Minister to Resign

 

Armenia, like many countries of the former Soviet Union, has had a history of soft authoritarianism. For 10 years up to April 9, the country’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, had ruled pretty much without opposition. His election in 2008 had caused protests that were suppressed, leaving 10 dead. A few protests in the intervening years changed little.

Facing term limits for the presidency, Sargsyan in 2015 pushed through a constitutional change that would place much more power in the Parliament and remove it from the presidency. On April 9, 2018, a new president, Armen Sargsyan (no relation) became president. Three days later, Serzh Sargsyan was elected prime minister by his own party, which had won the Parliament.

More

Van Driver Kills 9 in Toronto

 

Once again, a rental van plowed through pedestrians on a sidewalk, this time in Toronto. Nine people have been reported killed and 16 reported injured in the Monday attack. Police have the suspect in custody and have identified him as 25-year-old Alek Minassian. The latest from CBS News:

U.S. law enforcement sources told CBS News that the incident appears to be a deliberate act. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism. He said Canada has not changed its terrorism alert level and he has no information that would suggest a need to do so.

More