Friday, April 24, 2009

A tax on sick people

Dr. Wes: The ultimate irony: A sick tax to make health care affordable.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

"When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed..."

I often reflect on why people take their lives for financial or even job-related reasons. While waiting at the doctor's office yesterday, I read Reader's Digest and came across this quote from April 1930 entitled, "On Keeping Perspective:"

There is something about the possession of wealth which is not good for the soul, perhaps. It places artificial value upon secondary things. A man losing a million metal tokens will put a revolver to his temple and pull the trigger. But he has lost nothing but money. He has deprived himself of life because misfortune has deprived him of luxuries.
--Clarence Budington Kelland, The American Magazine

The quote made me think about the recent death of David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of troubled U.S. mortgage giant Freddie Mac, who may have taken his life (a medical examiner is looking into the death). Often, like the quote above, people think that it is loss of money or perhaps, shame that causes people to kill themselves but it is much more than that: the way that people construe events can lead to a person taking his (usually) or her life.

Kay Redfield Jamison, in her book, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide makes some good points:

Psychological pain or stress alone--however great the loss or disappointment, however profound the shame or rejection--is rarely sufficient cause for suicide. Much of the decision to die is in the construing of events, and most minds, who are healthy, do not construe any event as devastating enough to warrant suicide. Stress and pain are relative, highly subjective in their experiencing and evaluation. Indeed, some people thrive on stress and are at sea without it: chaos and emotional upheaval are a comfortable part of their psychological lives....

In short, when people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace.....People seem to be able to bear or tolerate depression as long as there is the belief that things will improve. If that belief cracks or disappears, suicide becomes the option of choice.

Which is why it is so important to get someone who is suicidal help to change their cognition. Change in thinking patterns can lead to a change in behavior.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meet the protesters

I interviewed some Tea Party Protesters on homeschooling and their feelings about the government last week that are now up.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Harvard's "dirty little secret"

It seems that Harvard students are having to learn how to handle rejection (via Newsalert):

The dirty secret is out. Harvard students fail sometimes. They are denied jobs, fellowships, A's they think they deserve. They are passed over for publication, graduate school, and research grants. And when that finally happens, it hurts. Big time.

To help students cope, Harvard's Office of Career Services hosted a new seminar last week on handling rejection, a fear job-seekers are feeling acutely in the plummeting economy. The advice from panelists could have come from a caring, patient parent. No rejection is the end of the world, they said, even though it might feel that way at the time.

I have known quite a few people who have graduated from Harvard who had a hard time getting or keeping a job. When competing in the real world, an ivy league education is nice, but other skills and the ability to get along with others is often more important.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The joys of hate mail

Amy Alkon on hate mail:

Yet another writer-ninny, female of course, whinges about the horror of getting hate mail. I get it all the time. So do male columnists. I think my hate mail is funny, and when it's really good, it's hilarious. I see it as one of the perks of doing my job, and one of the signs I'm doing a good job (if you aren't pissing people off, maybe you're putting them to sleep?) If I couldn't take it, I'd work at the Humane Society.

Does anyone have a 12% good growth mutual fund?

I must say as I watch the stock market dive today, I am really glad I got out of mutual funds completely a little over a week ago. I was sick of the ups and downs in my portfolio and the lack of control I had over my financial future. I realize, given the current administration, that my control is still limited--at some point, we may be forced to turn our SEPs and IRAs over to the government. But until then, I like the feeling of being invested in CDs, bonds and cash. "Stupid move," some experts or others might say--but sometimes a feeling of control is more important than money.

I have started watching Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, at the suggestion of some readers and he has some good general advice. However, I have to ask, "where are all those 12% good growth mutual funds that Ramsey is always harping about?" I have invested in numerous mutual funds but never gotten returns like that. Last time I heard about anyone getting returns that good, they were victims of the Benie Madoff scandal. I have been in many mutual funds over time (some as long as 13 or more years) and never had returns this good that lasted. Has anyone out there? Is so, tell us about about it--no need to tell us the names or any details, just whether you have made a killing in any "good growth mutual funds." Maybe my picks are just poor.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

What could you and 25 "friends" accomplish?

I remember a while back, I read in a women's magazine about political activists who were out "saving the world." What struck me was something one of the activist's said: "I found out that me and 25 friends could make a difference in changing politics." I never forgot that. We often think it takes a big majority of people or a huge group to make a change. I think that's wrong. Most people don't care about politics and the truth is you and 25 friends can make a difference.

Take for instance, the Tea Party protests. Pajamas Media has the tally of attendees at over 600,000 and counting. How did all those people get there? Word of mouth but also friends bringing friends. When Glenn and I interviewed people at the Knoxville Tea Party, many said that their friends and family were there to support them. I remember how I felt last Wed. at the protest, like I was among friends, like-minded people who I didn't have to explain myself to. I felt the same way at CPAC --the crowd was accepting, kind and understood the concepts of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Contrast that to the real world. Conservatives and sometimes, libertarians are often considered pariahs, not worthy of presenting their worldview without resistance. David Horowitz, author of numerous books, including One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy, described his need for a bodyguard now when talking to groups on college campuses.

Our society allows liberals to treat conservatives like second class citizens because our culture and the media encourage it. But the culture is us and we accept it also. As Horowitz points out, conservative students will not fight back because they are too decent and tolerant. However, they are also afraid--that they will lose their ability to get their degree (I have seen this happen), their standing in the community and their privacy. How do we change this?

I'll start with a couple of suggestions. Get some of your friends and acquaintances and fight back--starting with the schools--those institutions that indoctrinate our students with liberal ideology, often with downright disregard or by simply omitting other points of view and information. Get a half dozen friends and attend your local school board meeting. These meetings are often on your local cable channel and the school board members are often sensitive to what is on there since the whole community can view it. If you notice things wrong in your school, speak up and tell them.

Call out the school board members by name and ask them what they are going to do about it. One example I heard recently was from a banker I know whose daughter was asked to attend an anti-war protest (it was in a college) to learn about political activism. His daughter did not want to go. The father went to the professor and told her to provide an alternative--a paper or something that did not require one to attend something against their will. At first, the professor refused and then relented, saying that she was just trying to teach about political activism. "Yes, but only about left-leaning politics," the banker said. The professor realized that this was true. Many professors won't be as flexible but pressure can help.

Another suggestion: show up at your Congressman's local town meetings with a half dozen friends and ask tough questions. He or she will notice or at least be uncomfortable.

That's a start in the fight against the culture of intolerant liberalism that only has room for one view. What other ways of changing the culture do my readers suggest?

Update: I added quotes around friends in the title to indicate (as commenter Ken Kraska did) that few of us have 25 actual friends. I sure don't as I am an introvert. However, I can round up people for a cause--I got over 500 to turn out for my film opening and hundreds for a local book signing. Perhaps the word friend here should be changed to acquaintances or like-minded people who believe in a similar cause.

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