from the world's big
David Frum: It's Less About the Credit Crisis and More About Chronic Problems
David Frum is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers: THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and co-author with Richard Perle of AN END TO EVIL: What's Next in the War on Terror (2004).
Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online. He contributes frequently to the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the Great Britain's Daily Telegraph and Canada's National Post. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. In 2001-2002, David Frum served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Question: Can anyone from either side of the aisle reasonably address the credit crisis?
David Frum: I think when you think about the economic problems the country [USA] faces, you need to distinguish between the emergencies and then the chronic problems. And one of the things where we get in trouble in political life is when we spend so much time on the emergency, that we lose track of the longer term difficulty.
I have no doubt that the United States will successfully work its way through this credit crisis, that interest rates will be lowered, the Federal Reserve will apply money where it can.
Ben Bernanke has done a series of brilliant improvisations; for example, he's now allowing investment banks to borrow from the Federal Reserve, which only commercial banks used to be able to do, as a way of getting capital into the markets and calming things.
I don't worry too much about the credit crisis. What I worry about instead are two deeper problems that require something more than just good emergency management. I worry about the crisis in middle class incomes, but it's wrong to call it a crisis because it's been going on for so long; but the deep reasons why a successful modern economy, and not just in the United States, but everywhere, seems to be concentrating its rewards on a few people and why so many people feel that they are left out of this.
And then I worry about the finances of the United States in that we have a really chronic fiscal problem where the country's obligations are much greater than its projected revenues. Where we're soon going to have this massive wave of retirements, where the country has written checks that it can only honor by imposing taxes on productive enterprise that are going to slow the growth of the economy and make it even more impossible to honor the checks than it already is.
When I think what am I worried about, I'm not worried that there's going to be some debacle on Wall Street that's going to defeat the Federal Reserve, I'm worried that you're going to have an audience for destructive, radical ideas because middle class people feel under pressure. And I'm worried that the United States has made commitments that it can only honor by corroding its own productiveness.
Topic: It sounds like you are talking about a Social Security Crisis.
David Frum: It's not just Social Security.
I used the word crisis and I'm sorry, because what I mean is a chronic corrosion, a gradual weakening, and it's not just Social Security. The medical commitments are even bigger. The United States has promised over the next 40 years to write tens of trillions of dollars of checks that are greater than the projected revenues of the United States, and that is a big problem. And if the United States tries to solve that problem by saying, "Well, we'll raise the taxes to try to honor the checks," what that will mean is it will crush the productive economy and one of the things that is one of the great arts-- I think Louis the Fourteenth's finance minister said, "The art of taxation is to extract the maximum feathers from the goose with the minimum of hissing."
Well, we're in danger of having a situation where the government is not getting very many feathers and there's a lot of hissing. And one thing to bear in mind as you look at the future of the country [USA] in the 2030s, that it's generally true that the more homogeneous a country is, the easier it is for it to be taxed to support programs.
So it's not a surprise when you look at which countries have the highest level of government involvement in the economy, they tend to be places like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, highly homogenous societies.
Canada, Australia, the United States, have the lowest because they're the most diverse.
In the 2030s we're going to have a population of young workers that is very heavily Latin American, and we're going to have a population of retirees that is very heavily white European. And it is going to be an interesting question whether that population of young workers, who by the way are not going to be very well off because their levels of education are rather lower than the levels of education of the retirees, if they're going to consent to be taxed at much higher rates than are in place now for the benefit not of their own grandparents but of somebody else's grandparents.
I think that's a formula for a lot of social tension.
Question: How do we start to address this?
David Frum: Well, start right away. The Social Security side is the easier side. With the Social Security, we have to lower the rate at which our commitments increase.
For example, right now, Social Security benefits rise in proportion as wages rise. If Social Security benefits rose in proportion as inflation rises, that doesn't sound like a big difference, it's like three-quarters of a point a year. But it makes a huge difference to the affordability of the system.
If you can reduce it from rising in tandem with wages, to rising in tandem with inflation, you can make Social Security much more affordable.
The great nightmare is Medicare and Medicaid; and that requires some larger changes in the health care system to prevent those programs from growing at the fantastic rate they're growing. But their growth is driven by the general inflation of health care costs; you can't solve the Medicare and Medicaid problem independent of the larger health care problem.
I would say there you need to have much higher degrees of effective competition in the market place to suppress health care inflation. And we are also going to have to break it early to people of my generation that the level of public provision for us is not going to be as high as it is for the current generation of retirees. Society just can't manage it.
Recorded on: May 5 2008
It is less about Wall Street and more about healthcare.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.