Friday, November 23, 2012

Amidst all the turkey...

...and pumpkin pie yesterday (and football), you may have missed Nicholas Kristof's column in the Times. It's worth reading, however, as he describes how America has evolved since World War II:

Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.

Is crime a problem? Well, rather than pay for better policing, move to a gated community with private security guards!

Are public schools failing? Well, superb private schools have spaces for a mere $40,000 per child per year.

Public libraries closing branches and cutting hours? Well, buy your own books and magazines!

Are public parks — even our awesome national parks, dubbed “America’s best idea” and the quintessential “public good” — suffering from budget cuts? Don’t whine. Just buy a weekend home in the country!

Public playgrounds and tennis courts decrepit? Never mind — just join a private tennis club!

I’m used to seeing this mind-set in developing countries like Chad or Pakistan, where the feudal rich make do behind high walls topped with shards of glass; increasingly, I see it in our country.

Today, amidst the leftovers (and more football), you might miss Paul Krugman's column. In it he refers to an interview with Chris Mooney, the author of The Republican Brain (not my emphasis):

Social scientists, it seems, are busy confirming our gut sense that conservatives and liberals do not merely disagree on matters of policy, but are different kinds of people, who process information differently.

On average, conservatives prefer simplicity and clear distinctions, where liberals display “integrative complexity” and are more comfortable with ambiguity and nuance. Conservatives are “hierarchs” and highly sensitive to in-group/out-group distinctions, where liberals are egalitarians. Conservatives come to decisions quickly and stick to them; liberals deliberate, sometimes to the point of dithering. Conservatives are more sensitive to threats while liberals are more open to new experiences.

Sound like anyone you know?

No comments: