Retirement, Raiders, euthanasia and more
If euthanasia is illegal, access will be difficult. My grandmother was blind and in excruciating pain during her final months. She wanted to die. I wanted to help her but didn’t want to risk prison. Her doctors were just as afraid of prison and even less inclined to help her. She suffered needlessly.
Don’t ask don’t tell doesn’t work for end of life decisions for the same reason it doesn’t work for abortions. This isn’t like prostitution or pot where s conviction would be a misdemeanor and illegality can chill excesses without ruining any one’s life. If someone chooses to prosecute, you are at risk of years or decades in prison. If doctors aren’t willing to break abortion laws to help sympathetic young women, why would they break laws with even stricter penalties to help old people?
It occurs to me that you're not taking your own advice when it comes to popularism in your TV reviewing. If you want to effect change in real America you have to be suggesting improvements in the story telling of Yellowstone.
I'm nowhere near retirement age, but I work in the sciences and have had more than a few coworkers who've retired recently (across an age span, from early 60s to early 70s). We all enjoy (or enjoyed) our jobs, but it's stressful and eventually you want to enjoy your life. The ones in their early 60s have told me things like "I'm still relatively physically healthy, there are a lot of things I want to do (travel etc.) while I'm still able to do them." Or they want to spend more time with their grandchildren. Or they want to take up a hobby. Or they want to volunteer giving walking tours in a historical setting. Or they are content to do things like contract patent writing.
Always seemed to me as though you have a plan to keep yourself occupied and intellectually stimulated in retirement and you'll be fine. Sit around watching Fox News all day and your mind turns to mush.
I'll repeat my pushback that "illegal while also allowing for a fair amount of hypocrisy, lax enforcement, and unasked questions" is a bad recipe for selective enforcement that tend to hurt the most vulnerable. Like Matt, I don't have a strong view on euthanasia, but I've seen this state of law suggested for other things like gambling and especially sex work where I think it can be more commonly damaging. Abortion law could also easily fall into this trap depending on how the post-Dobbs world shakes out.
Michael’s question about the Supreme Court’s evolving jurisprudence on the establishment clause is interesting. In an age of political and cultural polarization I think it’s increasingly challenging to define what “coercion” means and whether that’s the right word to apply to public school teachers expressing their personal values in ways which might influence a student to depart from the beliefs taught at home.
While I agree with Matt that kids aren’t going to just blindly adopt the social/religious views of their teachers, I think for the sake of maintaining the health of our public education system it would be better to find a way to reduce the tension between parents’ views and school curriculum. Many liberals feel uncomfortable with the football coach who prayed after games, and conservatives feel uncomfortable with schools celebrating Pride Month or teaching kids about systemic racism and white privilege.
Call me crazy, but I think schools should dial back on *all* non-academic programming where there’s not a broad consensus around the topic. Even conservatives don’t want their kids bullied at school, and want their kids to be held to decent standards when it comes to honesty, language use, etc.
But, in a world where we’re using the force of law to require students to come to the classroom to learn, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to expect teachers to focus first and foremost on teaching their assigned subject effectively rather than evangelizing their social/cultural/religious views.
After observing my parents boomer retirement process and spending a couple of decades in school and a career, I have decided the best way to approach the retirement question is to not think of it as a binary.
I have a good job that pays fairly, but I'd still rather spend Friday afternoon disc golfing than working. But if all I had was time, I think I'd get, if not bored, too self-involved. I think to me retirement means achieving a level of financial independence to live life entirely on my terms, without a complete stoppage of productive work.
Specifically, I see it as, less work, the ability to prioritize enjoying a job over high pay, the ability to take on a risky job because losing it wouldn't matter, the ability to volunteer, and/or the ability to choose a more humane schedule than the 9-5. I think all of those are ways to make retirement more of an ongoing process than a single day where your work life stops, and the added bonus is you can start a little earlier because you still expect to be making some money.
“it’s a big, pluralistic tent of charlatans and scammers.”
A big, pluralistic tent of charlatans and scammers has a very good chance, on the sort of timescales that matter in the history of a nation-state, of evolving into something other than charlatans and scammers. And a much lower chance of backsliding on the pluralism once it’s embedded.
I’m still torn on what the hell the GOP is these days but I’m pretty confident that it’s going to change a lot in ways not all bad over the coming few decades.
On the government efficiency topic, Democrats don't really have an incentive for civil service reform and improved government efficiency because that would require taking on and hurting their public sector union allies. Republicans, by and large, just don't care about improving government efficiency, because they think the private sector can/should make up for it.
As someone who believes people should have the freedom to seek euthanasia at the end of their life (and as someone who hopes to make use of that option myself in a good many decades), the reports of what's happening in Canada are extremely disturbing. No one should ever be pressured into pursuing that option. How any doctor thought mentioning how much of a burden a patient is in the context of end of life care is truly jaw dropping. That being said, I think these failures can be prevented.
First, blanket ban on offering the option; patients need to request euthanasia before doctors can discuss it. Second, there needs to oversight and review of every case. Maybe even require the patient be under 24/7 video surveillance for a week leading up to the assisted suicide. Then have someone review the footage for signs of coercion, from any party. And finally, having the counselors/physicians who advise and eventually approve the use of Euthanasia need to be a totally separate group from their regular physicians with completely different incentives.
Just giving a hat tip to two sharp observations:
(1) "Assholes have lots of ways of making you feel uncomfortable regardless of the rules, and kind people can make everyone feel included, even if there are crucifixes on the wall."
(2) The modern Republican party: "a big, pluralistic tent of charlatans and scammers."
Retirement questions are always interesting to read...I guess I could save this for applying to the next Mailbag Sweepstakes, but eh. There's a lot of, I don't think "doomer" is a great term, but a sort of nihilistic pessimism about retirement among my peer group...many of us don't actually believe we'll ever be able to retire*. Whether it's due to Social Security going bankrupt, an x-risk like climate change, or the general decay of American society, we largely expect to work until we physically can't, and then sort of just...roll the dice and hope they don't come up Death. Perhaps The Revolution will save us in time, or we'll get really lucky and score a Respectable Adult Job, or our inheritance will be greater than expected, or...just a lot of external luck-based things, basically. The concept of ever having enough money to buy a house, play golf, sail a yacht, etc. just seems like a laughable fantasy.
But I wonder if retirement is sort of a Pascal's Wager type thing...no matter how utterly improbable it might actually be in reality, the potential reward of having the option to retire is huge. Very much worth believing in, and taking actions as if it's true. If nothing else, learning a bit of delayed-gratification is a good skill for life in general...
*Not necessarily a conscious thought, but if one lives only for the present continuously, that's a revealed preference for not-thinking-about-retirement. Until it's too late. Every time I do the math, I kick myself again for not starting savings until late 20s...that's so many years of disposable income that could have been compounding away. Stings to think about. Those FIRE nerds were right, it's totally possible to retire young even on a modest income. If only I'd listened during college years.
I think MY’s answer on the establishment clause seriously misses the mark. To participate in Christian school prayer can go directly against the religious teachings of some minority students. This means they would be forced to seek an exemption, which, even if granted, socially isolates them from their peers. This kind of visible marking out of said minority students as different, potentially from a very young age, can’t be simply dismissed as “not a big deal”. Alternatively , those minority students might be tempted to go against their own religious doctrines in order to fit in. A third option is that they will have to withdraw from public school altogether. None of this is in line with pluralism or the logic of the first amendment as understood for decades. It’s a very sad day for America.
Research funding: It is true that overhead charges are high and growing, but that does not mean that "... about a third of all grant money doesn't go toward scientific research."
(*) Universities do actually incur very substantial overhead costs. You could argue that they are not 58%, but they are not zero, or anywhere close to it. To avoid having to list the costs, I will simply ask you to look at how other countries handle this. The US rates are simply not that different from those in many European countries with much more streamlined systems.
(*) Whatever the "fair" percentage is, you need to allow universities some profit margin. This incentivizes administrators to support successful research, and sustains a high level of competitiveness in the system. Remember that the vast majority of proposals are not funded.
(*) The fact that there is a profit margin gives the feds leverage to steer the direction of university research. For instance, some disciplines shrink (e.g. aerospace) and some grow (e.g. AI, biotech), and the US government wants universities to be attentive to its preferences.
(*) An important reason that overhead keeps going up is that the government keeps ratcheting up the cost of "compliance" with federal rules and laws - Title IX, ADA, research on human subjects, etc. The feds do not want to dial this back, and with that being the case, somebody needs to pay for it.
Having said all that, I do think there is a strong case for trying to stop the upwards creep. I would welcome a freeze or a ceiling, but I would want to federal government to compensate for this by doing a very serious overhaul of the regulatory system. This stuff is out of control, in a way that differentiates the US from our competitors. Universities should not be forced to hire legions of lawyers and compliance officers.
Do we have a great Navy? Hasn't the Navy had several ships crash in recent years, the proximate causes of which were all "no one knows how to navigate anymore"?
Anyone have any bright ideas on how to improve American's interest in policy? Matt's description of Swiss people as basically knowing the standard arguments for and against a policy, even if they hadn't thought too critically about them, seems almost laughably utopian by American standards.
I was a high school debate coach for a while and it's quite good at getting a certain sort of politically-minded kid to think deeply about policy instead of just horse race stuff and elections, but I've almost never observed it taking a teenager who had 0 interest in politics and turn them into someone who even moderately cares. And we had a number of those kids because they were shoved into our debate class by guidance!
I have done a few diets (I’m on one now!) and I sort of think of them like gambling. When I go to Vegas I always set aside some amount of money for “entertainment” and that includes cash for gambling. I spend the money and have fun, I don’t really worry about what I’m losing because I’ve agreed that there is a limit that is acceptable.
When I do a diet I know the odds are low that it will help with all the health things I want. Some of this is due to the actual scientific data behind the diet and some is due to my failure to adhere completely to the rules of the diet. So I don’t expect any diet to be a miracle but as long as it helps me feel a little better I don’t stress about the scale in the morning.
That’s been helpful for me and has led to overall better health in recent years. Through all the diets the only thing that seems to consistently led to losing weight is low carbs and a moderate amount of consistent calorie restriction.