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Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

Oktoberfest ended with a little rain and a lot of dachshunds! And since our friend Eli was visiting with her son Leo, we all met the Bride’s family for the Annual Dachshund Derby in Germantown. Leo decided that Nashville should be renamed “Dogland,” since dogs of every variety strolled through the park with their beer drinking masters in lederhosen. Still, watching those wiener dogs race was hilarious. http://thenashvilleoktoberfest.com/dogtoberfest/

Ms Bean was delighted to sit on the front porch and watch the canine parade go by  behind the cover of a maple tree. She has staked out her territory thankfully, and the sidewalk is safe for most breeds. Corgi puppies and Great Danes stroll right by without looking up to see her eyeing them suspiciously. After all, she is a rescue mutt, origins unknown, and she’s proud of it! She doesn’t need some set of AKC papers to know she is a prey-driven lover girl!

Unlike certain people, who require validation in order to feel good about themselves. It’s not enough to be a professional for some, your pedigree must include only “The Best” schools, “The Finest” clerkships or residencies. These are the silent judges in our midst; constantly ranking others according to some inner calculation, one they are only slightly aware of and would never admit. It’s still a Dog and Pony Show world it would seem, no matter where you go.

You can usually sniff them out, the pretentious co-mingling of class and money. It’s a primal thing I suppose, as territorial as Ms Bean and my friendly mailman. Great Grandma Ada would call this person a “Noodge.” ie Someone who is a pest, an annoying critic of your every move. It’s exactly what we are currently trying to teach the Love Bug’s toddler brother to avoid – not to whine! “You’re not whining are you?” I’ll ask him. The etymology is probably Slavic, and:

likely from Yiddish נודיען nudyen ‘to bore, pester’, נודניק nudnik ‘bore, pest’, influenced by English “nudge”  http://www.jewish-languages.org/jewish-english-lexicon/words/417

Some people become lifetime complainers; their shoulders are burdened by a ton of self-generated worry. I’m sure Freud would tell us they got stuck at that two year old developmental stage, but the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics may have a different answer. Richard Thaler started applying smaller psychological theories of human behavior to influence larger changes in public policy with his “Nudge Theory!”

How do we get someone to make good decisions? Bob explained Thaler’s theory to me this way – if his company offered employees the opportunity to sign up for a 401K, he would get a small minority signing up. BUT if he automatically signed everyone up for a 401K, and told them they would have to opt out if they didn’t want to save for retirement, the large majority would participate! I guess the human species is just lazy and we all need a little “nudge” in the right direction, to avoid being a “noodge!”

As for us, the rain dampened the number of people walking into lamp posts and spilling their steins of beer. Bob only had to pick up an occasional St Pauli Girl can every morning off our stoop. Things are getting back to normal in Germantown.

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Months ago, a friend’s daughter mentioned that she had stopped taking Adderal, a drug that was prescribed years earlier for Attention Deficit (ADD). She was proud of weaning herself off this stimulant and started looking at the world, and her career differently. I was happy for her, since as y’all know I am NOT a pill person – well except for vitamins – and I recommended she read this book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for Economics, even though he is a psychologist.

A therapist friend recommended this book to me, and Bob just finished reading it on our Kindle App, so now it’s my turn. It’s easy enough to say that men are from Mars, but this non-fiction book doesn’t try to explain male vs female minds. In fact, gender has nothing to with it. Instead we find out that our instinctual, fast assessment of any situation is the hero of our cognitive world, and the slower, analytical mind is rather lazy!

System 2, in Kahneman’s scheme, is our slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the world. System 1, by contrast, is our fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious mode. It is System 1 that detects hostility in a voice and effortlessly completes the phrase “bread and. . . . ” It is System 2 that swings into action when we have to fill out a tax form or park a car in a narrow space. (As Kahneman and others have found, there is an easy way to tell how engaged a person’s System 2 is during a task: just look into his or her eyes and note how dilated the pupils are.)  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/books/review/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman-book-review.html

When we speak about the “tone” of a conversation, as we have been doing about Mr T’s recent attempts at a Press Conference, we are engaging System 1. It is the nuanced way we communicate with others, the reason we may meet someone and feel an immediate kinship. I was actually thinking that System 1 may be a higher evolutionary adaptation to an increasingly complex and interconnected technological world. Making a diagnosis of ADD more of a plus, than a minus.

Now Bob’s opinion of an ADD diagnosis is that your environment isn’t sufficiently stimulating. As the student who sat in front of him in French class in the 60s, I know this to be true – his legs were always moving behind my desk, so much so that I felt as if I was on a Disney ride. I am positive he would have been medicated as a child. And our son had a similar level of energy in high school, similar to a race horse in the gate, one very hard to contain in a “normal” classroom. I can already see this fast level of relating to the world in the Love Bug. I can almost see her mind racing to keep up with us; at the age of two she was asking us to teach her how to read!

So the inner-linguist-in-me was delighted to read this morning that in fact, our thoughts may have been shaped by the kind of crops our ancestors grew! http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways

 

Growing rice requires far greater cooperation: it is labour-intensive and requires complex irrigation systems spanning many different farms. Wheat farming, by contrast, takes about half the amount of work and depends on rainfall rather than irrigation, meaning that farmers don’t need to collaborate with their neighbours and can focus on tending their own crops.

This BBC article explains how so many social science experiments are biased toward the Western world, more specifically American graduate students who participate in these studies. The idea of Western thought being more frontier in nature, valuing the individual, John Wayne, self-directed approach, as differentiated from Eastern thought which values the whole, group achievement, socialist model over the individual is a narrative based in reality, and not alternative facts.  “…our social environment moulds our minds. From the broad differences between East and West, to subtle variation between US states, it is becoming increasingly clear that history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways – right down to our visual perception.”

And I would add Red and Blue states to this mix. I once asked a group of women knitting together in a room if in fact every US citizen didn’t deserve to have health care. This was early on, when President Obama was being blocked by every single Republican legislator from passing health insurance reform. And the one Republican knitter in the room said very defiantly “Absolutely not!” She was thinking like a pioneer, and not like someone on the Titanic.

The Flapper loved everything Eastern, including Buddhism, and believed in mindfulness before it was ever trending. Since I received the results of my Ancestry DNA, I realize that my cells are all Irish, with unfortunately no Asian influence. But ever since I was a girl, wearing my Catholic school uniform, my environment taught me to share and think collectively…and maybe now we need to think faster than ever. We need to be the first Jedi.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

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One of the very first internships the Bride had in college was working for the Children’s Defense Fund, http://www.childrensdefense.org/ Marion Wright Edelman’s bipartisan DC watchdog advocacy group. This was a coup, landing a summer job in our nation’s Capital with such a stellar company. Well, it’s graduation time again and I’m thinking of my BFF’s daughter, Natalie, a Georgetown grad who just received her MBA from the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. An ex-Peace Corps worker in Mali, she was studying at the Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and we’re expecting great things from her! Major congrats to Natalie on winning this fellowship and mazels to her parents, Lee and Al Bear: http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/About/News-Publications/Article-Detail/ArticleId/2671/Natalie-Grillon-Samuel-Curtis-Johnson-Graduate-School-of-Management-MBA-2012-Named-Acumen-Global-Fel.aspx

Here is one of her recent tweets (from Facebook, I’m not on Twitter, yet) – “not too late for tribal ties to detach MNLA separatists and Ansar Dine Tuaregs from Islamists for negotiations?” I could barely follow this, since like most Americans I am too provincial and not thinking globally enough. But her tweet came on the heels of watching this TED lecture my business psychologist brother, Dr Jim, sent me about Tribal Leadership: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/david_logan_on_tribal_leadership.html

If you’ve ever wondered how we could actually change the world, this is the video to watch. “Three doctors walk into a bar,” sounds like a joke but more importantly it is a meeting of a Stage 3 Tribe. How do we go from a Stage 2 “Life Sucks” world view to Stage 5, with a “Life is Great” world view? David Logan talks about doing world polls, he argues that leaders must be fluent in all five Tribal stages, to build world-changing tribes as Desmond Tutu has done in South Africa. The true leaders in every country must be able to network and connect people from different tribes.

Now let’s zoom in like a Google map on the US of A. It looks to me like our political leaders are still in Stage 3, boasting about who has done a better job, what failed policies the others have initiated. Nobody is getting 60 votes to pass any kind of meaningful legislation, like say equal pay for equal work…it is the most rigid, intransigent group of leaders legislators I’ve ever witnessed. And then this morning I heard that President Clinton gently tried to persuade the DNC to stop attacking Mitt on his ‘stellar’ business record, and instead follow through with the GOP’s likely outcome should their guy get elected: “The alternative would be, in my opinion, calamitous for our country and the world.” Do you see what he did, he zoomed out! Yes, he was saying that not tackling some hard issues like education, entitlements and yes, taxes, will lead our great country down the rabbit hole that Europe seems to be in. And Clinton is someone who knows about economics, his presidency reigned over one of the most prosperous economic times in our country’s recent history. And let’s not forget, he was the last president to balance the federal budget.

We are sitting on a precipice. 2001 Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz just published a book titled The Price of Inequality. I feel as if he is like a prophet, warning us about the plagues to come should we continue wearing blinders.”There are good reasons why plutocrats should care about inequality anyway—even if they’re thinking only about themselves. The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable. The evidence from history and from around the modern world is unequivocal: there comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and when it does, even the rich pay a steep price.” http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/05/joseph-stiglitz-the-price-on-inequality

…and My Boat Is So Small.” The 99% are beginning to realize that while CEOs prosper, their shareholders do not. Income levels are at an all-time low and the recent jobs statistics look grim. “…while the rich have been growing richer, most Americans (and not just those at the bottom) have been unable to maintain their standard of living, let alone to keep pace. A typical full-time male worker receives the same income today he did a third of a century ago.” Ha, I wonder what the female worker is receiving?

Congrats to all the graduates out there, and good luck on your job search. And Major kudos to the Dr Bride who just found out that she passed her oral boards! Yippee!! She is now a full-fledged, board certified ABEM member and fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). We are so very proud. Here are my two fellows at my niece’s wedding a few years ago!

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