Five Economic Game Changers

The following comes from a new report out of the McKinsey Global Institute (McKinsey & Co.):

 

As shown above, the report identifies five major catalysts for economic growth:

  • Shale-gas and oil production
  • US trade competitiveness in knowledge-intensive goods
  • Big data analytics as a productivity tool
  • Increased investment in infrastructure, with a new emphasis on productivity
  • A more effective US system of talent development

Perhaps the US does not need to “get used to slower growth.” Perhaps we just need to know our options.

92% Down Syndrome Babies Aborted

extra-chromosome

Ok, this isn’t a new statistic.  In fact, the video I watched (below) that sparked this post is almost a year old.  But it’s something I think about a lot because it just makes me so sad.  Eugenics is horrifying, and we need to talk about it, and we need to give women support who get these diagnoses.

I particularly loved this comment on a LifeSiteNews article about the video:

it’s so odd that people want “perfect” children, I was briefly pregnant at age 46 (had a miscarriage) and had refused pre-natal testing because by then my other children were teenagers and I had learned there is no pre-natal test for tantrums, bed-wetting, climbing out on the roof, jumping out of 2nd story windows, driving 89 mph in a 40 zone, driving a car 15 miles without oil, failing math or physics, losing a brand new Starter jacket, or pooping on the sidewalk after church. There is no prenatal test for any of that, so why bother?  No child is perfect!

Watch the ESPN video below about a marathon runner who wanted his wife to choose abortion when their second daughter was diagnosed with Down and instead learned a lesson about perfection.

Child custody rights for rapists?

rapists custody rights

I’ve seen the claim that most states allow rapists custody rights to children they fathered through rape. In this context I wasn’t sure whether “rapists” meant men found guilty of rape or men accused of rape. Apparently it is the former. According to the recently introduced Rape Survivor Child Custody Act:

Currently only 6 States have statutes allowing rape survivors to petition for the termination of parental rights of the rapist based on clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived through rape.

This CNN article discusses the estimated tens of thousands of pregnancies that result from rape each year in the US. The article claims about two thirds of these pregnancies are terminated, which still means thousands of rape victims choosing to carry to term each year.

These women should not have to fear being tethered to their attackers for the first 18 years of their children’s lives.Removing a rapist’s parental rights seems to be the obvious choice for women’s rights advocates, as well as people on both sides of the abortion debate; neither pro-lifers nor pro-choicers want women to feel coerced into getting abortions.

If we were talking about taking away parental rights from men accused of but not found guilty of rape, I think there would be a significant concern that such legislation could take away parental rights from innocent men. However, if the legislation only applies to cases involving “clear and convincing evidence” of rape, what could be the arguments against such legislation?

The Virtuous Atheist or Atheist Maligned: Atheism Comforted and Confronted in my Religious Plays, Part One

ASU's Binary Theatre Company's production of A Roof Overhead, October 2012
ASU’s Binary Theatre Company’s production of A Roof Overhead, October 2012

WARNING: Spoilers ahoy! If you want the context of the play referenced, A Roof Overhead, the majority of the production by ASU’s Binary Theatre Company was recorded and is up on You Tube. It’s not the highest quality recording, and it was a matinee (thus, historically, less audience engagement and laughing), but you get a good sense of that particular production. The Utah production, unfortunately, was not recorded due to technical difficulties (so not even I got to see it!).  Of course, I think the issues the essay raises go beyond the actual play, so feel free to read it if you haven’t the time to watch an entire play at the moment.

James Goldberg’s award winning one act play “Prodigal Son” is a stirring play that flips Jesus’ proverb of the same name, showing the relationship between a former Mormon turned atheist and his son Daniel, who joins the faith his father had long since rejected. The tension and conflict caused by the reversal of the parental disapproval is both ironic and effective. Set in this gem of a play is a haunting monologue addressed to the audience by Daniel’s father:

We’re far too casual, I think, in the way we talk about losing. “I’ve lost my keys,” for example, really means you’ve mislaid them. We say we’re “lost” when we’re just disoriented. And we lose our tempers all the time, only to find them again a few minutes later—

I wish we wouldn’t dilute the best word we have for when things are truly and permanently gone. “Lost cause” is a good phrase. It’s a cold, hard dose of reality. No one goes out to find a lost cause. It’s just lost. That phrase understands the power of the word’s finality…

So when I tell you that a long time ago I lost my faith, I don’t want you imagine that I’ve misplaced or that I could be capable of finding it again. Lost faith is like a lost limb…if it’s broken and bleeding, if you try to patch it up and ends up being inflamed and infected…at some point you have to cut it off. And after you’ve lost it the only thing left is the occasional flash of phantom pain.

I lost my faith. Twenty years later I lost my wife. And now maybe I’m losing my son.

Don’t take away from me the only word I have to cope with that.[1]

Coming from a practicing Mormon like Goldberg, the monologue is unusually and beautifully sensitive towards this fictional father’s disbelief in God and religion. It shows a well of compassion and charity on Goldberg’s part towards what really amounts to a religious minority (at least in the United States and other predominately religious countries, although that trend is fast reversing in many places in the world). It’s an unexpectedly poignant moment in a beautiful play.

In this way, Goldberg has shown that he is particularly ready to clarify the way of the atheist to believers, and pleas for understanding on the his atheist friends behalf—perhaps even to the point of being a warm ambassador or a defensive patron when discussing atheism among believers. Thus it makes sense that, in his review of my play A Roof Overhead, he was quick to come to the defense of the doubter, even though such a vigorous and heated defense was hardly needed considering the context of the play’s intended message of tolerance and pleas for mutual understanding.

As Goldberg is not the only critic to misrepresent my representation of atheism, including a handful of antagonistic reviews written against my plays Swallow the Sun and Prometheus Unbound, I feel compelled to address the issue directly. I normally like my plays to stand on their own artistically, so that people may interact with them based on their own experiences and what they personally bring to the play, without constant and intrusive commentary from me.

However, some have tried to tie me to a pattern of intolerance towards atheists, even resorting to rather personal slights and warnings to others against my work. Thus, in the name of my reputation, I feel it best to clear up what my intent is, and what my intent decidedly isn’t, towards atheism and atheists. After all, if I’m to be lambasted on the matter, I would prefer to be lambasted for something I actually believe.

Read moreThe Virtuous Atheist or Atheist Maligned: Atheism Comforted and Confronted in my Religious Plays, Part One

Should all medical procedures be safe?

George Weigel has an excellent piece over at First Things, On Really Not Getting it.  In it, Weigel discusses media and abortion advocate’s disgust at having any safety regulations on abortion procedures, responds to a WaPo piece that claims, after Gosnell, the evidence of a need for any such safety regulations “is weak,” and makes a few other great points surrounding the debate.

It’s all good (please read it!!), but one of my favorite parts is this:

Marcus noted that, irrespective of what was happening in state capitols, a 1973 Gallup Poll “found 64 percent agreeing ‘that the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician.’” And here is another of the canards of Those Who Really Don’t Get It.  The abortion decision is most frequently made, not by a woman and “her physician,” but by a frightened woman talking with a “counselor” in a clinic run by an agency like Planned Parenthood, which has a deep financial interest in abortion. That frightened woman, who has often been abandoned by an irresponsible man, is then remanded to an abortion “provider” who is no more “her physician” than he or she is “her hairdresser.”

Bam.  Here’s the link again, so you can check the whole thing out.

abortion_on_demand
& without sanitary conditions!

Race Relations: Global Edition

RealClearWorld has a recent post that should be instructive to Americans in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case and the racism claims that accompanied it. Though racism certainly exists in America (I’m willing to bet it will always exist everywhere to some extent), to obsessively focus of America’s past and present sins while ignoring the rest of the world is problematic. Here are a few points the RCW article makes:

  • A large number of Hungarian parents will not allow their children to be friends with Jews (46%), Africans (58%), or Roma/Gypsies (68%).
  • Italy’s first black government minister was openly compared to an orangutan by a senator and had bananas thrown at her by a citizen.
  • Dutch politicians exploit racial tensions to advance a particularly anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant agenda.
  • Mexican navy cadets were attacked by some 300 “soccer fans” on a Polish beach.
  • The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party caught 7% of the Greek popular vote in June.
  • The National Front caught nearly 18% of the French vote in the April 2012 first-round presidential elections.
  • The Freedom Party in the Netherlands caused the government to collapse in April 2012.
  • Extremist parties were part of government coalitions in Italy, Switzerland, Austria until recently.
  • Similar parties are gaining momentum in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland and were met with electoral success in the 2009 European Parliament elections in Hungary, the UK, etc.

As the article concludes, “Perhaps those who continue to obsess over American race relations should try reading global news every once in a while.”

Should Women Be Allowed to Go to College? Feminists Unsure

2013-08-21 o-alma-mater

This headline is much more provocative than the blog post that inspired it (O, Alma Mater), so let me explain why I think it’s warranted. In the post, Anne-Marie Maginnis responds to the idea that women who earn Ivy League degrees and choose to be stay-at-home moms are wasting their degrees. She cites a recent article in The Guardian:

Any Harvard Law School degree obtained by a woman who then chooses not to use it in any sort of professional capacity throughout most of her life is a wasted opportunity. That degree could have gone to a woman who does want to spend her entire life using it to advance the cause of women—or others in need of advancement—not simply advancing the lives of her own family at home, which is a noble cause, but not one requiring an elite degree.

The quote is ostensibly about advanced degrees at elite schools (not “college”) and specifically about stay-at-home moms (not “women”), but the truly alarming thing about the argument–which Maginnis exposes immediately–is that it assumes that women aren’t worth educating for their own sake. If you take it seriously, this brand of feminism says that a woman’s value–her right to be educated–is dependent on her usefulness to the capitalist machine. So much for liberalism, in pretty much every sense of the word.

Little Boys Like Guns

Don’t be afraid. It’s just a poptart. Also, your son is not a sociopath.

Time recently published a compelling article on how zero tolerance policies and teacher and parent aversion to action-packed boy play is hindering the social, verbal and academic (and possibly other) development of little boys.

At the same time that more and more research has shown that creative play is essential to childhood development, policies have been decreasing the amount of acceptable pretend play.  From redirecting superhero play (but not princess play for girls) to draconian policies that suspend or expel very young children for merely making a gun with their hands or other harmless object, we are robbing boys of essential growth.

If you’re one of those parents who doesn’t allow toy guns at home, maybe the next time you think “Oh no! Are my boys too violent?” because they want to play cops and robbers you should instead rethink “Oh yes! My boys are so creative.”

NSA: We can’t because we can’t

documents

The NSA hires a lot of smart people, and smart people tend to think they’re smarter than other people because they’re smarter than other people. So it’s not surprising that when Kevin Collier of the Daily Dot asked the NSA under the Freedom of Information Act for his “file,” he was answered that because the “adversaries” of the security of the nation would inevitably monitor any “public request” for data, and the compilation of any and all such requests could result in “grave damage” to national security, they were unable to honor his request.

Catch that?

The NSA has concocted a defensible rationale for why they can’t honor FIA requests for personal data, based upon the fact of their own existence and the existence of their surveillance programs. They are saying, in essence, “we cannot exchange information because the exchange of information alerts enemies which will use the exchange of information to do harm.” The implicit premise is that their information gathering is necessary and justified in the first place, which of course begs the question. We are forced to wonder, if the information didn’t exist, would we be in more or less danger from the enemies of national security? It amounts to a rhetorical tautology, and it’s nonsense.

These are the people we’ve put in charge of our military, our money and our future, folks. Take a good look.