January 23rd, 2004 - Open Knowledge
Jan. 23rd, 2004
10:52 am - Why must sports be drug-free?
Bush on Steroids
Why must sports be drug-free?
In one of the more puzzling parts of his State of the Union speech, President Bush offered his opinion about how professional sports should be run. He did not criticize the instant replay rule, condemn the use of designated hitters, or tell returning head coach Joe Gibbs how to restore the Redskins to their former glory. Instead, he asserted that athletes should not be permitted to use "performance-enhancing drugs like steroids."
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10:56 am - Tuskegee re-examined
Article8 January 2004
by Richard A Shweder
It is said of Thucydides, the great ancient Greek historian, that his recording of human events during the Peloponnesian War is 'marked by accuracy and a studied impartiality'.
Some of the intellectual virtues we associate with a Thucydides, or with a Socrates (a principled commitment to explore the other side) are at risk of being sacrificed in our contemporary public policy forums. All too often these days one witnesses the triumph of identity politics over critical reason. All too often a rhetoric of evil and moral horror demanding protective public interventions has produced a rush to judgement about matters of great consequence.
One such case, in which sensational and consequential declarations have been made without the benefit of robust impartial debate, relates to 'The 'Tuskegee Study of untreated syphilis in the Negro male'. The 'Tuskegee Study' was conducted in Macon County, Alabama between 1932 and 1972, and is often associated with the image of monstrous government researchers allowing black patients to suffer from a curable and devastating infection (syphilis), so as to document the natural course of the disease.
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08:30 pm - "Voice" or "Exit?"
Alex Singleton of the Adam Smith Institute writes:
Collectivists like 'voice' as the system for improving society. We get a say. We should all be forced to go to state schools, but we can say what we think in public meetings. Local politicians, instead of us individually, should decide the company that collects our rubbish, but we can attend surgeries and express a view.
I am not a fan of 'voice'. It only works effectively when there is also the option of 'exit'. In other words, giving your opinion only really works if you can move your custom elsewhere. If you complain about waiting lists in the NHS, not very much happens. As a GP said to me recently, "It's the NHS. You've just got to take what you're given."
Where there is only 'voice', we are told that we have to wait our turn. We are told to take into account the requirements of other consumers. We are told to be grateful for what we have.
'Exit' is much better than 'voice'. This is because market forces work. Public sector altruism doesn't. As Adam Smith said: "Public services are never better performed than when their reward comes in consequence of their being performed, and is proportional to the diligence employed in performing them."
Trade unions and many claiming to favour equality do not like 'exit'. They want to deny poor people the ability to make choices about their public services. Rich people can of course pay twice, but poor people do not have their option. The less well off in our society need 'exit' more than anyone else.
11:07 pm - Coffee and Lesbians
I'm at the Helios Cafe watching a pair of lesbians tickle each other on the couch.
This is definitely better than my apartment.
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