Hyperbolic Discounting

Consider America’s political response to these two recent challenges:

  1. Obama proposes moving some inmates from Guantánamo Bay. Outcry and outrage.
  2. Climate warms, ice sheets melt and seas rise. Most could care less.

Why are people incensed about flag burning or sex? We are not equipped to assess risk.

We Americans spend nearly $700 billion a year on the military and less than $3 billion on the F.D.A., even though food-poisoning kills more Americans than foreign armies and terrorists.

First in Worst

Eileen Waldow says our health is not for profit.

The only place the United States ranks at the top in health care is in the amount we spend per capita.

When comparing the health results of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, we have the shortest life expectancy, the highest infant mortality rate and pay more than twice per capita than five of these countries.

And in all these countries, everyone is covered.

Noise of the incapable.

Our leadership culture has become a grand argument, victory made on vitriol, and we are shaped into opposing forces standing not with strength but for spite.

There’s planks in California hoisted by both parties where stubborn is a virtue, wit is chaos, and courage is enduring loss.

It’s all a nasty game that puts cronyism, partisan bickering, and corrupt, despicable self-interest above the needs of increasingly desperate citizens.

Forgetting to invent both economy and community, our boards and committees and legislatures cannot assemble workable society.

More clear cut junk

Run! The Paranoids Are Coming

Story at Gawker cites players’ impressions:

“In the end, [chief strategist] Steve Schmidt, architect of the McCain campaign’s wildly shifting meta-narratives and stunts, was smart enough to realize that his hail-mary VP stunt had backfired, terribly. And so his relationship with Palin, a paranoid narcissist, suffered.”

CBS posts infighting:

“The Joe The Plumber narrative was the Republicans’ secret weapon — the last chance to put a chink in Obama’s seemingly impervious armor.”

Revenue increasing sickness

Harmful Effects of Healthcare, Journal of American Medical Association

“Although healthcare’s objective should be to improve health, its primary emphasis has been on producing services.

“‘Fee-for-service’ payment encourages using more treatment, new technology, and extra testing. These additional services, and their attendant extra costs, may harm health.”

The huge industry is diverting dollars away from education, jobs, and environmental quality.

Healthcare? Just do it!

CDC Causes of DeathChronic diseases account for more than 75% of the nation’s $2 trillion medical care costs. [link]

Reducing cancer death rates by 10% would generate roughly 180 billion dollars annually. [link]

A cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion! [link]

Gains in lifespan from 1970 to 2000 were worth roughly 95 trillion dollars to current and future Americans – roughly 3 trillion dollars per year. [link]

Cultural attitudes

Europe equals leisure while America equals wealth.

Why so Different?

I find all of this a bit like a rat in his cage chasing a hunk of cheese.

After all, there are only so many hours in the week to divide between family, leisure, work and sleep. And, there is only so much you can borrow against future income. At some point, lenders figure out they have lent more than you can possibly earn and pay back.

And that’s the message here and now, isn’t it?

If you could see it all

Deric Bownds is hoping to explain:

Our conscious model of reality is a low-dimensional projection of the inconceivably richer physical reality surrounding and sustaining us…

Our brains generate a world-simulation and an inner image of ourselves as a whole so perfect that we do not recognize it as an image in our minds…

We are not in direct contact with outside reality or with ourselves, but we do have an inner perspective.

We can use the word I.

We live our conscious lives in the ego tunnel.

All this is just the content of a simulation in your brain…

The Ego is a transparent mental image: You look right through it.

In Part Two Deric asserts:

Cognitive neuroscience has shown that the process of conscious experience is just an idiosyncratic path through a physical reality so unimaginably complex and rich in information that it will always be hard to grasp just how reduced our subjective experience is.