Was Sex Better Under Socialism?

A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.

Source: NYT 8/12/17.

The full article, worth reading, makes the point that Eastern European communism was a stultifying economic system where even toilet paper was hard to come by, citizens didn’t have to work to the point of exhaustion each day, as they do in the post-1989 capitalist economies, thereby leaving them time for recreation.

See for example, my earlier post of rising overtime hours of US manufacturing workers.

Quoting a former citizen of East Germany who compared her life to her daughter living under capitalism.

Ms. Durcheva was a single mother for many years, but she insisted that her life before 1989 was more gratifying than the stressful existence of her daughter, who was born in the late 1970s.

“All she does is work and work,” Ms. Durcheva told me in 2013, “and when she comes home at night she is too tired to be with her husband. But it doesn’t matter, because he is tired, too. They sit together in front of the television like zombies. When I was her age, we had much more fun.”

Creeping Socialism?

only 19% of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.”

From a recent Time Magazine article, Saving Capitalism.

A couple of weeks ago, a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics found something startling: only 19% of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.” In the richest and most market-oriented country in the world, only 42% of that group said they “supported capitalism.” The numbers were higher among older people; still, only 26% considered themselves capitalists. A little over half supported the system as a whole.

Source: Time Magazine, May 12, 2016.

The Harvard Institute of Politics poll can be found here.

Your Risk of Dying From ….

Your risk of dying from various causes, as of 2016, according to the National Safety Council.

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2016
Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Heart Disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 27
Suicide 1 in 91
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 102
Opioid pain killers 1 in 109
Fall 1 in 119
Gun Assault 1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident 1 in 561
Motorcyclist 1 in 846
Drowning 1 in 1,086
Fire or Smoke 1 in 1,506
Choking on Food 1 in 3,138
Bicyclist 1 in 4,050
Accidental Gun Discharge 1 in 8,305
Sunstroke 1 in 8,976
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure 1 in 14,630
Sharp objects 1 in 27,407
Hornet, wasp and bee stings 1 in 54,093
Hot surfaces and substances 1 in 56,316
Cataclysmic Storm 1 in 62,288
Lightning 1 in 114,195
Dog attack 1 in 132,614
Railway passenger 1 in 178,741
Passenger on an airplane 1 in 205,552

Those Damn Government Bureaucrats, Keeping Us From Eating Poison Food Again…

At least 53 people have been sickened by tainted, chopped romaine lettuce in an expanding E. coli outbreak that now spans 16 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

At least 53 people have been sickened by tainted, chopped romaine lettuce in an expanding E. coli outbreak that now spans 16 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

Source: New York Times, E.Coli Outbreak Tied to Romain Lettuce, 4/19/18.

Unless you have an advanced chemistry lab in your house or you grow all your own food — meaning, 99.99% of the US population — you assume the food you buy in grocery stores and are served in restaurants is safe to eat.  That assumption is right with only infinitesimal exceptions.  Let’s do the math using some “back of the envelope” numbers

  • 360 million Americans
  • Each eats 3 meals a day on average
  • Each meal consists of 3 food items on average

That means, on average, conservatively, Americans consume 3,240,000,000 — that’s 3.2 billion — food items per day.   This is a conservative estimate because in the age or processed foods, most food items contain dozens of ingredients.

Accordingly to the article, over 24 days, March 14 to April 6, or 77,760,000,000 (that 77.8 Billion) food items consumed, 53 people were reported to be made ill by the contaminated lettuce. Even if the 53 reported cases was only 1/100th of the actual number of e.coli cases, that means the food supply error rate was only 1 sickness per 147 Million food items.  The average person, who lives to 80, only consumes under 300,000 food items his his or her life has a less than 0.02% chance of food poisoning in their lifetime.

In contrast, the National Safety Council reports your risk of dying from a lightening strike in your lifetime as 1 in 114,000.



Chart: Dark Money

Dark Money groups are growing in size, scope, and share of election spending with each election cycle.

The total amount of “dark money” — campaign spending that cannot be traced back to individuals due to intentional obfuscation of its source in recent elections.

Chart - Outside spend wo attribution - 2018-04-19

Source: Center for Responsive Politics, 4/19/18.


Chart: Political Parties and Deficit Spending

David Leonhardt’s opinion piece had a useful chart in it on which political party drives the deficit up more under their watch.

The one exception to Republican profligacy is the Great Recession of 20017-2011.  That recession, of course, started under George W. Bush’s fiscal policies.  Further, the first bank bailout bill was pushed through by the still-in-office Bush administration.  Frontline’s documentary on the near collapse of our financial system in September 18, 2008 described this remarkable scene:

Hank Paulson, the rock rib conservative Republican free marketeer walked into an emergency meeting of the joint leadership of the US House and Senate, on a Thursday, asking for $700 billion of bailout authority, as the markets collapses and credit markets seized up.  Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernacke told the lawmakers, “If we don’t do this tomorrow, we won’t have an economy on Monday”

This resulted in, of course, the eight year-long Obama administration easing the economy out of its nose dive and into a slow and long recovery.

And yet, somehow the Republican Party is viewed as the party of fiscal rectitude, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Chart - Parties and Deficits - NYT - 2018-04-16.jpeg

Source: NYT 4/16/18.


Film: Dark Money

I’m looking forward the summer release of this documentary film, Dark Money, on the history campaign finance reform in Montana from the 1880s to Citizens United.

Watch the film trailer here.

A century ago, corrupt money swamped Montana’s legislature, but Montanans rose up to prohibit corporate campaign contributions. Today, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — which allows unlimited, anonymous money to pour into elections nationwide — Montana is once again fighting to preserve open and honest elections. Following an investigative reporter through a political thriller, DARK MONEY exposes one of the greatest threats to American democracy.

Watch an interview with the director here.