Friday, 24 August 2012

07:58 – Big article on the front page of the paper this morning about that moron politician’s comments about women who are raped being unlikely to get pregnant. The article throws lots of numbers around. The problem is, all of those numbers are so soft that they’re pretty much useless. No one knows how many forcible rapes actually occur, or even how to define the term “forcible rape”. No one knows how many pregnancies result. And the one number all of the parties seem to take as a given seems ridiculously high to me: that a woman who has sexual intercourse, forced or voluntary, has a 5% chance of becoming pregnant.

So I did a little thought experiment. The population of Winston-Salem is roughly a quarter million, 50% of whom are female, or roughly 125,000. Assume that one third of those women are sexually active, or roughly 42,000, and assume that each of them has sexual intercourse once a week. Obviously, the frequency varies. Women in their 20’s may average having intercourse several times a week, ones in their 30’s once or twice a week, ones in their 40’s once a month, and so on. But once a week on average seems reasonable. That means sexual intercourse occurs in Winston-Salem 42,000 times a week, or 6,000 times a day. By the assumptions made in the article, 300 babies a day would be conceived in Winston-Salem.

Obviously, that’s not the case, and it’s because the assumptions made in that article are simplistic. First, most women in their prime child-bearing years use birth control, often pills or a patch, so they’re very unlikely to be impregnated during intercourse, forced or voluntary. Second, the age of the woman is a huge factor. Women’s fertility peaks in the decade between their late teens and late 20’s, and then begins to decline rapidly. Third, of course, although most pregnant women continue having intercourse during their pregnancies, any woman who is already pregnant has zero chance of being impregnated.

It makes a lot more sense to look at the big picture. US women, on average, bear about 2 children over the whole course of their child-bearing years. Although there are obviously exceptions at both ends, call that ages 14 to 44. During that time, these women have sexual intercourse hundreds to thousands of times. Again, call it an average of once a week, or about 1,500 times over those 30 years. So, 1,500 intercourses result in two pregnancies, or a rate of 2/1,500 or about 0.133%. Not 5%.


48 thoughts on “Friday, 24 August 2012”

  1. A good politician will never let facts get in the way of statistics that favor their opinion.

  2. You’re right, of course, it’s not clear where the 5% comes from. That said, it is equally clear that getting pregnant from a rape is perfectly possible. He was just looking for some way to avoid flat-out stating that he is a fundamentalist who is against abortion under any and all circumstances.

    Actually, if you think about it, pregnancy from rape may be even more likely that with normal intercourse, since some portion of women rely on an active form of birth control such as condoms or a diaphragm.

    What is particularly depressing is that this idiot is on the science committee in Congress.

  3. Yes, that politician is an idiot. He was dancing around the fact that he does not believe in abortion even in the cases of rape or the mother’s health. BTW, a significant number of the population believes this (maybe as high as 40% !) and it should not be taken lightly. They are all single issue voters BTW.

    You forgot miscarriages. With women waiting until later in life to have children, more of the fetuses are non viable. There are many women nowadays having more miscarriages than children. My cousins (30+) are all having babies now and having significant problems with miscarriages.

    BTW, I saw a stat once that said a woman in her 20s, not using birth control, had a 90% chance of getting pregnant in the first year of marriage.

  4. If I may toss out another vague figure: Back when we decided to have kids, I remember an article saying that the average (young) couple had about a 1/7 chance per month. Obviously a very broad-brush number, taking an average across every type of couple, but indicative that the chance of a young woman getting pregnant (in the absence of birth control) is actually pretty high.

    What I don’t get about the anti-abortion types: it is just beyond my comprehension that they feel justified in imposing their religious view on everyone else. They would surely object if Muslims wanted to apply Sharia to them, or Jews insisted they live according to Jewish law. So why are their fundamentalist Christian views supposed to have precedence? All the more baffling, since the US federal government is supposed to have a separation of church and state.

  5. Because many fundamentalists believe that the USA is a Christian nation and has been blessed by God. They believe that God will remove his blessings from the nation if the abortions continue. There is basis for this belief in the Old Testament. However, there is not basis for this belief in the New Testament of which I am a firm believer.

    I believe it was John Locke who said, “I have searched the Bible and found many places where the early Christian church was persecuted. However, I have found no places where the Christian Church persecuted anyone else.”. Therefore I believe that we should have separation between Church and State. However, personally, I do have a voice and vote.

  6. I personally think abortion is wrong except in cases of rape or major risk to the mother in carrying the fetus to term.

    But that is just my opinion. I have no right to impose that view on anyone else. Abortion, or not, it is their choice not mine. I really think the states, federal government and politicians should stay out of the issue.

    When I had my vasectomy a coworker, who was catholic, told me that he thought I was making a mistake. He had 8 kids he could barely support. I had one kid that I was going to support well, even through college. I think he made the mistake, about 7 times. But it was his choice and I was not feeding his ragged bunch.

    Anyway I asked him if he and his wife ever skipped intercourse because she might get pregnant. After some indignation on his part he finally answered and said yes. I then told him that he was practicing birth control by abstinence. I told him his church was against birth control so he was committing a sin against his church. He just walked away.

    Abortion is the mother’s and (possible) father’s decision. Not mine, not the state, not the feds, not anyone.

  7. BTW, I saw a stat once that said a woman in her 20s, not using birth control, had a 90% chance of getting pregnant in the first year of marriage.

    That’s certainly believable. If you assume that a typical newly-married couple in their 20’s has sex an average of three times a week–call it 150 times in the first year–that takes it to 150/0.9 = one pregnancy per 167 sexual intercourses, or 0.6% per intercourse. Assuming that it is a smooth function, with 8.3% of those women becoming pregnant in each of the first 12 months and therefore no longer available to get pregnant, that rate is still a small fraction of the 5% per intercourse stated. And I suspect that for such couples the frequency is probably more like 200 to 300 times in the first year.

    As to the active contraception issue, certainly. But on the other hand, many girls and women who are not of child-bearing age are raped, which skews things the other way.

  8. I personally think abortion is wrong except in cases of rape or major risk to the mother in carrying the fetus to term.

    I assume you’d also include pregnancies resulting from incest.

    Regardless of how the pregnancy occurred, I think abortion is purely the pregnant woman’s business. No one else should have a say, including the father of the child. She’s the one who would have to carry the fetus and risk anything up to and including death in giving birth.

  9. I almost agree with that, RBT. I am willing to give the woman complete
    control over the fetus if she must take full responsibility for the
    fetus and then child. I’m sure I need not detail how far current
    American practice falls from the latter half of that.

  10. BTW, on this separation between Church and State, I am very worried about the pendulum swinging way too far to the left. My particular faith does not believe that homosexuals should get married. I do not like it but feel if the majority of the population agrees, then that marriage should occur somewhere else than my church building.

    Unfortunately, there is a movement going forward that if two homosexuals want to get married then they should be able to get married anywhere including a Church building of their choice. Some people feel that we are discriminating against them by not allowing homosexual marriages in our church building. While our church building is not the church body, it is our property and should not be seizeable by others for their purposes.

    I have even heard some people proposing that church ministers should be forced to officiate homosexual weddings which is just unimaginable to me.

  11. I assume you’d also include pregnancies resulting from incest.

    And that would be correct.

    No one else should have a say, including the father of the child.

    If the father is doomed to paying child support should not the father have some say in the matter? I realize the father’s risk is only financial where the mother’s risk actually involves risk to the body. If the mother lets the father off the hook for support then most assuredly the father should have zero say in the matter.

    If you assume that a typical newly-married couple in their 20′s has sex an average of three times a week

    Newly married should be more like 2 times a day (not to brag of course), sustained for a year. More if one could get home for lunch on occasion. 🙂

    And I suspect that for such couples the frequency is probably more like 200 to 300 times in the first year.

    I think that number may be low. I would raise that to 400 to 500. But then my, ahem, average may not be so average. I have no data or surveys to back that up.

  12. I have even heard some people proposing that church ministers should be forced to officiate homosexual weddings which is just unimaginable to me.

    Unfortunately I know of a least one photographer that is getting sued because he refused to photograph the joining of a gay couple. I would not photograph a gay couple myself, not because I object to how they live their lives, but because I really could not do them justice. I would not understand the environment, would probably be uncomfortable, and it would show in my work. For this I could get sued if the couple really wanted me to photograph the joining and I refused.

    I would instead have to lie and tell them I was booked for the date or make up some other phony excuse. Simply saying I don’t agree with your lifestyle would get me in hot water.

    And I don’t agree with such a lifestyle. But it is not my life and really does not affect me. I have no right to tell them NOT to be joined as a couple. And I really don’t want video from the wedding night, for females maybe, but certainly not males.

  13. “Unfortunately I know of a least one photographer that is getting sued because he refused to photograph the joining of a gay couple.”

    Surely this will be thrown out as a frivolous law suit. Are there any details of the suit? I know you can sue anyone for anything, but there must be more than “I’m not photographing you.” Perhaps some sexual slurs were made.

  14. I almost agree with that, RBT. I am willing to give the woman complete
    control over the fetus if she must take full responsibility for the
    fetus and then child. I’m sure I need not detail how far current
    American practice falls from the latter half of that.

    I’ll probably surprise you by agreeing with you. I think the father should have to declare himself. If he declares that he doesn’t want a child, his responsibility should be limited to half the cost of an abortion. If he declares that he does want a child, the woman then chooses. If she elects to bear the child, the father is responsible for sharing the costs equitably until the child is an adult. If she elects to have an abortion, he’s responsible for half the cost of it.

  15. BTW, on this separation between Church and State, I am very worried about the pendulum swinging way too far to the left. My particular faith does not believe that homosexuals should get married. I do not like it but feel if the majority of the population agrees, then that marriage should occur somewhere else than my church building.

    Unfortunately, there is a movement going forward that if two homosexuals want to get married then they should be able to get married anywhere including a Church building of their choice. Some people feel that we are discriminating against them by not allowing homosexual marriages in our church building. While our church building is not the church body, it is our property and should not be seizeable by others for their purposes.

    I have even heard some people proposing that church ministers should be forced to officiate homosexual weddings which is just unimaginable to me.

    I’ll probably surprise you by agreeing with you, but the libertarian position is that people have the right freely to associate or not associate. No individual, church or other organization should be forced to recognize or participate in gay marriage or anything else they disagree with.

    Of course, I extend this to all facets of life. If a restaurant decides to serve only blacks or a doctor chooses to treat only Asians or a hairdresser puts up a “whites only” sign, that should be their decision. If a gay bar wants to exclude straights or vice versa, that should be their decision. If I don’t want to rent one of my rental properties to people with pets or children, that should be my decision. Individuals and private organizations should be permitted to discriminate however they wish. But government should never be permitted to discriminate against people for any reason.

  16. Hi Bob, you are not surprising me at all. The Republicans are continuously surprising me with their free spending antics. And disappointing me. I will vote for all the Republicans (a straight ticket probably) but some of them are really starting to torque me off on their constant harping about lowering taxes without a corresponding cut in expenditures.

    I am very proud of Romney for picking up Ron Paul’s mantra about auditing the Federal Reserve. However, I would like to see him jump on the Balanced Budget Amendment loudly and I have yet to see that. In fact, I do not have a clue where he or Ryan stand on the BBA.

    Yes, if the Libertarians could get their act together, I would vote for them. I think that only the Libertarians can save the Republic in the long run. And since I just got informed that I have another potential 30 years if I have this little heart surgery, I am much more interested in the long run. Not just for my kids but for me too.

  17. I’d actually have some respect if Mr. Akin would say that he is against abortion under any and all circumstances. That, at least, would be honest & unambiguous.

  18. The church my family belonged to, did not do weddings or funerals at all. There are plenty of churches that will do gay marriages, and I agree that those churches who do not want to do them, should not be forced into it. But I do not see how they could be forced to.

    Actually, all it took was for my first spouse to want a divorce, after a whopping huge marriage ceremony where we agreed in front of nearly a thousand people to the vows she wrote, for me to realize how insane a marriage ceremony is. It represents and guarantees absolutely nothing. And religious views and rites of today are just fads of the times, which have changed quite dramatically over the eons, and will continue to do so in the eons after I am gone. And mostly, those fads have been oppressive to both the adherents—and through societal pressure—to everyone around them, as they continue to be right now.

  19. There are lawsuits that are pretty clearly just people trying to get free money. In my state, a woman filed a suit because she woke up during a surgery, and heard the anesthesiologist cursing when he discovered she was awake. She claims to have been so terrified by this that it has affected her life detrimentally and permanently. Now the fact is that about 15 to 20% of surgery patients wake up during their procedure, so such an outcome is not unusual; in those cases, the surgeon and his staff just step back while the patient is put back to sleep. IMO, better to be on the too-conscious side, than never to wake up, which happened in another case I worked on.

    Things happen and people’s lives are compromised. But they are due money because their life will never be the same as it was before? I dislocated my elbow, and straight is now about 8 degrees from true straight. I should be paid for damages because I cannot straighten that arm the same as the other one anymore? Because this woman has dreams about waking up during surgery, she should be compensated for that?

  20. I then told him that he was practicing birth control by abstinence. I told him his church was against birth control so he was committing a sin against his church.

    This is the only form of birth control that is sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church.

    BTW, I did see some hard numbers on rapes that result in pregnancy. Of the rapes reported to the police, several thousand per year were known to result in a pregnancy.

  21. “Unfortunately, there is a movement going forward that if two homosexuals want to get married then they should be able to get married anywhere including a Church building of their choice. Some people feel that we are discriminating against them by not allowing homosexual marriages in our church building. While our church building is not the church body, it is our property and should not be seizeable by others for their purposes.”

    @Lynn: I’ll agree with you 100% on that. I’d go further: all of the anti-discrimination laws have been carried too far. A private organization should have the right to admit whoever it chooses. As an example, I am in a sports club: men only, minimum age 35 (we’re just a bunch of geezers trying to stay active); after sports, we go lift weights 12 ounces at a time to make up for it. What sense would it make for us to be forced to take a woman as a member? A teenager? It’s not what we’re about. Really, if it’s a privately run organization, it gets to set its own rules. The only requirement ought to be that the rules are openly stated. Put a sign on your front door, and the situation is clear to everyone.

    Ray’s situation with photography is the perfect example. It is stupid that he would feel compelled to make up an excuse not to photograph an event that he is uncomfortable with. If he turns down a client, for whatever reason, there are plenty of other photographers in the world.

  22. I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
    Groucho Marx

  23. Ray, thanks for the link to the law suit. I can only hope the Supreme’s have enough sense to overrule the lower courts. We are truly being governed by the courts these days.

  24. That lawsuit is exactly what I meant by the pendulum swinging too far to the left. The Supremes have already decided on this matter for the Boy Scouts. Any person with intelligence would apply that to anything else in terms of association.

    For some reason in this great country of ours, we have been deciding that there is a difference between businesses and people. The lefties have been very busy taking away rights from businesses as fast as they can. We have forgotten that businesses are made up of people who do have fundamental constitutional rights.

    So, I am the only person here who thinks that Lance Armstrong is getting the shaft by this quasi-governmental agency? I cannot believe that my tax dollars are funding this nonsense. My wife is wondering when are they going to go after Michael Phelps. After all, no one can accumulate that level of medals without “some” help.

  25. I think the BSA should be free to discriminate against gays and atheists, as long as it receives no support, direct or indirect, from the government. Right now, it does.

    As to Armstrong, my position has always been that athletes should be free to ruin their health by taking any drugs they want to.

  26. re Armstrong, I thought it was generally understood that all of the top-notch tour de France competitors doped and/or used steroids and/or used some other prohibited aid. The only difference was in who got caught or who was unfavored enough to get so much scrutiny they couldn’t fight it any more.

  27. I don’t see how—as Lynn says—a “quasi” US government agency can strip an athlete of medals won in competition in a foreign country, with said medals given by a foreign entity. Those medals and his win have nothing at all to do with that US agency.

    You know, after being friendly with people my age who grew up in the USSR, and laugh at the tales we were told in school about life under Communism in the USSR, I am coming to believe we live in a much more repressive society than my Soviet friends ever actually did.

  28. Is anything in this country not getting Federal money? And I am not talking about legitimate businesses selling items to the Feds. In disclosure, my company sells software to the Feds for working with fuel cells and we treat them like any other customer (pricing and service).

  29. Good question, and I suspect the answer is very few do not get money. Even small start-up businesses get stipends, unless the owners are principled enough to not apply for it. I consider tax breaks to be government subsidy money, so even people who update their heating/cooling system to one with better efficiency, are getting Federal money, IMO. The rest of us are making up for the loss of the upgrader’s tax dollars.

  30. The whole Lance Armstrong story smells of some sort of ugly politics. Why else would they suddenly be rehashing charges that were dismissed more than 10 years ago? I doubt that he is nearly as clean as he claims; more likely, he did stuff that was “allowed” in the sense that the tests at the time couldn’t catch it (e.g., blood transfusions). However, going back 10 years to retroactively strip his medals is just childish, and the only “evidence” seems to be hearsay. He probably pissed someone off, or failed to grease someone’s palm.

    The Tour de France is a stupid sporting event. Of course all of the competitors are doped. Any sporting event that is so utterly one-dimensional will be dominated by people who eek out small performance increases by whatever means they can. Weight-lifting has exactly the same problem.

  31. I say fie upon professional sports, the Olympics, and events like this; the victories and records mean nothing now, over the past many decades. It has all turned into a massive carny fraud, like government and academia, and thus symptomatic of our collapsing joke of a civilization. The bottom line is the only line.

  32. Here OFD and I agree. The Olympics are a sham of rampant nationalism. Did you know that when the event was brought back, the British demanded that only amateur athletes should be allowed, and that it emphasized individual effort, not national?

    It was the 1936 Munich Olympics that heralded the over the top flag waving. Hitler wanted to showcase his new Aryan race of super beings. Jesse Owens messed that ideal up!

  33. Yep, and I suspect the German athletes who were beaten by Owens didn’t fare well afterward. The case of Baron Gottfried von Cramm, who was a world-class tennis player, is suggestive. He was anti-Nazi all along, but Hitler put up with that as long as von Cramm was doing well in the majors. When he started doing poorly, for him, Hitler had him arrested on morals charges (which he’d also been aware of all along) and threw him in prison.

    Nazi athletes had to win, or else.

  34. Interesting program on one of my BBC podcasts not long ago. It seems that there is some kind of identifying trait (I don’t understand that stuff at all) that ALL the Olympic athletes have, no matter their specialty. If you are among the elite athletes of the world, then you assuredly have this component (not sure it is a gene). Apparently, everyone who has this component (I believe they called it “the K-factor”) is also more likely to *want* to be a competitor in public competitions.

    I agree with Bill and OFD. I am not at all interested in zero-sum sports. It is pretty clear that it incites stupidity, severe anger, and resentment among both participants and fans. Indiana went to class basketball for high school contests a couple decades ago, and although the games are no longer as interesting, it has altogether eliminated the inter-school fights and hooliganism that used to surround the games. For instance, in my parents’ generation, you took your life into your hands if you attended a Tiny Town game in Muncie against Muncie Central. Kids (both guys and girls) would be accosted and beat up, sometimes leaving lifelong marks or disabilities from the fight. (Essentially, I grew up in Indy, and thus was not exposed to that rivalry.) Nowadays, kids could care less about class basketball, do not attend the games, and have no ill feelings at all about out-of-town sports competitors.

    But, back to the so-called K-factor, since only a very small percentage of people have this component, the vast majority of people are completely excluded from ever being Olympic competitors. It is not a contest to find the best athlete from everyone in the world, it is a contest only between the K-factor people of the world. If everyone knew that, who would care anything about the Olympics at all?

  35. I have become severely afflicted with the Z-factor, z’s being what I do now whenever I am confronted by any major pro sport or Olympic competition.

    High school and college team sports may be dying out now along with the newspapers and airlines. Especially after the stuff at Penn State and the ongoing scandals of gang-bangers in a lot of programs and much funny money spilling around. Good riddance. Intramural is one thing but the craziness that Chuck describes has gotta go.

  36. Are you sure we weren’t separated at birth, OFD? Aside from you being ten years older than me, that is.

  37. brad wrote:

    “What I don’t get about the anti-abortion types: it is just beyond my comprehension that they feel justified in imposing their religious view on everyone else.”

    Abortion isn’t always a religious issue. I’m a believer but ambivalent about it. Some quite religious folks are pro-choice. On the other hand some atheists are/were pro-life. For instance this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Nathanson

    who was a “Jewish atheist” who performed over 60,000 abortions, became pro-life while remaining an athiest, and at least 10 years after that became a Catholic.

    Anyway, if human life does, in fact, begin before birth then being pro-life is rational. (Unlike the idiot in Missouri.)

  38. RBT wrote:

    “As to Armstrong, my position has always been that athletes should be free to ruin their health by taking any drugs they want to.”

    Sure, people should be able to take any drugs they like, but if they sign up for a sporting contest with well stated rules they should obey them. Allowing Armstrong to keep the medals he won by cheating is like giving him a 500 yard head start each day.

  39. Red Chuck wrote:

    “…I am coming to believe we live in a much more repressive society than my Soviet friends ever actually did.”

    Yeah? You might think differently if you have to queue ’round the block for everything.

  40. OFD wrote:

    “I say fie upon professional sports…”

    I do NOT say fie upon the world’s premier sport: women’s beach volleyball… 🙂

  41. Whoops! My bad! Greg is correct: Fie upon all pro sports EXCEPT women’s beach volleyball! Agreed, sir!

  42. Miles_Teg says:

    Red Chuck wrote:

    “…I am coming to believe we live in a much more repressive society than my Soviet friends ever actually did.”

    Yeah? You might think differently if you have to queue ’round the block for everything.

    That is exactly what my Russian-raised friends were laughing about. Such queues, they have told me, were fiction on the part of those reporting it over here. The queues were in the same place there as they were here: government offices and doctor’s offices. Queuing for bread? If there was one thing that was plentiful in Russian life during the Cold War, one fellow told me, it was bread.

  43. “Man does not live by bread alone…”

    I know they had queues round the block there – I saw it in the movie Gorky Park.

    Well, they may have had lots of bread, but would you have wanted to drive one of their cars, use one of their refrigerators, etc? Kim Philby, who betrayed Britain to spy for the Soviets, said he *liked* the shortages because he enjoyed hunting things down that were in short supply. Since he was a good Stalinist he was hardly likely to make stuff up like that if the Soviet Union was a cornucopia.

    You know, of course, that they re-used syringes, unless you were a member of the Nomenklatura? And saw a documentary (faked by the CIA I hear you say) where women were getting abortions in the USSR. They rinsed the surgical instruments with tap water between each patient. When Chernobyl blew the Nomenklatura were warned to get Iodine to prevent the radioactive isotope from accumulating. Too bad there wasn’t enough for the proletariat.

    Yeah, a real workers paradise.

  44. I think everybody adjusts—even to life in the third world. Those same Russian friends wondered why American schools were so intent on telling us about life in Russia. I suppose, just like religion, to impress on young children that Communism is the devil. They said schools in Russia never bothered to paint pictures of life in other countries—good or bad. Nevertheless, the fellow I was closest to, said—except for the changes advancements in modern electronics has brought—his life now is not so different in Germany than it was growing up in Russia. Like in East Germany, Western rock-and-roll was not freely available in Russia, but there were pop groups in both of those countries, and British and American rock was available through underground networks, if you really wanted it.

    But, of the several Russians I was friendly with—who were all from different places in the USSR,—all of them maintained that it was never necessary to queue in long lines for food.

    I don’t know anything about syringes being re-used in medical settings, but that was common here until a few decades ago. I remember going into the doctor’s office as a kid, and they had a gizmo in the corner of the examining room, cooking needles with steam all the time the office was open.

    The one thing I have learned from living abroad for a significant amount of time, is that reports about foreign places are often false. But I tend to believe first-hand reports by my friends from the former USSR before I believe books, or especially schools run by the US government.

    As for the workers’ paradise part, most of those Russians and people I knew from East Germany, preferred the system they had there, where workers never had to look for jobs. You were told where you were going to work, and everybody had work. As a consequence, there was a lot less stress over work, they maintained, than they now feel as a part of Western society.

  45. Okay, so your Russian friends liked the idea of being allocated a job for life. You know the quality of the goods they produced? I’d rather choose my own job and have the choice of what products to buy. I mean, how successful was Soviet industry in selling goods in the West? But the Nomenklatura liked their Western goods.

  46. I am not trying to sell the Soviet system over the Western. All I am saying is that 1) life in the USSR was not really as portrayed by teachers in the US schools system, and 2) by and large,—as I am told by those who lived in it—most people in the USSR thought that life was acceptably good there.

    Personally, I take the view that the late Jude Wanniski had: that different political and economic systems are experiments that all yield useful information for mankind’s advancement. Clearly, you could not live in anything but the Western system. I am not sure everybody in the world shares that desire. One thing I find after living life with many, many, many more “things” than anybody needs, and having to dispose of 3 households of furniture, an office, and thousands of books when my parents passed, I want as little in life as it takes to eat, breathe, and hold a job. I think, actually, I could have easily adapted to the life I saw that people lived in the former East Germany. I don’t have to have 1 of everything on the market in the West.

    But don’t political systems exist to serve the inhabitants? Who is to say they know better what is best for another country and other people? That is a lot like the fundies who believe no one has it right but them, and everybody else on the planet needs to be a Christian, so let’s go see to it that they are. Whatever we had, my Russian and East German friends never missed—except for the ability to travel and see the world.

  47. “…people I knew from East Germany, preferred the system they had there, where workers never had to look for jobs. You were told where you were going to work, and everybody had work. As a consequence, there was a lot less stress over work…”

    I also know several people from former East Germany, and there are occasional historical pieces and interviews on television. A significant portion of the older population misses the good old days. It’s not comfortable knowing that you must perform or be fired, when you spent the first 20 years of your working life without any such concept. It’s much like the change the US saw a few decades ago: once upon a time, when you got a job at a big company, you knew you would work their until you retired. That is no longer the case, and the people who were caught in the transition – suddenly being fired after 20 years on the job – found it hard to accept and understand.

    It’s a different way of life. There are advantages and disadvantages. Society probably progresses faster and gets more out of its top performers, in a competitive system. People are probably less stressed in a non-competitive one.

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