Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Husbands Should NOT Do Half the Housework

I just read an article on MSN in which the author, Leslie Bennetts, urged wives to yell, nag, withhold sex, whatever it takes, to get their husbands to do half the housework.

What she fails to recognize is that the out-of-home work that the average man does is more difficult and more stressful, and takes many more hours than what the average woman does. Study after study show that even when the wife works full-time (and many women don't), the man works more hours and is more likely to have a more stressful and/or dangerous job. Those factors need to be taken into account when deciding how much housework the man should do.

Did You Ever Wish You Found a True Kindred Spirit?

I pretty much have everything one could ask for in life. Yet, I continue to search for something more. My latest thought is to try to find a true kindred spirit, someone who is nearly alike me.

When people tell me about an amazingly close friendship, it's usually between people who are almost alike, who could almost be twins. Perhaps that's what I want.

So, if after reading my blog posts and my profile, you feel you might be a true kindred spirit, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Keys to Success in College or Grad School

A client today asked for advice on how to get off to a great start in grad school. Here's what I told him:

1. Carefully pick your advisor--Read their bios on the college's site and pick one who both rationally and emotionally intrigues you. Chat with him (or her, of course,) perhaps about his research. If it feels right, ask him to be your advisor. If not, thank him for the conversation, and try someone else.

2. Find out who the best teachers are. Ask the dept. administrative assistant--s/he has read all the student evaluations of all the professors. Or try sites containing student reviews of professors:

Students Review

3. Adapt assignments to your career goal. Most professors don't mind your proposing an alternate term paper topic, fieldwork assignment, etc.

4. Be social. For example, throw parties for your fellow students. Invite your favorite professors. Whether or not they come, they'll be flattered.

The Books to Read on Men's Issues

  • Save the Males by syndicated columnist, Kathleen Parker.  No mainstream publisher, let alone Random House, would have published this if it were written by a man. She makes clear how the schools, colleges, media, and laws have been devastating, unfairly, to men, who as a gender, are nowhere near as bad as the media has led you to believe.
The next two, by Drs. Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, professors at McGill, are very scholarly but authoritative.
The following two books by Dr. Warren Farrell, who twice served on the board of the National Organization for Women in New York City and now is co-president with me of the National Organization for Men, are more pleasant reading, shorter, and yet solidly researched:
  • The Woman Racket by Steve Maxon. A small percentage of the book's assertions are dubious, but en toto, it is a worthwhile read: bold yet sensible in its assertions, usually well documented.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to Pick Who to Vote For

I believe it was Churchill who said, "Judge a man not by what he says, but by what he does."

There's no better way to choose which politician to vote for. After all, our system virtually forces a candidate who really want to win to parse, massage, mislead, and even outright lie.

If we replace the blather with relevant deeds, the following facts about Obama come into evidence:

The nonpartisan National Journal rates Congress members' voting records on a scale from 0 (most conservative) to 100 (most liberal.) Obama's voting record scored 100. Is this a man likely to be a uniter not a divider? And if you consider yourself a moderate, can you be comfortable with a man whose voting record is maximally liberal?

Obama and his family, including his children, for 20 years attended the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama calls him "His spiritual advisor." He donated thousands of dollars to Wright's church. He named him to one of his presidential campaign committees. All these suggest he condones if not embraces the key themes in Wright's sermons. An ABC News review of dozens of Wright's sermons found "repeated denunciations of the U.S.," most memorably saying "God bless America? No. God DAMN America!" Wright also insisted that the U.S. created the AIDS virus to kill Blacks, that the U.S. brought 9/11 on itself, and that anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan is a great man.

Candidly, I do not follow politics closely enough to responsibly and representatively describe the full range of Obama's, Clinton's, McCain's, or Ron Paul's (Yes, he still is running--Here's his Apr. 28 CNN interview) relevant actions. I offer the above two merely because they're the two most glaring examples I've heard of. I don't mean to imply that there might not be equally important facts about the others.)

I invite you to search out the candidates' relevant behaviors, notably their voting records and examples of effective leadership. To those ends, a good place to start is VoteSmart. (When you get there, scroll down.) I'd also just Google the candidates and avoid sites created by the candidates, the parties, or advocacy groups. Instead, read liberal, conservative, and libertarian sites' reporting, not of what the candidates said, but of what they've done.

How to Save the U.S. from Dying

Peg Tyre, long-time investigative journalist for Newsweek, now doing a project with the New York Times and I were kicking around ideas on how to save America. She wondered if it would help if we sent an even higher proportion of our high school graduates to college. Here was my response:

Even the students we already admit to college can't compete with Korea, China, etc-- It's tough for such students to argue that they're worth 300% more money (plus benefits) than Asians. Digging ever deeper into the barrel of high school students is certainly not the answer.

There is no magic answer. This is, as most experts believe, China's century. But I believe that America can slow its descent:

1. The current cry is, "All students can learn to high standards." Who could argue with that?

Me. I'd much rather have all our students graduate from high school with skills in how to start and run a successful business, resolve conflicts wisely, have financial literacy, information literacy (how to use Google optimally, for example), and great parenting skills (so from Day One, their kids can get good parenting) even if they graduate without knowing quadratic equations, the halide series of chemical elements, and the causes of the Peloponnesian Wars.

2. We need less pluribus and more unum. In nearly every nation in the world, ethnocentrism has led to enmity. The term "assimilation" has acquired a bad name in this country. I think that's a grave error. We should be educating people to be world citizens, with our self-concept a function not of our national identity, race, class, gender, or sexual orientation, but the worthiness of our own actions.

3. Recognizing that money and consumerism really are roots of evil, and educating people that the life well-led usually means spending time less in the pursuit of money and more on doing good.

4. Changing how we select our leaders. All elections should be two weeks long and 100% publicly funded. That would encourage far wiser people to run for office (No four-year campaigns of pressing the flesh) and would avoid their being bought by special interests from the Right and the Left.

Besides, who says America needs to be #1? I'd rather concede economic hegemony to China but be the sort of country that would result from implementing the recommendations above.

America's Most Overrated Product: A Bachelor's Degree

My article of that title appears in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education (the publication of record for college presidents, VPs, etc.) I believe it is among the most important of my 600 published articles.

I anticipate a torrent of excoriating letters to the editor from the Chronicle of Higher Education's readership. After all, I'm criticizing them. So, if you are so moved, you might send a positive letter to

The Double Standard Strikes Again

Today, I received a press release from an outfit called Part-Time Pro. Its core assertion: "Women should not have to sacrifice personal desires for professional aspirations."

What?!! Let's say two people aspire to be promoted. The first one doesn't "sacrifice personal desires for professional aspirations" while the other person rarely leaves early to watch their kid's soccer game, in fact often stays late so s/he can answer emails in a timely manner, who reads while on the exercise bike, chose to take difficult statistical modeling classes to improve their work skills, and accepted a transfer to some God-forsaken place so s/he could acquire important experience. In any world other than Alice's wonderland, shouldn't the latter person get the promotion?

Yet women's advocates constantly argue that people who choose to work less (what they term "work/life balance," which is a focus-group tested phrase designed to elicit maximum sympathy) should have an equal right to promotions. And when fewer women are then promoted, feminists blame it on a men-created glass ceiling rather than that women more often make choices to work less and in less demanding areas.

The feminists' intended trump card is to play the "Children need mommy at home" card. As I've stated in earlier posts, the data on that is equivocal and, logically, it is better for children to see a role model of mom who holds a job other than housewife. Too, the stay-at-home mom (cynics would say "play-at-home mom") is more likely to be a helicopter mom (hovering) thereby denying their child opportunities to develop self-efficacy.

Ironically, the people who attribute the low percentage of women in top positions to a glass ceiling are also likely to insist we do more to try to stop global warming. Well, environmentalists agree that the greatest threat to the earth is overpopulation, so should we be subsidizing the having of more children by telling women, "You shouldn't have to sacrifice your personal desires for professional aspirations?"

Can we please stop with the double standard and remember that, ultimately, the greatest cure for all that ails us is meritocracy, whether a person has an xy or xx chromosome.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Truly Believe That Men Need to be Wary of Women

I suspect that some readers will respond to this post with some unjustified put-down like "sexist!" or "misogynist!" but I'm trying, in my blog, to not let fear of excoriation preclude me from writing what I honestly believe.

My guest today on my radio show was Carnell Smith, an expert on paternity fraud. He claimed that 30% of men who went to blood banks for paternity tests found that they were not--as the child's mother claimed--the father. Smith went on to say that in most states, DNA evidence, in many cases, is inadmissible. He estimated that, currently, one million men are paying child support for kids they did not father.

Of course, it's outrageous that 30 states would enact such unfair-to-men laws. But why would a woman falsely claim that a man is the father of her child when he isn't, thereby forcing him to unfairly pay many thousands of dollars in child support, and manipulate him into spending 18 years involved in raising a child he didn't father? Smith says that these are the major reasons:
-- He had the deepest pockets among the men she slept with
-- She was trying to chain him to the relationship
-- She thought he'd make the best father
-- She was trying to lash out at the man

Of course, some men do despicable things to women. That's not the point. The media has made us aware (ad nauseam) of the ills men perpetrate on women. In this post, I'm trying to bring to light the much underreported ills that a surprising number of women perpetrate on men so that men can protect themselves.

While most women, like most men, are good people, women are unfairly cruel to men more often than many men think. It needn't be as extreme as paternity fraud. For example, it can simply be your wife or live-in girlfriend dissembling (consciously or not) that she's not viable in the workplace so she can only work part-time on some pleasant job like giving flute lessons, and that you therefore must be the beast of burden, working 40-60 hours a week on a job you might not like, but you're forced to accept to fund her expenditures.

I want to reiterate that I believe that the majority of women, like the majority of men, behave ethically and lovingly to their romantic partner. But many don't. And many guys are naive to that because the media focuses on the ills that men do to women but not vice versa. Men have also been conditioned, unfairly I deeply believe, to think they're oppressors of women.

So, men, be vigilant to being taken advantage of by a woman, and if you believe it likely that you are being treated unfairly, don't--before being convinced you're wrong--cave when she pulls out the ploys: crying, withdrawing, yelling, and yes, playing the gender card by calling you "sexist" or "misogynist."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Last Lecture

A Carnegie Mellon professor, dying of cancer, gave this last lecture.

Here's the essence of what mine would be:

1. Get good at something and then work long hours at it. The extra work hours will be more rewarding to you and to the world than a round of golf, shopping with a friend, playing Monopoly with your family, or getting on a plane to go to your nephew's bar mitzvah.

2. Champion something that most people don't. I'm pro-choice, but so are zillions of other people. My efforts there would be a drop of water in an ocean. In contrast, today, no one seems to care about intellectually gifted kids, especially boys, in our public schools. When I champion their right to get an appropriate-leveled education I feel my efforts matter.

3. Do something very creative--as a hobby. Creative pursuits usually pay terribly. Doing your creative outlet as a hobby allows you to derive most of the pleasure without having to take a vow of poverty.

4. Be nice.

5. Never look back; always look forward.
I asked my father why he never talks about the Holocaust. He said, "The Nazis took five years from my life. I won't give them one minute more. Martin, never look back; always look forward."

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Latest Example of Liberal Hypocrisy

Liberals and the media have vigorously advocated for laws against age discrimination. Yet, to help ensure that McCain loses, they say he's too old.

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised. Liberal hypocrisy is so common. A few examples:

-- Mainstream (read liberal) newspapers and magazines devote endless ink to the importance of being green yet kill countless trees to produce paper versions of their publications rather than posting them online. Meanwhile, landfills grow ever larger to accommodate all the newsprint. And the delivery trucks release into the atmosphere the hydrocarbons the newspapers insist they're worried about.

-- Hillary has long advocated for public education, yet she sent her daughter to private schools and private college. (Update: Obama, another big supporter of public education, is sending his kid to the same tony private school the Clintons sent Chelsea to.)

-- Hillary has long proclaimed herself a celebrant of diversity, yet when she became senator, she bought her house in one of New York City's only lily-white suburbs.

-- Congress has passed endless affirmative-action laws, yet specifically exempted itself from those laws.

-- John Kerry, while running as the "Environmental President," owned gas-guzzling SUVs. (Yes, that's plural.)

--Limousine Liberals, ubiquitous in Hollywood and the San Francisco Bay Area, advocate for the poor, for example, railing against CEO salaries, making movies that bash the rich. (I just saw Michael Clayton, a typical example.) They urge everyone to walk the talk, yet they don't. If they chose to live mere upper-middle class lifestyles, each keeping an extra million bucks for a rainy day and gave the rest to the poor, limousine liberals could save countless poor people's lives. But instead they prefer to just sing a song at a benefit concert or sound sanctimonious in a CNN interview and then escape in their limo through their mansion's electronic gate and then press "Close."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Quote I Can Relate To

I saw Chekhov's Uncle Vanya tonight. I was particularly taken with this speech by Astrov:

The educated people are hard to get along with. One gets tired of them. All our good friends are petty and shallow and see no farther than their own noses; in one word, they are dull. Those that have brains are hysterical, devoured with a mania for self-analysis. They whine, they hate, they pick faults everywhere with unhealthy sharpness. ..If they don't know what else to label me with, they say I am strange.

Is the Internet Sinking Itself? A Career Opportunity for Techies

Over the past year, I've noticed it takes ever longer for web pages to load, especially if they have graphics such as ads on them. I find myself occasionally giving up on a site and going elsewhere.

I'm guessing that with ever more sites containing graphics and videos, and ever more people downloading and uploading big graphic/video-filled files, surfing will slow further.

Unless breakthroughs in Internet infrastructure occur--such as wider, faster pipes--is it possible that people will start to use the Net less?

With billions of dollars of ad revenues at stake, I'll bet that, even if we're in recession, solving that problem will be among the most high-priority and lucrative. So, techies, consider focusing your efforts there.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Child's Play

I had coffee with two fellow career counselors. In the course of conversation, I said, "Let's each take one minute to tell each other the things we most enjoyed doing when we were children."

I said:
-- Looking out the window hoping it will continue snowing so school will be closed the next day.
-- Lying on the grass, watching the clouds move.
-- Practicing basketball by myself, learning to dribble as well with my right hand as with my left.

You know, although I haven't done those things in almost 50 years, I think I'd still enjoy doing them. Maybe I'll do them.

What did you most enjoy as a child? Would you like to do them again now?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Shocking Response

I happened upon the editor-in-chief of a major publication. She said that her publication was looking for bloggers and invited me to email her the link to this blog. I did.

A day later, she emailed me to say that she found my posts on boys and men to be "a caricature of the men's advocate" and that I needed to "limber up" my reasoning and persuasiveness.

I'd appreciate knowing if the readers of this blog agree.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Making Money While You Sleep

Clients often ask me, "Can you actually make a living with an e-business and make money while you sleep?"

Possibly, if you execute well. Here's my current favorite approach:

1. Identify a specific type of business--for example, financial planning or solar energy installation-- that you have true expertise in or that you could acquire by reading and by interviewing a number of successful people in that business. You might even be able to convince (or hire) them to write an article on the highly specific information needed to succeed in that business.

2. Create a hierarchy of truly value-added products:
a. A free content-rich article or teleconference.
b. A $15-$40 product such as an e-book.
c. A $200-$300 complete kit with e-books, CDs, workbooks, etc.
d. A one-day, weekend, and/or five-day intensive/bootcamp for $200 to $2000.
e. Ongoing coaching at $100 to $300 an hour.

3. Market those products and services through trade publications, Google adwords, teleseminars, and continually providing new, valuable free articles on your site so the site's Google rankings are high.

Dan Janal sent this example along to me: "Rory Fatt, who owns Restaurant Marketing Systems has more than 100 restaurant owners each paying $10,000.00 yearly to be in his top-level coaching program; nearly 4,000 buying and using his advertising, marketing, and business kits - information products ranging in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and subscribing to his newsletter; nearly 500 attend his annual multi-day conference; and he also provides pre-fab websites, a loyalty points program (like a frequent flyer program), new mover mailings done for them, and other products and services. These products are sold using print ads in trade journals, direct mail, websites and email, and teleseminars. It is a multimillion-dollar a year business built from scratch in about five years. Rory has only two employees, and he rarely visits his office, takes a lot of time off to be with his family, and takes at least two extend ed vacations a year. And maybe what's most significant is this: Rory has never owned, operated, or managed a restaurant."

I am not an expert in online business, so if this post piques your interest, do not simply follow its advice. Start by reviewing these blogs: Moneymaker and How to Make Money Online for Beginners.

You U: A Fast Way to Learn a New Profession

I have acquired professional-level skills in career counseling, journalism, rose hybridizing, screenplay writing, plus strong amateur-level skills as an actor and play director without ever having taken a course (let alone a degree) in any of the above.

I simply:

1. Google the topic to read key articles in the field.

2. Use Amazon to find the best books on the subject.

3. While reading those books, immediately start applying what I've learned: career counseling someone (for free while I was still a neophyte), writing columns and articles, breeding roses, writing a screenplay, auditioning for acting and directing roles.

4. I then solicit feedback from everyone from just-plain folks to world-class experts. For example, I discussed my rose hybridizing efforts with the world's leading hybridizers and visited their facilities. I sent drafts of my articles and screenplays to respected friends and to leading writers for review. I had top career counselors watch me do sessions and I watched them. In preparation for an audition, I took an acting lesson or two.

The results:

-- Over the past 20 years, I've had 2,800 career coaching clients and enjoy a 96% client satisfaction rate. The San Francisco Bay Guardian, on its cover, called me "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach."

-- For six years, I was career columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, for three years at the Los Angeles Times, and now in my third year as Contributing Editor at U.S. News & World Report and columnist for

-- Three of my rose varieties are in commerce, distributed by Bailey's Nurseries, one of the world's premier distributors of no-spraying-required roses.

-- In the last four years, I have had four starring roles in plays. And in my directing debut, I won the Bay Area "Roar of the Crowd" award for the Bay Area's #1 audience-favorite entertainment of the week and "Best Director" award at Chanticleers Theatre.

-- Lew Hunter, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the preeminent UCLA screenwriting program called my screenplay, The Ugly Club, "a uniquely pleasurable experience that will make a wonderful film." Two significant Hollywood film studios are currently considering it.

Of course, you do have to be a self-starter and an apt learner for this learning strategy to work, but if you are, in a surprisingly large array of pursuits, you may be able to forgo State U, let alone Private U, in favor of You U.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Facing Death

After decades of fearing death, I've arrived at a cocktail of thoughts that have, for a year now, put my fears to rest.
  • Remembering that I'll be aware of nothing after I'm dead, just like I wasn't aware of anything before I was born.
  • If the dying process is too painful, I can (hopefully) end my life. Someone just told me that breathing helium (widely available) is a relatively discomfort-free way to, when desired, end it.
  • Probably, when I'm dying, I'll feel quite sick and/or tired, and thus ready to go.
  • The moment a fear-inducing thought of death intrudes, I immediately distract myself by asking, "How can I--this next second--make the biggest difference possible.
  • I have signed up for cryonic suspension: to be frozen upon my death until science has advanced enough to repair what killed me and then awaken me. I realize this scenario is highly speculative, but it buys me a bit of comfort to think I might not be dead forever.
  • I spend as many of life's moments as possible trying to use my best skills to make a difference in the world today and to leave a legacy that will live on after I die.

How to Fix the Schools

Countless tomes have been written on how to fix the schools. In a moment of clarity or of self-delusion, I believe that the K-12 schools could be vastly improved with just this half page worth of changes:

1. Recruit more heavily for engaging teachers. It will be easier to recruit them if all that's required is a bachelor's degree. Requiring all prospective teachers to complete 30-45 units of stultifying post-bachelor's teacher prep courses shoos-away many potentially excellent teachers. That hurts the quality of teaching more than most teacher education programs improve it.

2. Merit pay would help retain the good teachers and encourage the bad ones to leave.

3. Relieve teachers of the vast amounts of accountability paperwork that drives teachers crazy.

4. Eliminate tenure. Some teachers are fine for some years but then burn out. But being tenured, it's almost impossible to get rid of them. Meanwhile, they're hurting kids for many more years.

5. Group classes by student ability. That will dramatically increase the amount of appropriate-leveled education each student receives. Recent decades' move to mandate mixed-ability classes to ensure racially balanced classes has done more to hurt the quality of education than all the budget cuts combined.

6. Reduce standardized testing. In-class tests and teacher observations plus one short annual standardized test are enough. The number of days spent studying for and taking standardized tests could be better spent.

7. Put curriculum development in the hands of teachers, not professors.
The latter have insisted that all high school students learn such arcana as quadratic equations, the halide series of chemical elements, and the causes of the Peloponnesian Wars, even if they graduate without being able to resolve personal conflicts, be savvy consumers, or write a business letter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thank you, dear readers of this blog

I started writing this blog in frustration at being unable able to get published what I want, when I want, but I was dubious that people would read my blog, let alone comment, let alone comment intelligently.

Although this blog is just two weeks old, quite a number of people have posted comments, and--to my delight-- they're invariably intelligent and respectful-sometimes expanding on what I've said, sometimes disagreeing, but that's fine. That's what this wonderful medium should be all about: the exchange of intelligent ideas from multiple perspectives. Thank you all.

The Most Authoritative Career Guide--just published

The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides comprehensive profiles of 275 popular careers, including predictions about demand. The new edition has just been published. It's free online or $20 in book form.

Jist, publisher of the book version, just sent me a press release summarizing what's new in this year's Occupational Outlook Handbook:

"Some occupations are now expected to grow considerably faster than was previously expected, notably those in the Finance and Insurance and Human Service clusters. Overall, however, projections for job growth now are a little less optimistic than two years ago, especially in the Manufacturing and Retail and Wholesale Sales and Service clusters. Job-growth forecasts also have been cut back, though to a lesser extent, for the high-flying Health Science and Education and Training clusters...The U.S. economy has shifted toward service industries such as health care and hospitality. As a result, more and more opportunities will be found in jobs that involve a lot of interpersonal contact, and chances to work alone will become more scarce."

A False Equivalency

The Palestinians have co-opted the media to score the Palestinian-Israeli dispute in terms of the number of people killed: 20 Palestinians killed, only 11 Israelis, so we're supposed to believe the Palestinians have been wronged.

That's the wrong metric. The right metric is merit. Israelis have done more for medical science (the highest per-capita # of medical patents in the world), for democracy, for women, not to mention providing a safe haven for the millions of Holocaust survivors.

Compare that with the Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim brethren, a much larger percentage of whom live as though it were the 14th century, repressing women, contributing little to science and technology, and condoning repressive, anti-democratic governments. Their main exports are oil and terrorism.

The media wants us to believe that all peoples are the same. We're not. And in the end, championing meritocracy, not false equivalencies, will much more likely maximize quality of life for as many of the world's people as possible.

I invite you to watch this You Tube video. It reveals a side of Israel that the media won't show you. (Side benefit: Its music is so uplifting, it's a guaranteed anti-depressant, with no side effects.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Should You Bet Your Career on Green?

Of course, green will be big... for a while.

People are entering green careers in droves, but I predict that, over the next decade, when the ambiguity about the climate change science becomes better publicized, the full costs and pains of trying to address it are revealed, and improved nuclear and clean coal technology increase our energy independence, green job openings will drop, leaving countless green-trained people looking for the next politically correct fad bandwagon to jump on. I'm not certain about that, but I am sure that choosing to train for a green career isn't as sure a bet as the advocates would have us believe.

White Males Need Not Apply

I've just come across a particularly vivid example of the countless signs to white males that, in the 21st century, they are as excluded as minorities and women were in previous generations. It is the New York Times' -just acquired This site helps employers find college-educated employees. On its home page and its two other tabbed pages, there are 10 photos of the target employee. Not one white male.

Where the good jobs are

Unless you're a star, government is the last bastion of well-paying, benefited, secure jobs. And government is hiring, big-time. (Don't fall for politicians' fear-mongering threats of cuts. It's merely a ploy to justify tax increases.)

Here's a great site that shows you how to find a well-suited federal job throughout the U.S. as well as overseas: Here's a portal to state job sites:

A 20-year-old role model for all of us

Ben Casnocha, now 20, decided to forgo college for a while because he thought he could learn more of value and of interest without having to meet college's requirements. He reads thoughtfully selected articles and books representing a wide range of responsibly held positions, not just the politically correct. To solidify his knowledge and gain input on his views from others, he blogs about a wide range of important matters. There, instead of being overly cautious like most people, he tries out bold ideas and, importantly, admits when he errs. He convenes in-person meetings of smart people to discuss the Big Issues, where he demonstrates the facilitation skills of a mature person.

His latest unconventional idea: national service is a net negative. To read his position on that and all manner of important topics from entrepreneurship to education, check out his blog.

You heard it first here: I predict that Ben Casnocha will become a U.S. senator if not president of the United States.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Deadly Downsides of Insuring Everyone

The soundbite "Health Insurance for All" generates widespread assent. But like most bumper-sticker rhetoric, closer analysis is required. Let me ask you a question:

It's well-acknowledged that the U.S. health care system is creaking under its weight. For example, over 120,000 people die annually as the result of healthcare-practitioner errors. Now, what do you think will happen when we ask our health care providers to add 47 million uninsured to their patient rolls, a group that has above-average health care needs but pays little taxes and will likely pay little into the new government-mandated system that will almost assuredly be enacted under a Democrat presidency?

Not only will more deaths result, but there will be long waits for health care, and refusal to provide care in such gray-area situations as a 75-year old male needing and wanting bypass surgery. Lest you think I'm making that assertion based only on the well-publicized nightmare experiences of some people in Canada who, for example, desperately needed surgery but couldn't get it, let me refer you to the U.S.'s current experiment in covering everyone: Massachusetts. And lest you think my source of information about the Massachusetts insurance-for-all system is some conservative rag, my source is the New York Times.

I do believe that basic health care is a right, but we cannot provide it for the whole world, including the 13 million and skyrocketing number of illegal immigrants. (And once we do, the number of illegal immigrants will accelerate further.) However we decide to reform health care, it is only right that there be tiers: basic health care for all, but, for moderate cost, other people should be covered for a wider range of procedures, allowed to choose their health care providers, and have faster access to them.

To increase the number of qualified health care providers, we need to realize that doctor, nurse, and allied-health practitioner training programs (currently designed primarily by academics rather than by top clinicians) can be significantly shortened with minimal impact on patient care. In fact, if those training programs were developed and taught by top clinicians instead of by academics, I'd predict that care quality would actually improve.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Should Mommyhood Afford Special Privileges?

Women's advocates from the Left and the Right argue that mommyhood should afford women special privileges:
-- The Left fights for the right for women to take years off or half-off (the mommy track) without it hurting their chances for career advancement.
-- The Right champions women being a stay-at-home (cynics would say "play-at-home") mom without society viewing them as second-class citizens.

Women's advocates from both the Left and Right argue :
  • for more taxpayer- and employer-paid childcare
  • for paid leave for new parents (overwhelmingly, it is women who take advantage of this. )
  • that parents (again, overwhelmingly women) should have the right to--without consequence-- leave work early to, for example, watch their kids' soccer game, even though it may leave the remaining workers in the lurch.
Are such practices in society's best interest?

Environmentalists agree that the greatest threat to the environment is overpopulation. The more the taxpayer and employer subsidizes childbearing, the greater the likelihood people will have babies. For example, if women know their careers won't suffer, they'll have free or low-cost childcare, be able to leave work early when desired, etc., additional women will choose to have a child or additional children. It's ironic that the same people who vociferously advocate for the environment are likely to advocate for policies that would contribute to overpopulation.

Many moms argue that they should only work part-time if at all "because it's better for the kids." Fact is, the data is equivocal on that, which isn't surprising because so many factors affect a child's well-being and success that it is very difficult to empirically parse out the effects of being a stay-at-home mom. In such situations, logical reasoning trumps empiricism, and logically, it is clear that, on average, kids are better off if mom works outside the home. Too often, the stay-at-home mom becomes co-dependent and overly protective--the so-called helicopter (hovering) mom. Too, the child of a stay-at-home mom doesn't get to see the role model of a woman who can be productive other than as housewife.

Men suffer because of "family-friendly" policies. Their wives insist on being stay-at-home mothers, forcing the husbands to carry all the family's financial responsibilities. At work, they must pick up the slack for the many women who take extended maternity leave and leave work early so they can pick up their kids from school, etc. They pay tax dollars and increased prices of goods and services to fund the myriad parental subsidies that primarily benefit women: the aforementioned paid family leave, subsidized child care, etc.

Of course, some men want children as much as do women, but that's not the question here. The question is, overall, in a society with so many crying needs, are we best served by allocating so many resources to mommyhood?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Fun and Helpful Exercise: List What You're Grateful For

To get you started, here's what I'm grateful for (In no order--I'm just writing these as they come to me. You feel free to do the same.)
My sweet dog, Einstein
This blog
That I got my taxes done. (PLEASE create a tax return we can complete in 15 minutes.)
The privilege of being in my 19th year hosting a radio show in a major city.
The privilege to have written many articles, including cover stories, for U.S. News & World Report.
Movies on DVD
Easy-to-make clam sauce
That I can still run (well, jog) 3 miles
Music CDs
Plays that make me laugh and especially cry.
The art on my walls, even though most are just prints.
My co-coach and intellectual of great integrity, Michael Edelstein
Bougainvillea James Walker
Quaker oatmeal to which I add Trader Joe's walnut pieces and maple syrup
That I can play the piano well, without effort
My wife's acting ability, her having been selected her region's School Superintendent of the Year, her equanimity, and looks.
My quiet bedroom
That I can browse shopping malls, which I consider museums where you can buy all the stuff--yet don't have to buy a thing.
Chrysanthemum Fruiticosum, Snowland
Cell Phones
My Uggs slippers
When I can restrain myself from consuming too many calories (too rarely.)

Is Career Counseling a Waste?

It's odd for me to be raising that question in that I'm a career counselor. Yet stories like this one a client told me just an hour ago (I'll change a few irrelevant details to protect his anonymity,) does give me pause:

After four years studying at Harvard, he came to believe money was a shackle and the root of much evil. So he went to his CitiBank and withdrew all his money, in $100 bills. He then stood at the main entrance to the Harvard campus (the gateway to one of America's hub of liberal thought) and gave away all the $100 bills at random.

He was shocked that well-heeled Harvard students who had been filled with "redistributive justice" rhetoric and indeed probably espoused it in class discussions and term papers, pushed homeless people away to attempt to get a second $100. Distraught as perhaps only Hamlet has been, he fled to his Harvard advisor's office and screamed at the meaningless of it all. What did his advisor do? Called the police and had him involuntarily committed to the local mental hospital.

After my client was released, he took a job--at a bank, the icon representing everything he had reviled. The punch line: He liked his job and succeeded there, eventually earning a six-figure salary.

This is the most extreme such story I've heard, but I've known many people who ended up happy in careers that no career counselor could have predicted to be well-suited.

Although I am a career counselor/coach, my best advice to those seeking aid in choosing a career: Forgo seeing a career advisor. Instead, for a week or two, keep musing about career and write any clues in a memo pad, which you keep with you at all times. After that, look at my Best Careers, 2008 and my book, Cool Careers for Dummies, to trigger additional ideas.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is it wiser to work long hours or to have balance?

The older we get, the more we realize we only have a limited amount of time to do the things we believe are important. Conventional wisdom is--especially among women--that rather than work more hours, it's wiser to spend the time on relationships and pleasures. I believe that is wrong if your work will do more good overall than the additional time spent on relationships, and especially if you work would not be done or done as well by others. So, I believe that working "crazy" hours and being dubbed a workaholic (while being sure you don't unduly exhaust yourself) is, for many people, key to a life well-led.