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DANGEROUS DRINKING

Writing for Slate, Emily Yoffe says that binge drinking on campus is "closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we're reluctant to tell women to stop doing it." Read "College Women: Stop Getting Drunk" in full at tinyurl.com/tbtimes-nobinge. Here's an excerpt.

The men tend to use the drinking to justify their behavior, as this survey of research on alcohol-related campus sexual assault by Antonia Abbey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University, illustrates, while for many of the women, having been drunk becomes a source of guilt and shame. Sometimes the woman is the only one drunk and runs into a particular type of shrewd - and sober - sexual predator who lurks where women drink like a lion at a watering hole. For these kinds of men, the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment. I've spoken to three recent college graduates who were the victims of such assailants, and their stories are chilling. Let's be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don't have your best interest at heart. That's not blaming the victim; that's trying to prevent more victims.

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Ignorance and ballots

Writing for the libertarian Cato Institute's Cato Unbound, Ilya Somin argues that the best way to combat political ignorance is through smaller, more local government because it is easier to vote with one's feet; you can better understand the workings of a smaller government and choose to live in a community that suits your interests. Read "Democracy and Political Ignorance" in full at tinyurl.com/tbtimes-footvote. Here's an excerpt.

Democracy is supposed to be rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. But in order to rule effectively, the people need political knowledge. If they know little or nothing about government, it becomes difficult to hold political leaders accountable for their performance. Unfortunately, public knowledge about politics is disturbingly low. In addition, the public also often does a poor job of evaluating the political information they do know. This state of affairs has persisted despite rising education levels, increased availability of information thanks to modern technology, and even rising IQ scores. It is mostly the result of rational behavior, not stupidity. Such widespread and persistent political ignorance and irrationality strengthens the case for limiting and decentralizing the power of government.

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Scales tip toward the good

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis does an interview with the behaviorial economist Richard Thaler in its current issue of The Region. It's interesting to hear him disagree politely but firmly with several Nobel laureates in economics with whom he is friends. Read the interview in full at tinyurl.com/tbtimes-thaler. Here's an excerpt.

Thaler: Economists assume people are unboundedly unscrupulous - or I'll say self-interested, a more polite term. But there have been lots of experiments where you leave a wallet out and depending on the place - I don't remember the exact data - but a large percentage get returned. Now, some wallets also get picked clean first, but ... so I wrote about this too. (He displays a photo of a roadside rhubarb stand.) ... This is significant. Notice the features of this. It's a roadside stand; they're selling rhubarb. And it's got an honor box with a lock on it. I think this is exactly the right model of human nature, that if you put this stuff out there, enough people will leave money that it's worth the farmer's time to put it out. But if you left the money in a box that was unlocked, somebody would take it.

The Region: It takes just one dishonest person to "undo" the honesty of many others ...

Thaler: Right. If you ask somebody directions, most people will tell you. It's very fortunate that we don't live in a society where everybody is out to take advantage of us.

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For a conservatism less frenzied, incompetent

Writing for the Atlantic, Jon Lovett wishes for sober-minded conservatives to assert themselves. Read "How the GOP Slowly Went Insane" in full at tinyurl.com/tbtimes-sanegop. Here's an excerpt.

America needs a strong, rational, positive, practical conservative movement. It needs that bulwark against liberal delusion and hubris. It needs a voice that says we are imperfect, that life is complex, that government can create need even as it meets need, that you can't fix everything and freedom is worth some danger and sorrow. And there are smart, honest conservatives at the ready to be that voice, to help govern practically and sincerely with that voice, but they are drowned out by the guttural scream of craven utopians raging against reality. This moment in American political life is insane. That a group of narrow-minded zealots could push us to the brink of economic ruin, that they maintain a base of support in their frenzied, quixotic, incompetent gambit, that there is an apparatus that exists to defend this kind of nonsense - it came on us slowly but it is no less an emergency. This is broken. This cannot go on.

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