Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.


Let me toss out the idea that, as our markets discover and respond to what consumers most want, our technology has become extremely adept at creating products that correspond to our fantasy ideal of an erotic relationship, in which the beloved object asks for nothing and gives everything, instantly, and makes us feel all powerful, and doesn’t throw terrible scenes when it’s replaced by an even sexier object and is consigned to a drawer.

To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.

Let me suggest, finally, that the world of techno-consumerism is therefore troubled by real love, and that it has no choice but to trouble love in turn.

Its first line of defense is to commodify its enemy. You can all supply your own favorite, most nauseating examples of the commodification of love. Mine include the wedding industry, TV ads that feature cute young children or the giving of automobiles as Christmas presents, and the particularly grotesque equation of diamond jewelry with everlasting devotion. The message, in each case, is that if you love somebody you should buy stuff.

A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb “to like” from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse, from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture’s substitute for loving. The striking thing about all consumer products — and none more so than electronic devices and applications — is that they’re designed to be immensely likable. This is, in fact, the definition of a consumer product, in contrast to the product that is simply itself and whose makers aren’t fixated on your liking it. (I’m thinking here of jet engines, laboratory equipment, serious art and literature.)

But if you consider this in human terms, and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist — a person who can’t tolerate the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likable.


I may be overstating the case, a little bit. Very probably, you’re sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds. My aim here is mainly to set up a contrast between the narcissistic tendencies of technology and the problem of actual love. My friend Alice Sebold likes to talk about “getting down in the pit and loving somebody.” She has in mind the dirt that love inevitably splatters on the mirror of our self-regard.

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of. And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order: it exposes the lie.


Because the fundamental fact about all of us is that we’re alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it.

When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.

And who knows what might happen to you then?

As Physicians’ Jobs Change, So Do Their Politics


“People who are conservative by nature are not going to go into the profession,” he said, “because medicine is not about running your own shop anymore.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Many Friends Does One Person Need?

Rule of 150/Monkey, Again:


We are the product of our evolutionary history and this colours our everyday lives - including the number of friends we can have, according to a book published by Professor Robin Dunbar. Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, says 150 is the maximum number of friendships that the human mind is capable of handling. 'Dunbar's number', as it is known, even applies to the Facebook generation.

Professor Dunbar concludes that the volume of the neocortex region of our brain, used for language and thought, limits the number of friends we can maintain. He argues this number has not changed much throughout history and applies in the same way on the web as it does in real life. He even goes as far as to say that anyone who claims to have more is 'suspect', as the quality of relationships deteriorates as the social group widens.

Professor Dunbar's research also explores why gossip is good for us. His view is that language allows us to integrate a large number of social relationships and one important means of doing this is through the exchange of information about individuals who are not present. Gossip about relationships accounts for an overwhelming proportion of human conversations, and he explains that gossip plays an important part in how we assess others outside our own close group. We can find out from one person how others are likely to behave, how we should react to them when we actually meet them and what kind of relationships they have with third parties.

Professor Dunbar's studies have revealed that, across the birds and mammals, it is monogamous species that have the biggest brains. 'If you need evidence that romantic relationships are hard work,' says Professor Dunbar, 'this is surely it. Relationships require time and effort and a lot of brain work.'

Books asked Professor Dunbar about his research.

How much of your life's research is embodied in the findings of this book?

This book draws mainly on the research that I and my group have been doing over the last decade, in particular. But in many ways the roots of it go back to my early interests in primate social behaviour.

How did you arrive at 'Dunbar's number'? Is this number altered in any way by personality or by whether you live on a remote hillside as opposed to a densely populated city?

I discovered Dunbar's number by extrapolating to humans from a relationship between brain size and social group size that I had discovered in monkeys and apes. The number does not seem to change with social or ecological context, but what does change is whether everyone in your circle lives in the same place (as in rural hilltop communities) or is dispersed across the whole country (as is now more typically the case for modern city dwellers).

Social networking circles include disparate groups of people who may be close friends or just acquaintances. What quality of friendship are you proposing when you limit this number to 150 friends?

The number 150 really refers to those people with whom you have a personalised relationship, one that is reciprocal and based around general obligations of trust and reciprocity. If you asked them to do a favour, they would be more likely to say yes than those outside the 150.

Gossip can be very harmful and inaccurate if you want to make accurate assessments about people you don't know very well. Isn't this a flaw in your argument, given your informer may have their own agenda for presenting someone in a particular way? For instance, some gossips are prone to gross exaggeration to make their story more interesting.

It's important to remember that gossip in its original sense means just chatting on the doorstep (it derives from the Old English "god-sib", the peer group equivalent of god-parents). But like everything in life and biology, things that evolve for useful purposes can always be exploited for devious ones: black propaganda is an almost unavoidable outcome of such a form of communication in a species as smart as humans. Interestingly, the word "gossip" only acquired its negative connotations in the eighteenth century. In fact, research suggests that we are quite sensitive to misuse of gossip in this way, and are less likely to believe what someone says if we sense that they are trying to use it to steal a march on the rest of us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Even The Best Of Us Can Act 'Out Of Character'


We're often taken aback when a respected governor, political candidate, husband or wife is caught cheating. But psychologist David DeSteno argues that there's a growing body of evidence that shows that everyone — even the most respected among us — has the capacity to act out of character.

The book Out Of Character, which DeSteno co-wrote with psychologist Piercarlo Valdesolo, details the evidence and applies it to familiar stories.

"We spent a lot of time constructing situations that pose challenges to people in the ways of moral dilemmas to see ultimately, when push comes to shove, what they'll do," DeSteno tells NPR's Neal Conan.

DeSteno cites one experiment in which subjects where told to flip a coin in order to choose between a simple, fun task and a boring, hour-long task. They were also told that the next participant would have to do the task that wasn't chosen, and then they were left alone to their own devices.

"These were experiments centered on hypocrisy," DeSteno says. "If you do this, what people will typically do when we leave them alone is 90 percent of them will not flip the coin."

That is, they'd cheat the system and pick the preferred task for themselves. Later, when asked if they had acted fairly, the subjects responded that they had.

Then, those same subjects were asked to watch another participant — really, a fake participant planted by the researchers — do the same thing. They observed that person skip the coin toss and choose the easy task, just as they had done. Only this time, they were quick to condemn the planted participant.

DeSteno says that's because "when they don't flip that coin, they feel that immediate pain of guilt. It's just that if you give them 30 seconds, unbeknownst to them, their mind will rationalize it away."

And that, according to DeSteno, helps explain former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's scandals.

"There's really an inherent tension in our minds between what we refer to as short-term goals and long-term ones," DeSteno says. "If you're a hypocrite too often, it's not going to be very beneficial for your long-term relationships. But once in a while, if you can get away with it, people will often try to do so and rationalize it away."

DeSteno says the push and pull between short- and long-term goals, and selfish and selfless impulses exists at both the level of intuition and rational thought.

"It's when they disagree that some of the most interesting changes in our behavior happen," he says.

Take the coin-flipping experiment, which can be cleared of its hypocritical results with only the slightest change. When participants were asked to pronounce a judgment on their own actions after counting backwards from seven — that is, to focus on something else in the time their brains would otherwise be rationalizing their actions — they judged their actions just as harshly as they had judged those of the planted participant.

The bottom line, according to DeSteno, is that while character is typically thought of as something fixed, it's actually much more dynamic.

"If you look at the scientific data, what we see over and over again is that people's moral behavior — for ill and for good — is much more variable than we would ever expect," he says.

So it's no use strictly defining someone's character because, DeSteno says, "We're continually going to be surprised when their behavior falls outside of those bounds."

A Psychopath Walks Into A Room. Can You Tell?


Some psychologists have a theory that many of the world's ills can be blamed on psychopaths in high places.

"Robert Hare, the eminent Canadian psychologist who invented the psychopath checklist, ... recently announced that you're four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor's office," journalist Jon Ronson tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Ronson is the author of a new book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. The titular test is called the PCL-R. Invented by Hare, it's a checklist of characteristics common to psychopaths: things like glib and superficial charm, grandiosity, manipulative behavior and lack of remorse.

Picture a psychopath and you might think of Norman Bates. But Ronson says successful businessmen can also score high on the checklist. While researching his book, Ronson visited the Florida home of Al Dunlap — known as "Chainsaw Al" — who as CEO of appliance maker Sunbeam was notorious for his gleeful fondness for firing people and shutting down factories.

"So I turned up at his house, and it was full of sculptures of predatory animals," Ronson says. "And he immediately started to talk about how he believed in the predatory spirit, which was word for word what Bob Hare writes about in the checklist: Look out for their belief in the predatory spirit."

But Dunlap managed to turn the psychopath test on its head, Ronson says.

"He admitted to many, many items on the checklist, but redefined them as leadership positives," he says. "So 'manipulation' was another way of saying 'leadership.' 'Grandiose sense of self worth' — which would have been a hard one for him to deny because he was standing underneath a giant oil painting of himself — was, you know, 'You've got to like yourself if you're going to be a success.'"

Ultimately, Ronson says, spending two years hunting for psychopaths took a toll on him.

"I have great admiration for the Hare checklist. I think it's right. I think it's as scientific as psychology can ever be," he says. But learning to administer it "really can mess with your head."

Psst! The Human Brain Is Wired For Gossip


Hearing gossip about people can change the way you see them — literally.

Negative gossip actually alters the way our visual system responds to a particular face, according to a study published online by the journal Science.

The findings suggest that the human brain is wired to respond to gossip, researchers say. And it adds to the evidence that gossip helped early humans get ahead.

"Gossip is helping you to predict who is friend and who is foe," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University and an author of the study.

Barrett is part of a team that has been studying how gossip affects not just what we know about an unfamiliar person but how we feel about them. The team has shown that getting secondhand information about a person can have a powerful effect.

But Barrett and her team wanted to answer another question: Once hearsay has predisposed us to see someone in a certain way, is it possible that we literally see them differently?

That may seem like a strange thing to ask. But it makes sense when you consider that the human brain has a whole lot of connections between regions that process visual information and areas involved in our most basic emotions, Barrett says.

So the team brought in volunteers and had them look at faces paired with gossip. Some of these faces were associated with negative gossip, such as "threw a chair at his classmate." Other faces were associated with more positive actions, such as "helped an elderly woman with her groceries."

Then the researchers looked to see how the volunteers' brains responded to the different kinds of information. They did this by showing the left and right eyes of each person very different images. So one eye might see a face, while the other eye would see a house.

These very different images cause something called binocular rivalry. The human brain can only handle one of the images at a time. So it unconsciously tends to linger on the one it considers more important.

And the researcher found that volunteers' brains were most likely to fix on faces associated with negative gossip.

"Gossip doesn't just influence your opinions about people, it actually influences how you see them visually," Barrett says.

The finding suggests we are hardwired to pay more attention to a person if we've been told they are dangerous or dishonest or unpleasant, Barrett says.

Other scientists say that makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

"I was actually pretty excited to see this paper," says Frank McAndrew, a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. "For years, people like me have been saying that our intense interest in gossip is not really a character flaw. It's part of who we are. It's almost a biological event, and it exists for good evolutionary reasons."

Even when primitive humans lived in small groups, they needed to know things like who might be a threat and who was after a particular mate, McAndrew says. And learning those things through personal experience would have been slow and potentially dangerous, he says.

So McAndrew says one shortcut would have been gossip.

"People who had an intense interest in that — that constantly were monitoring who's sleeping with who and who's friends with whom and who you can trust and who you can't — came out ahead," he says. "People who just didn't care about that stuff got left behind."

And it makes sense that our brains pay special attention to negative gossip, McAndrew says.

"If somebody is a competitor or somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them," he says. "You want negative information, because that's the stuff you can exploit to get ahead."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Top income earners: are they getting richer?


US: Top 1% (2008)17.67 %
US: Top 10& (2008) 45.6 %

1929 Crash (Start of Great Depression): 18.42/43.76
1973 (Last year of real wage growth): 7.74/31.85

Operation Crossbow: How 3D glasses helped defeat Hitler

Way cool:


Newly released photographs show how a team of World War II experts disrupted Nazi plans to bombard Britain - with the help of 3D glasses like those in modern cinemas.

Hitler's deadly V-1 and V-2 missiles were early but effective weapons of mass destruction - unmanned flying bombs which brought terror to southern England.

But their impact could have been all the more devastating - costing thousands more lives, lengthening the war and threatening the D-Day landings - were it not for the fact that British intelligence worked in three, rather than two, dimensions.

One of the Royal Air Force's most significant successes came with Operation Crossbow, when it tracked down, identified and destroyed many of the V-weapons which could have prolonged the war.

It did so by meticulously photographing the landscape of occupied Europe in a way that allowed officers to study every contour.

Pay gap widening to Victorian levels

Are there no poorhouses?!?


Wage disparity between the UK's top earners and the rest of the working population will soon return to the levels of the Victorian era unless action is taken to curb executive pay, a new report by the high pay commission claims.

At the same time a new ICM poll shows that 72% of the public think high pay makes Britain a grossly unequal place to live, while 73% say they have no faith in government or business to tackle excessive pay.

The high pay commission was set up last November to scrutinise the rising pay of those at the top of the public and private sectors. Its research suggests that if current trends continue, the top 0.1% of UK earners will see their pay rise from 5% to an estimated 14% of national income by 2030, a level not previously seen in the UK since the start of the 20th century. At present, top earners in this group take as big a slice of national income as they did in the 1940s, the report says.

Deborah Hargreaves, chair of the high pay commission and a former business editor at Guardian News & Media, said that the report provided evidence that the pay gap between the corporate elite and the general public was widening beyond control. "Set against the tough spending measures and mixed company performance, we have to ask ourselves whether we are paying more and getting less," she said.

In 2010, the average annual salary of FTSE 100 chief executives was more than £3,747,000, 145 times greater than the national median full-time wage of £25,800. Executive pay dipped slightly during the recession, but the report predicts that by 2020 the ratio will have spiralled up to 214:1.

Nicola Smith, chief economist with the TUC, said that the report raised concerns about the wider workings of the economy: "Average pay growth was slowing before the recession, wages took a real hit during the recession and we're now seeing very slow wage growth coupled with high consumer inflation. There are real issues of fairness at a point when workers are facing the greatest squeeze in living standards for decades."

Separate figures released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies last week confirmed that income among the top 1-2% of earners grew much faster than for the majority of workers during the Labour government years, a factor the report blames for an increase in social inequality since 1997.

The ICM poll shows that, from a range of options, the majority of the public (57%) wants top pay linked clearly to company performance, while half (50%) want shareholders to have a direct say on senior pay and bonus packages.

Robert Talbut, chief investment officer of Royal London Asset Management and a member of the high pay commission, said that the ICM poll showed a clear public interest in tackling excessive pay.

"Increasingly there is a clear business interest in doing so too, in part because companies depend on public support but also because the ever more complicated pay packages designed to incentivise performance for top executives – which have contributed to a ballooning in pay at the top – do not appear to have worked," Talbut said. "The clear link between executive pay and company performance appears tenuous at best."

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a left-leaning thinktank, said that recent research showed the public was ready for politicians to tackle income inequality.

Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, said a YouGov poll revealed that two-thirds of people believe the pay gap in their workplace is too wide.

"It is vital that the government use this public support to act and start to narrow unjustified inequalities in pay and reward," he said.

In an interview with the Guardian last month, John Cridland, the new director-general of the employers' organisation the CBI, admitted it was an issue that needed to be addressed. "Business has to show high levels of remuneration are payment for results," he said. "It's not payment separate from the achievement of senior executives."

The high pay commission was formed last year and is due to make its final report in November.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is The End Nigh? We'll Know Soon Enough


Brian Haubert grabs some pamphlets and marches toward the flea market in Palmyra, N.J. Armed with a poster that trumpets Judgment Day on May 21, 2011, he braces for rejection. Announcing God's wrath is not always a popular message.

"I've been called a heretic," says Haubert, a 33-year-old actuary. "I've been told I read the wrong Bible. And then there's the occasional person who seems to be genuinely interested," he says.

His friend and fellow believer, Kevin Brown, uses a gentler approach, not confronting people or engaging in conversation, just politely handing out Judgment Day pamphlets.

Brown, who owns his own nutrition and wellness business, is soft-spoken and polished, not someone you'd imagine giving away doomsday tracts. But he says the clock is ticking.

"People need to know," Brown says, "and God commands us to share the Gospel about the end of the world. He says if we do not share the Gospel then their blood will be on our hands, whether they believe or not. God's been moving me to do this."

Spreading The Word

Haubert and Brown are two of a small — or not so small, who knows? — army of Christians sounding the alarm. They drive caravans and put up billboards, hand out tracts and try to convince friends and family that Judgment Day is upon us. Brown says this message is laced throughout the Bible, but only some can decode it. It will happen this way:

On May 21, "starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth," he says. The true Christian believers — he hopes he's one of them — will be "raptured": They'll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?

"It's just the horror of horror stories," he says, "and on top of all that, there's no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever."

Most Bible scholars note that even Jesus said he had no idea when Judgment Day would come. But May 21 believers like Haubert are unfazed.

"I've crunched the numbers, and it's going to happen," he says.

Haubert says the Bible contains coded "proofs" that reveal the timing. For example, he says, from the time of Noah's flood to May 21, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years. Revelations like this have changed his life.

"I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement," he says. "I'm not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. I'm just a lot less stressed, and in a way I'm more carefree."

He's tried to warn his friends and family — they think he's crazy. And that saddens him.

"Oh, it's very hard," he says. "I worry about friends and family and loved ones. But I guess more recently, I'm just really looking forward to it."

Haubert is 33 and single. Brown is married with several young children, and none of them shares his beliefs. It's caused a rift with his wife — but he says that, too, was predicted in the Bible.

"God says, 'Do you love husband or wife over me? Do you love son or daughter over me?' There is a test. There is a trial here that the believers are going through. It's a fiery trial."

As May 21 nears, Brown says he feels as if he's on a "roller coaster." What if he is raptured but his family is left behind?

"I'm crying over my loved ones one minute; I'm elated the next minute," he says. "It's all over the place."

Family Radio

No one knows how many people believe Judgment Day is right around the corner. But it appears that many became believers in 2009 after turning on Family Radio, a Christian network worth more than $100 million.

Harold Camping, the network's 89-year-old founder, has been interpreting the Bible on the air for years. He says that everyone knows there would be a judgment day at some point.

"We just happen to be in that time in history," he said in an interview. "And whether we like it or not, we're here."

Camping's predictions have inspired other groups to rally behind the May 21 date. People have quit their jobs and left their families to get the message out.

"Knowing the date of the end of the world changes all your future plans," says 27-year-old Adrienne Martinez.

She thought she'd go to medical school, until she began tuning in to Family Radio. She and her husband, Joel, lived and worked in New York City. But a year ago, they decided they wanted to spend their remaining time on Earth with their infant daughter.

"My mentality was, why are we going to work for more money? It just seemed kind of greedy to me. And unnecessary," she says.

And so, her husband adds, "God just made it possible — he opened doors. He allowed us to quit our jobs, and we just moved, and here we are."

Now they are in Orlando, in a rented house, passing out tracts and reading the Bible. Their daughter is 2 years old, and their second child is due in June. Joel says they're spending the last of their savings. They don't see a need for one more dollar.

"You know, you think about retirement and stuff like that," he says. "What's the point of having some money just sitting there?"

"We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won't have anything left," Adrienne adds.

Nothing, except for the fervent hope that all of them will be raptured.

'There Is No Plan B'

Camping is not the first person to fix a date for the end of the world. There have been dozens of such prophets, and so far, they've all been wrong.

Camping himself has had to do some recalculation. He first predicted the end would come Sept. 6, 1994. He now explains that he had not completed his biblical research.

"For example, I at that time had not gone through the Book of Jeremiah," he explains, "which is a big book in the Bible that has a whole lot to say about the end of the world."

So he's not planning for May 22?

"Absolutely not," Camping says. "It is going to happen. There is no Plan B."

I've asked a dozen of Camping's followers the same question. Everyone said even entertaining the possibility that May 21 would come and go without event is an offense to God. They all hope they'll be raptured. Some worry about being left behind.

"If I'm here on May 22, and I wake up, I'm going to be in hell," says Brown. "And that's where I don't want to be. So there is going to be a May 22, and we don't want to be here."

On the other hand, he will presumably have lots of company.

Observations Tuesday 10 MAR 2011

I remember getting my first Flair pen, and thinking that I would then be able to sketch and write down everything that occurred in my life.

Well, you can tell how well that worked out. Even if I had, I would have even more useless material to be transcribed to electronic format.

Since the last time I have done an observation, the world has come to an end several times. My long spell of respiratory illness has made me miss the many of the events and observations I would have normally picked up on, and noted. Every day has been a doomsday like any other. I'm still recovering my endurance, and my willingness to go out and do things needs regeneration. It's amazing just how much you miss by not being present in my friends, and co-worker's lives.

I do not miss the political boards.

Speaking of which, I have been reading a fascinating book called "Forgive For Good", by Dr. Fred Luskin. Among other insights, my need to be right all the time is really is a scream against an unfair world that has screwed me over. Classic Adult Child Of Alcoholic behavior. The political boards, on which I have trounced my opponents with correct prediction after prediction, has not altered *their* behavior in the least. They're drunks. I rented out too much space in my head to a grievance against their stupidity. And I was stupid to let it run much of my life. It is time to forgive- not to condone bad things/stupid people, but to not let them have power over me.

Good news: My employment situation is improving. I'm taking a position closer to home, and on that will give me the time to take classes, and continue my education. I even got a (trivial) pay raise. Scruffy may even see me at lunch now.

Billionaire's role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions


A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."