Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Is Donald Trump a Sociopath?

Once called sociopathy or psychopathy, the diagnostic manual for mental disorders now calls the condition "antisocial personality disorder." To receive the diagnosis, one must exhibit 3 of the 6 criteria listed below. Is Donald Trump a sociopath?

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest  
  • Donald Trump has paid out millions to settle thousands of legal charges including sexual assault, racial discrimination, mafia ties, fraud, tenant intimidation, employing illegal immigrants, marital rape, antitrust violations, refusal to pay workers and contractors.

2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure

3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • 63% of Americans consider Trump to be too impulsive in his decision making. NATO reworked its discussion format to compensate for Trump’s unusually short attention span.

4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • According to Barbara Res, who in the early 1980s served as vice president in charge of construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the emotional core around which Donald Trump’s personality constellates is anger: “As far as the anger is concerned, that’s real for sure. He’s not faking it,”…  “The fact that he gets mad, that’s his personality.”

5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others

6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations

7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
  • Trump famously fails to admit mistakes. It is impossible to feel remorse if you do not believe you have done anything wrong. Ask the people who filed those 3500 lawsuits about Donald Trump’s remorse.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Universe is NOT Like a Clock!

A famous demonstration of applied egocentrism is the theory of creationism. A primary argument used to support creationism is that the complex nature of the universe naturally implies a creator. The standard example for illustrating the argument is a clock. Clocks are complex and could not exist without a clockmaker to create them. Clocks require creators. Since the universe is much more complex than a clock, it must obviously also require a creator. This argument, of course, falls to pieces with a modicum of critical evaluation.

Early humans (and many other animals) used objects found in nature to make tools. A rock, for example, may have been used as a tool for killing game. As human understanding of technology advanced, so did the complexity of human tools. In the modern age, we experience a world brimming with complex, man-made items. However, in the vastness of the universe, man-made objects represent an incomprehensibly minuscule percentage of known objects. And, every single man-made item is ultimately constructed from natural materials that were present for billions of years prior to the arrival of the modern evolved human. Comparing the universe to a clock is not only egocentric but also absurdly myopic.

Against Universal Consciousness

The only way human beings can understand the world around them is through their own experiences. This is limiting and predisposes each of us to egocentrism. Egocentrism is the inability to view the world from any perspective other than one's own and the tendency to frame all issues in terms of how they relate to the needs of the self. So, in discussions of politics, I respond to all comments from my individual, egocentric worldview. Likewise, my deliberations on topics ranging from sports to business to child rearing must all be interpreted through the filter of my own ego. Egocentrism manifests in every aspect of human life.

A natural outgrowth of egocentrism is the inclination to anthropomorphize. Because we are restricted to understanding external items through the lens of human experience, we often
attribute human characteristics to non-human subjects. While my dog, Zeus, certainly understands his world as only a dog can understand it, I constantly (and inaccurately) bestow upon him a full range of human traits. It is intuitive to me that folks who assume the universe is endowed with cosmic consciousness are, likewise, anthropomorphizing.

While human consciousness was once a subject considered too enigmatic for scientific study, recent technologies have helped to demystify consciousness.
Historically, consciousness has been described as being like a stream. Indeed, people may subjectively perceive thoughts as flowing like a stream, however, “stream of consciousness” is a misleading and ultimately inaccurate metaphor. “Hive of consciousness” is a better fit for our current understanding of the phenomenon. “Stream” implies a linear progression of thoughts moving forward from a central source. Neuroscience informs us that human thought patterns more closely resemble a popcorn popper than a stream.

Consciousness is composed of neuronal firings from different parts of the brain. In simple terms, consciousness is a byproduct of the brain interacting with itself. Remove part of the brain and consciousness is altered. Remove all of the brain and consciousness is eliminated. 

Consciousness changes but does not stop during sleep. The brain remains active and different areas of the brain are still able to communicate with one another during sleep. When one awakens from sleep, one typically still
has some awareness of the passage of time and may remember dream experiences. However, when a person is put under general anesthesia, communications within the brain are blocked. When one awakens from general anesthesia, there is no sense of the passage of time and no dreaming. Consciousness is eradicated when internal communications between various parts of the brain are obstructed. Consciousness is produced by the brain and can not exist independent of the brain. No brain, no consciousness.

Since consciousness is a function of the brain, and there is no evidence that the universe itself has a brain, it would stand to reason that the universe is not conscious. 

Wise and powerful caregivers comfort the egos of human children. The egos of human adults desire similar comfort. In the absence of an actual wise and powerful caregiver, human adults invent gods or anthropomorphize the universe to meet this egocentric need.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Conspiracy Theorists are Lazy Thinkers

I used the term "lazy thinkers" to be provocative.
The truth is that lazy thinking is nothing more than "natural thinking." Every lower animal on the planet operates on intuition, or "what feels right." Humans who have not learned the skills of critical thinking naturally engage in the same thinking patterns as other animals.  

I am attracted to conspiracy theories. There is something about the idea of a conspiracy that titillates a paranoid vein that runs through the human psyche. However, conspiracy theories say much about us and very little about reality. It is not that conspiracies are impossible, just that the likelihood of successfully executing a large scale conspiracy approaches the impossible. The old adage, “Two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead,” rings true more often than not.

For any given belief, we will encounter disputing evidence (indicating that the belief is false) and supporting evidence (indicating that the belief is true). Folks with highly developed critical thinking skills approach these two pools of opposing evidence by objectively evaluating the quality and the weight of both pools. The foundation of a developed intellect is the willingness to change positions when disputing evidence clearly outweighs supporting evidence. This requires a great deal of emotional maturity. Our beliefs are rooted in our egos and we are wired to protect our egos at all cost. Shifting positions when disputing evidence outweighs supporting evidence also requires a deep commitment to truth. Truths are often uncomfortable and/or undesirable. Critical thinking requires that objective truth (what is true) must take priority over individual ego needs (what feels true or what we would like to be true).   

The Critical Thinker's thought process looks like this:

The Conspiracy Theorist engages an entirely different process when presented with conflicting pools of evidence. The conspiracy theorist accepts ALL supporting evidence, regardless of quality, and rejects ALL disputing evidence, also regardless of quality. Disputing evidence will either be ignored or the source for the evidence will be baselessly maligned. The ultimate result of this process is the elimination for the opportunity to learn, aka willful ignorance. In the words of Dudley Field Malone, "I have never in my life learned anything from someone who agreed with me."

The Conspiracy Theorist's thought process looks like this:

Identifying Quality Sources of Information:

In the midst of the information age, distinguishing good information from bad information can be extremely difficult. People untrained in recognizing logical fallacies can be easily manipulated to believe even the most absurd claims (examples: The moon landing was faked. Obama is a foreign-born, closet Muslim. The government is hiding UFOs. Hillary Clinton is a serial killer who runs child sex rings. Ronald Reagan was in the Illuminati.). Relying on "reasoning" from outside sources to establish where one stands on the issues is akin to relying on a car salesman to determine which automobile you should buy.

  • Despite claims to the contrary, mainstream sources of information tend to be of much higher quality than unconventional sources. Every place in the free world gets pretty much the same news. The mainstream media in the US reflects reputable news outlets in England, France, Germany, India, Australia, Japan, etc. The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Google News, The BBC, Reuters, and most professional journals are reliable, albeit not perfect sources for accurate news. These sources mirror the news from the rest of the free world. News reported by outlets in countries with authoritarian governments such as those of Iran, Russia, and North Korea, like news reported by Right Wing media outlets and fringe Left Wing outlets in the US, report very different news that is often in direct conflict with legitimate sources.
  • News sources from authoritarian regions, as well as, sources from Right Wing and fringe Left Wing American outlets, use the "news" as an instrument for propaganda. However, citizens in countries with authoritarian governments have no choice but to consume fake news, while a huge percentage of mainstream Right Wingers and nearly all fringe Left Wingers in the US avoid legitimate news by choice. THIS is how a narcissistic, predatory, conspiracy theorist, who makes fun of the handicapped and spouts obscene vulgarities, became President of the United States.
  • Mathematics and scientific research represents the gold standard for quality information at this time. The statement, "any position can be proven with statistics," is patently false. It is true that statistics can be used by dishonest presenters to manipulate those who are untrained in statistics, however, there is an ultimate truth that will be revealed through the scrupulous use of statistics.
  • While scientific research is often inaccurate, every advancement in the modern world has resulted from the application of science. As yet, there is no process more effective in the discerning accurate understanding of the physical universe than science. If the efficacy of science is not overwhelmingly evidenced by your own life experiences (as it should be to any self-aware human being), then developing a deeper understanding of the scientific method and the peer-review process should dispel any lingering doubts.

Consider The Global Warming Hoax:

Everyone knows the statistic that 97% of climatologists concur with the research that supports global warming as a legitimate phenomenon exacerbated by human activity. 

The conspiracy theory holds that first, global warming is a hoax conjured by the Democratic Party in the US. Second, scientists have skewed their research data in favor of global warming in order to procure grant money from liberal universities.  And third, because the Democratic Party has a greater interest in conservation and environmental protections and the Republican Party has a greater interest in protecting industry, Democrats benefit from the acceptance of climate change as an actual and man-made phenomenon.

  •  Global warming was dreamed up by the Democratic Party.
    • The 97% of scientists figure is not limited to American scientists. It means that 97% of the scientists in the entire world accept the findings on climate change. Even if the Democratic Party were important enough to American scientists to risk sabotaging their own careers by falsifying data, it is inconceivable that scientists from every other country in the world would be so invested! Even if we were to change the premise from a plot invented by the Democratic Party to a plot invented by liberals in general, the idea of such a global initiative is ludicrous.
  • Scientists receive research grants from liberal universities.
    • Many scientists work for universities. Others work for government agencies. Still others work for industry. At any rate, the funds provided for research grants are typically supplied by outside sources and not by universities. Even if we accepted the bizarre idea that scientists across the globe could be bribed into torpedoing the integrity of their chosen profession, we would still need an industry capable of providing the motherlode of funds needed to accomplish the task. Which industry would stand a better chance of pulling this off, Big Oil (which benefits from disproving global warming) or Big Windmill (which benefits from proving global warming true)?
  • Democrats profit from the efficacy of climate change
    • Which makes more sense? 30 years ago, some Democrat mastermind or thinktank randomly invented an environmental phenomenon and was able to secretly coerce 97% of the scientists on Earth to fake research data... Or that the most lucrative industry in the world advanced a conspiracy theory to protect its own interests?

In truth, the global warming phenomenon has no more to do with politics than gravity theory or germ theory. Scientists simply support the efficacy of global warming because there is an ocean of high-quality supporting evidence for the theory and a tiny drip of low quality disputing evidence against the theory. If new, high quality, evidence disputing global warming grew to outweigh existing supporting evidence, every scientist worth her salt would shift positions and we would find the vast majority of scientists denying the theory. This is how the developed intellect operates

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On Being Anti-Religion

Religion is an obstacle to moral development. According to Kohlberg, the first stage of moral development centers on the individual modifying his/her behavior in order to avoid punishment and earn rewards. Small children, dogs, and adult sociopaths tend to operate at this level of moral development. In the second
stage of moral development, the individual desires to be considered a good person and so conforms to an external system of rules (example: laws, cultural norms, family values, and religion). An internal moral sense cultivated by indoctrination to external belief systems becomes deeply ingrained in people. At this level of development, moral "feelings" are mistaken for undeniable truths. For many reasons, questioning the validity of religious morals can ignite extreme hostility and defensiveness.

The pitfall of uncritically accepting a moral code learned from one’s culture, such as that offered by religion, is that it may include elements that are truly harmful to others. An individual raised in the environment of Nazi Germany would have the same deep commitment to that moral code as anyone indoctrinated into any external moral code.  In the pre-Civil War South, ministers used the Bible to justify the enslavement of other human beings. The Bible and the Koran are currently being used to justify racism and homophobia. The results? Torture, murder, and suicide.

The highest level of moral development requires a critical examination of values using universal litmuses like harm done, fairness, and empathy. Without rational, compassionate evaluation of every aspect of one’s moral code the potential for harm is great. Religion is a barrier to advanced moral development.

Religion inhibits intellectual development. The touchstone for intellectual growth is changing positions when disputing evidence for a pre-existing belief outweighs supporting evidence for said belief. Most of the dominant religions require accepting the legitimacy of their doctrines not on evidence, but on faith. Faith is often considered an admirable quality. I do not understand why. Faith and gullibility seem to be two sides of the same coin. Webster's defines faith as, "(a)firm belief in something for which there is no proof." Gullible means, "easily persuaded to believe something." So, aren't faith and gullibility inseparable? In other words, wouldn't it require gullibility to firmly believe something without proof?

Believing without evidence is a slippery slope. If I choose to accept one supernatural manifestation on faith, am I not then susceptible to believing any absurdity? Talking snakes, invisible deities, angels, pixies, leprechauns, and unicorns are all supported by faith and disputed by reason. How does one justify belief in a god, but not in a pixie, or belief in some other god? Disregarding evidence in favor of faith-based beliefs perpetuates ignorance. Religion is a barrier to advanced intellectual development.

Religion obstructs social development. In a modern global community, appreciation for the benefits of cultural diversity is paramount. Of the six Americans who won Nobel Prizes for Science in 2016, all were immigrants. By nature, religions are exclusionary. They create an "us and them" mentality wherein the "us" are good and the "them," not as good. This kind of social identity has been at the root of every war since the dawn of time. 

Prepackaged, religious beliefs rob people of the opportunity to create personal meaning and to truly define a unique understanding of self separate from cultural definitions. The number one regret of terminally ill patients is that they conformed to the values of others rather than living lives true to themselves. Religion is an impediment to social development.

Religion is a barrier to emotional development. Emotional maturity results from coming to terms with difficult, often frightening, realities. Failure to take responsibility for one's actions is one aspect of emotional immaturity. Children tend to blame others or make excuses for mistakes. Mature adults take responsibility, attempt to make reparations, and try to learn from mistakes. While Christianity holds the individual accountable to a degree, it also provides an easy loophole. Per Christian doctrine, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was absolved of responsibility for his actions before his death because he sincerely asked God's forgiveness. 

Another element of Christianity inconsistent with taking responsibility is the concept of Satan. Satan is ultimately responsible for all evil in the world and God is ultimately responsible for all good. 

By encouraging belief in a fantasy afterlife, religion inhibits adults from maturely coming to terms with mortality. Developing the emotional maturity to deal with the realities of death, unanswered questions, and all of the other uncertainties of human life without resorting to magic and superstition requires courage and unyielding integrity. One must be committed to all truths regardless of how scary or difficult. Religion impedes emotional development.

Given that religion is an obstacle to nearly every domain of human development, I consider it a social ill. It is clear to me that outcomes such as charity, love, kindness, and peace have been mistakenly associated with religion. Historically, the opposite outcomes of greed, hate, cruelty, and conflict have just as often been the fruits of religion. Benevolent outcomes result from empathy, a quality independent of religion. If I value the Greek ideal of the fully developed person, I can not also value a system that prohibits human development. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

How to NEVER be Suckered by Statistics on Race Again!

If you don't understand how statistics work, it is easy to be manipulated by intentionally misleading data. Since the races are not evenly represented in our population (64% White, 16% Hispanic, 12% Black, 4% Asian, 2% two or more races), a direct comparison between races in America on any phenomenon will be racially biased and lead to a false conclusion.

Hypothetically, suppose .1% of all Americans have been falsely arrested. Half of them were white and half were black. Saying that 50% of Americans who were falsely arrested were white and 50% were black is true, but it is a racially biased statistic because it doesn’t account for the fact that 64% of Americans are white and only 12% are black.

To factor out this bias, comparisons must be made per 100 black people and per 100 white people (or per 10,000, or per 100,000, or per 1,000,000). By calculating per 100 black Americans, these same data would show that 64% of the people who were falsely arrested were black. And, per 100 white people, only 12% of people who were falsely arrested were white. Now the data lead to an informed conclusion rather than a biased one.

So, the next time you see statistics on race that fail to show the data per 100,000 (or some other round number), you will know that someone is trying to sucker you!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Who Should Liberals Vote for in the Upcoming Election?

The graph on the left from Political Compass provides some interesting insights into voting patterns. Hillary is further to the right than Donald Trump, but she is less of a dictator. The reasons I hear Republicans give for hating Hillary are Benghazi and the e-mails. Given that equally heinous acts have been perpetrated by Republicans, I am fairly certain that the real reason they hate Hillary is just that she is a Democrat. One thing I have in common with many Republicans is that I find the DNC reprehensible. If nothing else
Republicans are team players. The support they are showing for Donald Trump, an outright buffoon, demonstrates their commitment to the team.

My reasons for disliking Hillary, however, are very different than the reasons most Republicans give. Hillary was the primary beneficiary of Citizens United. Her campaign is being financed by the billionaire class. Studies have shown definitively that bills favored by billionaires have a very high probability of being made into laws, while bills favored by the vast majority of the American people have a near zero probability of being passed. Simply stated, the Republican and Democratic parties do not represent American citizens. Like most of congress, Hillary Clinton represents her benefactors. She is hawkish in foreign policy because armed conflicts funnel tax funds to defense contractors. They, in turn, "donate" to political candidates. In 2015-16, the defense sector donated $27 million to political candidates, $16.4 million to Republicans and $11 million to Democrats.

QUESTION: As a dyed in the wool leftie patriot who wholeheartedly supports our democratic republic and the United States Constitution… Who should I vote for? Regardless of party affiliation, or absence thereof, I would never vote for Donald Trump. He is more akin to a cartoon character than a legitimate presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton who, despite much yelling and screaming to the contrary from both major parties, is actually the mainstream conservative candidate. Gary Johnson (who has no chance of winning) is further to the right than anyone remaining in the race. And although she has an excellent platform, Jill Stein (also has no chance of winning) is completely unqualified for the job of Commander in Chief.  

ANSWER: I must vote for Hillary Clinton. Why? As an aspiring intellectual, I pride myself on overriding my own desired outcomes when they are disputed by overwhelming objective data. It is all but a mathematical certainty that the next President of the United States will either be Clinton or Trump. The potential for catastrophic damage resulting from a Trump presidency is truly an unknown. The course for a Clinton presidency is not particularly desirable to me but it is completely predictable with low risk for unprecedented disaster. Ironically, one of Hillary's top ten campaign promises is to fight for overturning Citizen's United. Her platform also includes raising the minimum wage, not increasing taxes on the middle-class, college tuition breaks for families making less than $125k per year, comprehensive immigration reform, and an increased investment in improving our infrastructure. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Develop the Intellect: Why Emotions Matter… A LOT!

 This article is not about smart and stupid. Smart and stupid are terminal states over which one has no control. Conversely, intellectual development, like physical development, can be acquired by nearly anyone willing to put in the necessary work. Intellect is the capacity for reason and for acquiring an objective mental grasp. The key words in this definition are “reason” and “objective.” Reason is the ability to arrive at an understanding through logic. Objective means not being influenced by personal feelings or opinions. So, a developed intellect requires both logic and objectivity.

First, one must be able and willing to apply logic. This means adhering to strict principles of validity. There is a necessary logic to the arrangement of parts in a gasoline engine, an electrical circuit, and even a simple door latch. The validity of the arrangement of the respective parts is shown by the effective functioning of each device. If the parts are arranged illogically, the device won’t function properly. The scientific method is applied logic. The validity of the scientific method is shown by the myriad advancements we enjoy in modern life. Nearly every object in your field of vision as you read this post resulted from the application of the scientific method. The profound impact of science on human life cannot be overstated. Adhering to a belief that is clearly disputed by logic signals an intellectual blind spot.

Second, and equally as important as logic, is objectivity. Why would one stubbornly hold on to a belief that is obviously illogical or disputed by huge amounts of scientific evidence? The answer is simple… emotions. Our emotions evolved for one reason and one reason only, to keep us in the gene pool. Emotions guided primitive humans to behave in ways that kept them alive long enough to bear offspring. In the short run, emotion has far more power over our choices than does intellect. Emotional responses to danger quickly override intellect and prompt us to run or fight. These knee-jerk behaviors served us well for thousands of years. Emotions are about survival. From an evolutionary standpoint, our incredible intellectual capacity was an awesome upgrade, but not much of a survival feature.

Emotional responses are closely linked to another human survival trait, egocentrism. Every animal on earth, including the human animal, strives to preserve the “self.” It is our nature to evaluate situations in terms of the self in opposition to everything that is not the self. So, when illogical information is presented to a human animal in a way that makes the self feel emotionally validated, it is a very natural human reaction to accept that piece of information as true. In psychology, we call this cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is the primary obstacle to intellectual development. The scientific method is a series of procedures that help supersede our cognitive biases. Compare the relative pace of human advances prior to and then after the scientific revolution. This comparison makes it crystal clear that the survival traits that worked so well for so long also kept us from moving forward in our accurate understanding of our world.

A developed intellect requires a willingness to bypass your ego's emotional needs
and accept information that often"feels" uncomfortable. This is a tall order and it requires a lifetime of practice.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blue Lives Matter / Black Lives Matter

That Blue Lives Matter is not in dispute. Unjust killings of police officers are met with outrage, demands for justice,
systemic support for victims' families, and an effort to decrease these incidents in the future. We honor such victims as heroes. This is as it should be. Unjust killings should never be tolerated in a civilized culture. When I hear of an officer killed in the line of duty, my reaction is sympathy and appreciation for the officer's sacrifice. Criticizing or blaming an innocent officer for her own death would be vulgar and repulsive.

That Black Lives Matter is in dispute. Black people are being shot to death while shopping, or playing in a park, or seeking assistance for a broken down vehicle. Video evidence of innocent, unarmed, black people being shot to death is somehow met by otherwise moral people with complete indifference. Worse yet, these otherwise moral people blame the victims and become enraged when black people complain.

No one believes that all or most police officers are bad apples. On the contrary, most people appreciate law enforcement. However, just as a teacher, truck driver, or bricklayer must be prosecuted for criminal behavior, so must police officers.

Like teachers, police officers receive low pay for an extremely responsible job. Unlike teachers, police officers must be prepared to manage life and death situations on a regular basis. Also unlike teachers, who must complete a Bachelor's degree and an internship to be certified, basic law enforcement training in NC requires only a HS diploma or GED and 620 hours of training. To put that in perspective, cosmetologists must complete 1500 hours of training to be licensed in NC.

Innocent American citizens are being killed by police officers on a regular basis. Instead of black people, imagine if these executions were being perpetrated against people with blue eyes. Because a 12-year-old in a park had blue eyes, police felt threatened and shot him to death. Because a stalled motorist had blue eyes, police shot him to death as he held his hands in the air. Because a father had blue eyes, police shot him to death in Walmart when he picked up a toy gun to buy for his kid's birthday.

For any moral patriot, shock and outrage should be the appropriate responses to
these events. This is not an issue that should be debated. It is an issue requiring immediate action! How could anyone think otherwise!? Accountability and increased training are obvious places to start.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Should Mental Health Be Privatized?

A well regulated free market can be a wonderful thing. At its best, regulated competition leads to fair prices and quality goods and services. However, the free market is necessarily fueled by profit. Failure to produce a profit results in a failed endeavor. The system works well as long as the goods and services in question are not negatively affected by profit as the overarching goal.

Having profit as the key goal automatically relegates more noble aspirations to minor positions. Fairness, compassion, and honesty become subsidiaries to profit in privatized services. We have all experienced firsthand situations where privatized healthcare has failed the litmus’ for fairness, compassion, and honesty.

The state of North Carolina privatized mental health services several years ago. The result? North Carolina jails are filled with indigent folks suffering from mental illness. Mental health services for the poor in North Carolina are nearly inaccessible. State-run community mental health centers have the prime goal of effective mental health services to the community, not profit. State-run facilities are not always successful (especially when underfunded), but effective treatment is at least their main objective.

At a community mental health center, if a patient fails to show for an appointment, a case worker may make a home visit to ensure treatment. In the private sector, when a patient fails to show for an appointment, follow up is much less aggressive (What happens when you miss an appointment with your family doctor?). Community mental health centers assume a good deal of responsibility to ensure their patients receive treatment. Many indigents with mental illness do not place a high priority on their own treatment. Failure to treat these folks is not just harmful to the individual, it is detrimental to society. Financial, social, emotional, and physical harm to other members of the community often results when the poor do not receive the treatment they need.  

Despite stereotypes of lazy, ineffective government workers, many services are more effectively delivered through the public sector. The US Military, Post Office, Medicare, Mental Health, FDA, and Social Security are all examples of services better managed by the public sector.

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