Rich in Love

A friend (who may or may not want to be named) points to this WebMD article summarizing the economic value of sexual activity. It turns out that extra money doesn't make us that much happier, but sex makes us quite a lot happier, so if we're putting a money value on units of happiness, sex is worth a lot of money.

After analyzing data on the self-reported levels of sexual activity and happiness of 16,000 people, Dartmouth College economist David Blachflower and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England report that sex “enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations” that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American.

My first reaction to this is that prostitutes are undercharging. My second reaction is pretty much the same as my correspondent, who writes:

There should be a tax on all that undeclared income! — after all, all those people are getting the benefit of that money, isn't that the same as actually having the money? How can that $50,000-equivalent benefit be redistributed so that everyone can benefit 'equally'?

It seems like a good joke, but it really is more than a joke from the perspective of distributive justice. Take a similar case. Those of us who prefer leisure over money, once we've passed a fairly low threshold of money, gain all the benefits of society without paying much in through taxes.
Suppose that after $15,000 annual, the marginal value of a dollar for me plummets sharply, while the value of an hour of leisure remains very high. If I could be working 40 hours a week, and making sixty big a year, but I'd rather have the leisure after working only 10 a week, then those extra hours are worth at least forty five grand to me. So I buy a lot of leisure for the price of my opporunity cost. But, unlike the guy who likes owning a Cris Craft and a high-end stereo more than reading library books, taking long walks, and writing poetry, the value of my leisure can't be taxed. But this seems patently unfair. People who happen to have leisurely preferences just luck out.
How to rectify this? Well, we could just force people who like leisure to work and give the proceeds to the state, but that makes us sort of uncomfortable, as we're then caused to think a little too hard about what taxes really amount to.
Well, I guess it turns out that getting a weekly rather than a monthly is worth about $50G. And it also turns out that having more money doesn't get you more laid. So, suppose I like leisure, as above, AND I like sex as much as most people do. (Suppose.) If I manage to fit a weekly into my fairly relaxed schedule, then I'm looking at the equivalent of close to $100G in non-taxable income. This is clearly the way to go! People who work sixty hours a week to make $100G taxable, and as a consequence of all that time working and all that stress, only manage a monthly… well, those people are suckas! They're paying like 30-ish% of their income, and while I'm not literally rollin' in the Benjamins, I'm rolling in the endorphins, which is just as good.
This isn't fair! Maybe I have some control over my preference for leisure. Maybe I cultivated it by reading Marcus Aurelius or something. But my ability to swing a weekly? Well. Suppose (counterfactually, of course) that I'm ruddy and good looking, and the ladies are just irresistably drawn to my animal charisma. Well, I didn't do anything to deserve my mojo. By babe magneticity turns out simply to be an unredistributable resource. Nice for me! But hardly fair.
Maybe because I won't be so depressed, which we also find (also, that ladies ought to consider that OrthoTri-cyclen is cheaper than Prozac and condoms), it'll turn out that I contribute to the surplus of social cooperation by means of my sunny attitude. Everyone likes a guy with a spring in his step. But really, the folks paying for all those public goods, which I happily enjoy, with their labor and their lousy sex lives are certainly getting a raw deal. Notice that if they state provides things like health insurance, and so forth, then I'm really kicking it, and things have gotten even more unfair.
Seriously though, what do egalitarians think about this? Should we legalize prostitution and give people vouchers? Should we have mandatory national sexual service? Or can we just ignore certain deep kinds of inequality if the detection and enforcement costs are too high? That would be interesting.
I'm sure I've gotten ahead of myself here, but, you know, good times.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

82 thoughts

  1. “I do not doubt that conservative Christian moms all over the country were brought to tears by the power of this. There are a lot of conservative Christian moms.”
    My wife would fall into the Christian mom category, albeit an apolitical one as opposed to conservative. Palin’s speech definitely won her over last night. We replayed the moment where Palin’s daughter licked her hand and rubbed the baby’s head on our DVR a couple times, to both our delights.
    I fall into your “studied skeptic of my gut” category and won’t vote for McCain either. But all of this talk of not “properly vetting” Palin doesn’t take into account this woman’s appeal. This could turn out to be one of the most shrewd moves we’ve seen in recent politcal memory.

    1. WAY better vetted than Oblabla. Unless you equate “vetting” with obfuscation and deliberate disregard of flashing red warning lights.

      1. For the 80th time, you don’t a candidate. The people “vet,” if you will, by voting. Just like you don’t vet a SuperBowl winner. The playoff process “vets” the teams, producing a winner.
        Palin went through no such process, and hence the need to vet. Like it, don’t like it, whatever. But don’t confuse it with any similar requirement for Obama, or for McCain for that matter.

  2. Yeah, any time I feel emotions around politics, I become very suspicious, because it means someone is trying to manipulate me. I didn’t see the speech, since the whole thing has kind of turned me off, but the links at the end to evocative symbols of the candidates creep me the hell out. People’s desire for Great And Noble Leaders to rule over them is really disgusting.

      1. Actually, suspicion is an intellectual response based on previous experience. It emanates from the brain rather than the belly!

  3. I agree, man. All I could think about was (1) Humans are a disgrace; (2) It’s crazy what makes a difference in a presidential race; (3) She’s pretty and authoritative; (4) This pack of lies is very similar to the Democratic pack of lies; (5) If I were a politician I wouldn’t go anywhere because I can’t stand kitsch, lies and theater; (6) Back to (1).
    The weird thing is that in our own private lives, we tell little lies all the time. We defend our honor, rely on one-sided versions of what happened, change our opinions when it benefits us, leverage unfair advantages in competitive interpersonal situations, engage in pissing contests, tell half-truths. That is part of what it means to be alive. And I do it myself, even if I get curmudgeonly about it.
    The most uncomfortable thing about our politics is how it lays bare our inadequacies as human beings on the largest stage there is.
    It’s alright, though; the computers will take good care of us someday.

  4. > We replayed the moment where Palin’s daughter licked her hand and rubbed the baby’s head on our DVR a couple times, to both our delights.
    As a studied skeptic of my gut, I feel I should warn against rubbing the baby’s head on your DVR several times, no matter how much delight it elicits.
    Your DVR is only shielded as a FCC consumer class electrical device — the risk of static discharge to the baby’s head is considerable. And, the rubbing could cause minor surface scratches and cosmetic flaws, both to the DVR and to the baby.

  5. I think you’re largely on target here Will. I also think she’s a “category buster” in so many ways, which is precisely what is driving the left and the media crazy – and exactly what is so damn entertaining about it all. Living in a town the same size as hers for almost 20 years, I know “Sarah Palins” and they do indeed speak to a good number of women out there. And her appeal to men is, I think, more or less what you’ve identified. Even those of us whose rational sides know better and will still never let us vote for her and her quasi-fascist running mate are still “rooting” for her in some generalized way.

  6. I think you’re largely on target here Will. I also think she’s a “category buster” in so many ways, which is precisely what is driving the left and the media crazy – and exactly what is so damn entertaining about it all. Living in a town the same size as hers for almost 20 years, I know “Sarah Palins” and they do indeed speak to a good number of women out there. And her appeal to men is, I think, more or less what you’ve identified. Even those of us whose rational sides know better and will still never let us vote for her and her quasi-fascist running mate are still “rooting” for her in some generalized way.

  7. As a libertarian type though Will, don’t you find her power-mad, Christian certainty unpleasent, if not frightening? This is a woman who would no doubt force her personal worldview on others, if she had the power. She is against personal choice of all kinds. Much like Bush and McCain, she has no need for rational inquiry or evidence, when she has her gut and her Bible. And based on her comments last night, she’ll take the parts of the Constitution she likes, and toss the rest.
    I agree with you that she is an appealing and charisimatic leader. Which is precisely why she is so frightening.

    1. I, for one, find that “Christian certainty” so unpleasant that it constituted my own “gut” reaction, which was entirely different from Will’s: I found her utterly repulsive.
      And I haven’t found any reason, subsequently, to doubt that original reaction.

    2. “This is a woman who would no doubt force her personal worldview on others, if she had the power.”
      I can only go by proxy – that is from knowing many women and men of her faith – being friends with some, related to others.
      Some would force their personal beliefs on the rest of us. Maybe.
      The rest? They’d certainly prefer the rest of us Christianize and convert but they realize that forcing the issue is about the worst way for someone to come to the faith. Conversion has to be honest and fully accepted. If you don’t believe in your heart, it’s a big waste of time.
      My cousin the fecund Pentecostal is a good example. He brought the topic up once, we chatted for a few minutes about it. Twenty years later, it’s never come up again. He could be a pest about it but … he lets it abide.
      Unless you know something about Governor Palin’s history that suggests she’s hell-bent on pushing her church’s agenda on the rest of us?

  8. Will: “I would in fact rather be ruled by competent small-town mayors than accomplished professional rent-seekers.”
    Do you believe that small-town mayors are not rent seekers? How about small-town mayors that aspire to and attain state (and perhaps national) office?
    Rather a rosy-eyed, utopian view of small-town politics, don’t you think?
    (I *think* that’s what you’re saying here, sort of completely undercutting the previous adulatory view of small-town mayors, and this small-town mayor in particular: “Palin, being very smart, made great strides in this regard during her short time as Governor, because opportunistic predation is what politics is.”)
    Is “this regard” rent-seeking?
    The rest of the piece is about how she plays politically–which seems to be all McCain was thinking about. Yawn.
    Do you think knowing stuff about economics, foreign policy, military affairs, constitutional law, etc. is valuable? Was your college education a waste of time?
    American exceptionalists are delighted to tout our best-in-the-world universities. But when we have a candidate who rose from humble origins to participate in the best of them–Columbia, Harvard, U Chicago–those same exceptionalists spit on those same universities as elitist.
    Which is it? Does knowledge matter? Or are everybody’s “feelings” equally valid? (Which seems to be the wildly relativist position of a large part of the right wing.)
    Is it true that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten?

    1. All you need in a democracy is what you learned in kindergarten. Isn’t that what this campaign has made clear? Substance is sex appeal, so McCain went out and got some. Is this so difficult to understand?

  9. I didn’t see the speech, but my wife said she has an innate political talent much like Bill Clinton. The sexual attractiveness is definitely a big part of it. I get the feeling she’s coated in teflon — getting anything to stick to her will prove futile.
    My personal take is that she could have run in 2012 or 2016 and had a serious chance to win the whole enchilada. What’s happening now is something like Dukakis picking Clinton to be his running mate. Would it have made a difference?

  10. “As a libertarian type though Will, don’t you find her power-mad, Christian certainty unpleasent, if not frightening?”
    How are Democrats any different? Don’t they want to steal your property (I.e. your money)? Don’t they want to enact laws that impede on your thoughts: hate crime laws? Don’t they want to enact laws to drive you made: equal rights amendments?
    Gimme a break. Mosts pols are bad people.

  11. Zylo,
    I completely agree. I wasn’t making a partisan argument. We just happen to be talking about Palin. And I was surprised by Will’s praise of her, for the exact reasons you mention.

  12. “But I feel that Hillary’s struggle to connect as a strong leadership-worthy woman was part of an attempt to forge a sense of feminine authority not founded an maternality and female sexual power. That she almost succeeded in this is astounding, and I think hugely to her credit.”
    Indeed, but at the same time Hilary was still never going to escape another trap– that of the woman who got into politics because of her family. Obviously, not that male political figures are remotely exempt from this at all (Bush, Romney, various Kennedys, etc.), but the simple nature of the barriers to women’s entry in politics has meant that most women with political success have been wives of politicians, or in some cases (Kathleen Blanco), scions of political families– not just in the US, either.
    Was Thatcher’s appeal “founded in maternality and female sexual power?” I think that, despite various claims to the effect, it was generally not.

  13. Clarence: “Much like Bush and McCain, she has no need for rational inquiry or evidence, when she has her gut and her Bible. And based on her comments last night, she’ll take the parts of the Constitution she likes, and toss the rest.”
    Zylo: “How are Democrats any different? Don’t they want to steal your property (I.e. your money)? Don’t they want to enact laws that impede on your thoughts: hate crime laws? Don’t they want to enact laws to drive you made: equal rights amendments?”
    As one of Will’s self-described liberaltarians, the difference to me is clear:
    My wife and I will have lower income taxes under Obama’s plan, in spite of Palin’s fallacious claims to the contrary last night, so in this election I’m more concerned about the GOP stealing my property.
    Palin reminds me of the female authority figures from throughout my life as well, but she shares their most loathsome quality: unwavering righteousness.
    Libertarians would find a lot more sympathy from those who traditionally identify themselves with the left if it weren’t for their alignment with radical Christians and their wacky faith-based policies.
    Palin is as radical and religious as they come. She was chosen to change the conversation (check) and mobilize the evangelical subsets of the GOP that most of the libertarians I know are embarrassed to be associated with. If we’re here to promote rational choice, she is a terrible candidate to support.
    Which I hope is the point Will is trying to make by fawning all over her “sexual power.”

  14. As a libertarian type though Will, don’t you find her power-mad, Christian certainty unpleasent, if not frightening? This is a woman who would no doubt force her personal worldview on others, if she had the power.
    That is far from clear. Her acceptance speech had no mention of cultural issues; just energy, economics, and ethics. She hasn’t tried to ban abortions or push creationism as governor of Alaska, where she does have the power to do so. The only worrying thing is her alleged attempt to ban library books, about which there is no detail that I’m aware of. I hope she’s asked about that in an interview.
    I’ve heard from a number of people that religious fundamentalists in the west tend libertarian, as opposed to the authoritarian streak in the south. Essentially they understand that their beliefs are wacky, so they’re more interested in preventing government from limiting their religious freedom than in imposing their beliefs on others. The currently available evidence is consistent with her falling into that category.

  15. “And damn straight: people who study at the University of Idaho (which is, in fact, where my sister is currently studying law) are every bit as smart as all you snide elitist Ivy League cosmoplitans!”
    i know you are kinda joking with this, buy you’re feeding into the culture wars with this statement. and in doing so furthering the perception that everyone who goes to an ivy league school is an elite condescending (insert expletive). there shouldn’t be a stigma either way (whether you’re from the midwest or go to an ivy league school).

  16. Yeah, but the fact that the guy with the buzz-cut can pulp you when nobody is looking and people will consider him justified because you resisted his authority in a disrespectful way(“Screw you!”) should give a man pause. Obviously you’ve never had an adverse run in with such folk. Elephant in the room or no, the 400 lb gorilla sits wherever he wants. Palin doesn’t exude that kind of energy, but I’m willing to bet that she will send a buzz-cut to pulp you when no one is looking, if it is necessary.
    Talking about Palin’s appeal in terms of sexiness is tantamount to talking about Obama’s appeal in the same terms. Does speculation on the length and girth of Obama’s dong now become legitimate political discourse? I know this is just a blog, but I would have expected better from someone associated with the Cato Institute. You just keep leaving the barn door open.

  17. I want to see an analysis of nose angles; my anecdotal observation is that Oblabla tilts his up at least 20º more than any other candidate.

  18. Yeah, but we all laugh when Angelina Jolie or Nicole Kidman weighs in on politics. Hot though they be, they do not command political respect. Sarah does because she really is an outstanding politician. There’s just no doubt about it. Being sexy is a nice compliment to her skills. Her skills aren’t complementing her looks. There’s a reason she’s the first attractive female American politician I can think of. If your thesis held water, wouldn’t they be succeeding regularly? Instead the press assumed she was a bimbo and attacked relentlessly.

  19. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t find her that attractive that explains why I find her ability to lie without remorse so troublesome.

  20. “the perception that everyone who goes to an ivy league school is an elite condescending (insert expletive).”
    The perception is created by the reality. The young snots are really full of themselves. Interested readers should peruse this article:
    “Lost in the Meritocracy: How I traded an education for a ticket to the ruling class”, by Walter Kirn in the Atlantic magazine issue for January/February 2005.
    I think the Ivy Leauge graduate and professional schools are valuable to the nation, but the undergraduate schools produce more snobbery and narcissism than learning. If it were up to me (and you all should be very happy that it isn’t), I would close the undergraduate schools and divert the resources into institutions where they would provide for the education of more people.
    “people who study at the University of Idaho … are every bit as smart as all you snide elitist Ivy League cosmoplitans”
    The average Ivy admits 2000 kids per year. Some of those kids are very smart. Some of them are really good football players who had decent grades in high school. Some of them are affirmative action cases. And, some of them have fathers who just ponied up enough cash for a new dorm.
    A senior faculty member at one of the ivies tells me that more than half of the entering class at his school is made up of jocks, legacies, affirmative action and development cases.
    Some portion of the other half is really bright kids, and some of them aren’t but they tested well and sucked up to their teachers superbly. The admissions process at the ivy league schools probably catches a higher percentage of really bright kids, but lets face it, they are not perfect — they can’t read minds any better than you can.
    The average state school admits as many as 10 times that as many students as the ivies. They too have a distribution of talents and abilities. Some of them are really bright. Some of them are dolts. But, the numbers work in favor of the states. They get as many really bright ones as the ivies, they just have more that are not really bright, which btw does not make them bad people.
    Deal with it.

  21. “How this will effect the race, I have no idea, but it’s just got to.”
    I think you mean “affect”. Common mistake.
    Is Obama sexier than McCain? How will that affect the race, do you suppose? After all, if the sexiness of the Vice President nominee can affect the race, presumably the sexiness of the President still more so.

  22. >> That said, my gut found Sarah Palin enormously appealing.
    Your spell checker has mistakenly replaced the word “penis” with “gut”.

  23. Interesting thoughts. I’m not a libertarian but I wondered how libertarians would react.
    She strikes me as unusually vindictive against her personal enemies. If anything stands out about her term in Wasilla and the Governor’s chair, it’s her penchant for firing people who don’t swear loyalty to her and replacing them with cronies who do her personal bidding. That’s, after all, what is at heart in Troopergate.
    Her self-righteousness only covers up her personal agenda.
    I’ve also noted an almost visceral hatred of her among women I’ve spoken with.These are not “butch-femmei” types at all, though they are moderate Democrats by and large. They see Palin as the hot new employee promoted to be around the guys at the top. It’s easy to imagine her in The Office.
    One woman I spoke with yesterday made the point that Palin is, ironically, out of date. In the 1980s women had to affect a masculine toughness to be respected in the business world. Today, that’s no longer necessary. She could be just maternal and charming and would win everybody over. There was no need for snideness.
    But that’s where she’s going with this.

  24. When I first saw her I thought “if I were Cindy I would never permit this”. Nice to see some part of the other side being so up front about the extent to which their lizard brains control them.

  25. This woman is a joke. There’s nothing but “gut” appeal with her.
    This isn’t American Idol. THAT’s where you can safely deposit your fawning for attractive conservative moms.

  26. If you listen talk radio, they aren’t hesitating to use their penis-brains when talking about Palin.
    Talking out of two sides of their mouths, they scream “sexism!” when anyone levels a criticism of her, yet their understanding of sexism is dim, at best.
    Yesterday, Glenn Beck played Palin’s acceptance speech while describing his enthusiasm, going from “1st base” to “3rd base”, at which point he was panting and saying “yeah, I may be grossing out America”, at which point I turned off the radio in utter and complete distrust. I shudder to think what “4th base” sounded like.
    Sadly, much of the right-wing base is energized by their fantasies of wanting to have sex with a beautiful, gun toting babe (their words).
    As I listen to those frothing at the mouth over Palin, I am starting to wonder if we need to give our citizens tests in order to obtain voting licenses.

  27. She’s powerfully charismatic, and that goes a long way. “chthonic power” seems the right phrase to me — I can’t wait for the non-virtual Paglia to weigh in.
    But she doesn’t give any impression whatsoever of intellectual heft — in the way that, say, Dianne Feinstein, Olympia Snowe, or Hillary Clinton do. Perhaps that doesn’t matter to a majority of the electorate.
    Frankly, politics aside I think, I just don’t like her. There seems either naked aggression or masking in everything she says or does. I bet a fair portion of the electorate has the same sort of reaction. Of course I have something of that reaction to all but the most gifted and thoughtful politicians.

  28. WOW.
    I don’t think she looks hot at all
    I think she looks like pure evil.
    I think she – not Obama – is the real potential anti-christ.

  29. I’m fascinated by your observation about Hillary Clinton succeeding without any retrograde sexual-maternal power and I’d like to see more of this in other women in leadership, women who aren’t related to a president of the United States. But gut-stimulating women might be OK too. But not Palin. It is pure agony (to my gut) that she manifests/displays/trades on female sexuality without an accompanying commitment to reproductive freedom/health. Time for a gutcheck about the consequences of her sexual excess or “moral vision”: Alaska has the highest rate of Chlamydia nationwide.There are higher divorce rates, STD rates, unwanted pregnancies and the miseries that grow from these in the Red States and you’ve pointed your, er, finger at why. I’m glad you’ve unmasked the source of Hurricane Sarah’s force. Now it’s essential to recognize she is a disaster.

  30. I admit I’m biased about this because I disagree with her and her party on most things. ‘m not a lock step Dem either….probably a Liberaltarian as some would say….supporting a lot of the Dem ‘sagenda, but not enough to consistently vote for just any old Dem.
    Anyway…..I find this idea bandied about on TV this week that because people are questioning her credentials that is somehow elitist of us people who, you know, want the best country in the world to be run by the best and brightest. I mean sure let one of the “just folks” types become #2 to leader in the free world. We put a horse judge at the head of FEMA, right….and that worked out fabulously.
    Keep in mind that Alaska is also the biggest welfare state in the union, since the federal govenment owns much of the territory. In 2003 (the last year I found data for), the federal tax subsidies provided to the state amounted to an average of $12K per resident. That’s tax money, you, me and hundreds of millions of other non-Alaskan residents paid to help keep that state running. So you really do need to take Palin’s budget claims with a grain of salt. If every governor in the country received the same federal subsidies per resident, I’m sure they’d be very popular and would also be running big surpluses.
    Now, Obama started off with a thin resume too. But he’s spent 12 years as a legislator in one of the most populous and diverse states in the union and also in Washington. And he’s gotten where is now because he’s proven his ability to speak intelligently and knowlegeably on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues over the last 20 months running for President.
    I don’t have a problem so much with her credentials….if she had also faced the heat of 20 months of scrutiny and was forced to provide a policy agenda and had been vetted during that time by the media and voters. But she hasn’t. She was selected, not elected to be VP. And she’s still an unknown in every way. And I suspect it will remain that way until the election. You have to wonder if she is the real Trojan Horse in this election.

    1. Was gonna post much the same comment, so I’ll merely chime in that you’re right on the money from my p.o.v., both about the “credentials” issue–Obama has endured a very intense and prolonged “vetting,” managed a nationwide campaign that has functioned exceedingly well from the grass-roots level to TV advertising, and won against one of the most well-connected and well funded candidates on either side–and being selected, not elected. There’s no equivalence there.
      The one thing I would add is that I must have very very different standards of sexual attraction than Wilkinson. The bouffant thing is a turn-off, for one. But then a lot of right wingers find Ann Coulter sexy, too. Weird.

  31. “people who study at the University of Idaho (which is, in fact, where my sister is currently studying law) are every bit as smart as all you snide elitist Ivy League cosmoplitans!”
    Probably smarter.
    – YLS 2L

      1. FYI: If you’re co-opting Rudy’s cosmo line, then I’d advise you to stay out of arguments about who’s smart and who isn’t.
        Thrice divorced, cross-dressing, opera-loving, 21-dining Rudy who marches in gay rights parades came from which small town?
        That line was so ironic that anyone who parrots it really needs to look in the mirror.
        All deception begins with self-deception.

  32. “her Upper-Midwest-sounding accent”
    Richard Daley has a Midwestern accent. That police chief gal from FARGO had a Midwestern accent.
    Palin’s is closer to Northwestern (with some tinges of Canadian) since, you know, she’s from Alaska.
    Where are you from, again?

  33. First, let me just get it out of the way: I think she is a tremendously sexy woman.
    What am I missing? Square head, flabby legs, fat ankles, weird curl to her lip. (I’m just saying… go ahead and call me a sexist, but the question was, is she sexy, and if you have an opinion either way, you have to back it up.)
    I guess sexy to you is power, business suit, and maybe naughty librarian. To me, she looks like the girls on the advert for looking up your old high school class.
    And the accent is a deal-breaker. Throw the cow over the fence some hay, ya know.

  34. Wow. This says a lot more about your psyche than it does about Sarah Palin. Someday when you’re older & wiser, you may conciously realize what you just revealed about yourself and come back and remove this.
    If you have an unconscious desire to be ordered around by sexy, authoritarian, domineering women, then just take out a personal ad in an alternative weekly. But please, let those of us with less repressed sexual identities dominating our decision making be allowed to get a VP (i.e. potential president – actuarial tables say a man McCain’s age has a 1 in 6 chance of dying in next four years) just get a VP who, you know, has at least a tenth the interest in national and international political complexities than she has in trying to get books she doesn’t like at her local library banned, by threatening to fire the librarian 11 days after she gets elected mayor. Please?

  35. p.s. and this closing comment of yours, “Palin made my gut want John McCain to win and then suffer a fatal heart attack” is just plain … disturbing. Seriously, all joking aside you should go talk to someone professional about these feelings.

  36. On the personal appeal side — for a moment leaving aside the only thing that really matters, here qualifications and opinions relevant to someday becoming President — I’m guessing it probably comes down to this: if you have ever watched the movie “Election” and got turned on by the Reese Witherspoon character ruthlessly running for student class president, then I’d guess Sarah Palin would do it for you too (adjusting for age). But if you watched that movie and looked past her superficial beauty — you know, could turn off your hormones and think with your big head for a minute — and saw the self-satisfied creepiness of that character, but it still didn’t turn you off, then yeah maybe this gal is for you.
    I suspect Palin is not much different than George W Bush in that she never second guesses decisions, never makes mistakes, and uses interpretations of what the “heavenly father wants me to do” to excuse not paying attention to what any mere mortal advisers might say to the contrary (most famously with Bush, he acknowledged he never considered advice from his own father about the decision to invade Iraq and the likely consequences, pretty odd since it was his father that conducted the first invasion). If you do get past the sexual hangups for a minute, and actually try to evaluate the political considerations as well, then I guess if you’re cool with all that, go ahead and keep hoping McCain will have a heart attack and die like you wrote.

  37. As a woman, a mother of 4, an independent (and strong minded one , at that , who likes to cross the gender barriers myself now and then by playing sports and shooting clay pigeons) Sarah Palin is a woman who is frighteningly familiar to me.
    Think: Harper. Valley. PTA. She is cut of the same cloth of woman who, twenty years ago, would have played the Jeanie C. Rielly lead in a story where she tried to publicly humiliate or ostracize me for the kind of person I am, and she’s no less dangerous now to those of us who wish to continue to move into the 21st century.
    I find her to be a personification of every grown up 40 year-old “Mean Girl” I have ever had to to deal with in my work life, my community activities, or even on my son’s football booster club board. Backstabbing, self serving, power hungry, these women are the epitome of all the weakness women embrace as they fight each other for the attention of men, and try to mask it as being “spunky” or some such shit.
    Add to that she is a lifelong member of an extremist church preaching literalist, end-times, evangelical Christianity, and you have potentially one of the most dangerous people ever put on the ticket with a 72 year-old with one foot in the grave. There is no substance there, just snark. No intellectual insight or analysis of the complexity of the world or the country she has the audacity to ask to help lead. She has as much rationale for her actions as a politician as someone who thinks aliens are telling them what to do. Her smug superiority is a huge turnoff, as are her apparent lies and exaggerations regarding her past history and actions while holding public offices.
    You may think that she is sexy, but her brand of insulting, angry, and divisive politics is ugly, not “powerful”. It’s business as usual in female America. Ordinary at best.

  38. Hate to break it to you, spud, but no, someone going to law school at the University of Idaho, a fine land-grant state institution, I’m sure, is probably not as smart in terms of sheer intellectual firepower as someone going to Harvard Law. We can test that sort of ability, yanno. No Child Left Behind and all that.

    1. Statements like this just piss me off!!!! One of the biggest morons I ever had the misfortune to work for (I’m an attorney) is a Harvard Law grad. I’m not– and not because my test scores weren’t good enough (they were!) but because I’m from a blue-collar family that paid NONE of my expenses, and I did not even have the money for application fees to the “top” schools- let alone enough money to relocate from my cheap apartment in a small town to an overpriced room in an overpriced city. People still have no clue how many people are still left behind, not from any lack of ability, but from lack of resources and connections that give some students and law grads, regardless of ability, a real leg up over the rest of us– who are still struggling.

      1. Lawyer, it is a shame that smart people don’t always have the opportunity to go to the most prestigious institutions. Fine, you’re right about that. But that point, and unfortunately your anecdotal evidence too, don’t have any bearing on whether the average HLS or ILS student is smarter. Sure, there are probably plenty of smart people at both places. But if I were picking a lawyer for myself and only knew where they graduated from, I’d pick the Harvard one. Opportunity should be equal, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s abilities are equal.

      2. Whine whine. I’m from a blue collar family (oil refinery worker and truck driver for a father) and earned a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school based on my ability. I had to scrape up the application fees and eat bitter for years.

  39. Huh, if you are a libertarian, and I assume you are since your partner appears to be, you probably track reproductive fitness with earning power. I believe that it is reasonable to assume in your world scheme that this is connected with intelligence.
    So, from
    U of Idaho, Average LSAT: 150:
    Average Starting Salary Range ($) % Unemployed Upon Graduation
    University of Idaho 36,000 52,500 1.2
    Harvard, Average LSAT: 170
    Harvard Harvard 115,000 125,000 0.4
    Who’s smarter again?

      1. Sorry, son, the spread is too significant statistically. Your asshole boss from Harvard was at one end of the bell curve.
        Besides, if you lost out in the karma sweepstakes, that’s just Fortuna screwing you over so quit whining about it.

  40. As a woman and a mother, the fact that you think Sarah Palin is tremendously sexy is more deeply disturbing to me than if you went on and on about the latest porn star. She revels in her ill-education and arrogance and mocks the achievements of fine, compassionate people who possess humility and a sense of history that enables them to love their country for intelligent reasons. She is the epitome of the type of woman that I hope my two daughters never, ever, ever grow up to be.

  41. I would in fact rather be ruled by competent small-town mayors than accomplished professional rent-seekers.
    There are two problems with that comment. I’m not really sure what you mean by competent when you’re referring to Palin, except in the sense that the town did not implode. I think it’s quite reasonable to read some of the stories about her tenure as mayor and wonder if she did in fact possess the competence you appear to presuming. Secondly, I would much rather be governed (as opposed to “ruled”) by people who have demonstrated some ability in state-wide or national office. I might appreciate the earnestness of a “competent” small town mayor, but I woudl not appreciate their ignorance.
    As for the rest of what you write, you seem to be arguing in very fancy language that Palin would get your vote because she’s hot. Strangely, some of us can manage to share the same opinion while hoping desperately that she never gets anywhere near the White House. If you have a “deep mistrust of democratic politics” then it is only because of people like yourself, who can barely be trusted to think rationally.

  42. Not Severin,
    Idaho Law and Harvard Law serve very different markets. The typical Idaho law grad will take a state court clerkship or work as a public defender, prosecutor, etc. straight out of law school. These jobs involve smarts, dedication and service, but they don’t include huge salaries.

  43. I’m sorry, but I have taught in middle of the road type colleges and universities, and the average caliber of students is nothing close to what it is in the Ivies. The very best students (mostly) go to the very best schools, where they can hang out with other outstanding students. Yes some Ivy League schools still have their share of legacy admissions, but not nearly enough to push down the average to typical places like U of Idaho. It’s not close. It’s like saying your local college baseball team is on par with the Yankees.
    Not saying your sister isn’t smart, even “could play for the Yankess” smart. I had a few students at mediocre colleges who would have been very comfortable at Harvard or Chicago or Stanford or Amherst or wherever. But the vast majority were not close to that level.

  44. Drew: “there shouldn’t be a stigma either way (whether you’re from the midwest or go to an ivy league school).”
    I agree on stigma. But it definitely raise my eyebrows (in admiration) when someone served as editor of the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law at U of Chicago. That says a lot about their capabilities.
    And it also raises my eyebrows when I hear that somebody graduated fifth from the bottom at the Naval Academy.
    Neither is definitive, of course, but they say a lot.

  45. As someone who actually grew up in a small town, give me a career federal politician any day. As a class, no one is more control-oriented and petty than small town politicians, and the evidence that exists suggests that she is if anything an uber-small town politician. And that is no compliment to her whatsoever. She is vindictive and power-hungry. In the normal course of things, she’d be a tyrant over a few thousand people with limited power for a couple of years and then disappear. That this wasn’t the course of her life is a sad commentary on both Alaska and McCain.

  46. “I would in fact rather be ruled by competent small-town mayors than accomplished professional rent-seekers.”
    And how do you feel about small-town mayors who were aided in their mayoral campaigns by the state branch of one of the two major political parties, which then began grooming her for higher office during the first mayoral term?
    That doesn’t seem like “professional rent-seeking” to you?

    1. A-men, Mr. Small Berries!
      And let us not forget Palin’s real talent as mayor and governor: milking the federal government for millions of dollars, redistributing wealth from the economically prosperous blue states to the backwaters of Alaska.
      Oh, Palin’s got talent: the same kind that Ted Stevens had. She is a “bringin’ home the bacon” politician through and through. Her first priority, everybody knows, will be opening up oil fields and pipelines across Alaska.
      Let’s also add to this that every “stand” she took against corruption seems entirely unprincipled and self-serving.
      McCain did further damage to his brand by picking this woman: it’s even harder to believe that he’s a maverick when he picks a Christian zealot – a friggin’ CREATIONIST who opposes abortion even in the case of rape – who’s all about scoring earmarks for Alaskans.
      I find her sexually uninteresting, to boot.
      My gut says “?”, my mind says “Oh my god, if this woman is elected, I’m gonna have to get the fuck out of here!”

  47. While for the author and other narrow-minded voters, Sarah Palin’s sex appeal might make them more inclined to “go with their gut” and vote for the ticket, for an intellectual type like me, her nomination signifies the day the republican party jumped the shark and no longer became the party of ideas and competance but simply the party of “winning at all costs”. When a party rejoices in a nomination of someone who wanted to ban books eleven days under her regime as mayor, than you know something is fatally wrong with that party

  48. She’s actually quite middle aged and overly made up. Ivanna Trump (her idol) comes to mind. I think it’s her lactating breasts that have a number of you in a tizzie. Oh well.
    BTW, if the story is “she’s a better politician than Hilary because she’s younger and more attractive,” I think you’ll find that’s not a big selling point for the ladies.
    Oh– and University of Idaho, where my husband teaches, does have some very bright students. But the average undergraduate at U of I is not that bright at all, I hate to say. (The law school is different, completely separate and not really comparable.) Idaho doesn’t really have community colleges, and many of the students at the U of I are kind of at the community college level. A good chunk of the student body is not up to the level of the juniors and seniors at the Moscow High School (which is full of the kids of professors at u of i and washington state university across the state line.) Was SP one of the smart ones at U of I? Why doesn’t she release her transcripts and we’ll see?

  49. But it’s victim stories and affirmative action that get you into the Ivies, unless you’re the kid of a media figure or a movie star. The average middle-class public high school student doesn’t stand a chance. So, let’s not gas on about SATs and GPAs, esp. in this era of grade inflation and bloated resumes from high school seniors.
    There’s no affirmative action for a cute point guard from Alaska. None.
    Palin’s refreshing because she didn’t de-sex herself to be a politician. Hillary tried and succeeded all too well.
    And anyone who wants a “career federal politician” needs to read up on fascism. I loathe the idea of a permanent “good job with the government” type leading me.

    1. Given geographic “affirmative action” in elite colleges, it is likely pretty easy to get into an elite college from Alaska. One would probably just have to get into the 25-75% on the numbers, without worrying about extracurriculars, high school, or interesting life story.

  50. Rent-seeking is attempting to have the government manipulate a market for one’s own gain. How would this apply to professional politicians?

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