Friday, June 11, 2010

Strong Relationship Voters’ Politics, Personality, and Genetics. Dying with Dignity

Tags: Voters, Conservatives, Liberal, Party, Personality, Genetics, Students, Lower Empathy, Republicans, Retirement Place, Dying with Dignity

Finding a great retirement places to live depends more about knowing what is most important for you, your spouse, family, and close friends. Fortunately or unfortunately most can only afford to live where they have lived all their lives.

The big change that has come from the Reagan Revolution of individualism and greed is that we as a society do not care as much for strangers and coworkers, and we have, on average, only two people that we can reveal our deepest intimate parts of our lives and feelings.

The latest study has shown that there had been a dramatic lowering in the empathy level in college students indicating that all is not lost for the Republican Party. In contrast to the media hype, the percentage of college students voting in November 2008, went up only 2% or so!

The most important thing to determine is what is most important for your spouse and possibly family and friends on where to live in your retirement. No, the most important is not weather or scenery or recreational facilities which will influence only a fraction of your lives.

I think the most important place to live, all other things being equal, is to live where others have the same mindset that you have whether liberal, conservative, or moderate. Oregon is a moderate state with a more liberal base in both Eugene and Portland, but we have had both Republican and Democratic mayors in Eugene and in the latest election for Education Superintendent, the Democrat barely beat the Right Wing Texas-Like Republican by less than 0.10%.

The current holder of the office was unpopular because she supported having high school sports teams travel three hours or more by bus to play comparable teams. This is really stupid and it has been changed finally. I believe most people voted for the radical Republican because most newspapers and the media supported that guy!

In a primary, conservatives are more motivated to vote because they tend to be older. The more desertlike, less populated Eastern Oregon is very conservative with the Scots-Irish Mormons inhabiting many of the ranches.

The more affluent Northern section of Eugene is more conservative and the Southern more liberal-moderate including the University of Oregon. The latter voted 80 percent for Obama, while the North Eugene and adjacent Springfield which has a more conservative population was closer to the national average.

The Bush Administration and Republicans spent a millions of dollars trying to defeat Oregon’s law of allowing physician assisted suicide for those diagnosed to die in six months or less. Oregon passed it the second time with a greater majority of votes. Now conservative Montana Supreme Court also validated this!

Jim Kawakami, June 11, 2010,

Strong Relationship Between a Voter's Politics and His Personality ScienceDaily (June 10, 2010) — There is a strong relationship between a voter's politics and his personality, according to new research from the University of Toronto.

Researchers at UofT have shown that the psychological concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while the concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset.

"Conservatives tend to be higher in a personality trait called orderliness and lower in openness. This means that they're more concerned about a sense of order and tradition, expressing a deep psychological motive to preserve the current social structure," says Jacob Hirsh, a postdoctoral psychology student at UofT and lead author of the study.

The study, which appears in this month's Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, may even lend some legitimacy to the term, 'bleeding-heart-liberal.'

"Our data shows that liberalism is more often associated with the underlying motives for compassion, empathy and equality," says Hirsh. …

"While everybody has the same basic motivational architecture, the relative strength of the underlying systems varies from one person to the next. If concerns for order and equality are relatively balanced, the individual is likely to be politically moderate; as either motive grows stronger than the other, political preferences move further to either end of the spectrum."

"People's values are deeply embedded in their biology and genetic heritage," says UofT Professor and co-author Jordan Peterson. "This means you have to take a deeper view of political values and morality in terms of where these motives are coming from; political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of the issues."

Peterson argues that in order to maintain a functioning society, both types of political motivation are required.

"The fact that variability still exists in these motivational systems, from an evolutionary perspective, means that neither one is sufficient on its own. There are costs and benefits to each political profile and both appear critical to maintaining an effective balance in society."

Wikipedia: The Hastings Center, founded in 1969, is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit bioethics research institute based in the United States. It is dedicated to the examination of essential questions in health care, biotechnology, and the environment. The center has over 200 fellows, including many physicians, attorneys, PhDs and bioethicists.

It is headquartered in Garrison, New York, on the former Woodlawn estate designed by Richard Upjohn. …

Dying with Dignity, Hastings Center, Ira Byock, May 3, 2010, On the last day of 2009, a divided Montana Supreme Court ruled that physicians in the Big Sky state can legally prescribe medications for terminally ill patients to use in ending their lives. Right-to-die activists would have preferred that the court find a constitutional right to assisted suicide. Still, they applauded the narrow decision, which merely exempted physicians from prosecution, as advancing death with dignity. In a separate opinion, Justice James C. Nelson wrote, "This right to physician aid in dying quintessentially involves the inviolable right to human dignity—our most fragile right."

The ruling will inevitably fuel overheated rhetoric on both sides of the physician-assisted suicide debate. But I believe the rhetoric of the debate misappropriates the word "dignity." As used by those who want to legalize assisted suicide, "death with dignity" implies that people who are dying are not already dignified. They are. And that is not merely my assertion or some New Age platitude. The preamble to the United Nation's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." This language formalizes an anthropological fact: the impulse to honor and care for our most vulnerable members—infants, elderly, injured, and ill—is part of our humanity.

It is easy to see how this unfortunate choice of terms came about. In contemporary Western society, independence and prowess have become the hallmarks of dignity. Being frail or dependent on others can then feel undignified. The feeling is compounded if a person is pauperized by medical bills, warehoused in an understaffed nursing home, and treated as if she were a nuisance and a burden. The suggestion that an incurably ill person may need to end her life to preserve her dignity seems to add insult to injury.

I am a palliative care physician who regularly cares for terminally ill people. What I really know about dignity did not come from text or formal training; instead I learned about dignity from the care my parents gave my maternal grandmother. I was eight years old when Grandma Leah had her stroke. Months of therapy left her barely able to communicate and in need of help to eat and use the toilet. Nursing home placement was advised, but out of the question. My parents took her home.

Even as a boy, I was struck by my father's unabashed tenderness toward my grandmother. After a year, she improved enough to return home with my grandfather. We visited weekends to take her shopping and do household chores. Twice a month for the next twenty years, Dad had Leah soak her feet so he could cut her toenails. All the while, he relayed gossip and bawdy stories until she feigned shock or giggled. She saw her dignity reflected in his eyes.

Decades later, while serving as medical director for a hospice program in Missoula, Montana, I met a fellow I will call John. He was a handful, to put it mildly—a "management problem." Although mostly jovial, he was prone to fits of rage. He required constant attention. He needed to wear diapers but preferred being naked and had occasionally been found urinating behind furniture. But John's family never considered him undignified. The reason was simple: John was the three-year-old son of a hospice nurse colleague.

Many decades further on, if John develops dementia and acts in similar ways, will his wife and children consider him undignified? If so, why? We do not consider infants and toddlers undignified because they are at a stage of life in which they need physical care, nurturing, and patient, loving attention; why are we less tolerant at the end of life?

Our society is aging, and soaring numbers of chronically ill people live among us—the result of decades of medical progress. They do not have to be social problems. They are family members, neighbors, and friends. We have the collective responsibility to care for them with skill and deep respect. We have the opportunity to care for them with tenderness and love. Most of us will be physically dependent and intimately cared for by others before we die. This fact does not destine us to become undignified. It simply confirms that we are human.

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