The Social Effects of Happy Pills

The Social Effects of Happy Pills

The Social Effects of Happy Pills

Recent posts from our readers forum.
March 9 2000 3:00 AM

The Social Effects of Happy Pills

Subject: Prozac, the Productivity Booster?

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From: Randolph Nesse

Date: Fri Mar 3  13:58 PT

Read my original report. The Web moves fast, and in Robert Wright's essay some ideas and caveats seem to have been torn off in the breeze. In the original original e-mail sent out by my publicist (available at www.edge.org), I emphasized the tentative nature of the suggestion that antidepressant use could change investor behavior, and I also emphasized that substantial genuine economic benefits could arise because Prozac and similar medications have made millions of people both happier and more productive. I concluded:

The social effects of psychotropic medications is the unreported story of our time. These effects may be small, but they may be large, with the potential for social catastrophe or positive transformation. I make no claim to know which position is correct, but I do know that the question is important, unstudied, and in need of careful research.

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[Randolph Nesse is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.]

Subject: Quota Creep

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Date: Fri Mar 3  13:58 PT

I don't agree with Chatterbox that the regulation in question definitely did not impose a quota. To be sure, it was not a hard-and-fast quota, such as a requirement that 20 percent of a school's enrollment consists of minorities. However, it still used a verifiable, hard-number test for the number of minority students enrolled. And while falling below this number did not automatically strip an exemption, it imposed obligations on a school to respond, and considerable uncertainty on the part of a school as to whether it would receive the tax exemption.

This last point is critical, because I don't believe Chatterbox has adequately considered how institutions (businesses as well as educational institutions) grapple with legal uncertainty. Schools cannot afford to run the risk that their tax exemption will be revoked; the financial impact could be disastrous. Thus, they will do everything possible to fall within the "safe harbor" a regulation provides, thereby avoiding the necessity of meeting its burden of proof on an "affirmative defense" such as those contained in the regulation at issue. When the stakes are high, it won't matter much to a university administration that its burden is or may not be that heavy. It will simply steer well clear of the line—and thus you have, de facto, a quota.

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Subject: Bob Jones—Still on the Government Teat

From: Paige

Date: Wed Mar 1  08:25 PT

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An unreported fact about Bob Jones University: As a South Carolinian, my tax dollars go to this school! BJU gets $2,000 a student for 200 students every year from LIFE scholarships in S.C. Why should I have to support a student or school that denies someone the right to date who they want? The Citadel, which is the Military College of South Carolina, did not want to admit women, but they finally had to suck it up in order to continue getting funded by the state. So what makes BJU different? It is up to S.C. lawmakers to once again try and figure out how to right a wrong—and hopefully make S.C. look a little better in the eyes of the nation.

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Subject: Dirty Money for Good Deeds

Date: Fri Mar 3  15:07 PT

It is unfortunate that Arianna Huffington's adjustments to the "Slate 60" do not include qualifications based on the origin of the wealth of the donor. The inclusion of the Milken Family Foundation is an affront to thousands of working families whose retirement funds were looted by corporate raiders financed by the sale of junk bonds orchestrated by Michael Milken. It is also a cruel slap in the face of the American taxpayer who was forced to redirect billions of dollars from needed social programs to rescue insolvent S&Ls bankrupted by participation in ridiculous real estate ventures financed with these worthless securities.

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Subject: A Jolt for Jaded Journalists

From: Zachary



Date: Thu Mar 2  22:17 PT

Weisberg needs to remember that for some audience members watching the debate this may be the first time they've seen the candidates (especially in California) and it's the candidates' job to convey their positions to new or uninformed voters, not to endlessly feed jaded pundits and journalists. This is one of the fundamental problems of modern campaigns: The bored press is saying, "Enough already" at just the moment the candidates most need the press to convey their positions to the electorate.

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