First Things RSS Feed - George A. Tobin
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60Groping With the Invisible Handhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1994/04/001-groping-with-the-invisible-hand
Fri, 01 Apr 1994 00:00:00 -0500 While many people have expressed reservations about the direction of the Clinton economic program, the good economic news is that retail condom sales broke the $300 million dollar mark for 1993. Moreover, this robust figure does not include purchases for nonprofit distribution b entities such as public schools or the U.S. Navy. And, even had there been no NAFTS, the prospects for an export boom appear to be outstanding.
Ironically, this glowing success at the macroeconomic level masks a marked microeconomic failure in condom consumer education. Despite the best efforts of our schools and government, condom use among American teenagers is still reported to be distressingly low. Numerous surveys indicate that the vast majority of adolescent liaisons are taking place without the benefit of assistance from one of America’s fastest growing industries.
Because our future economic health will depend on the consumer choices made by the younger generation in this key industry sector, it is likely that our sex education programs will come under heightened scrutiny from government economic policy analysts in the near future. Naturally, all of us want to help in any way possible, and to that end I propose revising and enhancing the behavioral model that is at the core of modern sex education.
Any attempt at reform must begin with the realization that modern condom education is, in essence, an economic argument: the pleasures of sex have more net utility if the risks of adverse consequences are reduced. Therefore, if consumers are educated so as to be able to recognize and reduce risks, sex can be obtained at lower net cost with net benefits to society as a whole. In effect, we are training our teens to make the following calculation, such that sex is deemed appropriate when the following equation is satisfied:
Moderately Religious, Desperately Sexualhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/11/001-moderately-religious-desperately-sexual
Mon, 01 Nov 1993 00:00:00 -0500The most surprising thing about
The Janus Report on Human Sexuality
(John Wiley & Sons) is that its findings don’t really surprise. I had hoped to come across some Kinsey-like revelations as to how huge percentages of Americans are pursuing new and innovative perversions. Alas, there are no such revelations and innovations. Instead there are painfully detailed quantifications that only tend to confirm rather than challenge familiar perceptions of the state of American sexual practices.
]]> Monkeys, MacKinnon & Marriagehttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/03/002-monkeys-mackinnon-marriage
Mon, 01 Mar 1993 00:00:00 -0500Twenty years ago, the U.S. Army directed me to help monkeys copulate. In order to carry out my mission to increase and multiply the lab animal population of the armed forces of the United States, I was placed under the direction of an eccentric old man (also named George), a civilian employee who had spent over a decade helping monkeys reproduce in that laboratory colony. In much the same way in which Luke Skywalker initially failed to discern the true identity and wisdom of his mentor Yoda, I dismissed George as an affable crackpot. I have only recently come to realize that George was in fact a world-class anthropological theorist and social philosopher. He not only anticipated some of the now-dominant theories in human sociobiology circles but identified the principles that are now the explicit basis for celebrated feminist social criticism. Had I the foresight to cultivate the insights he imparted, I could have been a cutting-edge scholar. Alas, others have long since beat me to it.
]]> The Brown-Headed Cowbirdhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/02/002-the-brown-headed-cowbird
Mon, 01 Feb 1993 00:00:00 -0500There has always been a segment of the American population that wants to dump the “Star Spangled Banner” in favor of “America the Beautiful.” Proponents of the change argue that the present national anthem is too bellicose and misrepresents the warm and fuzzy people we really are. However, if we are going to embark on a symbol-revision program we ought to begin with a more important task”finding a new national bird. The anthem is not that big a deal, really. We are subjected to it only during sports events and late-night TV sign-offs. And even then it’s only the first verse. However, images of the bald eagle are everywhere (not unlike the federal government it symbolizes). It’s on our money. It’s on postal workers’ clothing. It’s on seals and flags and buildings. Environmentally speaking, the choice of national symbol is ultimately more significant than our choice of pre-game music.
]]> The Camera and the Sandwichhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1992/12/002-the-camera-and-the-sandwich
Tue, 01 Dec 1992 00:00:00 -0500The late Sam Kinison, an incomparably loud and invariably offensive comedian, once delivered a comedy routine about famine. He remarked that whenever he sees heart-rending scenes of famine victims he wonders, “How come the film crew didn’t just give the kid a sandwich? How come you never see that? What are they afraid of”that it would spoil the shot?”