Diamond Talks on Addressing Crises
Chandra, Abhimanyu, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
NEW HAVEN » A renowned UCLA public intellectual told an audience at Yale's Whitney Humanities Center auditorium Wednesday that while the United States may not be in a crisis right now, the nation is facing problems that are leading to its decline.
Addressing those problems as a nation is not much different than how an individual can deal with personal issues, he said.
Jared Diamond's lecture, "Insights from individual crises for understanding national crises," was part of Yale's Franke Program in Science and the Humanities.
"I see parallels between individual and national crises," Diamond said. When resolving personal problems -- divorce, illness, unemployment -- "building a fence" can be an effective approach. The problems can be put inside the metaphorical fence, whereas the area outside the fence represents the things one is happy with. With this technique, Diamond explained, one is less likely to feel overwhelmed with problems. And once the problems have been identified, a person, or a nation, can make "selective changes" for addressing them.
Diamond listed four factors contributing to America's decline: a breakdown in political compromise; lack of access to voting and insufficient voter turnout; socio-economic inequities; and insufficient government investment in public goods. Instead of spending enough on education and health, "America spends too much money on prisons," he contended. And the prisons are "not designed for rehabilitation but for confinement." Among the reasons behind these problems, Diamond cited America's perception of its uniqueness, which prevents it from taking useful practices prevalent in other countries. …