shocking overdose rates, student loan forgiveness, lessons from flying a Warthog and more!
Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! I gave my last final on Thursday. It’s always bittersweet when the kids leave the classroom for the last time. If you’ve been a long-time reader of RWL, you know my tradition is to take a photo of the empty classroom. It always puts me in the mind of the Jackson Browne song, The Load Out:
Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and the last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They'll set it up in another town…
But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still wanna play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano
What is a teacher without his class? It’s like the sound of one hand clapping. It always leaves me a bit empty. But! I’m looking forward to the summer - I’ve neglected my research a bit over the last year in favor of trying to get our program’s internship up to the level I want it to be at post-Pandemic - so once I have all my grades in, I have several projects I am looking forward to diving back in to. My podcast has also been limping along in part because the Pandemic kept me from traveling, and I prefer to do the interviews in person, but now I have four interviews lined up for the early part of the summer with some really interesting people doing exciting things. And of course I will be monitoring the students while they are out on their internships and scheduling site visits mid-summer, which is always fun. So, while I won’t be teaching in a formal sense, I am going to be very busy. It’s one of the cool things about being a professor - there is a seasonality to the work. And the great thing is I get to meet a new batch of juniors in the fall.
Willing good for all of you, I present you with the links!
What: CDC, Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts
Why: According to this new report from the CDC, we had 47,523 reported drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2014 and 103,598 during 2021, with a steady rise between those years, so the jump was not just the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but more secular in nature.
(Click on the graph to be taken to the report.)
The graphic in the report allows you to select a state and see how it has done over this period. I clicked through a few just to see how they matched against the national average. Places like New York, Virginia, Florida, California, and Texas have seen large increases especially during the pandemic, but if you look back, they had seen a doubling of deaths leading up to the pandemic, so it was not just the pandemic that caused these.
New Hampshire, of course, is of particular concern to me. Interestingly, New Hampshire is relatively flat. This would be a good-news story except for the fact that New Hampshire has stayed flat at one of the highest per-capita rates of drug overdose death in the country. So... not getting worse is good, but we really need to see that number go down.
You might look at your own state to see how things are going.
The Pandemic has overshadowed this other terrible situation. I am sure we all have people in our lives who have been harmed by the drug crisis. It’s hard to believe how bad things have become.
What: Brookings Institution, Student loan forgiveness is regressive whether measured by income, education, or wealth
Why: The link is to a summary of a longer white paper sponsored by Brookings, a left-of-center think tank. Broad student loan forgiveness is a bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that it would be a gift to the wealthiest households in America at the expense of the rest of America. It’s profoundly self-serving that the (college-educated, high earnings) Progressive Left is pushing this agenda. It creates tremendous moral hazard, and will increase class divisions in America. It’s also kerosene for the MAGA fire. If you want more Trumpist populism, student loan forgiveness is a great way to ensure you get more of it. I’m glad to see Brookings taking the right position on this matter.
What: Task & Purpose, The most experienced A-10 pilot in history explains how to be ready for anything
Why: The A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the Warthog, is something of a legend. Despite its origins in WWII, it is still flying today and providing close air support. Its purpose is to be a tank-killer, and despite the older technology, it’s still incredibly effective at its job.
This is a short piece about becoming a master. LtCol John “Karl” Marks has more hours - and more kills - in the A10 than anyone else. It doesn’t matter if that is a master combat pilot or a master comptroller -
“There’s always the temptation to take it easy,” Marks said. “[But] you never know whether you’ll be flying that 2014 mission or a boring mission. What you can do is use every minute that you have to train.”
What: Matthew Dicks | TEDxBerkshires, Homework for Life (17 min)
Why: “What’s the five-minute story from today? What makes today different from the last day?” Write it down.
That’s the center of this story. I was doing something like this for a couple of years, but started to force myself to write too much and the process became daunting and then I quit.
Listening to him has made me decide to start again. My eldest daughter keeps a 5-year journal that has space for one sentence each day. She’s been doing it for 15 years. I think that’s really cool. If you teach yourself to distill the one or two quick thoughts for the day - then the day is not lost in time.
This is a really lovely talk. Get past the part in which he talks about his kid - that’s just to get you interested (I was meh) - I usually listen to these videos at 1.5X speed. When he said the line about about “What’s the five-minute story from today?”, I actually stopped the video, backed it up, and brought the speed down to 1X for the rest.
This is worth doing.
What: Democracy IRL Podcast, Liberalism and Its Discontents (8 minutes)
Why: This is a monologue by Francis Fukuyama about his new book, Liberalism and Its Discontents. I haven’t read the book yet, but I definitely plan to. Fukuyama is one of my favorite authors concerning economic development and political economy. In this short piece, he talks about what Classical Liberalism means, and how it is the legitimate heart of Western political thought, and how it is different from what we mean when we say “Liberal” in the US (really Progressive), and how it is also different from Libertarianism. Definitely worth 8 minutes.
Thanks for reading and see you next week! If you come across any interesting stories, won't you send them my way? I'd love to hear what you think of these suggestions, and I'd love to get suggestions from you. Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org , or you can tweet to me at @mbonica .
If you’re looking for a searchable archive, you can see my draft folder here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1jwGLdjsb1WKtgH_2C-_3VvrYCtqLplFO?usp=sharing
Finally, if you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here: https://markbonica.substack.com/welcome
See you next week!
Mark J. Bonica, Ph.D., MBA, MS
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of New Hampshire
Health Leader Forge Podcast:
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picaso