You Want it You Got it

Charles Payne
Posted: Feb 28, 2012 12:01 AM
Getting to NO the Science of Building Willpower

The above is a headline in an article in the current edition of Time magazine that counters the real relationship of science to mankind. The fact is from science to politics it seems more and more like we are reaching the point where willpower will be a thing of the past. You see, willpower and the consequences that come from not adhering to willpower are fast becoming a moot point. Between science and politics there will be no accountability for not adhering or listening to what we now know as willpower. Of course for so many people this couldn't come a moment too soon. Sadly, for those dwindling few still sticking to the notion willpower is good and accountability is fair, our brave new world will seem like an odd place compared to the ones their parents and pastors prepared them for.

The article talks about the three levels our brains operate from that seem to always be in a tug-o-war.

I will
I won't
I want

Quoting the article, "I want" wins and I'm saying we didn't need a high-profiled study to drive this point home. If you have children you know all too well about "I want" and how it's harder and harder to say no. Once, again, science has made it more difficult to say no to what they just saw on their laptops or smart phones. But, the real danger isn't only from the slipping grip parents have and are allowed to have on their children, its adults that are allowed to opt for the same brain level because it's so much easier to skip ....

I work

Eat Play Luck

That's the political impact of eliminating willpower, and I get deeper into that in a moment, but I want to get back to science. The hottest stock in the market last week was Vivus (VVUS) with its obesity drug, Qnexa, which got an okay from an FDA advisory committee. I'm sure the drug, if givien the final green light, will help to save lives, but it might also open the gate for more people to skip over willpower and go straight to the pill after that extra scoop of ice cream. We sit on our backsides more than ever before, and that plays a role, but unless this is really a miracle pill, we are going to really die at our keyboards. Reading Muscle and Fitness (while on the treadmill) this weekend, I came across these stats and predictions.

By 2020, 83% of men and 72% of women will be overweight and obese, an increase of 11% and 9%, respectively. In addition, 77% of men and 53% percent of women will be diabetic or pre-diabetic, an increase of 14% and 10%, respectively.

I lost a fair amount of weight last year, and I will lose more this year and next for my three year plan, but I will not use drugs or gimmicks. It means working out at midnight even when I have to get up at before 6:00AM. And while my workload hurts my ability to do all the work I want, the fact is I ate too much, drank too much, and didn't care enough to pay attention. This is the story in the land of plenty, where politicians say the poor need more food stamps and McDonald's should stop selling cheeseburgers. It's an odd reconciliation of reality.

Of course the idea drugs are helping to erase our lack of willpower doesn't stop at repairing our mistakes, it is also enhancing our pluses. Last week Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won arbitration against Major league Baseball in his steroid case because his urine sample was mishandled. For a day his sample sat in a refrigerator, and his lawyers believe a person walking around with a tube of illegal substance poured some into his sample. Whether Braun is truly guilty or not, the fact is drugs are out there that can make us better than human. Forget about making people fat or slim, how about making good athletes great.

I guess in a way we are all getting lucky. Braun got lucky, obese people got lucky, and according to purists, investors got lucky last week, too. So, the Time piece should have been headlined: "No Need for Will Power-Science and Politicians have your back."

Have No Fear - Your Wants are Over

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous Four Freedoms speech is echoed in sound bits of Democratic politicians at every turn these days.

> Freedom of Speech and Expression
> Freedom of Worship
> Freedom from Want
> Freedom from Fear

The Time piece points out that willpower is trainable and cultivatable, and we are seeing this play out in real time. While our brains evolved, the prefrontal cortex (separates us from other mammals) was responsible for creating representations of concepts of time, sense of self, and moral judgments, but it's the old back of the brain area that tells us to eat when we are hungry. But, what if we can become convinced that we want too much and our moral contempt shouldn't be held for those that underachieve but overachieve? What if we could eliminate the notion of time and debts due over time and get people to live in the moment? Things like the debt time bomb wouldn't matter nor would the declining level of education.

The back of our brain wants the basics. Cavemen wanted to eat and never had to grapple with Chinese or Italian. What if we can be persuaded to get the front of the brain to want the basics, too? I think this is where the nation is heading. Lower expectations for the masses, while punishing those that not only carve exceptionalism but have the audacity to pursue it. For the next several months, we'll hear how we can all be herded into this thing called the middle class, which would be funded by taxing the rich (households making more than $250,000) and businesses. So ... sit back and grab a bag of Oreos and enjoy the show. We'll eat, play, and with any luck, our country will last as long as Greece did before tumbling off a cliff.

Cooking with Gas

This week we are shifting to a summer blend, and according to Peter Beutal of, it's going to add $0.17 to a gallon of gasoline. In fact, I'm reading where gasoline hits $3.89 this week with ease.

Conversations and Crummy Deals

Last week the big news in the market, sports, and society at large involved drugs that allow people to skip tough decisions and personal responsibilities. The biggest stock market winner was Vivus (VVUS) whose Qnexa drug was given the thumbs up by an FDA advisory panel and could soon be green-lighted for public consumption. The drug will help people lose weight, and for some it is considered a Godsend. The other big news was Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers being cleared by an arbitration panel of claims he used chemical enhancements while playing last year-the same year he also took home the National League MVP.