Summaries– Kent Coleslaw

Applying the Lessons of South Africa Sanctions to Iran

It seems counter intuitive that economically sanctioning a nation could enforce the exact scenario that was trying to be stopped, yet that is exactly what happened in South Africa. When it is suggested as a way of forcing democracy on Iran, experts can point to the Apartheid as an example of what can happen when you force a nation to look inward with resentment.

Sanctions were supposed to push South Africa towards disarming their atomic bombs, however the lesser known fact is that it was the driving force towards developing them. The distrust of others it bred, the inability to productively focus the economy besides military spending, and the desire to prove strength in a “we didn’t need you anyway” attitude all led this nation in the exact opposite direction desired.

So how would sanctions help Iran? With their economy and infrastructure already in shambles, Fareed Zakira says that their middle class will be absorbed into the lower class, creating a class gulf that effectively halts all progress towards democracy.

Do Multivitamins Really Work?

It seems counter intuitive that an innocuous vitamin supplement could be the least healthy part of your diet, but given how easy it is to exceed recommended limits, it could certainly be the case.

The primary issue arises where, for the average consumer of multivitamins, a diet without them would put them nowhere near a deficiency of any sort. Combined with how many of these vitamins are fortified to be unnecessarily potent, and the best case scenario is that you’re wasting your money to make your urine smell funny. Worst case? Gross excess of certain vitamins can cause heart disease, or cancer inducing lesions.

Fun fact: approximately 90% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Funner fact: consulting your doctor is always the best practice.

Do Toms Shoes Really Help People?

It seems counter intuitive that donating goods to a charitable cause could be considered a bad thing, but it all depends on what exactly those goods are. Toms Shoes has a well known “buy one, give one” program for their shoes: for every pair bought, they will donate one to someone in need.

Unfortunately, most of the people receiving the shoes don’t have such a great need, as they usually already own a pair. The more pressing needs for clean water, food, education, electricity, etc. are not being met by this act of misplaced kindness.

Local food drives will tell you a similar story. The homeless people they are trying to feed are having a very difficult time taking that same can of string beans that everyone gives because it was three for a dollar, and turning it into a healthy meal. This creates an unfortunate problem: do they ask for mostly money donations so that they can go buy the right foods, thereby alienating a non-insignificant portion of their donors… Or do they suck it up and do their best with what they receive? Be it canned goods or shoes, it seems people lean towards the latter.

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