Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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23 January 2010

In Defense of Specter

Even liberal commentators are aghast at Arlen Specter's chiding of conservative firebrand Michelle Bachmann to "act like a lady." Specter was annoyed that Bachmann kept interrupting him. I listened to the tape and didn't think Bachmann was out of line, but why is what Specter said wrong? Suppose it were the other way around and Bachmann were annoyed that Specter was interrupting her. Would it have been out of line for her to admonish him to "act like a gentleman"? Would that be out of line? Is the politically correct term for him to have used "gentlelady"? I guess there's no recourse for a man in that situation. Again, the asymmetry of modern group interaction.

21 January 2010

Why is Single Payer So Unpopular?

With all the controversy over healthcare reform, and the unpopularity of the present plans in congress and dissatisfaction with the status quo, why is no one talking Single-Payer? A single-payer system, a/k/a "Medicare for All", would solve any number of problems with both the existing and proposed systems:

  • Pre-existing conditions become moot
  • Multiple pricing schemes are out the window
  • Claim-refusals for petty violations are history
  • Self-employed and small businesses can now kiss their health-care worries goodbye
  • American businesses no longer have the health-care albatross around their necks when competing with foreign producers
  • Significant underwriting and claim processing expenses associated with private insurance are a thing of the past
  • Labor-market distortions caused by the unequal availability of insurance across occupations and employers disappear
  • No one will be unable to afford health care
  • The total cost of the system shouldn't be significantly greater than the total cost of healthcare today (due to the savings associated with eliminating underwriting expenses)

Yet no serious politician dares mention it - it's only support comes from the likes of John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich. Though some polls have found favor among the public (here's a pro-single payer site that lists a number of them), over the past year Rasmussen has found only dismal support for the idea. Being that health-care reform has been in the news the past year, I'm guessing these results are more informed (i.e., the respondents actually understand what's being asked).

As someone who works for a large corporation and thus has fairly decent coverage, I'd be disinclined to change the status quo. But a single-payer systems seems preferable to me than the proposals now being discussed, which is basically keeping things as they are now but making me pay more for it. Now I can understand the young left-wing bloggers favoring it, but who listens to them? How about all the young conservative bloggers (or even not so young without employer-provided benefits) - aren't they concerned about the expense of health insurance? Wouldn't single-payer be an obvious benefit to them?

Update: Commenter Vercingetorix had the gall to lay out the conservative case against single payer. These are my fears as well, though I must admit I seldom here any such negatives from the expatriates I know from these single-payer countries, but this is his take:
Don't talk to me about single payer. I've met too many of those refugees, like my niece's father-in-law, told to go home and promptly die by Finland's single-payer system, he got very effective, not exotic treatment here in the USA thanks to his son's foresightedly marrying an American.

I realize mere anecdotes do not a policy justify, but the fact is that single-payer means a virtual end to medical innovation, which is the only real hope for extending our pleasant lives.

Single payer necessarily means political budgeting, which means rationing and cost-shaving, which means staff will unionize to push cost-savings onto infrastructure and research rather than salaries, producing an exaggerated case of Baumol's cost disease for the system, such as we see with unionized labor in all goverment agencies and government-monopsonist markets. The same forces which give us innumerate yet tenured schoolteachers making $40/hour to preach homilies to Gaea in dirty schoolhouses with libraries that haven't been updated since the Carter Administration, while asking for parent volunteers to prepare assignments, score homework, and coach the kids would rapidly give us well-paid but unfireable and careless hospital workers in dirty decrepit hospitals where patients would only get fed or bathed if their relatives sat beside them to do the work while the paid staff watched TV in the lounge.
See his full comment below.

20 January 2010

Brown's Victory in Mass.

That a state like Massachusetts would vote in a Republican senator is indeed quite a story. When you consider Republican Chris Christie's win in New Jersey last November, this portends quite a wave of rejection for the Democrats. What I find interesting is that it took 6 years of concerted malfeasance in government for the Republicans to finally face the voters' ire, while it took only months for them to turn on the Democrats. I think what the Democrats do is so much more up-front annoying, as opposed to the Republicans who fail on a truly grand scale, but the failure develops only slowly and is difficult for voters to discern early on.

With Democrats, it's the constant, knee-jerk catering to minorities and deadbeats, Obama's non-stop parade of diversity in his appointments, the outrageous spending on clearly unproductive enterprises, the refusal to even pretend to take the threat of Islamic terror seriously unless forced to by public opinion.

And then the choice of the big issues to fight about. Health care reform means one thing to the voter: I want all the health care I need and I don't want to pay for it. Now how do you deliver that? When do you spring it on them that, oh no, this isn't about you getting something, this is about you paying for someone else to get something. Not such an easy sell, after all (except for those voters who don't have access to insurance and cant' afford it - but they're the minority of voters and typically vote less)*.

In contrast, Bush gave us a fun war with a real unpleasant enemy. It took awhile for reality to set in, but it takes a lot to change people's minds because no one likes to admit to being wrong. He also gave us unlimited credit with infinite exponential increases in home values. The obvious problem there isn't so obvious if you don't understand exponents, and the problem took a few years to finally kick in (however brutally it kicked in when it did).

So you see, the Republicans' approach to bad government is more conducive to staying in power for a few years than the Democrats'.

* I assume a single-payer system test markets really poorly in focus groups and private polling. This would seem to be the ideal solution for small business owners and the self-employed who are often Republican-leaning leaders at the local level - the type who could help push such a system along. But only the most radical politicians seem to support it.

12 January 2010

Palin on Fox

Just watched Sarah Palin inaugural appearance as a Fox News Analyst on the O'Reilly Factor. I must say she didn't sound any stupider than any other politicians I see interviewed on TV.

ALCOA Disappoints

Alcoa kicks off each earnings season, and it's been their "above expectations" results that have kick-started this rally each of the last 3 quarters just as the markets seemed ready for a correction. This time, the markets seemed poised for another improbable run up the scales and what happens? Alcoa comes in with a disappointing quarter. After all the hype about the economy turning the corner, one would think a supplier of aluminum would cash in pretty handsomely on a recovering economy. After all, if it doesn't start with manufacturing more stuff, "stuff" nowadays sure as hell needs aluminum, then where is it going to start? So will this trigger the much-needed correction?

04 January 2010

Just Not Interesting

One of my problems is that stories that I find most interesting are apparently of no interest to anyone else. For example, here are some news stories that apparently, and to my complete befuddlement, are completely uninteresting.

Kent State Student Beaten to Death

Millions of parents (or maybe it's just 100's of thousands) send their young-adult children off to college each year, and worry about their safety. So I would have thought that when one of them is beaten to death while walking with friends, it would be big news. Now this event occurred in late November, granted, but the latest to be found in Google News is dated December 14, and there are only 3 articles in total, one of them providing sympathetic portraits of the assailants, and none of them providing much if any details so parents might better counsel their children on how best to stay alive. This contrasts with another incident at a college a few years ago where month-after-month parents were reminded to tell their sons not to go to stripper parties where they might find themselves accused of rape.

Eight Grader Severely Beaten by Mob of 11

Now, certainly millions of parents have 8th graders in school who attend gym classes. So they would certainly want to know about the possible consequences should a basketball in their sons hands somehow make contact with a fellow student. In Englewood, NJ, in late December, it resulted in the boy being set on after school by 11 fellow students who beat him so severely his eye socket was crushed, possibly leading to loss of eyesight. But Google news only shows 8 hits, all of the articles saying pretty much the same thing, none later than December 23. No word on the poor kid's recovery, or even how his eyesight is progressing. Just not interesting.

New Jersey County Judge Shuts Down Websites

Ok, many, many millions of people use the internet and like to read gossip sites and have Facebook accounts. So you'd think there'd be some interest in a story where a county judge in New Jersey orders the closure of three websites and the divulgence of the identities behind several bloggers and Facebook accounts, all because some New Jersey company - which specializes in importing foreign labor contractors for programming jobs - felt they were libeled. And two of the ISP's complied and shut down the sites! Again, apparently not very interesting. Google news has all of 6 articles on the topic, the latest being December 20 (the order was issued December 23), all of them pretty much saying the same thing. There's no follow up on whether Facebook, Comcast or Yahoo complied with the court order to reveal identities, and no explanation as to how a state court can intervene in a matter that is supposed to be reserved to federal courts. I learned about it from VDARE.

On the other hand, I'm completely bored by who the latest White House party crashers are. So what do I know?