Foreword by Steve Forbes
Myth One: Government Health Care Is More Efficient
Myth Two: We're Spending Too Much on Health Care
Myth Three: Forty-Six Million Americans Can't Get Health Care
Myth Four: High Drug Prices Drive Up Health Care Costs
Myth Five: Importing Drugs Would Reduce Health Care Costs
Myth Six: Universal Coverage Can Be Achieved by Forcing Everyone to Buy Insurance
Myth Seven: Government Prevention Programs Reduce Health Care Costs
Myth Eight: We Need More Government to Insure Poor Americans
Myth Nine: Health Information Technology Is a Silver Bullet for Reducing Costs
Myth Ten: Government-Run Health Care Systems in Other Countries are Better and Cheaper than America's
Solutions: Markets, Consumer Choice, and Innovation
Friday, July 31, 2009
Talk about a stimulus package.
The National Endowment for the Arts may be spending some of the money it received from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund nude simulated-sex dances, Saturday night "pervert" revues and the airing of pornographic horror films at art houses in San Francisco.
The NEA was given $80 million of the government's $787 billion economic stimulus bill to spread around to needy artists nationwide, and most of the money is being spent to help preserve jobs in museums, orchestras, theaters and dance troupes that have been hit hard by the recession.
But some of the NEA's grants are spicing up more than the economy. A few of their more risque choices have some taxpayer advocates hot under the collar, including a $50,000 infusion for the Frameline film house, which recently screened Thundercrack, "the world's only underground kinky art porno horror film, complete with four men, three women and a gorilla."
"When you spend so much money in a short amount of time ... you're going to have nonsense like this, and that's why the stimulus should never have been done in the first place," said David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I wish the supervisors of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) at that university's School of Education had checked with me before they decided Kerr's views and her blogging were inappropriate for a student in their program. They appeared to have decided her anti-progressive views were disrupting their classes, alienating other students and proving that she and Stanford were a bad fit. Kerr says they tried to stifle both her opinions and her blog, and threatened to withhold the Masters in Education she was working toward, based on their expressed fear that she was "unsuited for the practice of teaching."
Kerr's eventual triumph over such embarrassingly wrong-headed political correctness is a complicated story, but worth telling. In her struggle with STEP, she exposed serious problems in the way Stanford and, I suspect, other education schools, treat independent thinkers, particularly those who blog.
Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory. Once we've got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government's incentives? I think they're bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad. I'm afraid that instead of Security Theater, we'll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we're getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.
The other major reason that I am against national health care is the increasing license it gives elites to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone's life. Look at the uptick in stories on obesity in the context of health care reform. [...]
Living a fit, active life is correlated with being healthier. But then, as an economist recently pointed out to me, so is being religious, being married, and living in a small town; how come we don't have any programs to promote these "healthy lifestyles"?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The racial-profiling issue is a great vote-getter. And if it polarizes the society, that is a price that politicians are willing to pay in order to get votes. Academics who run black-studies departments, as Prof. Henry Louis Gates does, likewise have a vested interest in racial paranoia.
For "community organizers" as well, racial resentments are a stock in trade. President Obama's background as a community organizer has received far too little attention, though it should have been a high-alert warning that this was no post-racial figure.
What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Today's "black" problem is underdevelopment, not discrimination. Success in modernity will demand profound cultural changes -- changes in child-rearing, a restoration of marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurialism and an embrace of individual development as the best road to group development.
Whites are embarrassed to speak forthrightly about black underdevelopment, and blacks are too proud to openly explore it for all to see. So, by unspoken agreement, we discuss black underdevelopment in a language of discrimination and injustice. We rejoin the exhausted affirmative action debate as if it really mattered, and we do not acknowledge that this underdevelopment is primarily a black responsibility. And yet it is -- as historically unfair as it may be, as much as it seems to blame the victim. In human affairs we are responsible not just for our "just" fate, but also for our existential fate.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
As Professor Gates jeered at the officers, "You don't know who you're messin' with." Did Sergeant Crowley have to arrest him? Probably not. Did he allow himself to be provoked by an obnoxious buffoon? Maybe. I dunno. I wasn't there. Neither was the president of the United States, or the governor of Massachusetts, or the mayor of Cambridge. All of whom have declared themselves firmly on the side of the Ivy League bigshot. And all of whom, as it happens, are African-American. A black president, a black governor, and a black mayor all agree with a black Harvard professor that he was racially profiled by a white-Latino-black police team, headed by a cop who teaches courses in how to avoid racial profiling. The boundless elasticity of such endemic racism suggests that the "post-racial America" will be living with blowhard grievance-mongers like Professor Gates unto the end of time.
In a fairly typical "he said/V.I.P. said" incident, the V.I.P. was the author of his own misfortune but, with characteristic arrogance, chose to ascribe it to systemic racism, Jim Crow, lynchings, the Klan, slavery, Jefferson impregnating Sally Hemmings, etc.
In the mid-nineties, which climatologist and which model predicted the cooling trend of the turn of the century and the oughts? And, if they didn't, on what basis do you trust their claims for 2050 or 2100?
Friday, July 24, 2009
What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality. As both candidate and president, the master rhetorician could conjure a world in which he bestows upon you health-care nirvana: more coverage, less cost.
But you can't fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, theCongressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes.
President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn — surprise! — that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats' health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs in the range of $1 trillion plus.
Over his career, Waxman has never missed an opportunity to cut funds for anti-fraud efforts at the Department of Health and Human Services. He has consistently opposed introducing market-oriented competitive bidding in Medicare, which would greatly reduce massive fraud, particularly in the durable medical equipment space.
He also opposes efforts to promote transparency for providers of healthcare services, despite the fact that 98 percent of Americans believe they have the right to know cost and quality information. One would think that making it easier to know which hospital is more likely to kill you would be pretty non-controversial.
Waxman remains a vigorous opponent of account-based plans like Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements which are exploding in popularity because they give individuals more control and create the right incentives for smart shopping. Twenty million of these plans exist today because they work.
Eliminating the identity and citizenship requirements for enrolling in Medicaid is a recurring theme with Waxman. He is at it again with his current legislation. His bill would also prevent states from scaling back eligibility for Medicaid whether or not they can or want to afford it in the future. He also bans -- yes bans -- the purchase of individual private health insurance as of next January.
Mr. Gates lives in a city with a black mayor, a state with a black governor and a country with a black President. The dispute was arguably about town-gown relations rather than race. If this is a teaching moment, one lesson is that it's usually better to cooperate during encounters with law enforcement so that matters don't escalate needlessly. And if a cop asks you to step out on the porch, or away from your car, it's probably because he's concerned for his own safety.
And the press, this is the sorriest time, I think, in my lifetime. Jim DeMint said that health care is Obama's waterloo. The press has met their Waterloo and it's Obama. They have sacrificed whatever integrity, character, professionalism, ethics that they've had. It's all gone. Their total reason – most of them – for existence: propping this guy up. They're not reporting the details of his plans, they're not reporting his policies. They're looking at it as a horse race: Will Obama win? Will Obama lose? And there are countdown clocks on some of the networks for the press conference last night. Countdown clock: 8 hours, 25 minutes, 13 seconds until Obama's press conference!
These people sitting around with the tingles up their legs all day, they marvel at how Obama is so smooth and elegant. They are not informing anybody about the details of his policies and yet 53 percent, over 50 percent in most polls now, oppose this health care plan. So who's telling the people? Who's telling the people what's in it? Alternative media, your network, talk radio, the conservative blog network. The mainstream media has cashed in its chips, they have become nothing more than stenographers for Rahm Emanuel, in large part, and it's breathtaking to see willingly sacrifice every characteristic that makes quality journalism.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Government rationing of medicine has its own very serious problems in a free society of course, but it is the unintended shortages that come along with futile attempts at universal rationing that should really worry us. They are the result of an excessive faith in our knowledge of a complex system, and in our ability to impose order on society.
If you have that faith, you want to maximize the knowledge and control of the system in the hands of disinterested experts who can impose order and best practices to avoid terrible and costly inefficiency. If you lack that faith, you want a functional market that makes information about costs and values available and exposes people to the consequences of their decisions so each can make a reasonably sensible choice, while caring for those least able to care for themselves.
Just weeks before she plans to step down from her position as Alaska governor, Palin signed House Joint Resolution 27, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Kelly on July 10, according to a Tenth Amendment Center report.
Alaska's House passed HJR 27 by a vote of 37-0, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 40-0.
Alaska's resolution states:Be it resolved that the Alaska State Legislature hereby claims sovereignty for the state under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. Be it further resolved that this resolution serves as Notice and Demand to the federal government to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Hat tip: NRO
Friday, July 17, 2009
"We're going to go bankrupt as a nation," Biden said.
"Now, people when I say that look at me and say, 'What are you talking about, Joe? You're telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?'" Biden said. "The answer is yes, that's what I'm telling you."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I propose that the government impose a single-payer system on the legal profession. Instead of charging private fees, all attorneys would have to send their bills to LegalCare, a new agency in the federal government. Because the government can bargain collectively, they can impose rational fees for legal services instead of the exorbitant billing fees attorneys now charge. Three hundred dollars an hour? Thing of the past. Everyone knows that the government can control costs through price-setting; now we can see this process applied to the legal system, where the government has a large interest in seeing cost savings.
How will we pay for LegalCare? I take a page from the House surtax method here, which will disproportionately hit doctors in a wide variety of disciplines. In this case, I propose a 5.4% surtax on lawyers, judges, lobbyists, and political officeholders at the state and federal level. They're the ones who have enriched themselves through this inequity in the legal system. After all, why should we all have to pay for the single-payer legal system when we can penalize lawyers instead?
Most government-educated Americans would be shocked to hear that there is no "right" to healthcare. Tell me where in our Constitution it is written that you have a right to a portion on someone else's life .. in this case, it would be the service of providing medical care at the point of a gun. Well, the Democrats are on a fast track to ensuring that Americans can claim healthcare as a "right." Under the House Democrats proposed plan, the federal government would be responsible for making sure that every person has health insurance. Did you know that if you as an individual choose not to obtain health insurance, the federal government will seize 2.5% of your income? That's right. At the point of a gun, the federal government will seize your income.
The report found that only about half of the warming that occurred during a natural climate change 55 million years ago can be explained by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What caused the remainder of the warming is a mystery.
"In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record," says oceanographer Gerald Dickens, study co-author and professor of Earth Science at Rice University in Houston. "There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models."
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Medical-research insiders know that embryonic-stem-cell technology is proving a dead end -- Dr. Bernadine Healy, a former director of the National Institutes of Health and once an ES-cell-research enthusiast, calls it "obsolete." But the Obama administration has opened wide the federal funding floodgates -- the triumph of a big special-interest PR and lobbying campaign.
Researchers originally found promise in ES cells mainly because they thought only ES cells could be converted into all types of mature cells. But since 2002, dozens of published studies have shown the same can be done with a vast array of AS cells.
Then, two years ago, scientists discovered how to make "induced pluripotent stem cells" from human-skin cells. These are just as flexible as embryonic ones -- but, as with AS cells, have neither the health drawbacks nor the moral problems associated with the embryonic variety.
In short, other lines of inquiry are unquestionably far more promising than ES cells
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Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy—better known as the "science czar"—has been a longtime prophet of environmental catastrophes. Never discouraged but never right.
And thanks to resourceful bloggers, you can read excerpts from a hard-to-find book co-authored by Holdren in the late 1970s, called Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, online.
In it, you will find the czar wading into some unpleasant talk about mass sterilizations and abortions.
It's not surprising. Holdren spent the '70s boogying down to the vibes of an imaginary population catastrophe and global cooling. He also participated in the famous wager between scientist Paul Ehrlich, the now-discredited Population Bomb theorist (and co-author of Ecoscience), and economist Julian Simon, who believed human ingenuity would overcome demand.
Holdren was asked by Ehrlich to pick five natural resources that would experience shortages because of human consumption. He lost the bet on all counts, as the composite price index for the commodities he picked, including copper and chromium, fell by more than 40 percent.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The United States may have narrowly missed a repeat of the 9/11 attacks in June — and, apparently, even the FBI doesn't realize it.
On June 4, a 24-year-old Muslim man named Raed Abdhul-Rahman Alsaif was arrested for trying to bring a seven-inch knife on board a U.S. Airways flight at Tampa International Airport, destined for Phoenix.
On the same day, June 4, two other individuals, Roshid Milledge and Damien Young, were arrested in Philadelphia after sneaking a handgun onto a flight. The airline? U.S. Airways. The destination? Phoenix. The departing time? About 35 minutes from the flight Alsaif attempted to board, using the same airliner and with the same destination.
I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.
American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Contrary to the pre-encyclical hype of certain American commentators and the ever-unreliable British press, predictions of papal anathemas against "global capitalism" have – as usual – been found wanting. In economic terms, the pope describes as "erroneous" the tired notion that the developed countries' wealth is predicated on poor nations' poverty (CV no.35) that one hears customarily from the likes of Hugo Chavez and whatever's left of the dwindling band of aging liberation theologians. That's a pontifical body-blow to a central working assumption of many professional social justice "activists".Nor will they be happy with the pope's concerns about the ways in which foreign aid can produce situations of dependency (CV no.58), not to mention Benedict's strictures against protectionism (CV no.42) as well as his stress that no amount of structural change can possibly compensate for people freely choosing the good: "Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility" (CV no.17).
In addition to being rainy, the summer could rank among the coolest in the Northeast, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.
If companies that are "too big to fail" are too big to exist, then bills that are "too long to read" are too long to pass. This sort of behavior — passing bills that no one has read — or, that in the case of the healthcare "bill" haven't even actually been written — represents political corruption of the first order.
In January, the Obama administration, shiny as a new dime and bursting with brains, said that unless another stimulus -- Stimulus II wound up involving $787 billion -- was passed immediately, unemployment, which then was 7.6 percent, would reach 9 percent by 2010. But halfway through 2009, the rate is 9.5. For the first time since the now 16-nation "euro zone" was established in 1999, the unemployment rate in America is as high as it is in that region, which Americans once considered a cautionary lesson on the wages of sin, understood as excessive taxation and regulation.
But before embarking on Stimulus III, note that only about 10 percent of Stimulus II has yet been injected into the economy. This is not the administration's fault, the administration's defenders say, because government is cumbersome, sluggish and inefficient. But this sunburst of insight comes as the administration toils to enlarge governmental control of health care, energy, finance, education, etc. The administration guesses that these government projects will do better than the Postal Service (its second-quarter loss, $1.9 billion, was 68 percent of its losses for all of 2008) and the government's railroad (Amtrak has had 38 money-losing years, and this year's losses are on pace to set a record).
Friday, July 10, 2009
"There's no politics at work when it comes to spending for the recovery," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says.
Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college.
The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
New Zealand was one of the few western nations to sign on to Kyoto and then attempt to abide by it — until they realized they could only do so by destroying their economy. They introduced a Dem-style cap-and-trade regime — and last year they suspended it. In Australia, the Labor government postponed implementation of its emissions-reduction program until 2011, and the Aussie Senate may scuttle it entirely. The Obama administration has gotten to the climate-change hop just as the glitterball's stopped whirling and the band's packing up its instruments.
The Congressional cap-and-trade shtick would be tired even if it weren't the familiar boondoggle of tax hikes, big-government micro-regulation, and pork-a-palooza pay-offs to preferred clients of the Democratic party. Granted that carbon credits were already a dubious racket equivalent to the sale of "indulgences" in medieval Europe, the decision by Congressional power-brokers to give away credits to well-connected Democratic party interests surely represents the environmental movement's formal Jumping of the Endangered Great White Shark.
Alan Carlin, in a report for the Environmental Protection Racket — whoops, Environmental Protection Agency — that they attempted to suppress, says:
Fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric C02 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s. And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there's been no net warming in the 21st century, and more accurately, a decline.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
In short, the stolen election and its tumultuous aftermath have dramatically highlighted the strategic and tactical flaws in Obama's game plan. With regime change off the table for the coming critical period in Iran's nuclear program, Israel's decision on using force is both easier and more urgent. Since there is no likelihood that diplomacy will start or finish in time, or even progress far enough to make any real difference, there is no point waiting for negotiations to play out. In fact, given the near certainty of Obama changing his definition of "success," negotiations represent an even more dangerous trap for Israel.
Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people. This was always true, but it has become even more important to make this case emphatically, when the gulf between the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the citizens of Iran has never been clearer or wider. Military action against Iran's nuclear program and the ultimate goal of regime change can be worked together consistently.
The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That's a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.
The cost of so-called congressional delegations, known among lawmakers as "codels," has risen nearly 70% since 2005, when an influence-peddling scandal led to a ban on travel funded by lobbyists, according to the data.
Last summer, Rep. Brian Baird (D., Wash.) took a four-day trip to the Galápagos Islands with his wife, four other lawmakers and their family members. The lawmakers spent $22,000 on meals and hotels, records show. Mr. Baird, a member of the House Science Committee, said the trip was to learn about global warming.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Obama might want to rethink his choice of a model state because it is easy to understand how California has curbed its energy use. Between 2000 and 2007, before the current recession, the state shed nearly 21 percent of its manufacturing jobs, driving down its industrial electrical consumption by 21 percent. California's industrial users pay electric rates twice as high as their Midwestern counterparts - which helps explain why so much heavy industry has fled the state. In addition to alienating its industry, California has also curbed energy use through exorbitant residential electric rates (50 percent higher than the national average) and massive net out-migration. Between 2005 and 2007, 2.14 million Californians moved to other states, while only 1.44 million people from elsewhere moved to the Golden State, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Don't be surprised when the 2010 Census finds even more people leaving to escape California's 11.5 percent unemployment. And, as jobs and residents fled California, its tax revenues have declined, while its politicians went on a spending binge, creating a severe budget crisis.