Economists believe that people respond to incentives. Unfortunately, they pay much too little thought to the incentives that the U.S. health care system gives to providers. The NYT has two very good pieces showing the practical effect of the current incentive structure in today's paper.
HEALTH CARE: STILL SCREWED UP. There�s nothing too new in all this, but in case you were seeking further confirmation that health care is now a middle-class problem, a new study by the Commonwealth Institute reports that 48 percent of adults making between $35,000 and $50,000 report major problems paying for health coverage, as do a fifth of those making between $50,000 and $70,000. Coverage, for that matter, isn't the only issue; 40 percent complain of unsafe or unsatisfactory care under the system and 76 percent say it needs either major changes or complete rebuilding.
USA Today had a great story about President Bush�s visit to a Harley-Davidson factor in York, Pennsylvania to tout the merits of �free-trade.� The reason why the story was so great is that the plant is in fact a testament to the effective use of protectionist policies to sustain a favored industry.
Don�t take my word for it, here�s the beginning of a 1983 article in the New York Times describing President Reagan�s decision to impose tariffs on imported motorcycles:
�In an unusually strong protectionist action, President Reagan today ordered a tenfold increase in tariffs for imported heavyweight motorcycles.
LEE SIEGEL, CALL YOUR OFFICE. At the nexus of blogofascism and Islamofascism lies Mahmoun Ahmadenijad�s new blog. Really. So far there's only one post up and its length indicates that he hasn't yet quite grasped the format. He does, however, promise that "From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler." The site even has an online poll question: "do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war?" Newsweekoffers analysis.
I BLAME THE POPE.Ramesh Ponnuruponders the theory that the Republican Party has become less anti-statist because it's become more religious, and then wonders "let�s assume for the sake of argument that Republicans have simultaneously become more religious-conservative and less anti-statist. What�s the causal relationship here?" My hypothesis would be . . . Catholics.
UNIONS AND POLITICS.Kelly Candaele, a former Los Angeles AFL-CIO employee, has one of those occasional op-eds counseling that the union movement recede from politics and focus on organizing. A couple thoughts:
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL. The boss, Mountaineer Mike Tomasky, probably thinks that none of his minions read Marie Claire. He's wrong. Yow! I wonder if the latest issue has reached the End Zone Pub in Morgantown yet.
ABOUT THOSE INSURGENTS. "The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war," reportsThe New York Times, "offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Previous expert commentary on the insurgency: