Archive

  • How Health Care Explains American Politics

    So, as promised, more on the Gladwell piece . Gladwell is not, as my previous post might have suggested, opening up a can of whoop-ass on America's health care system. Instead, he's digging into a cultural cause of our recalcitrance to move to full coverage -- the perception that the uninsured deserve what they get, and that insurance generally isn't what'll help these irresponsible souls. Gladwell calls it by its economic name, moral hazard, which is the theory that insurance changes the behavior of the uninsured. If you get all the health care you want for free, you'll use a ton of health care, much of it, according to conservatives, unnecessary. If you have to pay a significant copay, the amount you use will go down, as your bank account will feel each doctor's visit. If you are uninsured and have to pay the whole cost, you'll only go when you need it. That's all true, so far as it goes. The problem is, individuals aren't good judges of what counts as necessary care. They first cut...
  • The Times Tells All

    As for all this talk over guys getting freaked out by the delivery room view of their partner's suddenly giant, bloody vagina, I don't quite see the problem. If you're the sort of guy who thinks this'll haunt you forevermore, either stick near your wife's head so you can be with her without peering up her or stay out of the delivery room. I have to imagine that guys basically know where they'll fall on this question. Sure, some may make the wrong choice, but a bit of forethought should keep post-delivery sexual traumas from being so endemic they demand coverage in The New York Times . Or maybe we're not having a rash of shellshocked hubbies and the article is a bullshit human interest story exploiting the fears of both sexes to fill a few column inches.
  • Oil Baby

    Fareed Zakaria has a spot-on editorial today on how much tougher oil makes our foreign policy. It's almost laughable how many sore spots and tricky situations our hydrocarbon dependence has landed us in. In the American drama, oil is the screenwriter and we're the hapless dunce who keeps stumbling into his prewritten traps. It kinda sucks. But it's not hard to rationalize that oil dependence was a necessary tradeoff for our modern influence and technological achievement. That's perfectly fair. What's so strange is that now, while we're on the cusp of new technologies that could end our addiction, while we control literally thousands of advances and options that could drastically reduce our dependence, we prefer instead to wait till crisis hits, till prices jump so high that oil becomes a curse and change becomes a necessity. We're demanding that the day come when our switchover will be instant rather than gradual, and that's going to hurt . Some hyperrationalists on both sides of the...
  • Well Said

    I'll have more to say on the whole article later, but for now, this hyper-long paragraph of Malcolm Gladwell's in his New Yorker article on moral hazard is about the best indictment of our health care system that I've seen. It's large enough that I'm going to put it under the fold, but trust me, it's worth the read:
  • It Was The Christian Thing To Do

    I don't know what everybody's getting so upset at Pat Robertson for. I mean, sure, it's not exactly neighborly to call for Hugo Chavez's assassination, but neither is it necessarily un-Christian. The Bible, after all, offers no shortage of grounds on which you can put a man to death. All we need to do is catch him on one. Think he's ever masturbated? If so, Genesis 38:8 says he's finished. Exodus 12:12 lets us off him if he's ever struck another man with a deadly blow, a particularly helpful passage if we let Robertson do the deed himself with a blunt object -- they can exit stage left together. I don't know if Chavez ever hit his parents, but Exodus 21:15 finishes him if he did. Better yet, he sure seems like he was stubborn and rebellious as a kid, a juvenile heritage that we can stone him for (Deuteronomy 21:18). If Hugo's got any friends who pray to a God other than the fearsome overlord of the Bible, we can take him down for letting them live (Deuteronomy 13:6). But screw it, we...
  • But He Tries So Hard!

    This, from conservative-against-the-war Andy McCarthy, is really weird : I support what is called the “war on terror.” I will continue to support it no matter what the Iraqi constitution says. I will also continue to support the President’s stewardship of it because he is determined to fight it, however much I may disagree with some of what is being done. I come across this fairly often and it never fails to strike me as completely bizarre. It was an omnipresent claim during the election that, as Iraq's gotten worse, has been brought out of retirement to defend the president. But why? 1) Doesn't its mere utterance kind of give up the ghost? I mean, if you thought Bush was doing a good job, wouldn't you say "I continue to support the President's stewardship of the war because he's doing a kickass job banishing terrorists to graveyards, jail cells and torture chambers"? Seems to me that'd make for a much more convincing appeal and, given the hackery of those generally making this claim...
  • Freedom Marching Backwards -- Quickly

    Sez Logan: It’d be as if massive stockpiles of WMD were found being loaded onto bombers the day we invaded, and then Iraq spontaneously erupted into a libertarian utopia and I were standing here waving my finger in the air, shouting, “It still wasn’t worth it!” Who is he talking about? What is he referring to? Go here . Why, whenever I read the latest pronouncements from these hacks, can I only think of Iraq's former information minister promising that our armies were retreating as Baghdad fell? Why indeed...
  • We're Going Backwards

    Sandra Day O'Connor was the first female to ever serve on the Supreme Court. So what a sad commentary on the country's recent direction that the primary problems with her male replacement all orbit around his attitude towards women. He's evinced an irritation towards feminism, a dismissive attitude towards gender inequalities, and an abiding hostility to potential solutions. He is, in essence, exactly the sort of prestigious, prominent, respected lawyer whose attitudes and counsel made it so Sandra Day O'Connor couldn't get hired out of law school and others of her gender found their talents wasted and underused. My how far we came, and Christ how far we've fallen.
  • The Incredible Shrinking President

    Bush has fallen below 40% in the latest ARG poll, tumbling all the way down to the mid-30's. As Garance says , that likely means we've reached a sort of tipping point, with most everyone but hard Republicans fed up and finished with our hapless chief executive. Was it Sheehan? Was it Iraq? My guess, actually, is that it's his vacation. If the guy can't be bothered to remain at work while his various initiatives explode around us, he doesn't deserve our support. For comparison, it's interesting to note that Clinton's second-term approval ratings never dropped below 40%. Not once. None of this, of course, matters very much electorally. George W. Bush will not be running for President in 2008, and those who fight to succeed him will, to varying degrees, attempt to distance themselves from his legacy in order to carve out an independent image. What does matter is that Bush's plummeting approval ratings will force his successors to flee very far indeed, which may either leave to a true...
  • Come Again?

    This is the sort of thing that really loses you the moral high ground. From Twisty on Dr. B's blog: Chick blames patriarchy. Dude perceives chick speaking mind, believes life to be in danger. Dude would ordinarily attempt control of mind-speaking chick via symbolic rape à la classic “you just need a good fuck” response, but remembers new kind of snappy put-down he’s been seeing on dude-centric blogs with erection-shaped logos written by date-rapist college sophomores. Dude attempts to neutralize dangerous chick threat by sardonically impugning chick’s post as parody. Sorry, but what? Exactly which blogs are written by confirmed date rapists? And how do we know commentors who go after feminists, no matter how annoying their approach may be, are taking orders from some central site filled with phallus-obsessed sexual harassers? You want to go after chauvinistic guys for stereotyping/demeaning women and being general assholes, get to it. But assuming worse stereotypes about them than...

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