December 31, 2007Trying to "fix" health care is not easy, since it's a bizarre amalgam of private provision of insurance and public spending and regulation, completely distorted by the counterproductive incentives of pervasive third-party payment. But one very simple step would be to simply have a national market in health insurance. Explains Merrill Mathews of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
Why can't people living in New Jersey buy health insurance available to residents of, say, Pennsylvania?
Rep. John Shadegg, an Arizona Republican, thinks they should -- and today will reintroduce legislation to make that possible.
The Health Care Choice Act would allow residents in one state to buy health insurance that is available in and...
December 26, 2007Leave it to Congress to make things worse under the guise of promoting new energy sources and environmental protection. If you want to understand how government mucks up the market, explains Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation, just look back a few years:
If it's a low-flush toilet, that is. These water-stingy models were mandated under the 1992 Energy Policy Act. After the provisions took effect in 1994, millions of Americans remodeling their bathrooms came in for an unpleasant surprise. Many of the new water-saving toilets cost more and performed worse than the ones they replaced. Homeowners complained that they had to flush more than once, which, in addition to being annoying, cut into the water conservation purpose behind the law. It took many years before the bugs were worked out of the new...
December 26, 2007There may be no less appreciated industry than insurance. We hate paying for it and hope never to use it. If we make a claim, the company is devoted to protecting its own interest irrespective of what we want.
The health insurance industry naturally yields up more than a few "Roger Moore" moments, examples of denial of benefits which, no matter the justification, look like examples of greedy corporations sacrificing helpless people. Cigna has recently been hit over its initial denial of a liver transplant to a young leukemia patient.
But there are no easy choices, and a government takeover of the medical system doesn't make the decisions any easier. Observes Investor's Business Daily:
Any insurer, public or private, would have had to make the same tough calls that Cigna did. It's...
December 21, 2007It turns out that Britain's National Health Service isn't very healthy for babies or other living things. Reports the Guardian:
Scores of premature babies may be dying unnecessarily across England because the NHS mismanaged a reform of neonatal units in 2003, parliament's spending watchdog reveals today.
Health ministers provided £73m over three years to link up hospital neonatal units in 23 regional networks that could provide specialist services to save premature and low birth weight babies.
But the National Audit Office finds that the Department of Health did not issue instructions for the units to be adequately staffed. As a result the service was overstretched. Its specialist nursing workforce was nearly 10% below strength. There were not enough cots to respond to every emergency and...
December 20, 2007Well, now. Europe has been lecturing the U.S. about the issue of global warming. But it appears that the EU isn't prepared to wreck its airline or travel industries to save the environment. Indeed, the environmental ministers may be handing the airlines a new profit opportunity.
Reports the BBC:
Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases.
But Europe's environment ministers look set to reject a plan for a strict cap on emissions from planes.
Instead, airlines will be given a set number of permits to pollute.
If they overshoot their limit they will be allowed to buy spare permits from firms who have managed to cut emissions elsewhere - manufacturing industry, for instance.
The ministers are expected to say this is rational, as it does not matter where emissions cuts are made -...
December 20, 2007The Europeans may harp on climate change, but the U.S. actually has done better at slowing emissions growth without ratifying the Kyoto protocol. No matter. First the Europeans wrote Kyoto to their benefit, choosing the date so they could claim credit for the closure of inefficient East German industries and Great Britain's shift to gas as a major energy source. Now Germany's Social Democrats want to penalize American exports if the U.S. does not comply with European climate dictates.
Reports the International Herald Tribune:
The Social Democrats are calling for sanctions on energy-intensive U.S. export products if the Bush administration continues to obstruct international agreements on climate protection, the party's leading environmental expert said Tuesday.
The move, after the United...
December 18, 2007If you're a Brit waiting for care under the National Health Service, relief may be at hand. Reports the Times of London:
Patients will find it easier to escape NHS queues and head across the Channel for treatment under an EU blueprint for European health tourism to be published tomorrow.
It will guarantee that, in most cases, treatment within the European Union will be funded by the taxpayer. The move will open up competiton between the NHS and European health services and is being hailed as a big step towards an open market for public healthcare.
Until now, patients who have paid for more efficient treatment in France or Germany without securing prior funding approval have faced court battles to get the NHS to reimburse them. A draft of the EU directive on cross-border...
December 17, 2007It's nice to work at a place where the budget is no object. That isn't the case at most businesses. Sadly, it isn't the case at many free market think tanks. But it is the case at the United Nations.
Reports The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
Most of our readers probably wouldn't mind working for an outfit whose budget is slated to expand by 25% next year. But then again, most of our readers don't work for the United Nations.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposed "initial" budget for 2008-09 is $4.2 billion, a mere 15% increase over the Secretariat's current budget. Oops, make that $4.8 billion, which includes the "add ons" the Secretary General has already identified. But even that's not the final final figure. The U.N. budget is released piece by piece -- how...
December 17, 2007The standard left-wing argument against tax rate reductions is that doing so will starve government of needed revenue. That, of course, is the best reason to cut taxes. Starve the beast, as they say.
But it just doesn't seem to be true. Congress cut taxes at the behest of President George W. Bush and the revenue keeps pouring in. Of course, there are lots of reasons for continuing economic growth and rising incomes. But tax cuts, at least the modest ones typically enacted, have proved to be a terribly inefficient way to cut government revenue.
Moreover, tax rate reductions turn out to be a very effective "soak the rich" mechanism. The wealthy keep paying a larger and larger share of total income tax collections. If one hasn't been convinced by leftish propaganda on how tax cuts are intended to help the rich, one might suspect that the supply siders are correct about how...
December 10, 2007Al Gore is in Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize for misinforming the rest of us about global warming. Doesn't he understand that flying creates greenhouse gases, and thus is warming the planet, hurtling us all towards disaster? Wait until the group Plane Stupid notices that Al is flying around the world destroying the planet! If we are lucky, they will ground his jet just like they shut down London travel offices during a recent protest.