April 28, 2008Doug,
Although I sympathize with your point of view, I think that your post about HSAs misses the fact that the HSAs we have right now were, basically, set up to fail. The Democrats' proposal is, in the current context, pretty sensible. In fact, I believe that many people opposed to the idea of HSAs didn't mind for the version of HSAs we passed in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act because specifically because it's so lame and will prove that HSAs "don't work." The current version of HSAs, like the HMO, a government-designed type of insurnace coverage that's very attractive in the abstract and would work well in a free market but is almost sure to fail under government supervision.
April 15, 2008Doug,
Obviously, stories like the one you related show that socialized medicine is a bad idea. In this context, it's worth noting two things: (1) The UK has one of the few truly "socialist" medical systems in the world. (2) Our system is not always much better.
First, the UK's system--the National Health Service--is truly socialist in that it involves collective (that is, governmental) ownership of nearly all of the means of medical production. (The wealthy do have private insurance.) NHS is a giant integrated corporation that's the largest collective entity of any sort in all of the EU. This isn't the general case in the developed world and nobody proposes that the US create anything like it. Good or bad as they are, the systems in countries like Canada, Germany, France, Israel, and...
March 24, 2008Fark.com, the world's best workplace time-waster, links to a story in the Sun about a British couple that will use a 5 million GBP lottery win to buy new teeth for themselves (among other things). A walk down a street anywhere in the UK will reveal that a stereotype has at least some truth: Brits have bad teeth.
It's not the the British are poor--Greater London is, by per capita income, the wealthiest large area of the European Union and richer than all but a handful of American states. And it isn't exactly that the UK has a national health insurance system: other countries have socialist or quasi-socialist medical systems and lack a reputation for bad dental health.
My theory is this: Brits grow up thinking that medicine should be "free" and don't spend enough on dentistry because they...
March 21, 2008Fran,
I think the Progressive Automotive X Prize is a great idea. It may work where the government has failed.
Existing government programs to do similar things--particularly the calamitously impractical Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles--have failed to produce real breakthroughs. Toyota and Honda beat American-based companies to the market with practical, highly fuel efficient hybrids largely because they focused on what consumers wanted (practical, fuel efficient cars) rather than trying to adhere to goofy government mandates. By setting the bar very high, 100 miles per gallon, furthermore, the X Prize sponsors are pretty much forcing the use of some sort of breakthrough technology.
March 18, 2008Anthony Minghella, a film director adored by critics and liked by audiences, has died at 54. Minghella (link goes to his IMDb page), who directed The English Patient, The Talented Mister Ripley, and Cold Mountain made movies that always seemed serious. He got good performances out of his actors and established an arresting visual style. My main problem with him was simple: like a lot of directors more popular with critics than audiences, his movies were too long. Even the rather slight Mr. Ripley came in at nearly three hours. I'm sorry to see him pass. He had talent and probably would have improved with age. But all of his movies could have used just a bit more editing.
March 17, 2008Re-watching Dirty Dancing -- a movie far better than its reputation -- last night inspired me to do some Internet research. I was pleased to find out that the actual filming location of Dirty Dancing, Virginia's Mountain Lake Hotel, remains in business and has continued to cash in on its tie to the movie.
On the other hand, it appears that 2008 will be the last season for the last of the major Borscht Belt resorts. (For those living in caves, Dirty Dancing tells the story of the daughter of an affluent Jewish doctor who falls hard for a sexy working class dancing instructor at a Kosher summer resort in the Catskills' Borscht Belt.)
March 17, 2008The Washington Post runs a very interesting story about things on their way out. The list includes "truly blind dates" (we now have Google), Rolodexes (we now have Outlook), watching the nightly network news (I honestly don't think I ever have) and even modern-within-the last-few-years Friendster and CRT computer monitors. I have a few more:
Electric Can Openers: My parents had one. I do not. There are more self-opening packages and because they cannot be washed, electric can openers pose a health hazard.
Local Department Stores: I'm pretty sure that there are no true department stores left in the United States or Canada that have only one location. (Although they remain rather common in other countries.)
Salad Bars Outside of...
March 17, 2008Today, of course America woke up to news that JP Morgan Chase has bought out Bear Stearns for $2 a share. (It was trading over a hair over $160 a share last month, $30 on Friday and, as of 11:05 AM is actually trading above $4.) What I find slightly amusing is that Bear's own web page doesn't acknowledge any of this but, instead, touts it's awards from Energy Risk and The Financial Times.
March 13, 2008Today's Washington Post runs a story about the services provided by high-priced call girls. According to the story, high class prostitutes provide "a pledge of ironclad silence, and the promise of an unusually attractive, intelligent companion -- albeit one who measures companionship by the hour."
This confirms everything I've heard about high class hookers working in D.C. and other similarly medium-sized markets. (Before joining CEI, I worked mostly on police issues both as a think tank fellow and as a private sector consultant.)
But I tend to think that Spitzer and the, ummm, provider that he worked with provided something different altogether: pretty, smart, discrete girls willing to indulge very offbeat sexual fantasies. The Post's own...
March 11, 2008When I said Elliot Spitzer shouldn't resign as governor I was wrong. His use of public accounts, efforts to cover up his activities, his violation of a federal law, and his scummy behavior all present pretty good and legitimate grounds for his impeachment. To save New York's citizens the trouble, he should step down soon.
But, just as Spitzer should go, one of the laws he appears to have violated (the Mann Act) also needs to go. The law, written in 1910,...