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Michael Major

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  1. Beyond Obamacare: Steven Brill's Tome on Health Care Costs

    Neither Brill's piece nor any of the responses address the fundamental problem, that our health care payments are arranged in such a way that the roles of consumer of care and payer for care have been sundered. Almost everyone in America consumes health care that is paid for by their employer, by other tax payers, or by the provider of the service. Free market forces that bring us more for less in every sector of the economy where they are unleased are not able to perform their magic in the field of health care. Everyone understands the difference between an open bar and a cash bar at a wedding reception. And if we used the same system when we go out to eat (third party payer), why would restaurants even bother to print the right hand side of the menu? Come to think of it, isn't that the way doctors and hospitals work today? How often have you seen prices posted in a doc's office or in a hospital? How can market forces operate under that sort of arrangement? Of course, they can't. Which brings us to the point of this post. Turns out, someone has directly confronted this issue and guess what happened. Read about it here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/12/free-market-at-work-okla-city-hospital-causes-bidding-war-by-posting-surgery-prices-online/
  2. Crews Missile: Giving The Slack Jaws The Ol' What For

    I've raised three kids, and it's not really that hard. We all know what works - self-discipline, forebearance, putting away for the rainy day, getting a good education, cultivating a stable, long-term relationship, taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves, on and on. Liberals and conservatives cultivate those same qualities in their children. Why do we want to teach our children those things? Because we know that in this old world, those qualities and attributes will yield a good result. We all know and mock the spoiled children and their parents, understanding that that sort of dynamic is destructive. As I said, I have three children. All are college graduates, one of them a double major with honors from Caltech. What puzzles me is that we don't seem to want to apply that same wisdom in our public policy when we create social safety net programs, unemployment benefits, education programs and so forth. Why the disconnect? Why can't we care as much about our fellow citizens as we do about our own children and demand the same sort of accountability?
  3. Lord Help Me Now!

    Let's see if we can turn this in a positive direction. What is it that you want to see in a candidate? I'll stick my neck out first. The thing that I find most discouraging and disappointing in American politics is the constant pandering of the political class. On both sides of the aisle, candidates promise special favors to potential voters who will pull the lever for them. Whether they're subsidies for corn growers in the mid-West, special regulatory treatment for green energy enterprises in Silicon Valley or favorable tax treatment for particular income groups, what drives our electoral process any more is the delivery of unequal government treatment in exchange for votes from defined constituencies. Whatever happened to politicians who represented the national interest, who supported public policy that was good for the nation as a whole? A few years ago, there was a best seller called What's Wrong with Kansas? in which the author mocked Kansans for giving their support to candidates who didn't pander to their parochial interests. Liberals believed that this was an indication of the ignorance of those Mid-Westerners. Seems to me that it was the opposite, evidence of the political sophistication of people who haven't yet become craven and cynical in trying to exploit our political system for their narrow self-interests. So what I'd like to see are politicians who offer tough love, who'll tell us the truth about the fiscal mess we're in, who'll offer inspiration and leadership to help our nation face up to the challenges that lie before us. Instead of telling one group or another that they are being treated unfairly, how about politicians who'll make one simple pledge - to treat every American EXACTLY equally, to refuse to trade in special tax or regulatory or subsidy or carveout treatments in exchange for votes - who'll challenge all of us to rise above our selfish personal interests and focus on our national future?
  4. Racism and the Parties

    Good to see you here Richard. Your postings are always thoughtful and incisive. When last we discussed this topic in the dedicated thread, I was taking the position that the nationalization of health care should be fought on the grounds that it's misguided policy and hang the issue of its constitutionality. You continued to focus on the constitutionality aspect, and I have to say, I've been surprised and heartened that there arose such a public conversation about that very thing. I agreed with you then and I agree with you now on that question, but I am uncertain about prospects for defeating it at the USSC. However, I want to endorse fully your suggestion that it's at the state level that the problem should be addressed. In addition to your reasoning for that, there's also the advantage that a variety of solutions can be tried out, giving us more of a research laboratory, experimental sort of approach to the search for a fiscally sound solution to the problem.
  5. Adjusting To The Electronic World

    Well, I finally stuck my toe in the water at the Kindle pool. I swore I'd never do it, but the appeal of carrying a little leather notebook around instead of twenty pounds of books when we travel was finally irresistible. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to make the transition, get over the compulsion to hold something heavy, something that can be slammed shut for a bit, then grabbed back up with the physical acts punctuating mental processes of withdrawal, then re-engagement, whether the medium itself will be a constant distraction. One of my kids set up a facebook account for me, or one of those other social networking things. I get an email from it once in a while, but I haven't figured out how to log in and now I understand that those sites are starting to lose favor. So I may not be a very good prospect for this whole electronic life thing. But, I'd be interested in hearing how other readers have adapted to the e readers.
  6. The Perceptions Of The U S A Abroad

    I did a bit of research on this argument about the tax donor and tax receiver issue a couple of years ago. There was a piece published on Mother Jones or somewhere like that which listed the top 100 counties in the US in terms of per capita tax infusions and making the point that most were in red states. The implication of course was that conservatives were voting against government programs at the same time that they were grabbing all the dough that they could from them. Anyhow, I took the time to copy that list, then find each county's voting history. Guess what? The recipient counties voted Democratic by a margin of roughly 2:1. It's true that a majority of them were located in red states, but those recipient counties and the individuals who were collecting the dough were solidly blue.
  7. The Perceptions Of The U S A Abroad

    Good morning Carol. I figgered you'd come out swinging.<g> Good to see you and I was glad to hear you're doing well. Let's not forget that profits are the carrots that make companies work their tails off to develop products and services to meet consumer demands. They're not to be avoided, they're to be encouraged. It's only in monopolistic arrangements that suppliers and providers can ignore consumer expectations and demands. In the health care sector, it's routine for the roles of consumer and payer to be split apart with the role of payer played by the employer who pays the provider through a routine major medical plan. OR in another huge swath of our population, with the government paying the provider. Only in a few small areas are the roles of payer and consumer integrated into one individual - elective cosmetic surgery, dentistry, vision correction. Interestingly, those areas of health care exhibit DRAMATICALLY lower price inflation or actual deflation, proving that free market mechanisms work well to control cost and improve quality.
  8. Racism and the Parties

    Actually, what it does is impose new costs on insurance companies by requiring certain new protocols and then it restrains the raising of premiums to cover those costs. Do you believe that when a company has increasing costs and steady or diminished income, it can continue to exist? Of course not, it will go under, just like GM. And the end result will be the same, an eventual government takeover. Except that with health care, there won't be a divestiture by the central government, rather a consolidation throughout the health care sector of our economy. Incidentally, that "bill of rights" is taking away my health care arrangements - removing my right to make my own health care decisions. It makes it impossible for high deductible insurance policies and HSAs to continue. It accomplishes that by requiring insurance companies to offer only policies that cover even the most routine and 100% expected sorts of health care consumption rather than actual INSURANCE to cover the unexpected and high cost events that we all are used to indemnifying ourselves against with collision insurance on our automobiles and fire and casualty insurance on our homes. And it doing that, it contributes to higher health care cost inflation, inflation which can only be controlled through rationing. BTW, ATC is no more a takeover of the airline industry than traffic laws constitute a takeover of the automobile industry. In the health care sector of our economy, the analog would be the FDA and the state licensing boards for health care providers. The plan that Zarras lays out goes a long way toward addressing the problems that Americans have with our current arrangements and it controls costs at the same time. "Remember, our current system of indirect payments for medical care came about as a result of World War II wage controls, under which employers realized they could raise an employee’s “compensation” by paying for their medical insurance. Since then, endless additions of regulations and stipulations on what must be covered, and how insurance can be sold, have straitjacketed the free market’s ability to work its wonders in the health care sector of our economy. Nowadays, the often “gold-plated” medical benefits given to some unions in lieu of higher wages are killing state budgets. ObamaCare, at its core, just enlarges the very system we already have, the system that is both fundamentally broken and bankrupting us. It can not work. By contrast, in places where HSA’s are being offered, people are voluntarily flocking to them. For example, in the state of Indiana, 70% of state employees have switched into HSA’s. The state is projected to save over $20 million in 2010 because of this, and the employees have accumulated over $30 million in their HSA’s since the plan’s inception. Ironically, using HSA’s can achieve what was originally intended after the WW II wage controls: they can increase an employee’s total compensation, but in an actuarially sound way."
  9. Universal Health Care

    Here's a plan that mirrors what I have proposed on this site for years: http://tinyurl.com/4vke9om It returns control of health care decision-making to the patient and doc. And it unleashes free market forces to control costs, encourage quality, and enhance consumer satisfaction. It does these things without adding a dollar of increased government spending.
  10. The Perceptions Of The U S A Abroad

    To add to Richard's thoughtful response, I would add that a useful way to think about America is to remind yourself that at its foundational core, it is a union of sovereign states, somewhat as the EU is a union of sovereign states. And yes, we have our share of whack jobs in the public sphere, but probably no more than anywhere else. It's just that the American media are more pervasive around the world than other media are. Oh, and it's not that there's an argument about whether all of our citizens should have access to health care - it's an argument about how to accomplish that. About whether that should be done through the nationalization of it (think of the EU again, should the EU take over the health care of all European citizens?) or through increasing access while trying to preserve free markets as much as possible. And finally, let me second Richard's welcome to you. Please contribute your thoughts all around the board. International perspectives are valuable to all of us.
  11. Racism and the Parties

    The BIG problem with this post is that it is so blatantly partisan in its nature. What is true about it is that racists found in the states rights movement a halltree where they could hang their hats. What's false about it is that it uses that as an attempt to delegitimize the entire states rights argument, an argument that becomes more and more relevant with each passing day. The analog from the right would be to make that argument that socialists found a home in the democratic party and that therefore the democratic party itself represents socialism. As a matter of fact, given today's attempts by the democratic party to engineer a government takeover of the healthcare sector of our economy, that analogous argument holds a LOT more water.
  12. Waterboarding

    See above.
  13. Waterboarding

    Making a counter assertion is not equivalent to a refutation. So you are wrong about my assertions being refuted. As an aid to you, here's the definition of refute: 1. to prove to be false or erroneous, as an opinion or charge. 2. to prove (a person) to be in error. Back atcha.
  14. Meta-discourse

    This would be a good topic to explore in those contexts.
  15. Meta-discourse

    The greatest tragedy to befall the nation, led by the President whom all agree was the greatest of all, was the result of exactly the same philosophy that Yoo expressed...