Joe’s Reading Log

January 31, 2006

Healthcare: No Quick Fix

Filed under: Economics, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 1:24 pm

The problem with easy solutions is that they never are. Healthcare is a problem that has no easy solutions, despite what many politicians on both sides of the aisle will tell you. Take a look at The Fix-It Myth:

Here’s the paradox: A health care system that satisfies most of us
as individuals may hurt us as a society. Let me offer myself as an
example. All my doctors are in small practices. I like it that way. It
seems to make for closer personal connections. But I’m always stunned
by how many people they employ for nonmedical chores — appointments,
recordkeeping, insurance collections. A bigger practice, though more
impersonal, might be more efficient. Because insurance covers most of
my medical bills, though, I don’t have any stake in switching.

On
a grander scale, that’s our predicament. Americans generally want their
health care system to do three things: (1) provide needed care to all
people, regardless of income; (2) maintain our freedom to pick doctors
and their freedom to recommend the best care for us; and (3) control
costs. The trouble is that these laudable goals aren’t compatible. We
can have any two of them, but not all three. Everyone can get care with
complete choice — but costs will explode, because patients and doctors
have no reason to control them. We can control costs but only by
denying care or limiting choices.

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Practicing Fiscal Conservatism

Filed under: National Politics — Joe Martin @ 1:18 pm

Growing up, I was upset about Congress’s spending. I was convinced that if we only had a Republican President and a Republican Congress we could really cut the fat out of the Federal budget. Well, not so much.

Pork Barrel Spending

January 27, 2006

We’re Richer Than We’ve Ever Been Before

Filed under: Economics, Prosperity — Joe Martin @ 2:07 pm

We’re richer than we’ve ever been before. Don’t believe me? Don Boudreaux takes a walk through a 1975 Sears catalog:

Other than the style differences, the fact most noticeable
from the contents of this catalog’s 1,491 pages is what the catalog doesn’t
contain. The Sears customer in 1975
found no CD players for either home or car; no DVD or VHS players; no cell
phones; no televisions with remote controls or flat-screens; no personal
computers or video games; no food processors; no digital cameras or camcorders;
no spandex clothing; no down comforters (only comforters filled with
polyester).

It seems to me that people were poor back in the ’70’s.

January 26, 2006

Morally Outraged Atheists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Martin @ 8:42 pm

Kudos to Ken Pierce for posting this essay on Morally Outraged Atheists:

Now, I tell that story (which, I should say, I made up) because it goes
to the heart of one of atheism’s major problems. An atheist is eager to
tell you that there ain’t no transcendent moral laws – and then he’ll
just as eagerly jump all over your butt when you do something he thinks
is “wrong.? But if atheism is true, then an atheist telling you that,
say, people ought not to be “racist? (by whatever definition he’s
attached to that extremely fluid loaded word) is like Sherriff L. C.
sayin’ he don’t like red cars. If the atheist can hurt you (because, e. g.,
he’s running the government) then maybe you say to yourself, “That’s
total b.s.,? but you still lower your head and play along so you won’t
get hurt. Otherwise, when the atheist tells you that he finds your
“racism? outrageous and it honks him off, you just cheerfully and
rationally respond, “Well, homie, I guess it sucks to be you, huh??

If you’re wondering what’s up with Sherriff L.C. not liking red cars, well, go read the full essay.

How To Squash Dissent in Three Easy Steps

Filed under: Government, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 8:39 pm
  1. Convince people that political campaigns are hopeless corrupt
  2. Pass a “Campaign Finance Reform Act”
  3. Use the new law to stomp on anyone who threatens you

It’s not just provacative, it’s what really happened. Read the true story behind the McCain-Feingold Bipartisian Campaign Finance Reform Act.

Controlling Our Government

Filed under: Wisconsin Politics — Joe Martin @ 8:37 pm

State Senator Glenn Grothman is scrapping plans for a TABOR amendment and talking about revenue controls instead. I’d be happier if we had both TABOR and revenue controls.

January 24, 2006

Warp Drive: Closer Than You Think

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Martin @ 5:46 pm

An obscure German scientists publishes some intriguing formulas in the 1950’s, then proceeds to shun the limelight. He writes three books, but only publishes them in German. Most physicists never hear of his work. Another scientist expands on the theories in the 1980’s, but they languish in obscurity for another 20 years. It sounds like science fiction, but this is science history. The result could be a real hyperdrive and real anti-gravity — if today’s scientists can only manage to understand these arcane formulas.

The general consensus seems to be that Dröscher and Häuser’s theory
is incomplete at best, and certainly extremely difficult to follow. And
it has not passed any normal form of peer review, a fact that surprised
the AIAA prize reviewers when they made their decision. “It seemed to
be quite developed and ready for such publication,” Mikellides told New Scientist.

At
the moment, the main reason for taking the proposal seriously must be
Heim theory’s uncannily successful prediction of particle masses.
Maybe, just maybe, Heim theory really does have something to contribute
to modern physics. “As far as I understand it, Heim theory is
ingenious,” says Hans Theodor Auerbach, a theoretical physicist at the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who worked with Heim.
“I think that physics will take this direction in the future.”

It
may be a long while before we find out if he’s right. In its present
design, Dröscher and Häuser’s experiment requires a magnetic coil
several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current
density. Most engineers say that this is not feasible with existing
materials and technology, but Roger Lenard, a space propulsion
researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it
might just be possible. Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z
machine which “could probably generate the necessary field intensities
and gradients”.

Importing Prosperity

Filed under: Immigration, Prosperity — Joe Martin @ 2:42 pm

It turns out that illegal immigration is good for North Carolina. Radley Balko links to a report showing that North Carolina’s economy grew by $9.2 billion dollars as a result of Hispanics. The cost to the state as a result of immigration: only $61 million. I’d say we should be encouraging immigration, not discouraging it.

Power Corrupts: the Police

Filed under: Civil Liberties — Joe Martin @ 2:39 pm

While America has many brave officers who routinely put their lives on the line, it would be foolhardy to assume that the police are never wrong and are always worthy of deference. Radley Balko at “The Agitator” has been chronicling police abuses for a while now. This morning, he had yet another story to relate:

Here’s a particularly egregious example of puppy-cide from Marcicopa County, Arizona, home of conservative darling and self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Joe Arpaio. After conducting a ridiculously bumbling and overly militaristic raid that netted a total of one arrest for outstanding traffic violations, a raid which subsequently set a friggin’ house on fire, and in which the sheriff’s armored personnel carrier (yes, he has one) lost its brakes and rolled down the street, smashing a car — the SWAT team wasn’t quite done

[I]n the ultimate display of cruelty, a SWAT team member drove a dog trying to flee the home back into the inferno, where it met an agonizing death.

Deputies then reportedly laughed as the dog’s owners came unglued as it perished in the blaze.

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty scary. And it’s a good reminder of why the police shouldn’t be trusted with too much fire power, authority, or immunity.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Filed under: Economics, Government, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 2:28 pm

Patrick provides a grim outlook on the future in Triumph of the Redistributionist Left.

Discretionary spending is dwarfed by mandatory spending – spending that cannot be changed without changing the laws. Shifting demographics combined with an inability to change those laws virtually ensures that, through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, America’s workers will be forced to redistribute a larger and larger portion of their income to other Americans in the coming decades.

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government’s budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government’s main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.

Currently the federal government consumes about 20 percent of the GDP, which is another way of saying that about 20 percent of Americans’ income, on average, is paid in taxes to the federal government. According to the Government Accountability Office, that is on course to rise to 30 percent by 2040.

By 2040, 30 percent of the national income will be confiscated by the Federal government. 70 percent of that massive amount will then be given to whomever the government feels is most needy — or has the most votes. It’s not a pretty future for my future children.

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