Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturn and Her Moons

Hat tip to Trey Peden for linking me to these wonderful images The Boston Globe printed. 

Wow!  Just wow!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Berlin Wall

Twenty years ago next month, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.  This Wall Street Journal article tells a story of the Berlin Wall I had never heard before. 
The world believes Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev or peaceful protests brought down the Berlin Wall 20 years ago next month. But for those who had front-row seats, the argument boils down to Ehrman vs. Brinkmann.
Riccardo Ehrman, a veteran Italian foreign correspondent, and Peter Brinkmann, a combative German tabloid reporter, both claim they asked the crucial questions at a news conference on Nov. 9, 1989, that led East German Politburo member G√ľnter Schabowski to make one of the biggest fumbles in modern history.
Be sure to click on the “Slideshow” tab above the article.  It’s amazing!  Slide 3 of 16 shows how desperate people were to get out of East Germany (and America is inching closer and closer towards that type of misery.)  Slide 9 just amazes me.  I can’t imagine shooting another human being for no reason other than crossing an arbitrary line.  Slide 14 should be titled, “A First Look at Freedom.”

I find it so difficult to believe, although the reality of it is everywhere around me, that so many people, especially many Americans, don’t understand the value of individual rights, much less what they are.  How many more examples must history provide us with before we learn once and for all?

I know most Americans are busy with their careers, their children, their spouse, sports events or whatever else occupies their time.  We’ve become spoiled to being free enough to have too many things to occupy our time, but the times are changing.  If Americans don’t start doing what the government-run schools failed to do, educate themselves, history is doomed to repeat itself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I don’t like change!

I saw this episode of Family Guy the other day and this line from Stewie had me rolling!  Every time I hear it, I laugh out loud.  :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to Fix Health Care

Here's an interesting take on the health care debate.  Basically, this guy has figured out what many of us have been saying all along, that we need to restore free market health care!  (As an aside, there’s also a link in the article to the “Checklist” article I’ve mentioned before and continue to highly recommend.)   

About a week after my father’s death, The New Yorker ran an article by Atul Gawande profiling the efforts of Dr. Peter Pronovost to reduce the incidence of fatal hospital-borne infections. Pronovost’s solution? A simple checklist of ICU protocols governing physician hand-washing and other basic sterilization procedures. Hospitals implementing Pronovost’s checklist had enjoyed almost instantaneous success, reducing hospital-infection rates by two-thirds within the first three months of its adoption. But many physicians rejected the checklist as an unnecessary and belittling bureaucratic intrusion, and many hospital executives were reluctant to push it on them. The story chronicled Pronovost’s travels around the country as he struggled to persuade hospitals to embrace his reform.

It was a heroic story, but to me, it was also deeply unsettling. How was it possible that Pronovost needed to beg hospitals to adopt an essentially cost-free idea that saved so many lives? Here’s an industry that loudly protests the high cost of liability insurance and the injustice of our tort system and yet needs extensive lobbying to embrace a simple technique to save up to 100,000 people.


Indeed, I suspect that our collective search for villains—for someone to blame—has distracted us and our political leaders from addressing the fundamental causes of our nation’s health-care crisis. All of the actors in health care—from doctors to insurers to pharmaceutical companies—work in a heavily regulated, massively subsidized industry full of structural distortions. They all want to serve patients well. But they also all behave rationally in response to the economic incentives those distortions create. Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value.

The problem with our current system is that the government or some heavily regulated insurance company is our health care provider’s client, not us.  Not only can we not pick and choose what health care services to buy, once we are at the provider for service, we are not their customer.  By allowing individual customers back into the equation, now you’ve got a business serving the needs of its customers, not big government.

Now I do disagree with Mr. Goldhill on how to fix the problem.  He wants to mandate HSAs.  I want to get rid of all mandates.  The government should not be involved in health care.  Period.  Here’s a great blog by my friend over at FIRM that talks about just that.

Most of his proposed changes are free market reforms or would be happen naturally in a free market. (I disagree with some of his ideas, such as requiring everyone to own a Health Savings Account. But I agree with repealing legal obstacles to purchasing HSAs and catastrophic-only insurance plans.)

And most importantly, he's willing to challenge the idea that "reform" is synonymous with government-run "universal coverage", especially given that he identifies himself as a Democrat. More politicians need to hear this message.

If someone identifying himself as a Democrat can realize this, perhaps there’s still hope after all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Free Speech Threatened Again

Over at Noodlefood, Diana Hsieh just blogged about new regulations that may effect all of us bloggers.  Please read, it’s very important.