Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mor(e)on the VA as a socialist success story

Ezra Klein has never impressed me in the least, so this statement of his from 2009 is not surprising:
If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.
HT: Instapundit

Inequality obsession can kill

Megan McArdle has an interesting article (Would You Pay $84,000 for a New Liver?) that can be read as "A drug company develops a drug that saves money and lives.  But, because the company was motivated by profit and not solely by caring, the company is actually evil and should be forced to sell the at a loss." The story is partly about ignorance of the difference between average and marginal costs, and partly about whether those who do good should make money because of it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tyranny by bureaucrat

Forget all those silly notions about democracy and laws being passed by Congress and signed by the President.  The current administration continues to simply use its bureaucrats to punish legal activity it doesn't like.

The lesson from the VA scandal

Thomas Lifson spells out the lessons from the performance of VA hospitals, as described by a doctor in today's Wall Street Journal:
It is important that Americans understand the fundamental point about the incompatibility of monopolistic medical bureaucracies and high quality medical care. It is not a matter of incompetent management and employees (though such no doubt exist). The problem will not be solved by adding dedicated leaders and staff; they also no doubt exist in the VA health care system. 
People who can’t be fired and who know that no matter what they do their organization will continue to exist inevitably become self-serving. This is the moral hazard of government funded bureaucracies. 
The solution to the health care problems of veterans and all Americans lies in the competitive discipline of market forces. As Obamacare implodes, we must keep the example of the VA system in mind. And as we figure out how to get care to the veterans who have earned it, we must embrace market forces.
See my earlier post for a similar sentiment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


(F)inding high quality whiskies could get a lot more difficult in the future. 
So, what’s a whiskey drinker to do? Well, not drinking whiskey clearly isn’t a viable option. So, as Esquire suggests, we also recommend you “buy as much as you can afford today.” 
The end is near (sort of), so stock up on high quality whiskey – the good stuff – while you still can!
Well, my kids will just have to do without braces for another year while I deal with this crisis.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The VA scandal is simply par for the course

I agree with the first and third parts of something Paul Krugman said in 2011 about the VA health system:
And yes, this is “socialized medicine”... But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.
It is socialized medicine, it doesn't work, and it does suggest what it will take to fix U.S. health care more broadly.

Having lived in the UK for five years and faced the socialist awfulness that is its National Health Service, the recent scandals regarding VA hospitals are very familiar.  Scandals of this sort are an extremely common occurrence in the UK.  Here's a rundown from the BBC of the scandals from 2013 alone:
  • February - The Francis Inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal said patients were "betrayed" by a system that put corporate self-interest first. A total of 290 recommendations proposed changes from top to bottom. The government responded by commissioning four new reviews into mortality rates, healthcare assistants, patient safety and complaints.
  • July - A review by NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh into the 14 trusts with the highest mortality rates uncovered a host of problems not previously picked up by the official regulator. It led to 11 being placed in special measures.
  • July - The Cavendish Review into healthcare assistants called for mandatory training for the workforce, saying some were being allowed to work after simply watching a DVD.
  • August - A review carried out by Prof Don Berwick, a former adviser to US President Barack Obama, called for patient safety to become a "top priority" in the NHS.
  • October - A review led by Labour MP Ann Clywd into complaints said the NHS has a culture of "delay and denial".
  • November - In response to the Francis Inquiry - and the subsequent reviews - ministers published a blueprint for a "profound transformation", including the introduction of safe staffing levels and new standards for healthcare assistants.

This plaza has something for the whole family

There's also a Chinese restaurant, and I'm thinking that the empty former Blockbuster would make a good tattoo megastore, and the empty Kmart is ideal for a casino/bowling alley.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The fruits of the minimum wage

In case you were under the illusion that the minimum wage doesn't affect the employment of low-skilled workers (i.e., if you are an economic illiterate), you should know that McDonald's knows better:

McDonald's hires 7,000 touch-screen cashiers