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The problem with health care

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I've thought for a while now that one of the biggest problems with health care is the concept of insurance--private or public (Medicare).

John Stossel:

America's health-care problem is not that some people lack insurance, it is that 250 million Americans do have it.

You have to understand something right from the start. We Americans got hooked on health insurance because the government did the insurance companies a favor during World War II. Wartime wage controls prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving noncash benefits like health insurance to attract workers. The tax code helped this along by treating employer-based health insurance more favorably than coverage you buy yourself. And state governments have made things worse by mandating coverage many people would never buy for themselves.

That's the root of our problem. No one wants to pay for his own medical care. "Let the insurance company pay for it." But since companies pay, they demand a say in what treatments are—and are not—permitted. Who can blame them?

Then who can blame people for feeling frustrated that they aren't in control of their medical care? Maybe we need to rethink how we pay for less-than-catastrophic illnesses so people can regain control. The system creates perverse incentives for everyone. Government mandates are good at doing things like that.

Steering people to buy lots of health insurance is bad policy. Insurance is a necessary evil. We need it to protect us from the big risks--things most of us can't afford to pay for, like a serious illness, a major car accident, or a house fire.

But insurance is a lousy way to pay for things. You premiums go not just to pay for medical care, but also for fraud, paperwork, and insurance company employee salaries. This is bad for you, and bad for doctors.

(Emphasis mine)

We need to break ourselves of the habit of paying for routine health care with insurance, and reserve insurance for catastrophic care and for serious chronic conditions.

We now know where they stand

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These 25 Senators voted against an amendment expressing support for the troops, including their commander in-theater.

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

This is the language they found unacceptable today:

   SEC. 1070. SENSE OF SENATE ON GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS.

    (a) Findings.--The Senate makes the following findings:

    (1) The Senate unanimously confirmed General David H. Petraeus as Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, by a vote of 81-0 on January 26, 2007.

    (2) General Petraeus graduated first in his class at the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

    (3) General Petraeus earned Masters of Public Administration and Doctoral degrees in international relations from Princeton University.

    (4) General Petraeus has served multiple combat tours in Iraq, including command of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during combat operations throughout the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which tours included both major combat operations and subsequent stability and support operations.

    (5) General Petraeus supervised the development and crafting of the United States Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual based in large measure on his combat experience in Iraq, scholarly study, and other professional experiences.

    (6) General Petraeus has taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

    (7) During his 35-year career, General Petraeus has amassed a distinguished and unvarnished record of military service to the United States as recognized by his receipt of a Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, the State Department Superior Honor Award, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, and other awards and medals.

    (8) A recent attack through a full-page advertisement in the New York Times by the liberal activist group, Moveon.org, impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.

    (b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate--

    (1) to reaffirm its support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, including General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq;

    (2) to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces; and

    (3) to specifically repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org.

Reasonable people can draw their own conclusions from this vote.

I would note in passing that one of those Democrat Senators is widely viewed as the front runner to become the Democratic Party's candidate for President.

Both of my Senators, Bond (R) and McCaskill (D) voted for the amendment which passed the Senate, so while this is a partisan issue, it's also a bi-partisan vote.  We live in "interesting times."

Poopy Goes Mainstream

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Well, maybe not, but apparently a member of the panel of the eminently deridable 'The View" TV show has Gone Poopy:
Sherri Shepherd, the co-host of The View who said she didn't know if the Earth was flat or round and that she didn't care, today said she knew all along it was round. She was just having a “senior brain-poopy moment,” when Whoopie tossed her that difficult question.
As the Brains once said:  Oh, poopie!

Wanted: Serious News Channel

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Qualifications:
Must:
  • Feature regular, extended (15 minutes or greater) one-on-one discussions of policy decisions and implications, from all sides of an issue.  That's ALL sides, which is at times a number greater than two.
  • Be based somewhere that still has a connection to reality--i.e. not on either coast of the U.S.  Chicago, perhaps, although basing the network in small-town Iowa (away from Omaha, Des Moines, Ames, or Iowa City) would probably be best.
  • Regard with healthy skepticism ALL conventional wisdoms from whatever direction.  Reserve extra skepticism for people who advocate any change in the status quo--like advocates of socialized health care, anybody on ANY side of the abortion debate, or human-caused climate change.  Give the highest level of skepticism for wacko conspiracy theorists like UFO people, the 9/11 Truthers, or any organization funded by George Soros.
  • Recognize and report on good news as well as bad.
  • Enforce a scrupulously neutral stance by all on-air personalities, and refrain from engaging in editorials disguised as news stories.
  • Hire a staff that "looks like America" ideologically.

Must Not:
  • Depend on other news outlets (including and especially the New York Times) to determine what is "newsworthy."
  • Cover celebrity train-wreck stories.  If you want that crap, go watch E! or Entertainment Tonight.  Or MTV, for that matter, but don't pretend that what sports figures and entertainment celebrities do is in any way vitally important to anyone.
  • Carry ANY shouting-head argument shows like Hannity & Combes, or allow any host or guest to raise their voice or depart from civil discourse (assuming anyone remembers how to engage in civil discourse in the first place).
  • Drive news using polls or telephone call-in segments to determine newsworthyness, but depend on reporters in the field and on the street to determine what people consider newsworthy.
  • Hire any person who has served in an important capacity in any political party or Presidential campaign or administration.
That would be a good start.

A la carte cable?

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Coyote at Coyote Blog doesn't like the idea of a la carte cable:

I see that the drive to force cable companies to offer their basic cable package a la carte rather than as a bundle is gaining steam again.  This is the dumbest regulatory step imaginable, and will reduce the number of interesting niche choices on cable.

For some reason, it is terribly hard to convince people of this.  In fact, supporters of this regulation argue just the opposite.  They argue that this is a better plan for folks who only are passionate about, say, the kite-flying channel, because they only have to pay for the channel they want rather than all of basic cable to get this one station.   This is a fine theory, but it only works if the kite-flying channel still exists in the new regulatory regime.  Let me explain.

I think where we're headed is a la carte programs, not just a la carte channels.  We're far too focused on cable tv channels, which are a legacy of the regulated radio and television broadcast stations that some of us grew up with before the cable explosion of the 1970's.  Channels in an age of digital information are inefficient and expensive--in terms of both the bandwidth needed by the cable companies, and in the dozens of completely unwatched channels which the individual consumer has to pay for, in order to watch what he or she really wants to watch.  It makes as much sense for a sports-hating housewife to pay for ESPN as it does for me to pay for Lifetime Movies.

"Hell is over"

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The word from Ramadi, Iraq, via Michael Totten:

I was greeted by friendly Iraqis in the streets of Baghdad every day, but the atmosphere in Ramadi was different. I am not exaggerating in the least when I describe their attitude toward Americans as euphoric.

Grown Iraqi men hugged American Soldiers and Marines.

We're told that we're losing in Iraq.  We're told that the Iraqis hate us and want us to leave.  We're told that Americans are dying for nothing (or worse, for "oil.")  We're told lots of things.

When we got back in the Humvees I was required to don my helmet again in case we hit a bump in the road.

Bumps in the road are now officially seen as more hazardous than insurgents and terrorists in Ramadi. (There is a lot of hard metal inside a Humvee that you can bang your head up against.) I have my doubts about the relative dangers of each in the real world. Ramadi isn’t totally safe yet. But this kind of juxtaposition is absurdly unthinkable in Baghdad.

The Iraqis of Anbar Province turned against Al Qaeda and sided with the Americans in large part because Al Qaeda proved to be far more vicious than advertised. But it’s also because sustained contact with the American military – even in an explosively violent combat zone –convinced these Iraqis that Americans are very different people from what they had been led to believe. They finally figured out that the Americans truly want to help and are not there to oppress them or steal from them. And the Americans slowly learned how Iraqi culture works and how to blend in rather than barge in.

“We hand out care packages from the U.S. to Iraqis now that the area has been cleared of terrorists,” one Marine told me. “When we tell them that some of these packages aren’t from the military or the government, that they were donated by average American citizens in places like Kansas, people choke up and sometimes even cry. They just can’t comprehend it. It is so different from the lies they were told about us and how we’re supposed to be evil.”

There are lots of lies going around, many of them being told by people who ought to know better.  Meanwhile, we are winning the war in Iraq against the barbarians.

UPDATE:  Oh, yeah, I meant to post this.  Seems like Baghdad hospitals are emptying out due to a lack of casualties.

Doctors at the hospital, a barometer of bloodshed in the Iraqi capital, say there has been a sharp fall in victims of violence admitted during a seven-month security campaign.

Last month the fall was particularly dramatic, with 70 percent fewer bodies and half the number of wounded brought in compared to July, hospital director Haqi Ismail said.

"The major incidents, like explosions and car bombs, sometimes reached six or seven a day. Now it's more like one or two a week," he told Reuters.

The relative calm at the Yarmouk hospital lends weight to U.S. and Iraqi government assertions that a security campaign launched around Baghdad in February has achieved results.

Have you heard that on the news channels?

Not jihad--hirab

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American Thinker:
What's in a name? When it comes to identifying what we are fighting against in the war for our civilization, quite a lot. Members of a movement among military and intellectual circles want to avoid asserting that we are fighting against "jihad" because that term is loaded with religious significance in Islam, replacing it with "hiraba", to highlight the criminal nature of Islamic terrorists:

Walid Phares, writing in American Thinker several weeks ago, challenged these advocates. As Phares noted in his article, Preventing the West from Understanding Jihad:
The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."

Everything You Know Is Wrong, cont'd

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Most research studies are wrong.

So says epidemiologist John Ioannidis:
There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.
Emphasis mine.

Defeat at any price

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David Gerlenter, in The Weekly Standard:

The issue isn't tactics--doesn't concern the draw-down that the administration has forecast and General Petraeus has now discussed, or how this draw-down should work, or how specific such talk ought to be. The issue is deeper. It's time for Americans to ask some big questions. Do leading Democrats want America to win this war? Have they ever?

Of course not--and not because they are traitors. To leading Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Edwards, America would be better off if she lost. And this has been true from the start.

To rephrase the question: Why did Harry Reid announce months ago that the war was lost when it wasn't, and everyone knew it wasn't? The wish is father to the deed. He was envisioning the world of his dreams.

The Democrats' embrace of defeat is inspired by no base desire to see Americans killed or American resources wasted. But let's be honest about it, and invite the Democrats to be honest too.

Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left. Each one has been defended by serious people; all are philosophically plausible, or at least arguable. But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain. We must infer their ideas from their (usually) guarded public statements.

(Emphasis in original)