Friday, March 27, 2009

Universal health care the cure for foreign competition in medical treatment

Failings in the U.S. health care system are highlighted by the plight of the uninsured.

Our profit-driven system benefits the vendors of medical care (doctors, hospitals & pharmaceuticals) at the expense of patients.

Many, myself included, find a system where lives are placed at risk primarily for profit immoral and scandalous. A supposedly advanced society doesn't place a price on lives like we do to profit certain industries.

Our profit-driven system generates one side-effect: Lower cost providers will always pop up to push prices down. That's the nature of market economics.

In the case of foreign doctors and hospitals, these low cost competitors are rising to fill a long-felt need in American health care.

It's a good thing too.

American doctors and hospitals need competition from their American-trained foreign brethren. Foreign competition will encourage the American medical industry to get on-board with universal health care because that will be the only thing to save American medicine from overseas competition.

Universal health care will take the form of protectionism for U.S. medicine. There's no way to maintain the best health care system in the world with the highest individual cost to consumers when the customer base shrinks as a result of the insurance industry policy of excluding people from coverage who most need treatment, leaving these externalized costs for the rest of society to pick up.

Something's gonna have to give in our health care system. I suspect that doctors will realize that insurance providers don't have the public's best interest at heart and will protect their own bottom line by preferring a universal plan insuring payment over the headache of dealing with private insurance companies.

Better late than never.

Tesla Sedan finally makes its debut

Tesla, the electric car starup that made out mouths drool over their roadster, has bitten the bullet and produced a sedan for the mass market.

The price is around $50 k. More reasonable by comparison to the $100 k price tag of the roadster.

The car looks great.

I just hope the hype meets up with reality after a poor showing of the roadster during a BBC road test. I blogged about it previously.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drug warriors asking for more money to fund ineffective approach to drug problems. Just "Say No" to misspent cash.

Here's where the disconnect occurs in our efforts to combat drug abuse and the attendant crime associated with illegal drugs.

Those from law enforcement always want more resources and stiffer penalties. Just like this bozo advocates.

The problem with the education angle is that programs that historically receive government funding have shown little to no effect--in essence they are a waste of money.

I give you the D.A.R.E. program. D.A.R.E. has never been effective. If you don't believe me, then look at the government's own scientific study supporting my claim.

Law enforcement and its apologists and advocates have no credibility when it comes to treating the drug problem in the U.S. They've had three decades to prove themselves and have FAILED.

The criminal justice system has never successfully treated what amounts to a health issue.

Until our policies reflect the health aspect of drug problems, we'll endure further demands for cash from the law enforcement lobby.

It's time to stop the police-industrial complex our drug policies have created.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Secretary Clinton speaks the truth about U.S. Drug Policy--Good for her, good for us.

Here's a positive sign. Someone in the Obama administration actually speaking the truth about U.S. drug policy.

Secretary Clinton stated publicly that the War on Drugs has been a failure.

She noted this while in Mexico.

In my previous post I noted how we must honestly address our failures and look to alternative policies.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time for a new approach to this failed drug war.

The escalating violence in Mexico and the potential for spillover into the U.S. highlights the failings of our decades long drug war.

Prohibition enforcement has not worked. Every angle has been tried and yet rates of drug addiction and drug use are roughly the same as they have been every year since the 1920's--the first decade to see good records on drug use and addiction.

What's been the result of enforcement? More prisons, more cost to society in lost economic potential and a law enforcement boondoggle.

Drug abuse isn't pretty, but one thing is clear: Continuing down the same path of failed policies, increasing corruption and wasted capital is not the better choice.

Trying alternatives is our best option. We know prohibition doesn't work. Admitting our failures is not giving in; it honesty in policy. Aren't we due for some integrity in our drug policy?

The Obama administration is trying the same old failed approach to the Mexican drug problem, but it won't work. You can't target Second Amendment rights when the real problem boils down to failed drug policies that have no effect on demand.

Ending the violence means hitting the drug cartels where it counts: Their cash flow.

Demand is not affected by prohibition, that much is proven by our history. When a product has consistent demand over decades, someone will always try to meet that demand, despite the legal obstacles our policies might place in the way.

What are we left with?

Legalization and regulation.

By legalizing drugs, we remove the financial incentives. Legal substances have lower margins. Legal substances have better quality. Legal substances are subject to taxation and oversight.

The costs to society for legalization are far less than what's been paid thus far for prohibition. The benefits are incalculable and might just deal a fatal blow to those organizations inured to the profits prohibition has created, namely the Drug Cartels.

Dramatic times call for dramatic measures.

Meat consumption linked to dramatic risk of cancer and heart disease. Just say no to meat.

A fun new study paints a grim picture of the long-term consequences of red meat consumption.

Apparently, eating red meat increases the risk of cancer and heart disease dramatically. Women suffer an increased likelihood of death as a result, moreso than the risk men face.

Men increase their risk of cancer by about 25%. Women increase their risk about 50%.

This is dramatic.

Another call for vegetarianism.

Obama giving up the macho in favor of the smart approach to Iran.

I would like to point out that President Obama's approach to Iran is exactly what is needed.

For far too long the U.S. has tried to bully and threaten its way to a solution with the Islamist nation--all to little effect.

I would also like to point out that I suggested just such an approach in an earlier post on this blog.

Being the big dog on the block gives us ample strength without us needing to strut around and tell everyone about how great we are. Previous administrations and our most recent Republican nominee for president pursued the same agenda: Talk tough and be tough.

It didn't work, except at the polls. The message lost on all the talk tough crowd is that being macho and being smart are mutually exclusive endeavors. This is why you don't find big tough rednecks on Jeopardy and why you don't find pointy-headed nerds on the football field.

Obama's nuanced approach to Iran creates an untenable situation for the mullahs. The "Great Satan" ceases to motivate when the U.S. is extending a hand in peace. The youthful Iranian population wants to participate in the world at large. The restraints placed on them by their reactionary leaders generates increased discontent when the "Great Satan" is perceived as the "Great Peace-Maker".

Obama's approach boxes in the Iranian leadership between moribund rhetoric and youthful population bristling under the reactionary yoke of oppression. Strategically, it's brilliant.

Kudos to Obama for being smart instead of macho.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Running may be better for us than once thought. Good news.

Here's some very good news for me and the millions of other runners out there.

I've been a runner for over 20 years. Running keeps me sane and stable.

For the past few years, I've worried that I must give up my running to preserve my joints and bones.

This study suggests that I need not worry and keep to the road.

I think I'll celebrate by running.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Legal profession fills in the gap where government oversight is scant

When politicians complain about lawyers ruining America or some right-wing idiot blathers about trial lawyers hurting the medical profession or so on, stories like this provide the real value lawyers bring to society--quasi-regulators.

I'll be the first to complain when some lawyer goes too far. However, the legal profession is not defined by some outlier of a lawsuit, regardless of how newsworthy it may be. Lord knows that the media reports the stupid lawsuits, but ignores the millions of stupid cases most lawyers refuse to file.

This present case highlights the legal profession's role in protecting the public.

Who else protects the public from unscrupulous sorts when government neglects its obligation to protect consumers taken in by unfair trade practices?

Lawyers stand as society's safeguard against companies and individuals that profit by externalizing costs to the public's detriment.

You'll note that those complaining about trial lawyers do so as a pretext for complaining about the true costs of doing good business. Good business factors in all the costs of doing business, not just the quickest way to make a buck.

If a business can't survive without externalizing their costs, then, economically, it loses any claim as a viable concern and more resembles organized crime--the height of extreme cost externalization.

Profitability based on cutting corners is artificial. The rest of society must absorb those costs to ensure the continued existence of extreme eternalizers.

The complexity of our economy militates against a purely caveat emptor business system. Demanding that every consumer evaluate fully every commercial decision to maintain profitability defies reason and can't possibly be an effective approach.

Arguing otherwise is tantamount to arguing for a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive. Fortunately, social darwinism as a social model has long been discredited as an effective policy. Besides few people want what amounts to plutocracy anyway.

Lawsuits re-balance the equities created when producers exploit informational inequities in society for profit by taxing the costs to those best able to prevent them and those best able to bear them---the producers.

China will learn the meaning of good business after our legal profession gets done with them.

Good thing too.