Thursday, September 03, 2009

Reading What Smart People Write About Health Care


Ever since the two prominent Detroit papers decided that 3-day per week delivery was sufficient and that most people would be happy reading their newspapers online, I have acquired some new hardcopy subscriptions including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and Forbes... among others.

One of my sons suggested that I subscribe to The New York Times, but I've found that publication to be New York centric [obviously] and quite a bit full of itself... although I keep an online feed on my Google homepage and read it daily. It seems to be the Vogue or Vanity Fair of the newspaper set... lots of fluff and questionable content. The business publications, on the other hand, are read by people who are putting their money where their mouths are. They don't want a lot of pseudo-philosophical-scientific babbling; they want facts and analyses that are derived from those facts... not political preconceptions.

For example, Forbes had this interesting opinion from David Furness is head of strategic development at the Social Market Foundation.

The truth is that the perfect healthcare system does not exist -- each country reflects its own social priorities. There is no right answer, especially as healthcare budgets continue to rise across the developed world. In the United States, universal coverage is sacrificed in favor of individual choice and control. Voters are worried that a government run system may deny them their choice of doctor or drug, or even see granny up before a "death panel." In the U.K., while universal access is a core principle, survival rates from serious diseases lag behind those of other developed countries and choice for patients is extraordinarily limited.

Read more....

In that same issue, Rich Karlgaard, Forbes publisher wrote a piece called "Our Health Care Crisis: Age, Obesity, Lawyers."

Age, obesity and defensive medicine are the trillion-dollar elephants in the room. Whether your preference for health care reform springs from the political left or right, you have to start with these three facts. Otherwise, you're just a political bloviator.

Read more....
Forbes even gives "air time" to those you might least expect to receive it.

Which country do you admire most for its health system?

I can't claim to be an expert. All I can say is that I remember when the National Health Service was coming in. I was in Parliament with health minister [and founder of the NHS] Nye Bevan, and I think it has worked very well. When Mrs. Thatcher said the NHS was "safe in our hands," it was recognition by her that people liked it and wanted it to be saved.

What do you say to people who say the NHS is a socialistic system?

I don't see it in ideological terms. I know in America there are a lot of people, including my wife who is American, who have been denied medical care because they lost their jobs. I worry for them, and I see in this country that there are no anxieties of this character. That's how I see it--in a very practical way.

Read more....

Sorry, The New York Times, but your politically biased Obama's-the-Way,-the-Truth,-and-the-Light "news" doesn't do much more than give me a headache... or grist for this.

By the way, in case you think that I just joined the discussion on health care issues, especially government managed and controlled health care systems, read this. I was correct then and I believe what I have written recently is correct as well.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)