Re: Health Care costs (was: the same topic all week)

2008-10-31 Thread Ronn! Blankenship
At 06:39 PM Thursday 10/30/2008, John Williams wrote:
Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]


  Some rules, of course, if the aim is universal health care.  That doesn't
  make the government the provider or administrator of the service.

If all the money has to go through the government, it is inevitable 
that a large
and complicated set of rules will be created, modified, amended, and grown
to frightening degree.



See frex the Federal money Washington gives to school 
systems:  talk to the principal or other administrators in your local 
school or school district about the regulations they must follow and 
paperwork they must submit in order to get the money.  In higher 
education, there are colleges and universities which have chosen not 
to participate in Federal financial aid programs for their students 
because the money comes with strings which the administration finds 
unacceptable.  Or consider frex when the minimum legal drinking age 
was raised back to 21 after being at 18 for a few years:  the Feds 
told the states that any state which did not pass a law raising the 
drinking age to 21 would have its Federal highway funds cut 
off.  IOW, if the money goes through Washington, Washington will 
dictate how those who receive it must do business in order to keep 
receiving money.



These rules will constrain both the suppliers and the consumers, and will
effectively result in inefficient government control of health care. 
It will create
a system devoid of the give and take of consumers shopping around trying
to find the best supplier for what they need at the best price, and suppliers
competing and innovating to provide the consumers what they need. Instead
the government will oversee some bloated,  generalized menu of products
that does not meet the needs of many consumers and offers little incentive
for the suppliers to innovate to meet the needs of the consumers. 
This is what
happens when the government gets involved involved in a complicated system.
There is no way for the government to replace the specific knowledge and time
of millions of consumers and thousands of suppliers individually 
interacting in
order to continuously evolve a system that meets the needs of all the players.

  Government can set rules without taking operational control of an industry.

It could happen. So could a meteor taking out New York on Halloween.
I'm not holding my breath.




. . . ronn!  :)



___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Government interference further screws up housing market

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/business/31bailout.html?_r=1oref=slogin

Quotes about some of the pervese incentives the government has created:

Why am I being punished for having bought a house I could afford? I am  
beginning to think I would have rocks in my head if I keep paying my mortgage
Todd Lawrence, homeowner, outside Norwich, Conn.

  If the lunch truly is free, the demand for free lunches will be large.
Paul McCulley, PIMCO

If the government says, 'Prove that you can't afford your houseese and 
we'll redo your mortgage,' then people are going to try to qualify
Peter Schiff, President of Euro Pacific Capital

   I guess they are forcing me to deliberately stop paying to look worse than 
I am. Crazy, don't you think?
Anonymous Countrywide borrower, Los Angeles


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Don't Just Do Something. Stand There.

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122541582835686689.html

Don't Just Do Something. Stand There.

by Russell Roberts

.

A recession is coming (or has already arrived) no matter what happens in 
Washington. The question is whether the attempt to forestall it is going
to make it worse and turn it into another Great Depression.

By acting without rhyme or reason, politicians have destroyed the rules 
of the game. There is no reason to invest, no reason to take risk, no
reason to be prudent, no reason to look for buyers if your firm is
failing. Everything is up in the air and as a result, the only prudent 
policy is to wait and see what the government will do next. The frenetic 
efforts of FDR had the same impact: Net investment was negative through
much of the 1930s.

The next administration is unlikely to do any better. Mr. Bernanke is 
perhaps the greatest living authority on the Great Depression, yet
he has failed to stem the damage. Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke are 
confronted with a sick patient. They have antibiotics. They have a
scalpel. But is there any evidence from the last seven months that they
understand the underlying cause of the illness, or how to cure it?

Worst of all are the political incentives that are unleashed when 
Washington promises to spend a trillion dollars (and counting). No 
one can spend such money wisely even if they want to. The information
about who needs to be bailed out and who needs to fail is too
complicated. Inevitably, such decisions will begin to be more about
politics than economics.

The banks were first. Then the insurance companies. The car makers 
are getting a cut. Who's next? The governors, probably. Homeowners 
are waiting. Then there will be the hedge funds. Once the line forms,
companies will stop trying to save themselves and focus on being saved 
by Washington. The resulting spiral will be devastating.

Unfortunately, there is no consensus about a preferable alternative. The 
economists are almost as clueless as the politicians. At such a time,
inaction may be the wisest course of action.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Where's My Bailout?

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Where's My Bailout?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9nk8XwHbS4


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Lance A. Brown
John Williams wrote:
 It is obvious that no system is perfect. No matter whether it is a
 centrally controlled system, or a completely decentralized system,
 there will be decisions made by people, and people do make mistakes.
 I'd rather have a fault-tolerant system that tends to evolve toward
 greater efficiency. With central control, the mistakes tend to be
 coordinated and are capable of destabilizing the entire system. With
 a diverse, decentralized system, there will be plenty of mistakes, 
 but they will tend to be uncorrelated and while you may see some
 local failures, most of the system will continue unabated. And as a
 bonus, the decentralized system is effectively a massively parallel
 set of experiments that, through trial and error, can result in
 evolution towards a more efficient system.

I've been following this discussion and something about this argument
was nagging at me, but I wasn't sure what.  Now I think I've figured it
out:  You are assuming everyone is a rational actor.

You argue that diverse decentralized systems work better because
mistakes are uncorrelated and failures are localized.  In a perfect
world, I think you may be correct, but we don't live in a perfect world.

Instead, we are faced with actors who will collude with each other to
manipulate markets, subvert systems, and for the short term gain without
regard to long-term consequences.

Some social contract is necessary to curb these activities and some
level of government regulation can provide that contract.

--[Lance]

-- 
 GPG Fingerprint: 409B A409 A38D 92BF 15D9 6EEE 9A82 F2AC 69AC 07B9
 CACert.org Assurer
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 John Williams wrote:
  there will be decisions made by people, and people do make mistakes.

 You are assuming everyone is a rational actor.

By no means is everyone a rational actor. People make mistakes, act
emotionally instead of rationally, and generally tend to screw things up.
Politicians especially.

 You argue that diverse decentralized systems work better because
 mistakes are uncorrelated and failures are localized.

This is too strong, sorry if I overstated. Mistakes are less correlated
and failures are more localized, relative to government control which
tends to create strong, long-range correlations.

 Instead, we are faced with actors who will collude with each other to
 manipulate markets, subvert systems, and for the short term gain without
 regard to long-term consequences.

Definitely. Such actors exist in government, as well. In fact, they dominate
government.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Franklin Delano Bush

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Dear Editor:

Your equating George W. Bush with FDR is spot-on (Franklin
Delano Bush, October 20).  Both presidents recklessly increased
government's role in the economy - a move that proved (in FDR's
case) and will prove (in Bush's case) to do nothing but saturate the
economy with such uncertainty as to frighten away entrepreneurs and
investors.

But popular history will almost surely remember Bush, not as a
second FDR, but as a second Herbert Hoover.  The myth will be made
that Bush was a staunch free-marketeer who was succeeded in the
Oval Office by a charismatic saint whose hyperactive interventions
saved the economy (even though precious little evidence of economic
salvation will appear in the data).  History will forget Bush's
interventions just as it has forgotten Hoover's - as it has
forgotten that Hoover signed the largest tariff hike in U.S.
history; as it has forgotten that Hoover tried to create jobs by
deporting hundreds of thousands of Mexicans; as it has forgotten
that Hoover signed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, the
Federal Home Loan Bank Act, and created the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation; as it has forgotten that, with the Revenue Act of 1932,
Hoover raised the top marginal tax rate on personal incomes from
25 percent to 63 percent (in addition to raising the corporate-tax
rate).

History will repeat itself, blaming capitalism for a problem caused
and intensified by government interventions.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Lance A. Brown
John Williams wrote:
 Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 
 
 John Williams wrote:
 there will be decisions made by people, and people do make mistakes.
 
 You are assuming everyone is a rational actor.
 
 By no means is everyone a rational actor. People make mistakes, act
 emotionally instead of rationally, and generally tend to screw things up.
 Politicians especially.
 
 You argue that diverse decentralized systems work better because
 mistakes are uncorrelated and failures are localized.
 
 This is too strong, sorry if I overstated. Mistakes are less correlated
 and failures are more localized, relative to government control which
 tends to create strong, long-range correlations.

I'm not sure I agree that mistakes are smaller (less correlated/more
localized).  What's different between the ability of government actors
to make large mistakes vs. the ability of private actors to make
large mistakes?  Scale-wise, it seems to me that there are several
sets of private actors that can generate errors as large or larger than
the government can or has.

 
 Instead, we are faced with actors who will collude with each other to
 manipulate markets, subvert systems, and for the short term gain without
 regard to long-term consequences.
 
 Definitely. Such actors exist in government, as well. In fact, they dominate
 government.

You're saying there are bad actors all around, then. So what is the
answer?  Can there be a balance point between two sets of bad actors
(government vs. private)?

John, you consistently argue for less government regulation, but I don't
recall reading your ideas of what should replace government regulation.
 What are your positive arguments?

--[Lance]

-- 
 GPG Fingerprint: 409B A409 A38D 92BF 15D9 6EEE 9A82 F2AC 69AC 07B9
 CACert.org Assurer
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]

 What's different between the ability of government actors
 to make large mistakes vs. the ability of private actors to make
 large mistakes?

Government legally requires actors to behave in certain ways. Private
actors must use more subtle means.

 John, you consistently argue for less government regulation, but I don't
 recall reading your ideas of what should replace government regulation.

Good recall!


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Scale-wise, it seems to me that there are several
 sets of private actors that can generate errors as large or larger than
 the government can or has.

What private actor can control $1 trillion dollars in bailouts?

Even on a local level, look at the vast amounts of money controlled by
politicians as compared to private actors. 

For example, Orange county, California, has a budget of about $6 
billion, managed by five county supervisors. $1,200,000,000 per person
per year! That is just one county! Only the largest corporations have 
anywhere near that amount of money to throw around, and their boards 
and top management are much more than5 people.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]


Scale-wise, it seems to me that there are several
 sets of private actors that can generate errors as large or larger than
 the government can or has.

Another example is Congress. It looks likely that the Federal government
will spend more than $4 trillion this year. That comes to about
$7,500,000,000.00 per congressperson in one year. And very likely 
about the same amount in the coming years. Name even 10 private actors
that can spend $7.5 billion per year indefinitely.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Lance A. Brown
John Williams wrote:
 Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 
 What's different between the ability of government actors
 to make large mistakes vs. the ability of private actors to make
 large mistakes?
 
 Government legally requires actors to behave in certain ways. Private
 actors must use more subtle means.

Private actors, with the bounds of government regulation, often have
access to potent coercive tactics nearly as strong, if not stronger,
than the force of law.

 John, you consistently argue for less government regulation, but I don't
 recall reading your ideas of what should replace government regulation.
 
 Good recall!

I'm done with this conversation since you ducked my question about what
should replace government regulation.  If you want to have a
conversation about what can/should be used instead of government
regulation, let's do it.  Otherwise I'm done.

--[Lance]
-- 
 GPG Fingerprint: 409B A409 A38D 92BF 15D9 6EEE 9A82 F2AC 69AC 07B9
 CACert.org Assurer
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Bruce Bostwick
On Oct 31, 2008, at 12:20 PM, Lance A. Brown wrote:

 I'm done with this conversation since you ducked my question about  
 what
 should replace government regulation.  If you want to have a
 conversation about what can/should be used instead of government
 regulation, let's do it.  Otherwise I'm done.

I'm with you there.  I dropped out of most of these when one  
conversation reached the point of suggesting that government  
regulation, and not the 1920's equivalent of particularly clueless day  
traders, caused the Great Depression.  When the conversation goes to  
places like that, I'm through following it, and to be honest, I'm  
tired of the repetition of one answer to every problem, because some  
things are just not nails.


___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Bruce Bostwick
On Oct 31, 2008, at 12:37 PM, Bruce Bostwick wrote:

 On Oct 31, 2008, at 12:20 PM, Lance A. Brown wrote:

 I'm done with this conversation since you ducked my question about
 what
 should replace government regulation.  If you want to have a
 conversation about what can/should be used instead of government
 regulation, let's do it.  Otherwise I'm done.

 I'm with you there.  I dropped out of most of these when one
 conversation reached the point of suggesting that government
 regulation, and not the 1920's equivalent of particularly clueless day
 traders, caused the Great Depression.  When the conversation goes to
 places like that, I'm through following it, and to be honest, I'm
 tired of the repetition of one answer to every problem, because some
 things are just not nails.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_hammer


___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Bruce Bostwick [EMAIL PROTECTED]

 tired of the repetition of one answer to every problem, because some  
 things are just not nails.

Government regulations are definitely not nails. Ticking time bombs
would be a better metaphor.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 I'm done with this conversation since you ducked my question about what
 should replace government regulation.

I'll answer that if you answer my question:

How can I predict what the stock market will do over the next year?


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Bruce Bostwick [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 I dropped out of most of these when one  
 conversation reached the point of suggesting that government  
 regulation, and not the 1920's equivalent of particularly clueless day  
 traders, caused the Great Depression.

I don't blame you. It can be devastating to find that one's faith in political
gods was misplaced. Denial is human nature.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Nick Arnett
On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 10:13 AM, John Williams
[EMAIL PROTECTED]wrote:


 Another example is Congress. It looks likely that the Federal government
 will spend more than $4 trillion this year. That comes to about
 $7,500,000,000.00 per congressperson in one year. And very likely
 about the same amount in the coming years. Name even 10 private actors
 that can spend $7.5 billion per year indefinitely.


This is a ridiculous argument.  You could just as easily say that the CEO of
General Motors spends $172 billion all by himself.  But GM has more than a
quarter of a million employees and many, many of them participate in the
decisions about how their budget is used.  And the chairman of GM works for
its board of directors and stockholders, which is a far smaller group to
answer to than the American people.

The federal government is much more than just Congress.  And Congress' power
to determine how money is spent has some significant limits.  They can
allocate it, but in the end, the executive branch actually has to go out and
spend it...and some departments, such as DoD, have almost complete
discretion on how to spend it, or, more importantly, how not to spend it.

Nick
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]


  You could just as easily say that the CEO of
 General Motors spends $172 billion all by himself. 

That is ridiculous. GM's average annual profit over 1998 to 2004 (about
a Senate term) was $3.2 billion (they lost money the past 4 years). There
are 14 people on the board of directors. That comes to $229 million per
person. You are mistaken by a factor of nearly 1000 times. 


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Nick Arnett
On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 11:26 AM, John Williams
[EMAIL PROTECTED]wrote:

 Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]


   You could just as easily say that the CEO of
  General Motors spends $172 billion all by himself.

 That is ridiculous. GM's average annual profit over 1998 to 2004 (about
 a Senate term) was $3.2 billion (they lost money the past 4 years). There
 are 14 people on the board of directors. That comes to $229 million per
 person. You are mistaken by a factor of nearly 1000 times.


You're flailing, man.  You want to compare one organization's profits to
another organization's revenue!!!

This from the guy who accused somebody else of being unable to read a
financial statement.

Pot, meet kettle.

Nick
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]

 You want to compare one organization's profits to
 another organization's revenue!!!

The Federal budget is not equivalent to corporate revenue. The corporation
is only free to spend the profits, unless they want to go bankrupt quickly.
And the corporations are severely constrained by laws and government
regulations on how they can spend their profits.

The Federal government has virtually no chance of going bankrupt, and they
make the laws on how the money may be spent. They can spend every dollar
of our tax money in any way they desire, and even raise taxes if they want
more.

But even granting your ridiculous claim of $172 billion, that comes to $12 
billion
per board member. 14 board members. And you have chosen the second biggest
corporation in America. Now you only need to name 521 more people with that
kind of spending power to match Congress. If you can do that, then
we can talk about hundreds of state legislators and county supervisors.

 This from the guy who accused somebody else of being unable to read a
 financial statement.

LOL. You've got me there. I don't have your experience with losing money
in the housing market or extensive experience with the running of failing
businesses.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Franklin Delano Bush

2008-10-31 Thread Olin Elliott
Your equating George W. Bush with FDR is spot-on (Franklin
Delano Bush, October 20).  Both presidents recklessly increased
government's role in the economy 

This seems to me a pretty silly and a-historical comparison.  The problems in 
the economy at the moment are not the fault of recklessly increased 
government intervention, but of the reckless de-regulation of industries and 
the stupid policy of allowing some private enterprises to become so large and 
control such a large percentage of the ecomony, without any effective oversight 
or regulation, that their success or failure effects the well being of everyone 
in the country. Any institution that is that large and has that much power to 
effect the well being of so many people is no longer a private concern.   And 
when Roosevelt interceded in the economy, he did so with massive work and 
welfare programs aimed at protecting the weakest and most negatively impacted 
portions of society -- the poor.  I haven't seen anything like that from Bush.  
Perhaps its not capitalism that deserves the blame for this, but it is 
certainly the case that the free-market fundamentalists have had
  their chance to put their policies into practice and see the results. Even 
Greenspan, the high priest of the free market and Laissez-faire policies, 
admits that there is a flaw in the way he thought the world worked.  His recent 
testimony reminded me of the scene from Casablanca where Louie says I am 
shocked, shocked to find out there is gambling going on in here.

Comparing Bush to FDR is a superficial, empty comparison.

Olin
  - Original Message - 
  From: John Williamsmailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
  To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussionmailto:brin-l@mccmedia.com 
  Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 9:07 AM
  Subject: Franklin Delano Bush


  Dear Editor:

  Your equating George W. Bush with FDR is spot-on (Franklin
  Delano Bush, October 20).  Both presidents recklessly increased
  government's role in the economy - a move that proved (in FDR's
  case) and will prove (in Bush's case) to do nothing but saturate the
  economy with such uncertainty as to frighten away entrepreneurs and
  investors.

  But popular history will almost surely remember Bush, not as a
  second FDR, but as a second Herbert Hoover.  The myth will be made
  that Bush was a staunch free-marketeer who was succeeded in the
  Oval Office by a charismatic saint whose hyperactive interventions
  saved the economy (even though precious little evidence of economic
  salvation will appear in the data).  History will forget Bush's
  interventions just as it has forgotten Hoover's - as it has
  forgotten that Hoover signed the largest tariff hike in U.S.
  history; as it has forgotten that Hoover tried to create jobs by
  deporting hundreds of thousands of Mexicans; as it has forgotten
  that Hoover signed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, the
  Federal Home Loan Bank Act, and created the Reconstruction Finance
  Corporation; as it has forgotten that, with the Revenue Act of 1932,
  Hoover raised the top marginal tax rate on personal incomes from
  25 percent to 63 percent (in addition to raising the corporate-tax
  rate).

  History will repeat itself, blaming capitalism for a problem caused
  and intensified by government interventions.

  Sincerely,
  Donald J. Boudreaux




  ___
  
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-lhttp://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Nick Arnett
On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 11:53 AM, John Williams
[EMAIL PROTECTED]wrote:


 The Federal budget is not equivalent to corporate revenue. The corporation
 is only free to spend the profits, unless they want to go bankrupt quickly.


Companies aren't allowed to spend their revenue???  What do they have to do
with it, put it under the mattress?

What planet are you writing from?

At this point, the discussion is so absurd that I think I will join the
masses who have departed it.

Nick
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 Companies aren't allowed to spend their revenue???  What do they have to do
 with it, put it under the mattress?

They must use most of it to fund continuing operations which are necessary for
next year's profit.

The only continuing operations of the government that are necessary for next
year's tax dollars are the IRS. Feel free to subtract the IRS expenses from
tax revenue to arrive at Federal profits.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Nick Arnett [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 11:53 AM, John Williamswrote:

  Now you only need to name 521 more people with that
  kind of spending power to match Congress. If you can do that, then
  we can talk about hundreds of state legislators and county supervisors.

 At this point, the discussion is so absurd that I think I will join the
 masses who have departed it.

I don't blame you for being unable to name 521 more people with the
spending power of Congresspeople. I would have been surprised if
you could name a few hundred. No need to be ashamed of ducking
out of the challenge.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Franklin Delano Bush

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams


Olin Elliott [EMAIL PROTECTED]

 Don Bodreaux wrote:
 Your equating George W. Bush with FDR is spot-on (Franklin
 Delano Bush, October 20).  Both presidents recklessly increased
 government's role in the economy 

By the way, I forgot to include a link to the editorial Don was responding to
above:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/20/franklin-delano-bush/

 Any institution that is that large and has that much power to 
 effect the well being of so many people is no longer a private concern.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were heavily influenced by government's wishes,
and they did not avoid failure. Where is the evidence that the government can
fix everything?

 And when Roosevelt interceded in the economy, he did so with massive work and 
 welfare programs aimed at protecting the weakest and most negatively impacted 
 portions of society -- the poor.

And sent unemployment to nearly 25%. Good intentions are no substitute for good
decisions. Roosevelt's policies were disastrous for the poor.

 Perhaps its not capitalism that deserves the blame for this, but it is 
 certainly 
 the case that the free-market fundamentalists have had
   their chance to put their policies into practice and see the results.

Unfortunately, no, the experiment has not been performed. There is no period in
recent history where we had anything close to the lack of government 
interference
that free-market fundamentalists advocate.

 Even Greenspan, the high priest of the free market and Laissez-faire 
 policies, 

No, Greenspan was a federal regulator for years. No free-market fundamentalist
would consider a federal regulator to be their high priest.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Obama and the 'Drug Killer'

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/10/30/obama-drug-medicine-oped-cx_ch_1031hooper.html

Obama And The 'Drug Killer'
Charles Hooper 10.31.08, 12:00 AM ET

One of the unpleasant things I do as a consultant is recommend 
that pharmaceutical firms halt the production of uneconomical new 
medicines. I'm a drug killer.

If American voters hand Barack Obama the presidency and a 
filibuster-proof Democratic Congress, I'll be doing a lot more of this
unhappy work.

Say a biotech company is developing a new drug for breast cancer. My 
consulting firm, Objective Insights, looks at the financial value of
the project. If the expected value--probability-adjusted value--of
the project is negative, we suggest discontinuing development. Often,
millions of dollars have already been spent.

A lot of new medicines are tossed into the trash for reasons that 
have nothing to do with safety and efficacy. We have helped kill
drugs for brain cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, hemophilia and
other debilitating conditions. It breaks my heart. But we would never
recommend that a company knowingly lose money unless some other crucial,
nonfinancial objective was being achieved.

The economics are daunting. A study by Joseph DiMasi, an economist at 
the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development in Boston, found 
that the cost of getting one new drug approved was $802 million in 2000
U.S. dollars, or $1.02 billion in 2008 dollars. Most new drugs cost
much less, but his figure adds in the expense of each successful drug's
prorated share of failures.

.

As I wrote in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: What complicates 
the picture is socialized medicine, which exists in almost every country
outside the United States and even, with Medicare and Medicaid, in the
United States. Because governments in countries with socialized medicine
tend to be the sole bargaining agent in dealing with drug companies,
these governments often set prices that are low by U.S. standards. This 
comes about because these governments have monopsony power--that is,
monopoly power on the buyer's side--and they use this power to get good
deals. These governments are, in effect, saying that if they can't buy
it cheaply, their citizens can't get it.

Drugs are not too expensive in the U.S.; they're artificially cheap 
elsewhere. It's also not much of an exaggeration to say that new drugs
are developed for, and as a result of, the American market because of
its pricing flexibility.

Every person benefits when drug companies have an incentive to invest 
in the public good of pharmaceutical research and development. But each
individual government looks out for its narrow interests--for one, to
negotiate a low drug price for its own citizens and let people in other
countries pay the high prices that generate the return on research and
development investments.

Each government, in other words, has an incentive to be a free 
rider. And that's what many of them are doing today. The temptation 
in this country, especially among liberals, is to stop Americans from
bearing more than their share of drug development by having the U.S.
government set low prices. But if Americans try to get a free ride,
there might not be a ride at all. There will certainly be fewer new
drugs on the market.

If Obama is elected, I'll be killing a lot more drugs. And neither you 
nor your physician, whose preferences are insignificant in the eyes of
the government, will have any choice in the matter.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Wayne Eddy

- Original Message - 
From: John Williams [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2008 4:06 AM
Subject: Re: Health Care (the same damn topic all f-ing week!~)


 Bruce Bostwick [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 I dropped out of most of these when one
 conversation reached the point of suggesting that government
 regulation, and not the 1920's equivalent of particularly clueless day
 traders, caused the Great Depression.

 I don't blame you. It can be devastating to find that one's faith in 
 political
 gods was misplaced. Denial is human nature.

I don't recall anyone on the list suggesting that democracy is godlike in 
its effectiveness.
I think and I imagine most others on the list would agree that democracy is 
flawed, but that it is at least marginally beter than most if not all of the 
other alternatives, and certainly better than anarchy.

Has anyone got any suggestions for a better political system?

Regards,

Wayne Eddy


___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Bruce Bostwick
On Oct 31, 2008, at 3:50 PM, Wayne Eddy wrote:

 Has anyone got any suggestions for a better political system?

Replace our election system with a lottery, and just draft our leaders?

Not sure that wouldn't be better, given the notably dodgy integrity of  
our current (pre- and post-HAVA) election system and its vulnerability  
to charismatic but clueless candidates ..


___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Wayne Eddy [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 Has anyone got any suggestions for a better political system?

Smaller and cheaper.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Wayne Eddy

- Original Message - 
From: John Williams [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2008 7:07 AM
Subject: Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing 
week!~)


 Wayne Eddy [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 Has anyone got any suggestions for a better political system?

 Smaller and cheaper.

How does the smaller  cheaper political system work?



___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Democracy

2008-10-31 Thread Jon Louis Mann
 Has anyone got any suggestions 
 for a better political system?

Benevolent fascism?~)
Jon


  
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Wayne Eddy [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 How does the smaller  cheaper political system work?

Badly, but less so.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Wayne Eddy
- Original Message - 
From: John Williams [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2008 8:03 AM
Subject: Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing 
week!~)


 Wayne Eddy [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 How does the smaller  cheaper political system work?

 Badly, but less so.

I was interested in the mechanics of the system, not the result, but never 
mind.

What about a system made up of a number of member states with various 
constitutions, with a higher federal level above consisting of a 
representative from each of the 13 member states.

The federal level would have very limited power  responsibilities, 
including:
1. Measuring the happiness of the inhabitants of the citizens of each of the 
member states.
2. Mediating disputes between the states.
3. Every X years replacing the consititution of the state with the greatest 
drop or smallest increase in average happiness with a constitution based on 
the constitution of the state with the greatest recorded happiness level, 
but with one modification.

The modfication could be selected from a list of options submitted by the 
citizens of the state due to have its consitution modified.

The above system would tend to be self improving would it not? 

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Democracy (was Health Care / The same damn topic all f-ing week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread John Williams
Wayne Eddy [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 What about a system made up of a number of member states with various 
 constitutions, with a higher federal level above consisting of a 
 representative from each of the 13 member states.

Nice start, but why only 13 member states?  :-)

 The federal level would have very limited power  responsibilities, 
 including:
 1. Measuring the happiness of the inhabitants of the citizens of each of the 
 member states.
 2. Mediating disputes between the states.
 3. Every X years replacing the consititution of the state with the greatest 
 drop or smallest increase in average happiness with a constitution based on 
 the constitution of the state with the greatest recorded happiness level, 
 but with one modification.

1) Why trust the government with measuring something as abstract as
happiness, if it can be measured at all? I don't think I'd trust even my
closest friends and family to measure my happiness.

3) An outside authority comes in and tells all the people living in the state, 
we are going to change all the major laws of your land, but don't
worry, it is for your own good, we want to make you happier! Oh, and we'll
let you choose one law for yourself, since we value your freedom.

Just let people live where they want to and leave them alone.

 The above system would tend to be self improving would it not? 

I'd guess there would be riots if not outright revolutions.


  

___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Happy Halloween

2008-10-31 Thread Nick Arnett
As the trick-or-treater came by tonight, I found myself tonight remembering
going to the Isaly's house on Halloween and getting Klondike bars with
pumpkin pie flavored centers... Mmmm.  The Isaly's company invented the
Klondike bar... and at Christmas, we'd go caroling and they'd give us
Klondikes with mint, tree-shaped centers.

Mmmm.

Nostalgic Nick
___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l


Re: Health Care (the same topic all week!~)

2008-10-31 Thread Ronn! Blankenship
At 11:05 AM Friday 10/31/2008, John Williams wrote:
Lance A. Brown [EMAIL PROTECTED]


  John Williams wrote:
   there will be decisions made by people, and people do make mistakes.

  You are assuming everyone is a rational actor.

By no means is everyone a rational actor. People make mistakes, act
emotionally instead of rationally, and generally tend to screw things up.
Politicians especially.

  You argue that diverse decentralized systems work better because
  mistakes are uncorrelated and failures are localized.

This is too strong, sorry if I overstated. Mistakes are less correlated
and failures are more localized, relative to government control which
tends to create strong, long-range correlations.

  Instead, we are faced with actors who will collude with each other to
  manipulate markets, subvert systems, and for the short term gain without
  regard to long-term consequences.

Definitely. Such actors exist in government, as well. In fact, they dominate
government.



Which is a big reason why some (including some who do not get health 
insurance through their employers and cannot afford to purchase it 
themselves) are so leery of putting the government in charge (either 
directly or indirectly by holding the purse strings) of anything as 
important as medical care.


. . . ronn!  :)



___
http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l