"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Healthy San Francisco: Poor Prognosis

San Francisco recently instituted a beta version of a city-wide Universal Health Care plan aimed at covering the city's roughly 82,000 uninsured. The SF Chronicle is reporting on the "success" of the program on the basis that they enrolled their 1,000th member (the cap) earlier than anticipated. Personally, I don't find it surprising that people clammored to get something free. Anyone who's ever been to free bobble-head night at phone-company-stadium knows that.

The program is expected to cost $200 million annually, a figure which California Conservative has a few choice thoughts about.
Quick math: $200MM/82,000 = $2,440/per person/annually.

Now, let’s say we’re just talking about only needing a checkup, basic yearly physical. Throw in dentist and optometrist visit. What does that come to? $300/per visit = $900. Let’s round it up to $1000. That leaves $1,400+ being applied elsewhere. Where? More bureaucracy
Unfortunately it's not that simple. On average, health care spending in the US is on the order of $6,500 per person. Thus, to insure those 82,000 would cost over half a billion dollars. That doesn't include the inevitable expansion of the program, considering it doesn't exclude on the basis of immigration status.

And now we've reached the crux of the situation. San Francisco could not manage to impose such massive tax increases at once. So, the program has been initiated with very limited coverage. I anticipate that every year the city will add to the list of services, all at a cost to taxpayers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the Draft

There has been a lot of talk of the reintroduction of the draft in the near future consequent to the "Iraq War Czar", Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, stating that it be "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it". President Bush has consistently stated--and has repeated as of late--that he opposes the institution a draft. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to send a letter to President Bush asking him to clarify his position. Barack Obama has jumped on board with this opportunistic questioning, as well.

I have always opposed the draft, because I feel that it is a stunningly inappropriate way to enlist people. Today, Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame has a great explanation of why a military draft doesn't make sense from an ecocnomics standpoint.
The idea that a draft presents a reasonable solution is completely backwards. First, it puts the “wrong” people in the military — people who are either uninterested in a military life, not well equipped for one, or who put a very high value on doing something else. From an economic perspective, those are all decent reasons for not wanting to be in the military. (I understand that there are other perspectives — for example, a sense of debt or duty to one’s country — but if a person feels that way, it will be factored into his or her interest in military life.)
One thing markets are good at is allocating people to tasks. They accomplish this through wages. As such, we should pay U.S. soldiers a fair wage to compensate them for the risks they take! A draft is essentially a large, very concentrated tax on those who are drafted.
Obviously the draft is a bad idea, and fortunately it is one that President Bush has opposed. What's not clear is why Clinton and Obama didn't make such a fuss when Rep. Rangel proposed the reinstitution of the Draft

Cross Posted at 123Beta

Sunday, August 12, 2007

MoveOn et. al. Attack FoxNews Advertisers

From Foxnews.com,
MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like DailyKos.com are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.

...

The groups want to first concentrate on businesses running local ads, as opposed to national commercials.

"It's a lot more effective for Sam's Diner to get calls from 10 people in his town than going to the consumer complaint department of some pharmaceutical company," Gilliam said.
Funny, I thought it was the Bush Administration that was silencing critics (although I've never heard how exactly they are doing this). I don't particularly care for Fox News, so I don't watch it. However, these liberal groups are apparently not content to simply not watch Fox News, they feel the need to punish those small businesses that advertise on the network. Of course, Adam Green, the spokesman for Moveon.org says "We're not trying to silence anybody." That is, of course, completely bogus and transparent.

Romney Wins Ames

Not a surprise, to be sure, but another accomplishment for the Presidential hopeful. I think it helps boost a campaign that has lost a lot of its earlier momentum, and I hope that this will show people around the country that Romney really has what it takes to be our next President.

I was also glad to see Mike Huckabee do so well, coming in second place. While I'm not convinced that he has what it takes to win a general election, I really like Mike. I think he should be on all of the top tier's radar as a potential running mate.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Government can save Detroit by butting out

Dick Morris has some criticism for Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority in congress, stating that they have failed to address the issues they criticised Republicans over. He specifically states their failure to address a mandatory increase in mileage standards for US automobiles.
The latest example is Pelosi’s refusal to bring up a bill with higher mileage per gallon standards for US autos. Detroit’s opposition to the proposal, and labor’s complicity, are a key reason why foreign cars outsold American made vehicles in the US market last month.

Pelosi is as much a slave to the special interests as Hastert was. And Dingell, the Michigan Congressman who blocks higher fuel efficiency standards (and therefore will not save Detroit from itself)...

I have a lot of respect for Mr. Morris, and typically find him very estute. However, I have difficulty believing that the government knows what US automakers should produce better than the US automakers do. While it is true that US automakers are struggling, it is not caused by their lack of understanding of what products to produce. Rather, a large part of their problem is the requirement of union labor. For example, GM pays nearly thrice the amount of health benefits for its employees than Toyota pays for it's American workers (not to mention the higher wages and other benefits). Such costs prevent the US automakers from producing competetively priced products. US tariffs on steel (and other commodities)
further increase costs, and further harm American automakers.

If the answer to US automakers' troubles was simply to produce more fuel-efficient cars, the free market would have steered them in that direction. Policy shouldn't dictate what needs to be produced, the market should. Ford, GM, Dodge, and others will be much more perceptive to demand than Pelosi and Kucinich.

It is naive to assume that the government has to "save Detroit from itself". The government--with policies supported by Democrats such as Pelosi--has set the stage for the US automakers troubles and inability to compete. Like so often, the answer is less government, not more.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Out of the frying pan...

As people who have read my blog know, I have been an avid opponent of measures within California to institute single-payer (aka socialized) medicine. Aside from the premise being unsustainable and deleterious to American health care, the bill that would impose this upon the Golden State, SB 840, is full of inconsistencies, misleading statements, and ambiguous language that would set the tone for massive tax increases.

I recently moved to Ohio to begin medical school and now find myself in the hornets nest of single-payer activists. So far I've managed to restrain myself, but I will likely be using this blog to vent.