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  • The Right Hand Side of the Menu

    Posted by Ginny on January 20th, 2017 (All posts by )

    I’ve never understood people who don’t notice costs. Maybe it was because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, maybe it was bicycling around to deliver papers in the snow . . . but I don’t think so. My life wasn’t all that rough. I think it is good old Scottish common sense. It is sensible to assess price in terms of worth. Or as Franklin would see it – is the value of the time I spent earning that money a good exchange for the use or pleasure it provides. From different perspectives, this was what I thought when I set prices in my business and when I wander around a store, touching and thinking about that dress or dish.

    I’ve long wondered about D.C.’s ability to spend money. As a Kelly girl, I found state and federal offices squandered time in ways private businesses never did. We know the stories of lottery winners whose money is gone in half a year. I suspect someone who considers the lottery a good investment probably isn’t all that good at assessing worth, though they may be misled by winning.

    Anyway, a man leaves our presidency who squandered our money (whether it was two planes to Hawaii for Christmas or money to sketchy solar companies or cash for clunkers). In eight years he doubled a debt it took well over 200 years to build. He is followed by a guy known for ostentatious (even vulgar) taste. But it is the latter who chooses a WWII role – that of a dollar-a-year guy; his vice-president proudly declares they are returning 20% of the transition money. I hadn’t thought of Trump in such bourgeois (and patriotic) terms. Of course I’d been pleased he was trying to reduce costs on a presidential plane and he took pride his renovation came in on time and under budget. It was easy to associate Scott Walker with those virtues, but harder Donald Trump. (The multiple wives, the fevered tweets seemed to signal a less self-disciplined approach. But the apparent closeness of his family hints that his relationships are a good deal more complex than I’d assumed.) But Trump is that guy.

    Apparently he has that most bourgeois of habits – looking at the right hand side of the menu. The Dutch, who defined the market economy and bourgeois life, would understand; a British shopkeeper – the essence of Victorian England – would; and fifties suburban America, with the men home from the war and the women canning and reading and raising kids, would.

    I appreciate someone who considers the pocketbook of whoever is paying – especially when I’m one of those paying. What kind of person thinks, someone else is paying, so I need to restrain myself, I need to choose well? And what kind of person thinks, someone else is paying, so I can have a good laugh over the fact that there really weren’t any shovel-ready jobs? The former has a mature imagination that thinks beyond himself, the latter does not.

    So, the Democrats slow walk the Cabinet – knowing in the long run they’ll lose but like adolescents throwing eggs at mailboxes, they do it because, well it irritates someone and they can. They waste time like they waste money. They have little imagination and poor priorities.

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, remarkably shallow, tell the cabinet appointees the “metric” is money. If Price wants less money to go to health care, he isn’t compassionate. What a strange metric. The money spent per pupil in Washington D.C., in New York, on Indian reservations is a multiple of that spent in most rural and suburban schools – ones with higher graduation rates and test scores. Are they learning should be the metric – and what are they learning. Money doesn’t buy education nor does it buy health care. It can help. But it is not the metric.

    Early on in the nominating process, Bret Baier asked Perry about the number of people without insurance in Texas. Perry said that his state’s citizens had access. Access he repeated – access. It didn’t do pregnant women in south Texas much good if they had “coverage” when the expense of malpractice insurance had cleared out the ob/gyns. Limiting tort payments brought doctors – and access – back. The VA’s doctors saw fewer patients than doctors in other settings. Perhaps their pay per patient was higher, their care wasn’t.

    The metric for good care is accessibility and quality. Medicine should be an attractive field, drawing people who are interested in science and people, who want to heal; teachers should love their subjects not their unions. Who wants to be a cog in Washington machinery? Nor what normal person wants Washington to decide on an operation or a classroom?

    We need scientists who want to be doctors and scholars who want to teach, we want them in sufficient quantity and quality and with sufficient passion that our medical care and our education will not only be affordable but excellent. We want our schools not to spend more but to teach more, our medicine not to cost more but to treat patients more energetically and creatively. We’d like schools & hospitals that work – do what they are created to do. And responsibility should rest with patients and parents/children.

    The metrics Democrats apply in hearings are foolish and counterproductive. It is galling that they preach of “compassion.” Their “compassion” would infantilize us all. Their “free” medicine and schools would be pretenses of each and soon we’d be Venezuela. We get what we pay for; we look at the right hand of the menu. We’ve heard enough from these two and we aren’t impressed by her minority status or his populism. They are fooling themselves if they think they are compassionate. But they aren’t fooling us.


    12 Responses to “The Right Hand Side of the Menu”

    1. Mike Doughty Says:

      You write of the virtues of an almost vanished society, when honesty and frugality were actually valued and aspired to, but I don’t know how it’s possible to get them back; they’ve been on the decline for a long time.

      In the mid-70s, I attended a City Council meeting in the small (pop. 6000) Michigan town I was living in at the time. The question was whether the city should buy several old Victorian-era homes, tear them down and build a new City Hall. When it became apparent that the Federal government would be footing the bill through a grant of some kind, the opposition to the plan disappeared. I spoke against it on the basis of no need….the current facility worked just fine, and the only negative comments that I’d ever heard about it came from a couple of elected officials who didn’t think it was “nice” enough. The mayor asked me what the city should tell the Feds; I said to tell them to use the money where there was a real need. The mayor, council, and some spectators simply laughed and the mayor told me I was naive, and, as subsequent history has shown, indeed I was.

      Subsequent history has shown that our society has little of the frugality and the concern for others and the common good that characterized America for much of it’s history. We are now by-and-large a self-centered society, near-instant self gratification seemingly the primary goal. The education system of the country has been captured by the left and teaches dreck to the young. Many parents have given up disciplining their children in any meaningful way and “protecting” them from any form of minor adversity.

      Of course there are many who see this for what (as you’ve outlined so well in your post) it is, but the drift to the left continues. There’s only so much time left to turn things in a better direction. I’m more hopeful today than in a long time, but still not very much so. Trump’s election is a first step, but if some semblance of balance in education at all levels can’t be obtained, it won’t be near enough. “Old” people are the ones who remember a society where the values you’ve described existed as prevailing, and in all honesty, without those “old” people Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance……but we’ll be gone soon enough. Then what?

    2. Mike K Says:

      Medicine should be an attractive field, drawing people who are interested in science and people, who want to heal

      I’ve watched Medicine change for 50 years, the last 15 or so from the vantage point of teaching medical students.

      My medical school class was all male and only 66 members. Admissions committees tended to exclude female applicants because they were concerned with a perceived doctor shortage and believed that female doctors would either quit to raise a family or work part time to do so. This was certainly a prejudice and there were similar prejudices in other fields.

      Today, physician staffing companies report that female physicians work fewer hours per week than male physicians but male doctors work less than we did.

      There have been some studies that seem deliberately to be avoiding the issue, like that one but still the sense becomes clear.

      n addition, recent research suggests that given the phenomenon now occurring in for-profit managed care whereby physicians are assessed as to their economic profitability to plans, female physicians may fare poorly in a system in which, “it doesn’t count unless you can count it.”26 Because they spend more time with patients, participate in more collaborative decision making, and pay more attention to preventive practices, female physicians may be less productive if measured by simple measurements of numbers of patients seen or resources utilized.

      That, of course, is what is measured by all managed care systems.

      Some of this change is related to incomes and payment methods. Fee-for-service medicine was criticized for an incentive to do more. It certainly did as hard work was rewarded.

      It’s too long a story to go into the weeds in a blog post but Medicine is getting far more bureaucratic and less individualistic.

    3. David Foster Says:

      “less productive if measured by simple measurements of numbers of patients seen or resources utilized”…..American medicine may be headed in the direction of the possibly-apocryphal Soviet bathtub factory that made the tubs but didn’t bother adding any faucets, since their measurement was based on tons of product produced.

    4. Thomas Hazlewood Says:

      Ginny- Thank you for voicing what is probably now a common refrain.

    5. Ginny Says:

      Resp to Mike Doughty
      And that is how we arrive at a country that laughs at the aphorism of so many Czechs under communism: “He who doesn’t steal at work, steals from his family.” Which helped me see why communism was so misaligned with human nature and human values. (And so far removed from subsidiarity.)

    6. PenGun Says:

      Well he’s not looking very hard at the right side. He appears to be circling the wagons and preparing to isolate America with tariffs as he ‘makes America great’.

      This is just gonna destroy your economy quickly. Canada for instance is preparing to negotiate NAFTA, but I’m pretty sure the main thrust of our PMs retreat in Calgary will be to make deals with the Chinese, who would love to deal, to replace as far as possible our fading trade with the US. We are moving that way already anyway. In the end the world will be dealing with China instead of the US.

    7. Mike K Says:

      PenGun wishes all this were true. Fidel’s son will do a great job of running Canada into the ground. Good luck.

    8. Mike K Says:

      build a new City Hall. When it became apparent that the Federal government would be footing the bill through a grant of some kind, the opposition to the plan disappeared. I spoke against it on the basis of no need….the current facility worked just fine, and the only negative comments that I’d ever heard about it came from a couple of elected officials who didn’t think it was “nice” enough.

      I guess I didn’t read your comment before. We had exactly this issue in my small town of Mission Viejo. When I first got interested in the city government, the city hall was a four or five story commercial building in a commercial area of the city. The city hall took the first two floors and the top three were rented to tenants. I felt this was a very practical arrangement because the city had the opportunity to buy the building for a very modest price and there was room for future expansion. Parking was generous and it seemed an ideal situation for a small city.

      What happened instead was a ballot measure to buy a plot of land more central and float a bond issue to build a more “attractive” city hall. It passed and the city council, which was dominated by a clique with ambitions for higher office, lied about the cost. The bond issue was for 15 million but the new city hall cost 25 million. The old five story building could have been bought for about 6 million. The misrepresentation caused a local reform group to form and I joined it. The next issue to come up was a new city library. The city had been a member of the county library system but the council decided to build our own. That was another 15 million. It turned out that the “library” also included city facilities like a TV studio and a city TV station.

      The two buildings had inadequate parking and still have.

      I have a number of stories about the local politics but I have gotten tired of them and I have now moved to Tucson, which is a nice Arizona city with the University and far less traffic.

      The Los Angeles County built a $6 billion new county hospital because the feds offered money for “earthquake relief.” The old hospital which could have been remodeled for a small fraction of that, is now used for offices and labs. The new hospital is so disorganized that I quit teaching.

    9. PenGun Says:

      “PenGun wishes all this were true. Fidel’s son will do a great job of running Canada into the ground. Good luck.”

      I wonder about you sometimes.

    10. Mike K Says:

      “I wonder about you sometimes.”

      It’s OK. We are thousands of miles apart. You are safe.

      Puppy videos and Play Doh sometimes help.

    11. PenGun Says:

      My pastime of choice, watching Team BlackSheep:

      Also a clue as to why I need both tools and knowledge for my new passion, flight. My Alien 6″ is beginning:

    12. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      From a comment to a Fox News story:

      “I think MOST have no idea what Insurance actually is

      Insurance is BET ..a hedge against something bad happening (Fire insurance is a bet against a fire , Flood insurance is a bet against a flood…and so on ….(when i play blackjack..and the dealer has a face card showing ..he asks for “insurance” (do I want to put up 1/2 of my bet to hedge the other half?) health insurance is a BET on my I want to put up $xyz while i am WELL bet that I will not get sick?

      Insurance IS NOT a means to pay for your CARE…it is a hedge against a bad health event

      once insurance became a way to pay for your care all fell apart”

      (Credit to Buddy2006)