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    Malcolm Gladwell Responds

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 1st September 2005 (All posts by )

    In response to my previous post, Malcolm Gladwell (it appears, one cannot be too certain) wrote in the comments:

    “Can i suggest that before attacking my article, you first read it? I never once say that I’m in favor of dental insurance. I merely point out that people without general medical coverage can’t afford to pay for preventative dental care. And nor do I saw that the health care system is an efficient free market. I say–quite the opposite–that the amazing thing is that a country that is otherwise committed to economic efficiency would tolerate such a grossly inefficient health care system. Trust me. It’s not that hard to read a 4000 word article.”

    I am certain that Mr. Gladwell is not seriously suggesting I had not read his article, but rather uses this cute device to imply that my interpretation was so far afield from his intent, one could only assume the critic (that is, I) had not in fact read the piece at all.

    But it was indeed read, and several times, mostly in astonishment that such a slightly argued discussion was published in a major magazine. It appeared to contain virtually every canard supporting nationalized health care I have ever seen in print.

    Others have, as I had noted, already critiqued several of its deficits. My main concern was that the initial argument introduced in that article, that:
    “People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury.”
    was never in fact demonstrated in the article.

    Read on.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 6 Comments »

    Disaster Preparedness Guidebook

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 31st August 2005 (All posts by )

    For Instapundit’s Carnival of Hurricane Relief

    Perhaps these lessons from other disasters would prove useful.

    From the National Community Development Association (NCDA),
    the Disaster Preparedness Guidebook for Community Development Professionals
    Sept. 2003

    The information provided enables community development professionals to
    obtain practicable information based on case studies from several areas of the
    country that experienced natural disasters: Hurricane Andrew, the Des Moines
    flood, the Northridge earthquake, and the 1998 Florida wildfire season. In the
    event of a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, hurricane, earthquake, or
    forest fire striking in their community, community development professionals
    can be better prepared either to directly provide necessary services or to guide
    citizens to the appropriate agencies or departmental representatives for assistance.

    Table of Contents
    Introduction
    Roles & Responsibilities of Community Development Professionals …………..1
    Citizen Needs & Resources Available ……………………………………………………..5
    Lessons Learned from Past Disasters ……………………………………………………….7
    Case Studies
    Hurricane Andrew (FL)…………………………………………………………………………9
    The Des Moines Flood (IA) ………………………………………………………………..17
    The Northridge Earthquake (CA) …………………………………………………………25
    The 1998 Florida Wildfire Season…………………………………………………………39
    The Oklahoma City Bombing………………………………………………………………61

    Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Disaster Preparedness Guidebook

    Looting in Louisiana

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 30th August 2005 (All posts by )

    According to WWL TV in New Orleans, the hurricane has brought out looters.
    “With much of the city emptied by Hurricane Katrina, some opportunists took advantage of the situation by looting stores. At a Walgreen’s drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers.

    When police finally showed up, a young boy stood in the door screaming, “86! 86!” — the radio code for police — and the crowd scattered. “

    An August 11 2005 USA Today article noted the passage of an anti-price gouging law and stiffened penalties for looting.
    “Civil action can be taken against price-gougers, including fines and restitution. Criminal penalties range up to six months in jail and $500 in fines for each violation.
    Also, looting during states of emergency starts carrying heavier penalties on Monday: a three-year minimum prison sentence and up to 15 years. Backers of that bill said fear of being looted was a hindrance to getting storm-threatened residents to evacuate.”

    One man watching the looters said.”To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it’s an opportunity to get back at society.”

    It is a surely measure of the character of a people what their thoughts turn to in a disaster. That ‘looting’ was foremost on their minds is reprehensible, to be sure. But it speaks volumes for the type of people they are, none of it good.

    Get back at society?
    I fervently hope this is an isolated incident.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 6 Comments »

    Helicopter Parents: why the Hovering?

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 29th August 2005 (All posts by )

    According to the Boston Globe, colleges are complaining about ‘helicopter parents‘, describing moms and dads whose constant hovering leads to overinvolvement in their student’s life. Such overparenting, they say, “endangers a crucial development phase in which students are seeking to become self-reliant.” Administrators say they began to notice the uptick in parents’ calls and oversight five to seven years ago. Schools have responded, attempting to impede some parents’ intervention on behalf of the student.

    Point taken, but one wonders: why the hovering?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Education | 13 Comments »

    Malcolm Gladwell Tips Over

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 29th August 2005 (All posts by )

    In the August 29 issue of the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell makes so many errors in discussing national health insurance, it’s hard to believe the piece was reviewed by an editor. To fisk it all would mean to delete it.

    Arnold Kling does an excellent job junking Gladwell’s misguided notion of “moral hazard” (and the notion that American health care economists are mistakenly “obsessed” with the idea).

    And Slate’s Mickey Kaus nicely rips Gladwell’s claim that health care copayments are a bad idea.

    But Gladwell begins his piece discussing how the lack of dental care among the poor demonstrates the need for socialized medicine.
    “People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury.”
    Curiously, he does not follow up and tell you whether this method succeeds in producing better teeth in the UK, Canada, or elsewhere.

    HT: Instapundit
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 38 Comments »

    Clinton & Gingrich: Mandatory exercise and wealth transfers

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 25th July 2005 (All posts by )

    I missed the apparent lovefest over healthcare between Newt and Hillary last Thursday at the National Press Club. It was covered in Friday’s WaPo article The Reformer and the Gadfly Agree on Health Care, also covered in philly.com’s piece entitled Former political foes patch up differences to tout health care.

    Some of the more eyebrow-raising comments:

    “Gingrich, out of elected office, was free to depart from his anti-government roots. With Clinton nodding in support, he came out in favor of mandatory daily physical education, healthful food in schools and a “transfer of finances” from rich to poor. Some of this,” Gingrich said after a long list of concessions to the left, “may surprise you.”

    Mandatory exercise and diets? Mandatory??

    Clinton had surprises, too. She nodded in support of Gingrich’s proposal to “voucherize Medicaid” and agreed with his statement that “welfare reform has really worked.” She granted that “there is enough money in the system right now to cover the uninsured” and she said that piecemeal reform was the best route.”
    In other words, Clinton believes that egalitarian redistribution works and is cost-free.

    This little sentence on the philly site is hilarious:
    Clinton and Gingrich both said there were ways to fix the system that would not raise ideological red flags, or trigger bitter partisan fights.
    Of course they do. It looks like both Dems and the GOP have agreed that piecemeal expansion of government power in health care can be a nonpartisan affair.

    P.S. Has Gingrich gone completely mad?

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 13 Comments »

    The Surprising Case of Failure in Medicare

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 25th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Apparently, the Washington Post is shocked (-shocked-) that Bad Practices Net Hospitals More Money. This weekend’s article in the WaPo contains the following howlers:

    In a four-year period, 106 heart patients at Palm Beach Gardens developed infections after surgery, according to lawsuits and government records. More than two dozen were readmitted with fevers, pneumonia and serious blood infections. The lawsuits included 16 patients who died.

    How did Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, respond? It paid Palm Beach Gardens more.

    and

    Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School, who have been studying Medicare’s performance for three decades, estimate that as much as $1 of every $3 is wasted on unnecessary or inappropriate care. Other analysts put the figure as high as 40 percent.

    Despite collecting “reams of information on quality of care”, the data are left unused. As a result, “[t]he way Medicare is set up …it actually punishes you for being good.”

    So did WaPo finally discover that the market is superior? Nope.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 5 Comments »

    Minnesota & Florida Raise the Minimum Wage

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on 4th May 2005 (All posts by )

    My home state of Minnesota has raised the minimum wage, from $5.15 an hour to $6.15/hr. While chief sponsor of the bill Sen. Ellen Anderson, D-St. Paul said “$6.15 is still a barebones pay rate.“, she feels it shows that “[w]e support you. We believe everyone who works hard in our state should have the opportunity to succeed.”

    The article notes criticism by Republicans that this is merely a “feel-good” vote. A local business man complained, “it’s going to make a substantial impact to our cost of doing business. What we’ll have to do is pass that along to our customers. People can only afford to pay so much for your product. You’re going to price yourself out of business.”

    On May 2nd, Florida similarly increased the minimum wage to $6.15 per hour. Florida’s new minimum wage is indexed to inflation, so the state will readjust the minimum every fall. A a spokesman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce said that “such increases will result in higher prices for Floridians, which will hurt elderly people living on fixed incomes.” Apparently, the socialist group ACORN had pushed for the state’s minimum-wage law, which was enacted last year as a constitutional amendment.

    That’s the background.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 17 Comments »