The Future of Health Care Part II

Raoul sent a nice follow-up to the photo he sent me from the waiting area of a DMV, from columnist Terrence Jeffrey of the Patriot Post.  Sadly, Raoul’s photo appears to have been right on:

The most revelatory passage in the so-called ‘plain English’ version of the health care bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved on Tuesday (without ever drafting the actual legislative language) says that in the future Americans will be offered the convenience of getting their health insurance at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

This is no joke. If this bill becomes law, it will be the duty of the U.S. secretary of health and human services or the state governments overseeing federally mandated health-insurance exchanges to ensure that you can get your health insurance at the DMV.

You will also be able to get it at Social Security offices, hospitals, schools and ‘other offices’ the government will name later.

Page 19 of the committee’s ‘plain English’ text says: ‘The Secretary and/or states would do the following: … Enable customers to enroll in health care plans in local hospitals, schools, Departments of Motor Vehicles, local Social Security offices, and other offices designated by the state.’

This is the bill’s most revelatory passage because it sublimely symbolizes the bill’s true aim: a government takeover of the health care system.

You do not get food at the DMV. You do not even get auto insurance at the DMV. But under what The Associated Press inaptly calls the Finance Committee’s ‘middle-of-the-road health care plan,’ you will get health insurance at the DMV.

Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock, a sport columnist, won my “Critical Thinker of the Week” award in March.   I’ve read Jason’s sports and non-sports columns over the years. I’ve always found his non-sports columns to be good examples of using our brains, to think through a situation and not automatically let conventional wisdom or our relexive biases do all the work for us.

That’s why I was disappointed with Whitlock’s column about Rush Limbaugh.  I wondered if this column was written by the same guy who wrote the past columns I appreciated so much.  From top to bottom the column is just plain dumb.  The pinnacle of stupidity was when he used unsubstantiated and quotes and, rather than doing the homework to substantiate the quotes, he puts up a flimsy argument that Rush doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt because “he’s earned a fortune with racial satire.  He know what he’s doing.”

That’s idiotic, fallacious and motivated by hate.

Attack on Rush Limbaugh, Attack on My Common Sense

I don’t often get into the fray on famous people.  I don’t have much faith in any particular famous person out there.  Over the years, too many that I’ve looked up to, I eventually realized were fallible and would probably do something, or had done something, to disappoint me so it wasn’t worth my effort to defend anyone.

To characterize what I think of Rush, I listen to Rush occassionally if I’m driving around town while he’s on the radio.  Sometimes I think he makes good points and sometimes I think he needs to get to the point.  When I am listening to him, my radio is not glued to his station.  I will switch if he’s in one of those “needs to get to the point” stage. 

A friend, who doesn’t happen to follow politics at all, called me the other day asking who Rush thinks he is.  “He doesn’t have a college degree, he’s been a drug addict, he’s been married several times…why do people listen to him?”  I asked where he’d heard all of this.  “The Today show.”  Then I asked, “Does any of that mean that he’s not able to be right about something?  Don’t you think you should listen to his opinion and determine whether you agree or disagree based on the merits?”

I think the thing that bothered me the most about the personal attack was the inclusion of not having a college degree.  This reminded me of the ridicoulous attacks on Sarah Palin for having attended five colleges.  Those attacks did not include the information that Sarah Palin attended that many for financial reasons, not academic.  Much like how I scrapped together credit hours from three colleges to earn my undergraduate degree.  I earned those credit hours where I could. 

But, somehow, the message is that because of this, Sarah isn’t as smart.  Neither is Rush.  Neither is anyone without a college degree or a degree from a non-elite institution, unless the person has a degree from an elite institution and happens to be from a wealthy family, then we can’t trust the validity of the degree because it may be consideration for a sizeable donation from the family. That’s the reasoning we actually have to put up with.  That reasoning would have earned me an F in my junior high school classes, yet it passes. 

I’m not a die hard Rush Limbaugh dittohead (the term that has come to describe loyal Rush listeners and followers), but I’m not hater either.  As with most people who offer opinions, I try to listen to the points they make and their reasoning.  I try not to let their personal baggage get in the way.  In fact, letting personal baggage get in the way is a fallacy.  It’s one of the most insidious fallacies of our time.   How often do you hear, or say, “I’m just not going to trust what this person says because he’s done [fill in the blank]…”? And, unfortunately, when that happens people turn themselves off to what may be valid arguments.

Rush being removed from the list of potential investors in an NFL team goes beyond this.  Painting Rush as a racist, at worst, and a polarizing figure not worthy of owning an NFL team, at best, is an assault on my common sense.    I recommend reading Rush’s response here.

I could care less if Rush owns an NFL team, but Rush’s main point is valid:

These intimidation tactics are working and spreading, and they are a cancer on our society.

I think so.  These tactics kick reasoning out the door.   I also think people are catching on.  I think media credibility is in the toilet and this type of unbalanced, unsubstantiated character assassination doesn’t help it.

Source of Most Problems: Bad Feedback Loops

In today’s column, A Minority View: Academic Dishonesty, Walter Williams discusses one of the four feedback loops in our schools that could be fixed to improve the quality of education in our country.

Several times on this blog I’ve advocated that most problems can be traced back to a broken feedback mechanism or loop.  A feedback loop is simply information that we use to course correct.

For example, the sights and sounds we use when driving a car are feedback.  Our brain processes those and pipes physical adjustments to our hands and feet to keep the car on the road, in the lane, operating safely and moving toward our intended destination.

Car accidents often occur because of problems in the feedback or processing of feedback.  Obstructed views, misinterpretation of traffic signals and so forth are common causes of accidents.

I’ve used this idea to explain the problems we see in education result from four limited feedback loops.

  1. Parent choice is limited by the way we fund school districts.
  2. Teacher quality is muted by the rules the teachers’ union have put in place to provide them with job security and protect teachers from arbitrary administrators.
  3. Student grades are muted by several things, some of which are the topic of Walter Williams’ column today.
  4. Student discipline is the limited ability schools have to remove problem children from the classroom.

The Future of Health Care

Raoul Lufberry sent me an e-mail with the same title and the following image.

This Is Reality

This Is Reality

He also added: “It would be funny if I wasn’t into my third hour. I’m now waiting for them to correct the mis-spelling of my name.”  Btw…his real name isn’t Raoul.  It’s much easier.

Why supporters of government health care don’t want to admit this would be the eventual reality perplexes me.  Do you want to get more support for government health care?  Fix this stuff first.

One Two Punch: Mortgage Crisis

Thomas Sowell puts on his boxing gloves this morning and lands some quality blows:

Our current economic meltdown results from the federal government, under both Democrats and Republicans, declaring home ownership to be a “good thing” and treating the percentage of families who own their own home as if it was some sort of magic number that had to be kept growing– without regard to the repercussions on other things.

We are now living with those repercussions, which include the worst unemployment in decades. That is the price we are paying for increasing home ownership from 64 percent to 69 percent.

And…

Politicians may not know much– or care much– about economics, but they know politics and they care a lot about keeping their jobs. So a great distracting hue and cry has gone up that all this was due to the market not being regulated enough by the government. In reality, it was precisely the government regulators who forced the banks to lower their lending standards.

Mighty blow…

The other big lie is that this was a failure of economists and others to foresee that the housing boom would turn to bust and set off financial repercussions across the economy.

In reality, everybody and his brother saw it coming and said so– including yours truly in the Wall Street Journal of May 26, 2005.

Nobel Prize

Big whoop.  The economist Hayek described my feelings well in his Nobel acceptance speech.  Thanks to commenter Sandre on Cafe Hayek for the link.

It is that the Nobel Prize confers on an individual an authority which in economics no man ought to possess.

This does not matter in the natural sciences. Here the influence exercised by an individual is chiefly an influence on his fellow experts; and they will soon cut him down to size if he exceeds his competence.

But the influence of the economist that mainly matters is an influence over laymen: politicians, journalists, civil servants and the public generally.

There is no reason why a man who has made a distinctive contribution to economic science should be omnicompetent on all problems of society – as the press tends to treat him till in the end he may himself be persuaded to believe.

The danger is that people view the prize for more than what it is.  It’s a prize that recognizes specific contributions made to a field, but many people view it as a sign of ascendancy to some sort of celestial position, much like the gods on Mount Olympus.  We forget that they remain fallible humans.  Rather than judging what Nobel laureates say based on the individual merits, the prize produces a halo that tends to biases us into taking what they say for granted.

If someone were to ask if that’s exactly what I’m doing by quoting from the speech of a Nobel laureate, my answer would be that I’m quoting from his speech because I agree with him, not because he’s a Nobel laureate.