Another reason we spend so much on health care

We hear lots of reasons why the U.S. spends so much on health care. But, there’s one obvious reason that I don’t recall hearing all that often.

On a recent EconTalk podcast, guest Esther Dyson offered this reason:

…one reason health care costs so much in the United States is that we are so unhealthy.

Could be.

It would be interesting to break down health care spending across various indicators of a person’s health to see if there’s anything to that.

Advertisements

It’s a hit

For some reason, my post on rent-seeking is getting a lot of attention. Readers of it may also be interested to read my post, What is capitalism?

Darth Armstrong

Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked i...

Lance after Oprah

With a kid who loves Star Wars, I’ve become too familiar with the story of Aniken Skywalker. I find it striking how similar it is to Lance Armstrong’s story.

Aniken and Lance’s back stories are similar. No father. Humble beginnings. A close relationship with his mother. Caste-changing talent.

Aniken did what he needed to win. Lance, too. When the dark side was their best bet, they went with it and didn’t look back. Aniken murdered a room full of kids and tried to take down his master. Lance shot up and chewed up his friends and spit them out, all the while using his cancer comeback story to pad his hero persona.

I thought those were agonizingly long moments at the end of Return of Jedi as Vader watched the Emperor jolt his son, Luke, (Armstrong has a son named Luke, too). I’m sure Lucas included Vader’s slow deliberation for dramatic effect, but it looked more like Vader was evaluating his options to see which course of action would be better for Vader.

The months from when USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him from sport for life and Lance v. Oprah reminds me of those moments Vader deliberated.

Lance Armstrong at the team presentation of th...

‘I’m about to cheat, y’all! Anybody got an empty Coke can?’

What’s better for Lance? He lost his rep. He lost his future income (maybe he should lose some of his past income, too). He lost his involvement with LiveStrong. The only thing he has left to look forward to? Competition.

But, wait. He can’t. He’s banned. So, what’s best for Lance? Come clean. Maybe we’ll take pity on him.

Oh…and also, whine that you got a “death penalty” while everyone else got off with slap on the wrist (wait, didn’t they confess when they were given a chance while you tweeted a pic of yourself ‘laying around’ with your fraudulent yellow jerseys?).

Aniken and Lance are easy guys to figure out. They will do what’s best for themselves, always, and they will cross lines to do it. It’s best you not be one of those lines.

When the news of the Oprah interview broke, someone asked me, why is he doing this now? I said, because now is best for Lance. He wants to compete again. It drives him crazy that he can’t. He doesn’t have much else. 

I actually thought I was over playing that, but that was about the only reason Darth Armstrong could muster when asked by Oprah, Why now? I about fell out of my chair. I’m a competitor. I like to win. I want to be able to run the Chicago Marathon when I’m 50. It’s not fair. Waaaaaa…

I don’t think it has sunk in for him yet. YOU DIDN’T WIN. YOU CHEATED. YOU ARE NOT A WINNER. YOU’RE A CHEATER.

As an aside, Oprah played tapes from past interviews where Armstrong defiantly denied doping. I noticed one tell to his lies was saying “absolutely” twice. And I believe he said “absolutely not” twice when Oprah asked if he doped to get his third place finish at the 2009 Tour.

At least Vader’s last selfish act restored freedom to the galaxy (until the next movie comes out in 2015). Armstrong’s cancer survival story has encouraged many cancer victims to fight, which is probably the most heartbreaking for me. What are those people thinking?

Questions I wish Oprah would have asked Lance: Did you discover EPO during your cancer recovery? Was it your discovery of this drug that ignited the EPO generation in cycling?

Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, 2009

Darth Armstrong, Johan Palpatine, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m such a hopeless romantic

Here, I thought the Department of Justice didn’t take up an anti-trust case against Google’s online search prowess because the case doesn’t have merit.

After all, folks can choose to use any search they want with a couple clicks of the mouse. All, or most, search services are free to customer.

The fact that Google does such a disproportionate number of searches than competitors is more likely evidence that it delivers what searchers are searching for rather than strong-arming competition.

Alas…I should have known better.

The Wall Street Journal reported today (or perhaps opined) that Google’s $25 million of lobbying was money well spent to keep the government off its back.

Now, I won’t be surprised when politicians and government bureaucrats migrate to Google for plum jobs. Greasing skids is a growth industry.

This would have been nice to know

I love experiments. The results can be instructive.

In the Wall Street Journal, Merill Matthews and Mark Litow wrote about some health care experiments conducted in various states.

We compared the average premiums in states that already have ObamaCare-like provisions in their laws and found that consumers in New Jersey, New York and Vermont already pay well over twice what citizens in many other states pay.

I’ve written about insurance in New York before. Here’s one instance.

 

We get what we deserve

Here are some more on Obama’s remarks today from the New York Times:

“They [Republicans] will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” Mr. Obama vowed in the East Room, a week before his second inauguration. “The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”

And from the Washington Post:

In the final news conference of his first term, Obama said Republicans were threatening to hold “a gun at the head of the American people” and that he would not trade spending cuts, as Republicans demand, for an agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling.

“To even entertain this happening — of the United States of America not paying its bills — is irresponsible. It’s absurd.” He vowed that congressional Republicans “will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”

Now, I could address how ludicrous this is.

How, it reminds me of the type of fervent propaganda I learned about in places like the glorious\ Soviet Union.

Or, how these seem like mighty uncompromising words from a President who has bellyached a great deal about the other side’s inability to compromise.

Or, how dumb it is that the government has locked in a trillion dollar deficit, where they have turned a temporary stimulus spending level into the new government spending norm, where — after demonstrating abhorrent financial irresponsibility and avoiding making anything that appears to be a tough choice — they want an unlimited ability to write checks from ours’ and our children’s bank accounts.

But, I think we are well beyond all that. President Obama is becoming the classic example of we get what we deserve. 

And we’ll keeping getting it until we vote for adults who understand incentives that lead to prosperity, who can say no to special interests and balance a checkbook.

 

How Social Security can continue to be paid out without raising the debt limit

Here’s the New York Times reporting on President Obama’s remarks today:

“Treasury would be left to fund the government solely with the cash we have on hand on any given day,” he said, forcing it to choose among creditors, federal contractors, veterans,Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries and the many other claimants to federal dollars.

An enterprising reporter or Republican politician might do well to understand and point out what David Henderson has written on this topic here, where Henderson points to the Huffington Post’s debunking of the Social Security claim:

The Social Security Administration owns bonds that the U.S. Treasury has issued. To make up for a shortfall each month, the SSA could sell some of these bonds to the Treasury. But where would the Treasury get the money to pay for these bonds? By issuing bonds to the public. How could the Treasury do that if the debt ceiling is not raised? The debt ceiling includes the SSA bonds. So for every $1 billion the Treasury pays when the SSA redeems bonds, the Treasury could issue $1 billion in new bonds without affecting the official debt at all.