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April 2014
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12/11/13 04:19:00 pm, by Tony Quain Email , 614 words
Categories: Michael Lind


I read this article and just saw so much that is incorrect. But I just wanted to highlight one bad paragraph.

The second to last paragraph says this:

In the case of imperfect markets, the good or service should be provided either by a regulated, privately owned utility or by a government agency. Water and sewage systems, for example, are natural local monopolies. The hospital sector is oligopolistic, if only a few are in driving distance, and in some parts of the country monopolistic. And comparison shopping is impractical in medicine, because even if prices were transparent and publicly available ? and they are not in the U.S. ? patients would lack the ability to evaluate particular physicians, hospitals and kinds of treatment. Thatí»s why, in the field of medicine, the consumer can never substitute for a combination of public oversight and professional self-regulation.

This is so bad. Every sentence is wrong, like he pieced together the questions and wrong answers of a multiple choice Freshmen year econ exam. In the case of natural monopolies the good or service should be provided by a private regulated utility or government-run utility, not in the case of all imperfect markets (more commonly called “market failures"). Hospitals may be oligopolies for emergency inpatient stays, which account for some fraction of the 21% of health care costs that are inpatient, but for everything else related to health care you can and do get it done elsewhere. I guess that’s why he tries to conflate hospitals with health care generally by calling it the hospital sector (Really?) instead of just hospitals. He claims that even if prices were transparent and available, patients would lack the ability to evaluate particular physicians, hospitals, and kinds of treatment, but gives no evidence of this. In fact, physician and hospital cost and quality data are sold by data providers to insurance companies all the time. And if people were paying for health costs directly, these comparisons would be available to them (and already are, in places like Florida). He claims that prices are not publicly available and transparent, which is only half true (has this guy never gotten a statement of services from his insurance carrier?). But again, that is the result of people not needing to comparison shop. In the field of medicine, the consumer can absolutely do without “public” oversight. In fact, the most oversight that occurs is already the private oversight of hospitals and insurance companies. But insurance companies are a blunt tool in this regard, in that they are too removed: they can not substitue for the specific and varied preferences of the individual patient. With government this becomes even more removed, as the standardization of all insurance plans to Obamacare’s three attests.
There are two tests for something being a public good: (1) Is it rival? (2) Is it excludable? If both, it is a public good. If neither, it is a private good. If rival and non-excludable, it is a common pool resource. If non-rival and excludable, it is a club good. Leftists claim that health care is a public good because they are ignorant of what public goods are. But there is nothing public about it (with the exception of immunization). All of its goods and services ultimately accrue to discreet individuals. All are rival. All are excludable. It is not a public good.
With the use of health insurance and government health programs, this becomes distorted. But to the extent that we return to treating it as a private good, which is what it is no matter what we do, the market for health services will take on normal market characteristics, such as prices, quality appraisals, guarantees, and the like.

12/05/13 11:02:00 pm, by Tony Quain Email , 19 words
Categories: Commentary


An excellent article. Obama and progressives have no idea what they are talking about when they bemoan income inequality.

11/23/13 07:40:00 pm, by Tony Quain Email , 279 words
Categories: Charen, Mona


This one deserves a read.

Progressives regularly pepper their columns about Obamacare with the assertion that in the current system, you lose your policy as soon as the insurer finds a chronic disease. That has always been slander. As Charen puts it:

The Dunham tale was meant to personify the hundreds of thousands – or millions – of Americans who were “dumped” by insurance companies when they became sick. This is an invented tale, and might have been rebutted by the insurance industry if they hadn’t gotten into bed with Obama in 2010 in return for millions of coerced new customers. As the Washington Free Beacon reported, academic studies have estimated that policies were dropped in only four-tenths of one percent of cases in the individual market.

In a 2010 radio address, Obama said one carrier was “systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer.” The CEO of WellPoint, which had reason to believe the president was referring to her company, responded that they had provided coverage in the previous year to 200,000 breast cancer patients and had canceled just four policies for fraud or misrepresentation.

Even now, the left still peddles this tale as if it is common, perhaps even legal.

And the lying is not something progressives are ashamed about when called on it. Charen:

It’s a form of “lying for justice.” If your goals are noble enough, truth is an acceptable casualty.

Obama’s propensity to lie is finally widely acknowledged, but it hasn’t gone far enough. It isn’t just that the pledge about keeping your plan was a noble lie – the whole law is based upon lies.

I would go further – the whole progressive philosophy is based upon lies.

11/19/13 11:36:00 am, by Tony Quain Email , 146 words
Categories: Commentary


This is an excellent article exposing the motivations and failures of grand philanthropy.

Many government programs suffer from exactly this same problem, with one big exception: it is not the philanthropist’s money and resources that are being spent well or not. Just because a government official legislates or administers a program that is intended to remedy a social ill doesn’t mean that official isn’t self-serving. In many cases, civil service is simply a path that allows people to garner more respect and satisfaction more than the private-sector path of producing goods and services that people value. When you can use government to force a whole society of people to change behavior or funnel resources in the direction you want, you find that you can have a greater impact than actually creating value yourself. That is true no matter if you are building highways or ameliorating poverty.

11/14/13 09:23:00 am, by Tony Quain Email , 35 words
Categories: Goldberg, Jonah


Lovely. This article is just lovely. I’d thought about sprinkling some of its highlights in this post, but then you may not read the article in whole. And you have to. You really have to.

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