James Surowiecki of the New Yorker provides an explanation out of the behavioral economist’s handbook for conflicting polling data on health-care. It’s reminiscent of the polls suggesting most Americans are unhappy with Congress in the abstract, but do claim to like and wish to retain their own congressman/congresswoman. The explanation is along the lines of, the devil you know, or a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
David Goldhill has a poignant and compelling article in the Atlantic Monthly titled How American Health Care Killed My Father about health-care reform. It deserves reading in it’s entirety.
The potential outcome Goldhill proposes is very similar to that advanced in John Mackey’s Op-Ed in the WSJ, except it’s more convincing, not nearly as strident, and doesn’t have an antagonistic title. Job better done.
There’s also an article that might get lost in the shuffle, but should not since it is a significant comment on the current debate on health-care reform. The US lags behind most developed countries on measures of public health and the cost-effectiveness of health-care delivered. One area, though, in which the US system leads others is in treating cancer. This is in large part due to cancer research funding from the federal government, i.e. government intervention in health-care. The American Cancer Society published a tribute to Kennedy lauding his work as a supporter of research on cancer.
This reminds me of the role Al Gore played in the Senate when the Internet and networked technologies were in their infancy, a role acknowledged by true Internet pioneers. Sometimes, a senator’s pet project can be a visionary success. Often, it’s a bridge to nowhere.
Salon writes about Churchill’s role in creating the NHS in a scathing commentary on the slurs being bandied about today. Many conservatives would much rather forget Churchill’s role int he creation of the British welfare state, and many more would like to forget that he went back and forth between the Liberal and Tory parties during his long political career. Churchill knew that a good idea can easily be taken too far by its most strident adherents.
If you can put together an angry mob, it’s easy to silence someone in India. The Washington Post writes about how M.F. Husain’s work has been targeted by unruly mobs. This particular controversy is especially ridiculous for anyone who’s seen older temples and murals, or even read any contemporary Amar Chitra Katha. Husain is very firmly within an ancient artistic tradition that represents avatars in a sensual manner, a prime example is Krishna. Of course, he’s a politically expedient target for the VHP.
The NY Times had a blog post about a recent episode of ‘Mad Men’ concerning the demolition of Penn Station to make way for Madison Square Garden, and a contemporaneous NY Times op-ed protesting the demolition.
The destruction of the original Penn Station is directly linked to the formation of the preservationist movement in New York City. There are plans to remake the current Penn Station and some of the designs evoke the original.
The Economist has an article about the history of paranoia and conspiracy theorists in American politics. It is a long, rich and tragic history.
Andy Kessler writes in the Journal today about how a commercial arrangement between companies producing complementary products (wireless service and wireless handsets) can shut out an innovative competitor which requires access to established infrastructure to provide a competing service.
One can’t really expect Goliath to feed David knowing full well what will happen in battle, but this reminds me of a paper I wrote while at NYU in 1996 about the impact packet switching technology would have on prices for long-distance telephone service. The paper looks sort of prescient after 12 years, since it predicted a sharp fall in prices and furious lobbying by wireline providers to restrict alternate voice providers access to call completion (i.e. the last mile).
Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post today about the similarities between Sarah Palin and Joe McCarthy. Cohen touches on the frequent and casual lying, the demagoguery and the constant demeaning of knowledge. It’s a comparison that occurred to me while reading Robert Caro’s excellent third volume on LBJ, which has a couple of chapters on Joe McCarthy.
Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn write in the NY Times about the impact the women’s rights and equality movement has had, and the long road ahead. Along the way they discuss female infanticide and the economic multiplier effect of educating girls. It’s a moving article, definitely worth a read.