The Problem With First-Dollar Coverage

Thoughts from Megan McArdle. One of the big problems with health care is that people have come to see every-day costs as an entitlement that someone else should pay, instead of the old days (and not that old — within my lifetime) when you paid for doctor’s visits (and they would even make house calls) out of pocket, with insurance reserved for catastrophe. We’ll take our car to the shop, our pet to the vet, but the current mess has accustomed many of us to thinking that we somehow shouldn’t have to pay for a doctor visit. As Megan notes, when you’re not spending your own money, you’re going to use the service a lot more, and you won’t care about the price. This is the key point of how screwed up the market is as a result of employer-provided insurance:

With all the layers in between consumers and the providers in the ordinary market, the natural battle between consumers seeking better value and producers seeking higher prices is terribly distorted in ways that don’t make us healthier.

That market disconnect is what we need to fix, rather than finding some other peoples’ money to keep doing the same crazy things. And the way to fix it is to end the preferential tax treatment of employer-provided insurance versus personally purchased policies, and to allow purchase across state lines for real competition. If I hear one more moron saying that the way to provide competition for private insurers is with a government option, I’m going to plotz. Just make them compete with each other.

From Blue

…to Red:

…some of the same unlikely states that Obama put in his party’s column 15 months ago feature Senate, House and governor’s races with Democratic candidates in grave danger of losing in what is quickly shaping up to be a toxic election cycle.

While off-year and down-ballot elections are inherently different than presidential contests, the rapid reversal in Democratic fortunes in the very places where Obama’s success brought so much attention suggests that predictions of a lasting realignment were premature.

And it’s raising the question of whether the president’s 2008 win was the result of a unique set of circumstances that will be difficult for him to replicate again and perhaps downright impossible for other Democrats on the ballot to reprise.

This is called hubris, and overreach. They really believed that we wanted this statism crammed down our throats. They’ll pay the piper for their brief dance, in November, and the bill will be appropriately high.

The Green Genocide

Thoughts on the consequences of radical environmentalism, intended and unintended:

The motivation behind Silent Spring, the suppression of nuclear power, the global-warming scam, and other outbreaks of environmentalist lunacy is the worship of centralized power and authority. The author, Rachel Carson, didn’t set out to kill sixty million people – she was a fanatical believer in the newly formed religion of radical environmentalism, whose body count comes from callousness, rather than blood thirst. The core belief of the environmental religion is the fundamental uncleanliness of human beings. All forms of human activity are bad for the environment… most especially including the activity of large private corporations. Deaths in faraway Africa barely registered on the radar screen of the growing Green movement, especially when measured against the exhilarating triumph of getting a sinful pesticide banned, at substantial cost to an evil corporation.

Those who were initiated into the higher mysteries of environmentalism saw the reduction of the human population as a benefit, although they’re generally more circumspect about saying so in public these days. As quoted by Walter Williams, the founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, Alexander King, wrote in 1990: “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guayana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” Another charming quote comes from Dr. Charles Wurster, a leading opponent of DDT, who said of malaria deaths: “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”

Like the high priests of global warming, Rachel Carson knew what she was doing. She claimed DDT would actually destroy all life on Earth if its use continued – the “silent spring” of the title is a literal description of the epocalypse she forecast. She misused a quote from Albert Schweitzer about atomic warfare, implying the late doctor agreed with her crusade against pesticide by dedicating her book to him… when, in fact, Schweitzer viewed DDT as a “ray of hope” against disease-carrying insects. Some of the scientists attempting to debunk her hysteria went so far as to eat chunks of DDT to prove it was harmless, but she and her allies simply ignored them, making these skeptics the forerunners of today’s “global warming deniers” – absolutely correct and utterly vilified. William Ruckleshaus disregarded nine thousand pages of testimony when he imposed the DDT ban. Then as now, the science was settled… beneath a mass of politics and ideology.

These people are the greatest mass murderers in history. Why do we continue to give them so much power, both political and cultural?

[Update a few minutes later]

Apparently NASA is as scientifically corrupt as the CRU:

The emails show the hypocrisy, dishonesty, and suspect data management and integrity of NASA, wildly spinning in defense of their enterprise. The emails show NASA making off with enormous sums of taxpayer funding doing precisely what they claim only a “skeptic” would do. The emails show NASA attempting to scrub their website of their own documents, and indeed they quietly pulled down numerous press releases grounded in the proven-wrong data. The emails show NASA claiming that their own temperature errors (which they have been caught making and in uncorrected form aggressively promoting) are merely trivial, after years of hysterically trumpeting much smaller warming anomalies.

As you examine the email excerpts below, as well as those which I will discuss in the upcoming three parts of this series, bear in mind that the contents of these emails were intended to prop up the argument for the biggest regulatory intervention in history: the restricting of carbon emissions from all human activity. NASA’s activist scientists leave no doubt in their emails that this was indeed their objective. Also, please note that these documents were responsive to a specific FOIA request from two years ago. Recent developments — combined with admissions contained in these documents — beg further requests, which have both been already filed and with more forthcoming.

Read the whole thing. As DocZero says, we need to dramatically change the risk/reward ratio for this kind of fraudulent behavior, particularly when it’s used as a basis for public policy.

[Update a few minutes later]

Who trusts science now?

Recently, the president of the U.N. Foundation and former Sen. Tim Wirth said the manipulated evidence uncovered by the Climategate e-mail scandal was a mere “opening” to attack science that “has to be defended just like evolution has to be defended.”

Get it? Those unreasonable people who deny evolution — despite the overwhelming evidence — are the same brand of illiterate hoi polloi who won’t hand over their gas-powered lawn mowers on the word of an oracle weather model and haphazardly placed weather station.

In some ways, I’m even more infuriated by being lumped in with creationists than I am with being compared to a Holocaust denier. These people are intellectually bankrupt.

Inside Space-Activist Baseball

Terry Savage, a long-time space activist (and friend of three decades) is running to renew his term on the National Space Society board of directors. Here is his campaign statement, at his blog.

I link it because I find a strange cognitive dissonance within it:

Like any entity, NSS has limited resources, and the rules of “opportunity cost” apply. Any resources we invest in one activity, are not available for other activities. From my personal perspective, there is only one mission for the society that really matters: minimizing the time from this moment to the creation of thriving human communities in space. Space settlement. Space industrialization is essential to that result, as are many other supporting activities, but at the end of the day, space settlement is the bottom line. All activities should be tested against how well they support that core objective.

The problem isn’t primarily technological. Humanity is capable, right now, of creating self-sustaining human settlements in space. We simply choose not to do so.

On this note, I’ll say explicitly that the Obama proposal for NASA is a barely mitigated disaster. It has some good elements, like the emphasis on private sector development, but it has no clear focus of ANY KIND for the American manned space program. As a practical matter, Obama is proposing to kill the American manned space program. I think that’s wrong for the country, and I don’t like it.

There is a contrast between grafs one and three. Graf one is great — it matches up with the Space Frontier Foundation’s “Frontier Enabling Test,” (which, ironically, is not part of the NSS, but rather, part of the Space Frontier Foundation, which arose from the ashes of the L-5 Society/NSI merger, after the L-5ers realized that they’d been absorbed into the NASA-lobbying borg).

But the new policy meets that test much better than the previous one. There was little or no hope that Constellation would have opened up the frontier, even if fully funded. This is something that NSS generally, and Terry specifically, have never really understood. There is no plausible path from NASA’s “NASA uber alles” policy, in which billions are spent to send a few astronauts to a planet for some vague purpose, and space settlement. But NSS continually (despite occasional refreshing support for private activities) supports whatever NASA wants to do.

Well, until now, anyway. Which is doubly surprising and ironic, given that the people who came up with the new policy are former heads of NSS, including the Deputy Administrator, who said just last week:

Defending NASA’s new plans on both charges was deputy administrator Lori Garver. “We plan to transform our relationship with the private sector as part of our nation’s new strategy with the ultimate goal of expanding human presence across the solar system,” she said in a luncheon speech at the conference Thursday. “So don’t be fooled by those who say we have no goal. That is the goal.”

Turning to the private sector to launch both cargo and crews to LEO, she continued, actually lowered the risk to the agency in the long run by keeping it from relying on a single system for human access to orbit. “We will diversify our risk by funding a portfolio of highly-qualified competitors instead of a high-risk approach in which we fund only one system,” she said. “We’re going to see the most exciting space race that NASA’s seen in a long time, and there’s likely to be more than one winner.”

Does this sound like a policy to “kill the American manned space program”?

If so, I think that Terry owes an explanation of why, to NSS members he expects to vote for him, other than a belief in the Apollo Cargo Cult.

It’s The Economic Uncertainty


He…proceeded to relay a conversation he had with a local chemical company regarding their 2010 capital expenditure budget. When asked what the company intended to invest in 2010, the response was ‘nothing,’ not due to a paucity of good opportunities, but because it was impossible for the company to calculate a rate of return given all the uncertainty over cost of labor, energy prices, regulatory mandates and the like.

These people are completely clueless about how an economy works.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!