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June 2009
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August 2009

The Cost of Public Health Care

Gary Becker via Greg Mankiw:

One way to separate health care from personal behavior is to consider survival from serious diseases, such as various cancers and cardiovascular diseases. In my post on health care on June 7 of this year I referred to a study published in Lancet in 2007 that compares five-year cancer survival rates for the US, the United Kingdom, and the European Union as a whole. The study examines early diagnosis, early treatment, and access to the best drugs, and finds that the United States does very well on all three criteria. As a result, five-year cancer survival rates are much better in the US: they are about 65% for both men and women, whereas they are much lower in these other countries, especially for men.

European countries have to ration their supply -- which means, that relative to the US, less people receive treatment. Such a result is, of course, consistent with the law of supply and demand.

No Hope with Change

Vox Day:

The stated purpose of Obama's health care reform is to extend health care coverage to 50 million uninsured Americans while simultaneously reducing the total costs of the health care system. Despite the rationalizations of economists such as Paul Krugman, who claims that economic laws don't apply to health care, Adam Smith's law of supply and demand makes it very clear that Obamacare will inevitably lead to not only government rationing, but a reduction in the level of services presently provided to those in the system.

Don't miss the simple graph there that shows the effect of ObamaCare.

The Magic of Static Analysis

Charles Johnson:

Here’s one of the most short-sighted and self-destructive things I’ve ever seen the Associated Press do — they’re going to try to prevent search engines and blogs from even linking to their articles, unless they pay for the privilege.

I should adopt that policy for my blog. About 50 different blogs link to me; at, shall we say, $1,000 a link that'll be a cool $50,000!

And that's just the sidebar / favorite links. Over the years, I've got hundreds of links. (Of course, I'll offer a discount for each additional link sent my way.)

My financial worries are over!

An Economical Folly

Bruce Bartlett:

Even though the nation is suffering a crisis of unemployment, with the national unemployment rate at 9.5% , the federal government has nevertheless mandated that it will go higher because, starting today, the minimum wage rises from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour.

Milton Friedman called the minimum wage the worst law for blacks in the US. As we see here, he was correct:

In 1952, the unemployment rate for black males aged 16 to 17 was just 8% versus 10.9% for white males the same age. Since the 1961 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which greatly broadened coverage of the minimum wage, the unemployment rate for black teenage males has rarely been below 20%. Today, the unemployment rate for black teenage males is an astonishing 50% and the rate for white teenage males is 26.5%.

No Equality

A feminist who doesn't hate men:

Women can wander the world and hug every child they see without suspicion. If a woman gathers the neighborhood children together to organize a community garden, she’s a saint. If a man does it, people wonder if he’s a pedophile. Don’t believe me? Imagine you’re in a toy store and a woman shopping alone comments on what a beautiful little girl you have. You are pleased and flattered. You fill in the woman’s story in your head. She’s probably an overworked mother out to buy toys for a birthday or holiday. What about the middle-aged man wandering that same store alone? Wouldn’t it at least cross your mind that he could be a pervert? Of course it would.

I blame The PatriarchyTM.

Link via Vox Popoli.

Hell Gets Hotter

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz via The Corner:

in March 2009 the Saudi clock began running backward. Prince Nayef bin Abd Al-Aziz, half brother of Abdullah and interior minister, became second deputy prime minister. Nayef is the embodiment of Wahhabi obscurantism; to cite the most famous example of his extremist behavior, he was the first prominent Saudi to accuse Israel of carrying out the atrocities of September 11, 2001. When it appeared that the mutawiyin would be called to order for their thuggery, Nayef challenged Abdullah by insisting that the Wahhabi militia was a pillar of the state and must not be touched.

Of course. Nayef will need those thugs when he becomes king.

Say No to DRM

I have bought numerous books from Amazon -- all in the good old physical format. Here's what can happen when one buys books electronically:

Those who have adopted the Amazon e-book way of reading today discovered something that they surely weren't counting on – having their books remotely deleted from their Kindles.

In what is glaring irony, George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm were the two books that the publisher decided it no longer wanted Kindle owners to have access to. Instead of just pulling the book from the store and stopping any further sales, it had Amazon send out a kill notice to delete all those books from any device that they were purchased on.

[Emphasis mine.]

Apparently, some books are more equal than others.

Glenn Reynolds writes:

I would like to see electronic copies treated more like physical books — you buy it, you own it — rather than like “licenses to read” that can be revoked based on fine print in things nobody ever reads. The current situation is creepy, and subject to abuse. I like my Kindle, especially for travel, but if I’d known this was coming I don’t think I’d have bought it, and at this point I’m reluctant to recommend a Kindle to others.

The Bum Expires

The Barefoot Bum has decided to stop blogging:

I'm not discouraged by the vitriol of the religious, of the libertarians, of the laissez-faire capitalists. I am, however, discouraged by the vitriol (and worse, the often blithe dismissal) of atheists, philosophers, progressives, socialists and communists, always (to my eyes) for daring to disagree with some item of cherished dogma. Perhaps I'm equally guilty of my own vitriol, but I have always done my best to at least avoid dogmatism, to substantiate my anger with facts and arguments. I have received no such consideration from my detractors. Perhaps I am wrong; I don't think I'm stupid, but who does?

Who does? This guy:

if one's idea of "intelligentsia", let alone "mostly sensible intelligentsia", encompasses both Karl Marx and PZ Myers, I'm afraid the question of stupidity must be conclusively affirmed.


I'll miss The Bum. No other blogger displayed such spectacular, high brow idiocy than him. (The Apostate was his only competition.) He criticized the American economic model and repeatedly talked about the humane, rational and moral solution: communism.

The Blogosphere has lost a great, unintentional entertainer.

The Audacity of Ignorance

Rex Murphy on Obama:

You will remember when the ravings of Mr. Wright finally got too much for the candidate, when the more pacific words of the “great speech” on race that he could “no more disown him than I can my white grandmother” were rendered inoperative by Mr. Wright's persistently obnoxious presence. Mr. Obama pushed him aside.

The pastor had one last shot of his own about his onetime “son.” That was the line, “He's a politician; I'm a pastor. He's got to do what politicians do.” We know what he meant by “politician”: one who is “forced” to say one thing to get elected, and do another; a person who conceals an agenda under cloudy rhetoric, a person whose calling – politics – is implicitly, essentially, deceptive.

Link via Instapundit.

No Love for Jews

Michael Totten interviews Jeffrey Goldberg:

The settlements aren’t the central question. They’re a tragedy in part because they obscure the central question of this conflict. The only question is: can the world of Arab Islam accept the idea of Jewish national equality? That’s the question, and I don’t know the answer to that.

Naturally, I shade toward pessimism on that question. I’m recalling, among other things, that the Six Day War wasn’t started because of the settlements. If you study the history of the last one hundred years, you’ll see that this is the central animating cause of the conflict. And I don’t see much evidence that Arab Islam can assimilate this idea right now.

The broader Muslim world doesn't accept the idea of Jews. Period. Forget about "Jewish national equality". It's important to remember that the concept of a dhimmi -- a perpetual, conquered, slave -- started with Jews under Muhammad:

A classic precedent of the dhimma was an agreement between Muhammad and the Jews of Khaybar, an oasis near Medina. Khaybar was the first territory attacked and conquered by the Muslim state ruled by Muhammad himself. When the Jews of Khaybar surrendered to Muhammad after a siege, Muhammad allowed them to remain in Khaybar in return for handing over to the Muslims one half of their annual produce. The Khaybar case served as a precedent for later Islamic scholars in their discussions on the issue of dhimma, even though the second caliph Umar I subsequently expelled the Jews from the oasis.

Try telling one billion Muslims that Muhammad's example should not be followed.

Cheap Space


YEP, IT’S THE 21ST CENTURY NOW: A 1-Terabyte hard drive for under 100 bucks. I remember when a 10 megabyte HardCard was expensive . . .

We should hit 100-terabyte drives by 2020.

My first personal computer was a laptop. I got it in 1998. It came with a whopping 2.1GB hard drive. The maximum configurable was ... 4GB.

Today, I carry around a 16GB flash drive which can easily store all my documents. If I get a 32GB flash drive, I could store all my documents and my entire music collection.

At 64GB, I can store all my valuable data.

Is There Such a Thing as "Brown Trash"

Kate on Sarah Palin:

With one Friday afternoon announcement, she's brought the bulk of America's political chattering class to the brink of a psychotic break ...

Ain't it the truth:

I have no doubt I would feel very differently about Palin – whatever her perceived class – if she were a liberal politician. I would then probably find her “white trash” quirks adorable, so ridiculously grateful am I for liberal politicos.

Yeah, all women should be treated equally unless they're conservative, pro-life mothers.

When Palin was picked by McCain, the Apostate had another one of her classic rants / meltdowns. I blogged about it here.

Paying With Hot Air

I have never lived in a place which either I or my parents owned. I've been living in rented spaces my entire life. I remember filling out my refugee application in which I had to provide addresses of places where I lived during the previous ten years: from 1996-2006.

There wasn't enough space on the application for all the relevant info. I had to attach another sheet with over a dozen addresses. I had lived in different apartments in Saudi Arabia, different rooms in dorms in the USA and Canada, and then different apartments and houses in Canada.

I certainly see the appeal of owning a place. It would cut down on the constant headache of finding a decent space, packing up and then finally moving. However, one has to go about the process sensibly.

An Instapundit reader provides an example on how not to go about it:

The big light bulb moment for me came when a “My First House” buyer who lived in California, wanted to move to Denver and buy his first home. He had no job, no money down and really bad credit. Yet he was still able to buy a house for over $250,000 in Denver at 14% interest rate. Both his mortgage and down payment were financed at this rate.

Yikes. I wouldn't even consider getting a house if I couldn't make at least a 25% down payment.

O'Rourke Interview

The Reason Blog:

In June,'s Ted Balaker sat down with O'Rourke at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Topics include: bailouts, who ruined the U.S. auto industry, politicians' love affair with trains, how easy women made O'Rourke a youthful socialist and how getting a paycheck turned him into a libertarian.

The simple reasons for his dipping into socialism and his later turn to libertarianism are hilarious.

The Precious Bubble

Vox Popoli:

The problem with most analysis of the value of a college or graduate degree is that the aggregate figures include the sharks graduating from the elite schools - many of whom would have been just as successful without their degrees - and then attempt to apply it to Jane Average who is planning to attend Podunk State.

When I was presenting my thesis in university, the questioning with a professor turned to graduates who got their degrees from big-name universities.

The professor stated that the magnificent success of such students justified the costs of education. I replied that such students were brilliant to begin with -- they would have earned big bucks even if they hadn't received their degrees from the top level universities. Basically, it's tough to quantify the added benefit of these institutions.

The professor's face got all red. He, perhaps, took it personally that his profession doesn't underwrite the success of smart students. His voice got strident and he said that the parents of such students wouldn't be donating tons of money to these universities if they didn't provide them a benefit.

I thought, but didn't say, "Your face looks like a tomato."

I continued with my presentation and didn't argue further.

Many years ago, I read a book called Class. It was a pretty funny book, but one point that I remembered was the citation of a study which showed that unless you obtained it from a university that had been established prior to some date in the nineteenth century, your degree wouldn't add anything to your expected lifetime income.

The Great Depression 2.0 is making this clear for many.