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Jan 31, 2009

Healthcare: They will pretend to pay - We will pretend to treat

01/31/09 - ChicagoBoyz by Carl from Chicago

The people of the Soviet Union had a slogan about their government jobs. "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work". That is what is coming in health care. There is no free lunch. When the lunch is truly free, then there is no lunch.

[edited] In speech after speech Gov. Blagojevich hammered home the “fact” that he had granted insurance coverage to so many in Illinois, through various means. How has this actually been implemented? State payments to medical providers has been dramatically slowed.

I have personal experience with the State of Illinois delaying payments, but the situation is worse than ever for health care providers. Many legislators say that they intervened to expedite payments to some of their local hospitals on the verge of major financial distress.

Delaying payments has the same effect as reducing payments, since the state doesn’t catch up for a long time. The payment delays ensure that providers need to hold a big “rainy day” fund, since their employees want to be paid cash rather than IOU’s.

Medical providers can do little except complain to their local legislators. They can’t sue the State to speed up payments, and if they did, the state wouldn't care. Unlike insurance, which may be popularly perceived as unfair, there are no avenues of appeal if you feel the state is killing your business.

The US will likely move to a backwards program of medical socialism by increasing coverage and then squeezing providers with reduced and slowed payments. Federal transfers to states will not make up the cost for unfunded mandates.

A version of this will unfold in Illinois and other states that increase insurance coverage at state expense. Medical providers will begin to crumble financially and move away from treating state and federally insured patients, or do it in the most bare-bones and cheap manner possible.

Political Contributions for Medicare Reimbursement
Blogojevich withheld Medicaid reimbursement to Children's Memorial Hospital to get a campaign contribution from its CEO.

Crisis Is Building in Illinois Finances
10/06/09 - CBS2 Chicago - by Mike Flannery

What are the priorities in Illiniois? Clearly the poor and sick are not at the top of the list. It is not compassionate to promise more than you can deliver.

The state is not a good social insurance company. It makes no investments to pay off its future promises. Instead, it tends to spend whatever is available on whatever serves politicians at the moment.

[edited] Tax receipts are down, and Illinois is not paying its social wellfare bills. The typical creditor must now wait three months to be paid, compared to two months at this time last year.

A Chicago Meals on Wheels nutrition center can't purchase food and is facing eviction. A large Lake County disabled program can't make insurance or mortgage payments.

2,600 creditors call the state each week, desperate to be paid.

The General Assembly will reconvene next week in Springfield. No one is even pretending to offer a comprehensive solution to the unprecedented budget disaster. The governor and legislative leaders all insist that must wait until next year.

Never Events
Medicaid is already squeezing doctors by finding ways to avoid paying them.

Jan 30, 2009

Stop the Death from Quilts and Food

Flowery Fall Baby Rag Quilt
01/17/09 - Overlawyered by Walter Olson
The price of a quilted baby comforter will go from $58 to $3,530 to cover the required testing under the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Scrap The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
01/16/09 - Forbes.com by Walter Olson

[edited] CPSIA is a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation. It threatens to wipe out tens of thousands of small makers of children's items from coast to coast. It particularly eliminates items which are handcrafted and creative, and the sideline, home business, and struggling retailers which make and sell them.
In Order To Save The Children, We Must Destroy Industries
01/28/09 - LiveJournal by Evan Dorkin
[edited] The impact of CPSIA will be nothing short of devastating for many small businesses, home-crafters, DIY-ers, toy manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, re-sellers, used clothing shops, thrift shops, and so on and so forth. And also, libraries, book stores and yeah, comic shops.

Because a ton of stuff is being lumped together under this act, which will require expensive product testing for anything deemed "for children". Children's clothes, books, comics, school supplies, toys, costumes, need I go on? And second-hand items, clothes, toys, books, back issues, etc. It doesn't end once you start thinking about it. And, in fact, it gets worse, because it affects inventory.

Petition to reconsider the CPSIA
If you want to support craft industries and small producers, you can add your voice to the petition at the above link. It is a very short form. When you click "Sign the Petition", you are directed to a page where iPetitions asks for a donation. You are added to the petition regardless of any contribution you might make.

CPSIA and compliance: “This can’t be happening”
07/11/09 - OverLawyered by Walter Olson

An article in the Arizona Republic reports the difficulties compling with the CPSIA:

  • a Scottsdale diaper maker,
  • a Chandler toy maker has spent $400,000 on compliance with no end in sight,
  • a baby carrier maker that expects to go under, and
  • a maker of fabric products who can’t keep up with changing requirements.

See also related posts at the link about the destruction from this regulation.

CPSIA - Current Reading
08/24/09 - OverLawyered by Walter Olson

Commentaries on this dreadful child-safety law. In particular:

Favors From the CPSC
04/24/10 - Hot Air by Ed Morrissey
Via Instapundit

[edited]  Mattel imported toys from China two years ago contaminated with lead paint. This prompted Congress to pass the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), requiring extensive independent testing of all products sold or resold for children. The new regulations put small manufacturers and thrift shops out of business, due to the onerous costs of testing. But, Mattel has received waivers to reduce their costs of testing.

This is a perfect example of crony capitalism, where the government picks winners and losers through legislation sympathetic to big business. Then, the enforcement mechanism extends that favor. Mattel can push its smaller competitors out of business, or force them into buyouts. This is a result of Mattel breaking the law in the first place.

Big business often shapes regulation to its advantage when it cannot stop it from being imposed, and continues this shaping through persistent lobbying in following years.

Goodbye to Locally Processed Meats
05/27/10 - Cato@Liberty by Walter Olson

Joe Cloud is a small meat processor in Virginia [edited]:

Changes in national food regulation make it difficult for small plants to stay in business. In 2000, small USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plants were required to adopt the costly Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety plan. There are estimates that more than 20% of those plants went out of business.

Now, proposed changes to HACCP threaten to take down many of the ones that remain, making healthy, local meats a rare commodity.

Walter Olson [edited]:

Recently, major food and agribusiness firms are supporting a major new round of federal food safety regulation, despite warnings that it could pose big compliance challenges for many local bakers, fruit-baggers, and other small providers, whether or not their products pose any notable risks.

There is a typical and depressing pattern here.

Major producers may not at first want more regulation, but they find the end result hurts their competitors, so they shape the regulations to their needs rather than simply oppose them. The regulators want to make policy in the simplest way, rather than deal with the complexities of the smaller producers. There is no requirement that the regulations meet any cost-benefit standards. Ironically, the regulations may be appropriate to safety in a large processing line, but overkill for a smaller producer.

Smaller producers creating a wide variety of products in smaller batches are driven out of business. This process creates industries dominated by a few large corporations, exactly what Liberals say they do not want in society. Food becomes less interesting, less regional, and the industry employs fewer people.

Water Quality - Too Much Safety
12/08/09 - DailyMail blog by Don Surber - A comment by Old School Conservative

[edited] I ran a drinking water treatment plant for 20 years, and am responsible for one as a village administrator. I have had EPA knuckleheads look me right in the eye and say "I don’t care how much it costs I want ZERO risk".

Zero risk is one of the dumbest goals ever set. EPA spends billions and forces municipalities to spend billons on the zero risk fad of the moment.

In the 1970’s, grad students started studying trihalomethanes, a group of organic chemicals that result from chlorine disinfection. They found that rats developed mutations and tumors at dosages thousands of times greater than any human would get if he/she drank 100 gallons of water a day for 80 years. On this research, EPA regulated THM’s to 150 ppm, 100 ppm, 80 ppm, then 80 ppm as measured at the very worst case in the system, a dead end main.

Milwaukee had an outbreak of water borne disease a few years ago. The news media crucified the city, but didn’t tell the underlying story. The city experimented with new treatment chemicals and low chlorine levels aimed at meeting stringent limits for THM's. There is NO definitive research that proves 80 ppm of THM’s has saved one life or that it is one bit safer than 100 ppm. The whole fiasco has been a lot like AGW.

I don't trust the government. The federal regulatory community is filled with power hungry, incompetent enviro-lunatics. Many of them would starve if they had to make a living in the private sector. They will destroy us as an economic power.

I want to do my part for promoting safety by breaking the news about the ongoing dangers of preparing and eating food:

Food Related Illness and Death in the US
Sept 1999 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Paul S. Mead and others

[edited] We analyzed information from surveillance systems and other sources. We estimate that food borne disease causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year (1999).

Known pathogens account for 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths. Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year, more than 75% of those caused by known pathogens.

Unknown agents account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths. Overall, food borne diseases appear to cause more illnesses but fewer deaths than previously estimated.

As head of the US Food Protection Agency (UFPA) (satire), I have issued the following regulations to be implemented within one month. Space limits us to listing only a small selection here:

  • All persons and especially children (APEC) should limit their intake of fresh food. If they must eat fresh food, frozen samples must be retained for later analysis in case of illness. A written food diary (FD) is required under penalties of SS 23, Para 12(b).
  • Fresh food shall be boiled for 20 minutes before consuming, including all fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats, and "other". This includes lettuce, tomatoes, and bread.
  • Food that has been deep fried, canned, or pickled is generally considered safe, but the labels must be recorded in the FD (under the usual penalties).
  • No restaurant, food pantry, warehouse, snack bar, food cart, church social, or home kitchen shall prepare food unless and until it receives an UFPA Inspection of Safety (UFPAIS), repeated at intervals of 3 months. Inspections will include a review of washing and sanitizing regimens, per SS 25, Para 3(c-f). The cost of inspections will be billed to the inspected site.
  • MikeDonalds, Burger Prince, and Wanders's have been pre-approved as Generally Recognized as Safe Food Providers (GRSFPs). Other large and regulate'able business will be added to this list as their applications and fees are processed. [remove in final draft - what about lobbyist contacts? -remove].
  • Establishments known as "Chinese Restaurants" are hereby prohibited, without reconsideration or appeal.
  • Food shall not be exchanged, traded, or shared, to limit the effect of any contamination.
  • There is no "three second rule" regarding dropped food.

The illness and death must stop. Food is too vital and dangerous a material to remain any longer in the hands of amateurs, without detailed government review and inspection.

Watch out when you eat.
If possible, don't.

Musical Chairs - Stimulus Style

A new version of the birthday party game Musical Chairs seems more appropriate to our times.

In the old version, there would be 12 chairs for 12 children. The music would start, and one chair would be removed while the children walked around. When the music stopped, they would all try to find an empty chair. One child would be left out. Then they would repeat this, round by round, until there was one winner sitting in the last remaining chair. Competing for the chairs was fun.

In the new version, there are no immediate losers. Instead of removing a chair, it is marked "borrowed" with a red sticker. All of the children get a chair in each round, whether they try hard or not. There are no losers. But, in the last round, all of the "borrowed" chairs are removed, all of them, and everyone loses at the same time.

This is a surprise for the children, but at least they all lose together.

Jan 28, 2009

Global Warming in 1000 Years

Global Warming in 1000 Years
01/28/09 - WSJ Best of the Web by James Taranto
From The Los Angeles Times:
[edited] Susan Solomon is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and lead author of an analysis published Monday.

Even if, by some miracle, carbon dioxide dropped to pre-industrial levels, it would take more than 1,000 years to reverse the climate changes already triggered. The gas already emitted and the heat absorbed by the ocean will show effects for centuries.

Long term, the warming will melt the polar ice caps more than previously estimated, raising ocean levels substantially. Changes in rainfall patterns will bring droughts similar to the 1930s Dust Bowl, to the American Southwest, southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Australia.

People thought that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide, the climate would go back to normal in 100 - 200 years, but that is not true. Absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans acts to cool the Earth. Release of heat from the oceans warms the Earth. These processes will work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than 1,000 years.

Taranto asks:

So, is it crucial that we lower greenhouse gases this instant, or would it not make any difference? If no difference, what sense does it make to be alarmed? That last statement by Solomon is a head-scratcher. Are we supposed to worry that temperatures will be "almost constant for more than 1,000 years"? Is that what they mean by global warming?

I am reminded of a joke.

A scientist was talking about the evolution of stars and the universe. He presented that the Sun would burn its nuclear fuel and explode as a nova in about 5 billion years. A student in the back began urgently waving his hand to ask a question.
"Professor, did you say 5 million years?"
"No, I said 5 billion," replied the professor."
"I'm so relieved."

Child Care Loopholes Give Easy Money

Child care loopholes lead to easy money
01/28/09 - Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel by Raquel Rutledge (via Freakonomics)

In essence, "Rules are rules, and it isn't my money. I'm just the administrator around here." Will the Federal Government do a lot better spending $850 billion?

[edited] Four young women have recieved about $540,000 in taxpayer dollars since 2006 for their home-based money-making operation, with the blessing of the state. They have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other's children as in-home child-care providers.

There is nothing illegal about it under the rules of Wisconsin Shares, the decade-old child-care assistance program designed alongside Wisconsin's welfare-to-work program.

Laurice Lincoln is administrative coordinator for child care with the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. "It's a loophole, and we have concerns about it. It can be a problem. But if it's allowed, it's allowed. We really can't dispute it."

The Journal Sentinel revealed a system rife with lax regulations allowing abuse by parents and providers.

• Sisters or other relatives can stay home, swap kids and receive taxpayer dollars. The four Racine sisters took in as much as $540,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three years, mostly to watch each other's kids.

(There is more ...)

Jan 26, 2009

Modern Law Makes Us Powerless

How Modern Law Makes Us Powerless
01/26/09 - Online.WSJ.com by Philip K. Howard
We are only free if we can act in reasonable ways in life without the risk of being caught by this or that technicality.
[edited] Americans don't feel free to reach inside themselves and make a difference. The growth of litigation and regulation has injected a paralyzing uncertainty into everyday choices. There are warnings and legal risks all around us. The modern credo is not "Yes We Can" but "No You Can't."

Those who deal with the public are the most discouraged. Most doctors advise their children not to go into medicine. Government service is seen as a bureaucratic morass, not a noble calling. Make a difference? You can't even show basic human kindness for fear of legal action. Teachers across America are instructed never to put an arm around a crying child.

The idea of freedom as personal power is pushed aside by the rights of whoever might disagree. Daily life in America has been transformed. Ordinary choices are paralyzed by legal self-consciousness. Did you check the rules? Who will be responsible if there's an accident? A pediatrician noted "I don't deal with patients the same way any more. I wouldn't want to say something off the cuff that might be used against me."

The flaw and the cure lie in our conception of freedom as only political freedom. We're certainly free to live and work where we want, and to pull the lever in the ballot box. But freedom should also include the power of personal conviction and the authority to use your common sense. Alexis de Tocqueville: "Freedom is less necessary in great things than in little ones. Subjection in minor affairs does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, until they are led to sacrifice their own will. Their spirit is gradually broken and their character is drained of strength."

Law must affirmatively define an area free from legal interference. Philosopher Isaiah Berlin noted that law must provide frontiers that are not arbitrary limits, within which men should be inviolable.

Jan 24, 2009

Global Warming Caused by Humans is a Scam

The Global Warming Hockey Stick Hoax
01/24/09 - PowerLineBlog by John Hinderaker

Predictions of global warming from human activity are based on bad science, filled-in data, and convenient results that fit the cause of limiting human activity, just because we are bad.

Hinderaker gives a summary (and there is more):

[edited] The key evidence relied on by Al Gore, the United Nations, and global warming alarmists is the "hockey stick" graph developed by Mann, Bradley and Hughes. It purports to show that 20th-century warming is unprecedented and that the 20th century was the warmest ever.

Hockey Stick Graph of Global Warming

More recent scientific work has thoroughly debunked the "hockey stick" analysis. It rests on "collation errors, unjustified truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, incorrect principal component calculations, geographical mislocations, incorrect mathematics, and other serious defects."

There are indications that some of the errors were deliberate, a corruption of science by politics and perverse financial incentives that underlies the entire global warming movement.

Hansen Embarrassed NASA
02/01/09 - PowerLineBlog by John Hinderaker

James Hansen of NASA is a leader in espousing the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). He has public credibility because of his NASA affiliation. His boss at NASA was John Theon, who has recently retired, and has announced his view that AGW is not supported by evidence.

Theon writes:

[edited] As Chief of several NASA Hq. Programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research.

James Hansen was never muzzled, even though he violated NASA's official position, that NASA did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it. He embarrassed NASA by his claims of global warming in his 1988 testimony before Congress.

I believe that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system, because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit.

Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. They don't explain what they have modified in the observations or how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done.

Thus, there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.

The Greatest Fraud in History?
01/30/09 - PajamasMedia by James Lewis

[edited] The credibility of science may never recover from the Global Warming scare. Credibility has to be earned, and once it’s squandered may never be recovered. Far too many scientists have knowingly colluded in an historic fraud, one that would put Bernie Madoff to shame. We are seeing political larceny here on a planetary scale. Why should scientists who have gambled their own reputations on this fakery ever be trusted again?

I’m not a climatologist. Like most scientists I rarely judge what others do in their fields. And yet it’s been flamingly obvious for years now, that the hypothesis of human-caused global warming violates all the basic rules and safeguards that protect the integrity of normal, healthy science. That’s why AGW (anthropogenic global warming) looks like a massive fraud, the biggest fraud ever in the history of science.

Mr. Lewis discusses a number of things that real scientists NEVER do. These are all things that promotors of global warming are doing loudly and repeatedly. It is politics or religion, but not science. Here is one point (it is worth reading the rest):

Bad data has been very widespread in global warming theories. Judging by past performance, it may still be endemic. Thermometers are placed in hot areas in the cities, and the data is shamelessly generalized to the whole world. The infamous “hockey stick” temperature diagram has been exposed. James Hansen has brought NASA to its lowest point ever by repeatedly endorsing false data.

In any healthy field of science, that disastrous empirical record would have discredited the hypothesis. But while the data seems to crash periodically, the models don’t change in their catastrophism.

Climate Scientology: Getting rid of the Medieval Warming Period
12/25/08 - AndrewBostom.org by Andrew Bostom

Andrew Bostom cites much detail. It is a meaty article, and worth the reading. The government is going to demand your money and resources to bury carbon, at great expense. You should know that they are politically motivated (wanting your money) rather than altruistic (saving your great, great grandchildren). Maybe you would rather see a movie, eat steak, or buy a better TV.

[edited] Professor Ross McKitrick:
The late 20th century appears to be nothing special compared to the The Medieval Warm Period. The historic temperature graph was a problem for those pushing the global warming alarm.

If the world could warm so much, on such a short time scale, as a result of natural causes, surely the 20th century climate change could simply be a natural effect as well. The present climate change could hardly be unusually hazardous if even larger climate changes happened in the recent past, and we are now fluctuating in the middle of what nature regularly dishes out.

A Scam, With No Basis In Science
12/28/08 - John Hinderaker at PowerLineBlog
Distorted, politicized, and failed "science" supports Anthropogenic Global Warming (warming caused by human actions).

Read the whole thing there, or go to the original letter by mathematical physicist Frank Tipler Warming or Hot Air?

[edited] Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science. A scientific theory makes predictions which are then compared with future observations.

AGW predicted steadily increasing global temperatures, now refuted by experience [and data]. AGW theorists now "predict" cooling, after the fact. A perfect example of a pseudo-science like astrology.

Bjorn Lomborg wrote a book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" critical of the "consensus" view on AGW and other environmental questions. He was charged and convicted (later reversed) of scientific fraud [by his Danish university?] for being critical of that consensus. He would have been fired if the conviction had held. This is very similar to what happened to Galileo during the Inquisition.

John Holdren is Obama's new science advisor. It is disturbing that Holdren wrote part of the Danish case against Lomborg. Holdren thinks skeptics like Lomborg are dangerous. Really, it is Holdren who is dangerous, because he is willing to use state power to silence his critics. [And, don't forget Al Gore saying that the debate is over.]

The AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science. If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is a skeptic, then no contract. I am astounded that people advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science and a more rapid advance of science in the early part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding.

Frank Tipler cites a bit of fascinating history about Galileo at the above link Warming or Hot Air?.
[edited] Aristotle's theory was the consensus view. The "out-of-the-mainsteam" Galileo had the gall to prove it wrong by devising simple experiments that anyone could do. Galileo's fellow "scientists" first failed to refute him by argument from authority. Then they tried calling Galileo names, but this made no impression on the average person, who could see with his own eyes that Galileo was right. Finally, they manipulated the Inquisition into trying and convicting him.

Global Warming in 1000 Years
A warning from a scientist who believes in global warming. Don't think that we can quickly undo the current damage from high CO2 levels. Climate will be this bad, almost constant, for 1000 years.

[edited] People thought that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide, the climate would go back to normal in 100 - 200 years, but that is not true. Absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans acts to cool the Earth. Release of heat from the oceans warms the Earth. These processes will work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant (at current levels) for more than 1,000 years.

Jan 23, 2009

Doctors Can't View Your Medical Records

Censored medical records
01/23/09 - Throckmorton's other signs
[edited] Our hospitals don't have full electronic medical records. All efforts at them stopped when the President decided to mandate them. [No one wants to spend for a system that may be deemed non-standard by the government.]

We do have electronic lab reports and xray studies, etc. Well, apparently we are getting a taste of what happens when the government gets involved. They have decided that some medical tests are private and not available in any record, even to medical personnel taking care of the patient.

One of these is HIV status. Knowing this is very handy when trying to figure out why a chachetic patient (losing weight) has a pneumonia that isn't getting better, or has meningitis. They have even censored the CD4 levels so you dont have a clue if they have HIV.

If a nurse is bitten by a drunk patient, He/she can not find out if the patient had HIV. He must always get multiple blood draws over the next 6 months.

UV Radiation from Compact Fluorescent Lights

CFL bulbs spark safety fears
01/23/09 - HealthZone.ca Canada by Jen Skerritt of the Canadian Press
[edited] Health Canada is testing compact fluorescent lights. Two months earlier, Britain's Health Protection Agency warned the public that the bulbs emit UV rays.

They recommend that people should not be closer than 30 cm (1 foot) from an energy-saving light bulb for more than one hour per day, saying it is like exposing bare skin to direct summer sunlight. This could cause problems for people with medical conditions like lupus.

The bulbs have been widely promoted in Canada as an easy way to reduce greenhouse gases and are expected to replace incandescent bulbs by 2012 after a federal ban eliminates them.

The first comment is interesting:
[edited] I hate these bulbs. They give me migraines! They do not produce enough light to read by even when they are just behind my shoulder shining on the book page. One out of three malfunctions in some way (breaks etc). They take up to 5 minutes to reach maximum output. I'm usually gone by then. They are the wrong shape for most of my existing fixtures. If a new product is legislated in it should at least be as good as the one they are kicking out. I'd switch to LED but have issues again with having to replace every light fixture in the house. I like saving electricity but at what price?

Good and Bad News on Parenting

Good News and Bad News on Parenting
01/23/09 - Econlog.Econlib by Bryan Caplan

Good parents make their children happier, but they turn out about the same.

[edited] Twin and adoption studies have produced credible answers to the nature-nurture controversy. Nature wins. Heredity alone can account for almost all shared traits among siblings.

Steven Pinker is a professor of psychology at Harvard University:

Adult siblings are equally similar whether they grew up together or apart. Adoptive siblings are no more similar than two people plucked off the street at random. Identical twins are no more similar than one would expect from the effects of their shared genes.

The normal range of parenting styles has little effect on how your children turn out. You can be strict or permissive, involved or distant, encouraging or critical, religious or secular. In the long run, your kids will resemble you in many ways; but they would have resembled you about as much if they had never met you.

Both nature and nurture play a role in divorce. Mild spanking does no lasting harm, but harsh punishment can leave lasting psychological scars.

Why does almost everyone think that the family environment is most important? Family environment has substantial effects on children, but these largely fade out by adulthood. Children are not like clay that parents mold for life; they are more like flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but pops back to its original shape.

Safe, But Also Sorry

Safe, But Also Sorry
01/23/09 - Reason.com by Katherine Mangu-Ward
The tradoff between security and restrictions.

She interviews security/encryption expert Bruce Schneier

[edited] I consider myself a realist. Most people who say that are pessimists, but I'm not. Most people are honest and trustworthy; otherwise society would fall apart. Attacks are rare. Ten times as many people die each year in car crashes than did on 9/11, and the most dangerous part of an airplane journey is still the taxi ride to the airport.

Security is designed to protect us from the dishonest minority. It's important to remember that. I remember being told as a child: "Never talk to strangers." That's actually stupid advice.

If a child is lost, scared, or alone, the smartest thing he can do is find a kindly looking stranger to talk to. The real advice is: "Don't answer strangers who talk to you first." The difference is important.

In the first case, the child selects the stranger. The odds of him selecting a bad person are pretty negligible. In the second case, the stranger selects the child; that's more dangerous. I don't think that it is optimism to point out that most people are honest, or pessimism to figure out how to best secure ourselves from the dishonest minority. It is analytical realism.

Jan 22, 2009

Too Many Federal Prosecutions

Heritage Foundation challenges federal prosecutions
01/22/09 - DC Examiner Editorial

Former Attorney General Ed Meese is the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and its Director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. He is quoted:

[edited] The Heritage Foundation's goal is to restore the criminal law to what it has traditionally been used for, to protect the public safety and to deal with real crime. We want to avoid more of what has occurred, the multiplicity of laws and regulations that carry criminal penalties. These ensnare ordinary citizens for things that nobody would anticipate are crimes.

Many special interest groups have urged Congress to attach criminal penalties to regulatory legislation to "show its importance." Many of the worst examples involve obscure environmental regulations or business rules. The criminal process is abused when civil or administrative actions would suffice to protect public health and safety.

In one case, seafood importers spent eight years in jail because their lobsters were improperly packed in plastic rather than cardboard. “Zero tolerance” policies land children in jail for making paper guns in school, or having small knives on campus in the trunk of their cars after moving and opening boxes. A cancer patient aged 61 was jailed because her hedges were too high. This is law enforcement run amuck.

- -
Washington's Biggest Crime Problem
April 2004 - Reason.com by William Anderson and Candice E. Jackson. Just a small part of an interesting article.

[edited] The federal government's ever-expanding criminal code is an affront to justice and the Constitution.

In 1996 Edward Hanousek Jr., a road master for a railroad company running between Alaska and Canada, was convicted of negligently discharging a harmful quantity of oil into the Skagway River, a U.S. waterway, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

An independent contractor had accidentally ruptured a pipeline while attempting to clear rocks off the tracks. Hanousek was off duty and at home that day, nowhere near the accident site, and he had no knowledge of the pipeline rupture until after the fact.

The government nevertheless prosecuted Hanousek, a federal jury convicted him, and he received a sentence of six months in prison, six months in a halfway house, six months of post-release supervision, and a $5,000 fine.

- -
USDA: You sold too many bunnies. Penalty: $90,000.
05/20/11 - Big Government by Bob McCarty

Update:  USDA Responds to the pressure of publicity
05/25/11 - Big Government by Bob McCarty

[edited]  John Dollarhite and his wife Judy live in tiny Nixa, Mo. The USDA has fined them $90,000 by Monday, or they will face additional fines of almost $4 million. Why? Because they sold more than $500 worth of bunnies ($4,600) in one calendar year. They had made a $200 profit overall on the bunnies.

Eight weeks passed after some questions by USDA representatives. John called Colorado Springs, then a number for the USDA in Washington D.C. The lady he talked to was blunt.

She said, ‘Well, Mr. Dollarhite, I’ve got the report on my desk, and I’m just gonna tell you that, once I review it, it’s our intent to prosecute you to the maximum that we can, and we will make an example out of you.”

The USDA stands forthrightly against the tide of lawlessness represented by unlicensed rabbit breeding.

- -
How Corrupted Language Moved from the Campus to the Real World
02/23/10 - Minding the Campus - Reforming Our Universities
by Harvey A. Silverglate

[edited] George Orwell wrote his critique "Politics and the English Language" in 1946: "One must let meaning choose the word, not the other way around."   Administrators and legislators ignore this truth. They have crafted imprecise regulations which give campus disciplinary staff and federal government prosecutors enormous and grotesquely unfair power.

Interrogation Rules

Symbolism Only Goes So Far
01/22/09 - PowerLineBlog by John Hinderaker
[edited] Obama also ordered that the CIA be limited in its interrogations of captured terrorists to the small menu of techniques in the Army's Field Manual.

This makes little sense; the Field Manual is intended to instruct soldiers with little or no training as interrogators in questioning enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield. These conditions have nothing to do with the highly specialized case of trained CIA experts trying to get potentially life-or-death information from leaders of al Qaeda and similar groups.

This topic, too, came up in today's press conference, when a reporter asked, in effect, Are you kidding?

Sins of a Treasury Secretary

Venial versus mortal sins in a Treasury Secretary
01/22/09 - PowerLineBlog by Paul Mirengoff and John Hinderaker

The Senate is holding confirmation hearings to make Timothy Geithner Secretary of the Treasury, to run the IRS and manage the spending of $800 billion dollars and more in "stimulus".

John Hinderaker:

[edited] Geithner failed to pay his self-employment taxes for four years. I find it remarkable that the Senate is willing to overlook that fact, even though:
  • The IMF, his employer, told him that he needed to pay these taxes.
  • The IMF gave him additional compensation specifically earmarked for paying those taxes.
  • He signed a form stating that he would use this compensation to pay those taxes.
  • He paid those taxes for 2003 and 2004 after he was audited by the IRS.
  • He still did not pay those taxes for 2001 and 2002 because the statute of limitations had run out for those years, so he couldn't be prosecuted.
  • He paid the tax for 2001 and 2002 when Obama's transition team discovered the facts.
A Republican with the same tax-scofflaw record would not have the chance of a snowball in Hell of being confirmed.

Paul Mirengoff:

[edited] The conventional wisdom that exalts Geithner says that former Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers could run Treasury at least as well as Geithner.

Unfortunately, Summers committed an offense far graver than non-payment of taxes. He expressed politically incorrect views about why there are more men than women in high-end science and engineering positions.

Indicted for Predicting Doom

Indicted for Predicting Doom
01/22/09 - Blog.Mises by Frank Shostak, from Reuters

Because, it is just not allowable that some blogger should be trusted more than the entire South Korean government.

[edited] South Korean prosecutors indicted on Thursday the blogger Minerva who had warned of financial doom for the country. Critics said he was targeted because his gloomy forecasts upset the government, now battling an economic downturn.

"The suspect in this case was indicted on charges of false information on two occasions," said an official at the prosecutors' office.

Jan 20, 2009

I Pledge to Obama

I Pledge
01/20/09 - IowaHawk.Typepad.com
An interpreted transcript of the "Pledge of llegiance to Obama" video. It is laugh out loud at your terminal funny.
[excerpt] I pledge:

Nicole Richie: To give up food altogether.

Possibly that red-haired chick from Spiderman: To be a great mother.

Some d-bag from that emo band, "Fallout Charlotte" or something, that my daughter was into when she was 11: To be a great father.

Demi Moore: To hire only the best nannies... because all of our children deserve a good nanny.

Lucy Liu: To continue working to support raising awareness as a voice for UNICEF and their international nanny awareness programs.

An Hystoricle Day

An Hystoricle Day
01/20/09 - DocsOnTheWeb by Shrodingers Cat

Cat sees our current political and economic situation unfolding as it did in 1930, and for the same reason: government manipulation of the economy on a massive scale. The government just won't stand back and let the people (free market) clean up the mess.

[edited] You see, history seems to be repeating itself, and it is like watching a train wreck, knowing beforehand it was going to happen but unable to stop it.

Hoover was a meddling Republican president who felt he "had to do something" to help the economy of 1929 and 30. He consulted key business leaders and came up with the brilliant ideas of keeping wages high at a time of declining prices and profits for companies, ensuring increased unemployment. He increased taxes (top rate went to 63 percent) increased government subsidies to industry and agriculture, and increased tariffs.

He said, "We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic". (Not my kind of fiscally responsible conservative) That quote sounds awfully familiar... Then came the great FDR (BHO)
(Read more)

The irony is that our problems have been created by a runaway government program to make big houses available to everyone, able to pay or not. The government agencies that did this are called Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the bond ratings agencies.

They pretend to be "private companies" while operating with government guarantees, government appointed boards, government appointed executive officers, government political pressures, and government "oversight" that encouraged them to borrow as much money as the entire US debt at the time, and distort the housing finance markets.

Now, we are being sold government programs to "fix" the problems, maybe, by spending $1,000 billion at a time.

See "We Guarantee It".

The last part of the post reports a parable of politics, performed in a third grade classroom.

[edited] Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support.

The day arrived for their speeches. Jamie had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Everyone applauded.

Olivia's speech was concise. "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down. The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream." She surely could say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it? She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream.

Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a landslide.
(Read more)

Obama Talks Responsibility but Walks Irresponsibly

Obama Talks Responsibility but Walks Irresponsibly
01/20/09 - Business and Media Institute by Donald J. Boudreaux, Chairman Dept. of Economics at George Mason University.

[edited] Absolutely no one can responsibly spend $1.5 billion of other people's money.

Barack Obama calls for "a new era of responsibility" but his actions belie his words. By seeking an extra $800 billion for "stimulus," Mr. Obama will generate a typhoon of irresponsibility.

At the blog EconLog "The Stimulus and the Somme", Arnold Kling says:

How many people will have meaningful input in determining the overall allocation of the $800 billion stimulus? 10? 20? It won't be more than 1000. Maybe 500 technocrats will play a meaningful role in writing the bill.

These people will have unimaginable power. Remember that they are taking our money and deciding for us how to spend it. Presumably, that is because they are wiser at spending our money than we are at spending it ourselves.

The arithmetic is mind-boggling. If 500 people have meaningful input, and the stimulus is almost $800 billion, then on average each person is responsible for taking more than $1.5 billion of our money and trying to spend it more wisely than we would spend it ourselves.

Jan 19, 2009

A Battle in the War Between the Sexes

The Toxic Waste Of Modern Feminism
01/19/09 - AdviceGoddess by Amy Alkon

The post is about the Feminist desire to deny the usual attractions, to be loved only for what is inside rather than superficial looks. An anecdote provided as a comment by wolfboy69 captures the essence of the problem.

One evening last week, my girlfriend and I were getting into bed. Well, the passion starts to heat up, and she eventually says, 'I don't feel like it, I just want you to hold me.'

I said, 'WHAT??!! What was that?!'

So she says the words that every boyfriend on the planet dreads to hear ... 'You're just not in touch enough with my emotional needs as a woman, for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man.'

She responded to my puzzled look by saying, 'Can't you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in the bedroom?'

Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.

The very next day I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out to a nice lunch and then went shopping at a big department store. I walked around with her while she tried on several very expensive outfits. She couldn't decide which one to take, so I told her we'd just buy them all. She wanted new shoes to compliment her new clothes, so I said, 'Lets get a pair for each outfit.'

We went on to the jewelry department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. Let me tell you ... she was so excited. She must have thought I was one wave short of a shipwreck. I started to think she was testing me because she asked for a tennis bracelet when she doesn't even know how to play tennis.

I think I threw her for a loop when I said, 'That's fine, honey.' She was almost nearing sexual satisfaction from all of the excitement. Smiling with excited anticipation, she finally said, 'I think this is all dear, let's go to the cashier.'

I could hardly contain myself when I blurted out, 'No honey, I don't feel like it.'

Her face just went completely blank as her jaw dropped with a baffled, 'WHAT?'

I then said, 'Honey! I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while. You're just not in touch enough with my financial needs as a man, for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman.'

And just when she had this look like she was going to kill me, I added, 'Why can't you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?'

Apparently I'm not having sex tonight either....but at least she knows I'm smarter than she is.

Jan 18, 2009

Stimulus Bill Boondoggle

Biggest Boondoggle in American History
01/18/09 - PowerLineBlog by Paul Hinderaker
The stimulus bill is a whole lot of spending.

About "paid for by our children and grandchildren", don't count on it! Spending now wastes resources now. Those are the resources that you want in your life. More waste now means less national production now and later. I don't mean to be crude, but you will be emptying your own bedpan while you look out at all of those shiny new bridges and schools that they want to build, to support construction unions with their lovely votes and contributions. (See also: A short argument against stimulus)

[edited] We are living in an historical moment of uncharted territory. Minority Leader John Boehner sent out an email about the House Democrats' ridiculous $825 billion "stimulus" bill.

A Dozen Fun Facts About the House Democrats' Massive Spending Bill

1. The House Democrats' bill will cost each and every household $6,700 additional debt, paid for by our children and grandchildren.

2. The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.

Read more ...

Jan 17, 2009

Fake Cashier's Checks

Protecting Customers from Fake Cashier's Checks
01/17/09 - BankersOnline by Mary Beth Guard

Bank Checks or Cashier's Checks can be fake. It takes 10 days to detect the fraud. Crooks are sending fake checks and asking for some or all of the money back before the fake is discovered. There are more stories at the link.

[edited] People may be misled about whether a cashier's check is good. Funds may be available a few days after deposit, but will be taken back if the check does not clear a week later. When bogus cashier's checks are deposited, some banks do not give accurate information about when the check will be cleared and good, so that the customer can safely use the funds.

Some banks say that the check will be good in 24 hours, or that the check is guaranteed good, so there are no worries about using the funds. Feeling safely assured, the bank customer goes through with the transaction. Days later, when the checks are found to be counterfeit, the banks hold their customer responsible for the entire amount of the check, even though the bank had assured them that the funds were good.

There should be laws that hold the banks responsible for releasing the funds from these checks before they verify that the check is good, or telling the customer that the check is good, only to announce days later that it is not. If they know it takes 10 days for the check to clear, they should tell that to the customer. Banks are issued warnings from the FDIC when cashier's checks are stolen from other banks, yet they do nothing to increase the security measures that they take when handling a cashier's check.

Have Wages Been Flat?

Obama in a nutshell
01/16/09 - PowerLineBlog by Paul Mirengoff and John Hinderaker

Wages have gone up, but the cash that workers see has increased only slowly for 10+ years.

Your employer does not give you benefits as a gift. These payments are part of your compensation, and they come out of the higher wages that you would have gotten if your employer did not pay for benefits on your behalf.

Read more ...

Medical insurance is part of the problem. It should be cheaper when the employer pays for it rather than giving the same dollars to the employee, because the tax law prevents the employee from deducting the cost, but allows the employer that deduction. Simply put, medical benefits are paid tax free to the employee.

But, legislation adds "Cadillac-style" benefits to what the employer must provide, under the myth that you are getting something extra. These add-ons cost more than the tax benefit of the simpler insurance, so the entire package costs more tax-free than the simpler insurance would cost privately. Simply put, would you rather have the cash, or the lowest co-pays, acupuncture, and health club membership?

Obama is quoted:

[edited] Here's my basic principle: that wages and incomes have flat lined over the last decade. Part of that has to do with forces that are beyond everybody's control: globalization, technology and so forth. Part of it has to do with workers having very little leverage and that larger and larger shares of our productivity go to the top and not to the middle or the bottom.

Paul Mirengoff comments:

[edited] It should be noted that Obama's statement "wages and incomes have flat lined over the last decade" is not true. But taking it at face value, Obama derives this from statistics which do not include benefits.

The cost of labor has been rising steadily, but this is missed by indices that ignore benefits. In recent years (not confined to the last decade), workers have increasingly chosen, or have been required to "choose" by ill-advised laws, to take their compensation more and more in the form of benefits, specifically health insurance.

This is logical to the extent that health insurance is a "bargain" paid for with pre-tax dollars. But, if anyone wants cash wages to increase, as Obama purports to, there is an easy fix: repeal all state and federal mandates that require employers to provide, and therefore requires employees to pay for, Cadillac-style health benefits, whether employees want them or not. If Democrats aren't willing to do this, their protestations about "flat lined" cash compensation are disingenuous.

+ + +
See also: Company Paid Health Insurance is Part of Your Salary

Jan 16, 2009

Jefferson Warns about Debt: Discussion

This is a discussion about the post
Thomas Jefferson Warns Us About Debt

Intplee commented on 01/16/09 as quoted:

One problem for the U.S. is that many foreigners invested their dollars in mortgage backed securities and government bonds.
Government bonds are promises by the Treasury to pay back an amount plus interest. The government borrows to do the things that "we" supposedly want to do. That is not a bad thing in itself.

Raising taxes to pay back the money plus interest is a burden on the productive members of society. The bad part is that government is effectively raising taxes without the discussion and resistance that would go along with trying to raise taxes immediately.

It is like overspending on a credit card. It is easy to spend too much, then face the misery of high repayments.

Mortgage backed securities were pioneered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were/are government agencies pretending to be private companies. The problem is that our government guaranteed the repayment of these bonds. Fannie and Freddie used the money to buy massive amounts of sub-prime mortgage loans ($1,400 billion), which helped create sub-prime losses and the financial crisis. See "We Guarantee It".

The losses on sub-prime lending became losses of the US Government. There are a large amount of other sub-prime bonds not guaranteed by the US, bought by foreigners and US institutions, and they are trying (successfully) to put the losses back on the US government.

More dollars have been leaving the U.S. to buy imports than returning to buy exports: the trade deficit. Some have collected overseas and used for trade in lieu debased currencies, while others have found their way back to the U.S. to invest (since this return of dollars does not represent the purchase of exports, it does not reduce the trade deficit). Everything seems okay: foreigners are using the dollars they receive for imports to invest in the U.S., that must be good, right?

I agree with your insight. Another word for Trade Deficit is Foreign Investment. People and institutions on US land buy products from companies on foreign land and invest in foreign companies. Foreigners do the same in reverse. If they invest in the US more than we invest in them, we choose to call it a Trade Deficit. It could be called a Foreign Investment Surplus.

It seems to me that many of these dollars were invested in mortgage backed securities and government bonds. For the economy as a whole these represent malinvestments, and therefore, are not good for the U.S. economy.

The investments were a mistake, because the US built more houses than people could pay for, financed by sub-prime loans with tricky requirements like interest rate-resets. Malinvestment in housing (too many houses) has had the side effect of decreased housing prices, which will continue for a few years until the extra houses can be sold.

Ordinarily, a businessman might sell stocks and bonds to fund expansion, refurbish or update equipment, or whatever else. The idea is to use any money borrowed to increase future productivity. These are real investments in the future of an economy; they forego consumption today for more tomorrow.

But it seems to me that many foreigners were investing in mortgage backed securities and government bonds. For the economy as a whole these represent malinvestments, and therefore, a burden.

The foreign investors (like domestic investors) are worse off because they have lost money directly on the bonds they bought.

All investment is a risk. People open restaurants that fail and lose money. Building houses is a good thing if people can afford to buy them, and investing in this activity can be good. Our current problem is that our government encouraged and enabled investment in building houses that could not be paid for.

The burden is that the government made US taxpayers invest in more housing by guaranteeing repayment of what was borrowed. Now we are on the hook. This was a massive, off budget, government borrowing operation, that US taxpayers are supposed to pay back.

The government put up a sign at Fannie Mae "Invest here. Repayment of interest and principle are guaranteed". Of course investors responded, but they are not the ones who lost the money.

Sure the investors get paid back by the government (so far), but how often is that money spent increasing future productivity? And the real cost is everything that private businesses could have achieved with the same resources.
Correct, the cost of a bad investment is what you could have done that was better. The investors in Fannie Mae bonds will be repaid by the government, and the bailout is repaying a lot of the other bond buyers. Some will suffer losses, and some will have their money back to invest again.

US taxpayers are not so well off, because we will be paying taxes to cover the losses from Fannie Mae and the wider bailout. The loss on housing has been put onto us. Government has effectively taken private wealth through the promise of higher taxes and spending and diverted it to housing. Fewer things have been created that people can afford.

Real investment has to compensate for the burden and waste of government debt to keep future output high. By "investing" the U.S. Government, foreigners have actually harmed the U.S. economy in the long run, by redirecting capital assets to wasteful government programs and away from real investment in the private sector.
Investors don't want to lose money, and they didn't harm us by investing in US government sponsored projects. The projects were risky and wasteful, and attracted investment by offering guarantees and getting AAA ratings. We have to stop our government from taxing away our resources to spend on wasteful projects.

We have given our legislators the power to borrow whatever they can, guaranteeing repayment with interest, using taxpayer's productivity as collateral. It is impossible to ask investors, foreign or domestic, to save us from the stupidity of our representatives by refusing to make those investments.

Jan 15, 2009

Thomas Jefferson Warns Us About Debt

Thomas Jefferson On Debt
01/1/09 - liberty-tree.ca by Thomas Jefferson (July 1816)

Thomas Jefferson was a US Founding Father. He drafted the Declaration of Independence and served as the 3rd US President.

[edited] We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must choose between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.

If we run into such debt, that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds, then we will have no time to think, and no means of calling our miss-managers to account. We would then be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains onto the necks of our fellow-sufferers.

This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for another, until the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery. And, the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

The Pelosi-Obama-Reid Economy

The Pelosi-Obama-Reid Economy
01/15/09 - PajamasMedia by Tom Blumer
A good review of recent events, the Government's plans, why they won't work, and the quality of top analysis and leadership. This is a short excerpt.
[edited] Meltdowns at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were decades in the making, aided and abetted by Democrat cronies like Frank Raines. This exposed how Fannie, Freddie, and the Community Reinvestment Act ruined the mortgage-lending market by lowering credit approval standards.

The Fan-Fred poison spread to other lenders. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson panicked and made up the amount of $700 billion to buy “troubled assets”, mostly mortgage loans in delinquency and foreclosure. Paulson's threats of financial Armageddon stampeded a reluctant President Bush into agreement. Pelosi, Obama, and Reid were proud advocates.

Paulson did not use the money as promised. He forced major banks to accept direct government investment. Bailing out one industry has already led to another (GM-Chrysler) and endless calls for more, from private businesses, states, local governments, and other public entities.

Is it a surprise that investors, entrepreneurs, and business managers are in no mood to invest or expand? They are shedding employees at a scary rate, down 500,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) for a second month.

Why start or expand any business if the government may aid your competitors or whimsically alter the rules? Consumers have billions of extra dollars available thanks to energy price drops and lower interest rates. But, they seem to be reducing their spending due to uncertainty.

Washington's solution is more bailouts and more uncertainty, through another bigger “stimulus” that should be slower than the last. Tax “rebate” checks sent out February 2008 were not very effective, but they put money into consumers’ pockets quickly. The new “stimulus” package is mostly public “investment” that, even if justified, will take much longer to affect the economy.

Roosevelt spent on massive public works during the Depression. This prolonged the Depression for seven years. Japan tried government stimulus for 10 years in the 1990s. It resulted in “the lost decade”.

Nobody knows how to make a pencil

Nobody knows how to make a pencil
01/15/09 - AlexBarnett.net (11/18/06)

Do you believe that the economy can be managed, beyond setting free and fair rules and protecting property rights? Consider that there is no single person or small group in the world who actually knows how to make a lowly lead pencil.

I, Pencil
1958 by Leonard E. Read (1898-1983). Full text, free.

[edited excerpt]:  I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I can teach this lesson better than an automobile, an airplane, or a mechanical dishwasher because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that about one and one-half billion of my kind are produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye: there's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Jan 14, 2009

Tennessee Sludge Spill: Government Disaster

Tennessee Sludge Spill: Government Disaster 30 Times Worse than Exxon-Valdez
01/14/09 - BusinessAndMedia by Julia A. Seymour
TVA is responsible, but media ignore that it is run by the government.
[edited] The Tennesee Valley Authority (TVA) is a government agency created during the Great Depression, and the nation’s largest electric utility. Their earthen dam in the town of Kingston, TN held more than one billion gallons of thick, black coal sludge. This is coal ash mixed with water, enough to fill more than 550 [sic] Olympic-sized swimming pools. [I compute 1266 pools x 790K gals/pool via Wikipedia]

About December 22, 2008 the dam collapsed. Sludge spread out over hundreds of acres, fouling waterways, and burying homes while people were sleeping.

News reports portrayed the disaster as a failure of the coal industry, not of a government agency. Left-wing environmentalists called for more regulation of the utility industry, instead of blaming the government for failing to police itself.

TVA’s CEO Tom Kilgore admitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “the most expensive solution wasn’t chosen … Obviously, that doesn’t look good for us.” That solution would have cost the TVA $25 million. The cleanup will cost $20 million, plus the settlement of lawsuits. [And, the dam will need to be rebuilt.]

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA: “We didn’t really do much in the first two years looking at TVA”.

Shaka Mitchell of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research: “If there is one thing we can all learn from the disastrous toxic ash spill in Kingston, it’s that when government-run companies fail, no one is held accountable, but everyone pays.”

Tennessee Gets a Lesson in Unaccountable Government
02/07/09 - WSJ Opinion by Scott Barker

The national media briefly gave some attention to the spill. In the Tennessee Valley, faith in government control of TVA may never recover. It was a wall of fly-ash sludge, a waste product of coal combustion from a nearby power plant. 300 acres were coated with debris in Swan Pond, a rural community about 35 miles west of Knoxville.

"I wouldn't have bought this land and built here if I knew this would happen," Mrs. Spurgeon told me after the disaster. "I guess you just trust government agencies."

Fly-ash contains arsenic, lead and beryllium, among other pollutants, so residents are worried about possible long-term effects to their health, water quality and property values.

TVA is trying to mitigate the damage by spending $1 million a day on the cleanup. But with several lawsuits in the works and a state investigation under way, nearly everyone is calling for the utility to be held accountable.

The problem is that it isn't really accountable to anyone. It is not scrutinized by shareholders and, unlike traditional government agencies, it is self-funded, so it doesn't have to justify itself to Congress to win annual appropriations.

Jan 13, 2009

Create a Million Jobs

Job Creation
01/13/09 - ChicagoBoyz by David Foster
[edited] I know a way to create at least a million jobs, almost immediately, at no government expense whatsoever. Ban the automatic operation of elevators.

The Elevator Safety and Economic Opportunity Act of 2009 will preempt state regulation of elevators and will require that after March 1, 2009, no elevator shall carry passengers without being under the exclusive control of a qualified and certified elevator operator. In the early 1950s there were about 500,000 people employed as elevator operators. There are a lot more buildings and elevators now. Surely, we can count on a million new jobs.

The Economy is Not a Machine

The Economy is Not a Machine
01/13/09 - TCSDaily by Max Borders
[edited] The idea of fixing, running, regulating, designing, or modeling an economy rests on the notion that we can appoint smart directors who will implement an intelligent plan.

But the economy is not a mechanism. There is no mission control. Government cannot swoop down to explain and fix. The knowledge required to grasp the billions of actions, transactions and interconnections would fry the neural circuitry of a thousand Ben Bernankes.

F.A.Hayek called this the knowledge problem. Knowledge is dispersed through society, not concentrated in a few central authorities. Bad consequences follow government interventions because a ruling committee cannot have enough knowledge or judgment.

Many blame "greed" for our current problems. The profit motive is a good thing in an environment where bad investments receive losses and good ones are profitable. Government can distort that system, giving profits to people who make bad decisions. Greed becomes much more dangerous in that environment.

The Real Tax Burden

Watching government at work is like watching four magicians on stage. Now you see it, now you don't, and there is too much to watch. There are plans for higher taxes, surcharges, lower taxes, tax rebates, guarantees, bailouts, "investments", subsidies, fees, loans, borrowings, and just printing more money. Mind boggling.

So, what is the government taking from the society, from the people who work to generate wealth or invest to create jobs? I quote the observations of economists Milton Friedman, and of Russell Roberts at CafeHayek "When a tax cut isn't a tax cut".

The amount of tax that a government imposes is the amount it spends. The timing and amount of tax collections is merely finance.

[edited] If the government cuts rates or gives rebates, but also increases the size of government, then real taxes are higher. Government is taking a bigger share of the economic pie leaving less for private use or investment.

Milton Friedman pointed out that the burden on the private sector is bigger when the government grows as a percentage of the economy. Focus on government spending, not on how government is financed, whether it's out of current taxes or future taxes.

Deficit Spending

A "deficit" is the amount of planned or promised spending that has no source of current funding. It is the amount that must be borrowed to pay for the project. A deficit is a red flag because the government is going to borrow the money, but has no plan for paying it back, other than raising taxes in the future.

For example, say Fred has saved $20,000. One day, he decides to buy a $30,000 boat by borrowing $10,000. That $10,000 is his deficit spending. He better have a plan for paying off that loan, or he is going to lose the boat, usually at a great loss.

That $10,000 is a red flag that Fred may be spending into disaster. But, would everything be OK if Fred buys just a $20,000 boat? Now there is no deficit, and he is not under pressure to find more income. With or without a deficit, buying the boat is a disaster if Fred needs the money for his kids or to repair the roof on his house.

The big question: Is it wise to spend that money, deficit or not? News stories concentrate on government deficits, which are only the underfunding of its projects. Those projects use the resources of citizens, deficit or not. It is no consolation that a wasteful project is fully funded by taking money from the people.

Worse, the government will claim unrealistic future savings or tax collections. It is like Fred claiming that he will save $10,000 on groceries to pay for the $30,000 boat. It makes the estimated deficit disappear, but it doesn't change the amount that Fred is spending. It is no consolation for the government to say: There is no deficit on this project, because we are going to take more money from you in the future to pay for it.

Spending Costs Resources Now

Government spending directs real effort and resources, right now. Most resources disappear in mountains of paperwork and rules. Some resources build useful things, like roads and buildings, but at high cost, and not usually the most useful things. A small fraction goes to absolutely necessary activities such as courts, police, fire, and national defense.

The taxes that support this spending are collected noisily as more taxes, or quietly as inflation. Tax collections are merely a "fairer" way to impose the tax burden than allowing inflation. Inflation is also disruptive, destroying production beyond the amount of government deficit spending.

Obama's Plans

Obama's spending plans are a massive tax increase. The government will have to collect taxes to fund this spending, either now or in the future. If it borrows the money, the taxes will include increased interest payments on that debt. If it merely prints the money, there will be inflation along with devaluation of the dollar.

Obama can try to make the top 5% of taxpayers finance spending increases. It is a brilliant redistribution plan that uses the current progressive tax system, plus "a bit more", to soak the rich in a way not seen since 1960. At that time, tax rates were 91%, and politics was about creating tax loopholes to keep the economy going. There is no doubt; the tax loopholes will be created again.

Obama will avoid saying that he is taxing the lower 95% or 70%. Instead, he will freely implement taxes on business and employment. These taxes must be silently passed along to people in the form of reduced wages and reduced employment.

I think we are going to see:

  • Misdirected public spending and "investment".
  • Reduced private investment and production.
  • Much higher marginal tax rates on "the rich", the people who organize and create jobs and production.
  • Higher unemployment.
  • Inflation and stagflation

The Problem Is Spending, not Deficits
12/15/09 - Cato at Liberty by Daniel J. Mitchell (video 6 min)

Politicians fixate on the deficit to pull a bait and switch. They claim that they can raise taxes to solve the problem. That only replaces debt-financed spending with tax-financed spending. That takes a different route to the wrong destination. The likely result is that the required tax increases will weaken the economy and make us all poorer.

Tax Relief, Obama Style
04/16/10 - TheBigQuestions by Steve Landesburg
Via Cafe Hayek

[edited] Obama figures that your tax burden is what you are paying right this moment as opposed to what you are obligated to pay in the future.

The reality is that President Obama, like President Bush before him, has dramatically raised government spending, and therefore has raised your taxes. To say otherwise is like saying you got your new swimming pool for free because you put it on your credit card.

When the money is spent, the bill must eventually come due, and the taxpayers must pay it. We are locked into higher current spending and therefore locked into higher future taxes.

The president has not lowered taxes; he has raised and then deferred them. To say otherwise is a flat-out lie, to be blunt.

See also: Other posts about taxes

Jan 12, 2009

We Don't Bother Raising Our Hands

We Don't Bother Raising Our Hands
01/12/09 - Media.NationalReview by Guy Benson
Quote from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin
[edited] We have been deferential, eager to please, and prepared to keep a careful distance from Obama in news conferences. Most of us in the press corps do not bother any more to raise our hands to ask questions. Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day.

Self Defense and Security

Self defense and security
01/12/09 - Samizdata
Video (5:30). Dr. Susan Gratia testifies to a US Senate committee about the use of guns for self defense and as a right under the Second Amendment.

She owned a handgun, but had stopped carrying it in her purse, afraid of laws that make gun possession a felony in some local areas. She had no weapon when a madman crashed into a cafeteria and systematically shot everyone he could. Her parents were killed. She barely escaped through a back window.

She asks, why does her government prevent her from having the means for self-defense, and defense against the government if needed?

Jan 11, 2009

The People Versus Politicians

The People Versus Politicians
01/11/09 - BaltimoreExaminer.com By Walter E. Williams
via InstaPundit
[edited] Without the rich for whipping boys, we might be able to concentrate on what's best for the 99.5% of the rest of us.

Legalized corruption is widespread, the job of 35,000 Washington D.C. lobbyists earning millions of dollars. They represent America's corporations, labor unions, foreign corporations, and unions. They are spending billions of dollars for favors at the expense of some other group of Americans.

Chairmanship or a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee is coveted. For a price, a loophole can be inserted into tax law, saving a company tens of millions of dollars, as in the Rangel scandal. At state levels, governors can award public works contracts to a generous constituent. At local levels, mayors can provide subsidies for stadiums and convention centers. Politicians can give favors, and they will find buyers.

Jan 9, 2009

Dirty Secrets of College Admissions

Dirty Secrets of College Admissions
01/09/09 - The Daily Beast by Kathleen Kingsbury
Quotes from admissions officers.

Age 25, elite Northeast liberal arts college:

One year I had a student with a near-perfect SAT score and straight A’s. His essays were a little more boring than the other kids. So I cut him.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a game and I read your file the next morning, chances were you weren’t getting in. Where I could have been nice, I was a lot less charitable.

State university in the Northeast:
One night, I got food poisoning at a restaurant in Buffalo. The next day, I rejected all the Buffalo applications. I couldn’t stomach reading them.
Ivy League university:
Some 70 percent of kids who apply are qualified to come here, and we have space for one in ten. It almost always comes down to whether you are likeable. An admissions officer is asking "Would I like to hang out with this guy or gal for the next four years?" So if you are just another Asian math genius with no personality, then it’s going to be tough for you.
Ivy League university:
Some middle-tier schools will reject top applicants. The admissions officer thinks "Oh, he just applied here as a safety. He’ll never come." They don’t want to lower the yield they report for college rankings.

+ + + +
College is an Expensive IQ Test

Other Posts about College

Jan 8, 2009

US Healthcare is First - Infant Mortality is Low

Critics of U.S. healthcare apply bias to unexamined health statistics.

USA Still #1 (NOT an Olympics Update)
The USA is Actually Number One in Health Care
08/28/07 - InsureBlog by Henry Stern

Another Royal Fisking (Mortality versus Morbidity)
A point by point rebuttal of the low USA health care ranking
08/11/08 - InsureBlog by Henry Stern

The U.S. healthcare system is repeatedly criticized for being expensive, yet delivering care that is inferior to most other countries with socialized, government run systems. This is not true.

The above posts at InsureBlog investigate the misleading statistics and bad thinking behind these claims. The quoted information below is edited and combined from those posts.

[edited] Government-run healthcare is ineffective compared to the ability of the U.S. system to treat cancer. The ranking is U.S. (first), then Canada, France, and Norway. This is despite the World Health Organization calling the French health system "the best in the world".

Most surprisingly, the MVNHS© (Most Vaunted National Health Service of Great Britain) ranked fifth (out of five!), with some of the lowest cancer survival rates in the civilized world. Keep that upper lip stiff, old chaps!

Who says so? The venerable and venerated medical journal the Lancet, as reported at Health Care BS. The Lancet is certainly not biased in favor of private health insurance.

The U.S. survival rate for prostate cancer is 91%; Britain's is 51%.

Infant mortality is often cited as a measure of health care delivery.
[edited] Socialized medicine does not achieve lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. What accounts for the bad statistics?

We count every live birth regardless of the baby's life expectancy. Under socialized systems such as in Canada and Germany (among many others), low birth weight infants under 500 grams (18 ounces), are not counted in the live-birth statistics.

Further, many socialized systems don't count babies who live less than a day. The Swedes don't count babies who are too short. We consider such infants worth saving and count them all, which lowers the statistical number for the survival rate.

Norway has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. The rates for the U.S. are just as good when adjusted for low birth weight.

"Mortality" measures the rate and cause of death. "Morbidity" measures the rate and cause of sickness. Many deaths are not caused by sickness, and populations have different rates and types of illness and consequent deaths. Mortality is a poor way to rate health care systems.
[edited] A new study has been reported in medical blogs: our supposedly broken, run-down, smelly health care system gives us an international rank of 42nd in life expectancy.

[ MSNBC doesn't provide a link to the source or provide a specific citation so that we can check the story for ourselves. ]

Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington is sanctimonious: "Something is wrong when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries".

How are our health care statistics affected by the entry of often unhealthy immigrants? We would need a lot more information about this and many other factors to tell how much, if anything, the life expectancy numbers have to do with quality of health care.

For example, we learn from the CDC that 75% of more than 40,000 deaths each year, among persons aged 10-24 in the U.S., are related to motor-vehicle crashes (37%), homicide (14%), suicide (12%), and other injuries (drowning, poisoning, and burns - 12%). That is part of our culture, not a measure of our health care system.

Also according to the CDC, heart disease and cancer cause almost half of all deaths in the US. That does not indict the health care system. We spend enormous sums to research and treat these conditions, but because people will not stop smoking and start exercising, there is little that "the system" can do about it.

John Stossel (Why the U.S. Ranks Low on WHO's Health-Care Study) analyzes that life expectancy is a lousy measure of a health-care system. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. Our homicide rate is 10 times greater than in the U.K., eight times greater than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation. That doesn't show a health-care problem.

Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health CareAnd, we've subtracted another 10 points for it not being government run.

08/31/09 - WSJ Opinion
by Dr. Jerome Groopman and Dr. Pamela Hartzband

People in the U.S. spend more and get better treatment than in other countries. There is no surprise in that fact.

The World Health Organization (The WHO) is sponsored by The United Nations. It compares healthcare statistics for many countries.

The U.S. government and public is debating the need for change in healthcare. Many people oppose private, free-market healthcare and support socialized restrictions and control. They repeat three statistics from The WHO to show that we need this drastic change. They argue that U.S. healthcare is both less effective and more expensive than in other countries, and so it cries out for reorganization to deliver better results while saving money.

These statistics are flawed and are repeated without simple investigation. They do not show poor U.S. healthcare when we look below the surface. Here are the claims, and the major flaw for each:

  • U.S. infant mortality is higher than in Europe.
    The statistics on infant mortality are confused by the U.S. standard of including all live births where there is a single breath. More premature and sick newborns are included, and so more deaths are recorded. Results for comparable births are as good or better in the U.S.
      See the details above and the reports below of delayed and denied childbirth services in Britain.
  • U.S. life expectancy is lower than in European countries with socialized healthcare.
    The statistics on life expectancy are confused by much higher accident and injury rates in the U.S., and by more heart disease. The inclusion of more infant death also pulls down the average lifespan.
      The outcomes for individual disease treatment, as in cancer, are better in the U.S.
  • The U.S spends the most per person compared to other countries, but ranks only 37th in the WHO ranking of overall quality of its healthcare.
    The WHO's definition of overall quality is confused and biased by a social judgment unrelated to the quality of the healthcare delivered.

See above for details about the flawed statistics for life expectancy and infant mortality.

The WHO Quality Rank

The WHO quality rank is probably the worst of the three statistics. The WHO directly includes confusing factors.

Drs. Groopman and Hartzband [edited]:

The WHO ranks U.S. healthcare as 37th in the world in quality. This statistic is surprising and inaccurate.

Consider that The WHO ranks the U.S. as first among all countries in "responsiveness":

  • Respect for persons -- Dignity, confidentiality, and autonomy for individuals and families to make decisions about their own care.
  • Client Orientation -- Prompt attention, access to social support networks during care, quality of basic amenities, and choice of provider.

This is what Americans rightly understand as quality care, and they worry it will be lost in the upheaval of reform.

The U.S. ranks 37th overall primarily because we lack universal coverage, and care is a financial burden for many citizens.

So, all of the details of U.S. healthcare are great, the individual services and results that people value. But, the statistic for "quality" is confused by a social judgment.

U.S. care is better and more expensive. The WHO lowers the U.S. rank for "quality" because of expense and not being provided as a government service. Then, critics cite the lower rank to claim that U.S. healthcare delivers less, despite spending more. This is ironic and fraudulent.

Misleading Ranking Makes for Unhealthy Debate
10/21/09 - WSJ by Carl Bialik

This flawed statistic still pops up:  U.S. health care ranks 37th in the world.

This ranking is particularly misleading. The World Health Organization, the WHO, released it nearly a decade ago, based on even older, incomplete statistics. This ranking judges healthcare systems for cultural, behavioral, and economic problems that aren't controlled by health care.

Philip Musgrove is an economist and is now deputy editor of the journal Health Affairs. WHO hired him as editor-in-chief of the report that accompanied the rankings.

He calls the figures "so many made-up numbers" resulting in a "nonsense ranking." He edited the text but did not fully understand the methodology until after the report was released. He later wrote an article in 2003 for the medical journal Lancet criticizing the rankings as "meaningless."

The underlying health data for each nation generally weren't available. So, WHO researchers looked at more widely available data, such as literacy rates and income inequality.

For example, the researchers related health data to literacy in countries where both numbers were available. Then, they assumed that the same relationship applied to countries where the literacy rate was available, but basic health data was not. They could not be sure that these relationships held true in other countries.

Healthcare in a Wealthy Country

Most of the U.S. population is wealthy enough to buy high quality healthcare, higher than in Europe. They are expressing this private preference mostly by buying expensive health insurance, and by supporting public plans such as Medicare.

Many regulations require health insurance to include services such as accupuncture, chiropracty, hair replacement, and health-club membership. These increase insurance payments without delivering additional, equally valued benefits to most people. Public plans like Medicare are going broke as people request more services that they do not personally pay for. These are problems that should be investigated and solved, I think through less and smarter regulation.

Let's not be confused. The quality of U.S. healthcare as commonly understood is the best in the world, when you consider results for treating disease. That cannot be used as a reason for sweeping healthcare "reform". The best healthcare costs more. That seems about right, and is not an indication of system failure.

The writer Mark Twain said:  "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Statistics can be selective, biased, and misstated, especially in the debate about healthcare.

Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices, and hospital toilets.
08/26/09 - Daily Mail UK OnLine. (Via Don Surber)

[edited] Surber:   Here is how free, socialist health care works in England. I thought their infant mortality rate was so much better. I mean, they would not lie about something like that. They spend half what the United States spends.

The London Daily Mail:   Almost 4,000 women (up 15%) gave birth outside maternity wards lacking midwives and hospital beds, instead in places like lifts (elevators), toilets, and caravans (mobile homes). Overstretched maternity units shut their doors to an additional 553 women in labor last year.

Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley:   The Labor Party has cut maternity beds by 2,340 (22%) since 1997. Birth rates have risen 20% in some areas.

Ten-Month Wait For The Maternity Ward
08/25/09 - SteynOnLine by Mark Steyn

Bureaucrats are dispassionate about applying policy.

[edited] Patients Together questions the time pregnant women must wait for their first appointment at Dublin, Ireland maternity hospitals. A woman three months pregnant was told to wait until she was 7 1/2 months.

A young mom talked to the health service shortly before giving birth on the sidewalk outside Leicester's Royal Infirmary. "They said they were not sending an ambulance, and that I had had nine months to sort out a lift."

Grandmother Disgusted by Filthy Hospital - Nursed and Bathed Other Patients
01/30/10 - DailyMail.co.uk - Via Don Surber

[edited] Janet Halsall, 74, stayed three days at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire for a liver scan. Staff repeatedly ignored pleas for help and left patients to ‘fend for themselves’.

She bathed, washed, and tucked in the frail, elderly patients. They were left without water, and the kitchen area was disgusting. One lady repeatedly complained to staff that she was cold. Halsall searched a cupboard for a blanket.

She washed one lady who needed help to clean herself, and took another pensioner to the toilet after staff continually ignored her requests, saying they were ‘too busy’.

Halsall: "Never before have I seen so many people rushing around, working so hard but achieving nothing."

Katherine Murphy is Director of the Patients Association. "Unfortunately, we hear far too many examples of the kinds of things described by Janet Halsall."

The comments by readers add to the story.

Canadian Wait Times For Surgery and Medical Treatments Are at an All-Time High
02/07/10 - 10/15/07 - CBC News (Canada)
Via Advice Goddess

The average wait time for a Canadian awaiting surgery or other medical treatment is now 18.3 weeks, a new high, and an increase of 97% over 14 years.

Canadians wait longer than Americans, Germans, and Swedes for cardiac care, although not as long as New Zealanders or the British. Economists estimate the cost of this wait at $1,100 to $5,600 annually per patient."

Tasha Kheiriddin is the Quebec director of the Fraser Institute: Quebec has one of the shorter waits among the provinces. Yet, its 19.4 week wait shows no improvement. Spending more money in this [government run] system has not decreased wait times. In fact there is the opposite result, so we have to look at other solutions. Inefficiencies in the public system are the obstacles.

Canadian's have spent more money to achieve better service by its national health care system. Resources go somewhere. They are not going toward delivery of better service. So, they are going toward government bureaucracy, regulation, and procedure. There is no competition to the government, so the patients and population have no way to pressure the system to do better. No way other than ending the government monopoly on health care delivery in Canada.