Thursday Linkorama

Yes, more linkos. I’m in one of my more bloggy phases today.

  • The good and bad of Ted Kennedy. Balko as well. He could be a great man or he could be a petty power-hungry idealogue. And I have a known distaste for the entire Kennedy aristocracy. But I’m sorry for his family and friends.
  • I’m with Megan. Comparing just about any political philosophy that doesn’t involve killing people to fascism is just stupid.
  • Ha ha. The weird thing is that I remember these sort of “thing called the internet” piecs. But to today’s kids, they probably see like a joke.
  • I heavily blogged Richard Dawkins God Delusion as I read it (click the Religion tab on your right). I’m glad to see he has another book coming out. I think his take on religion is clumsy and needlessly aggressive. But his defense of evolutionary theory and science is outstanding. Granted, I may have a soft spot for anyone married to Romana.
  • What a great idea. While we’re at it, let’s burn down people’s houses so they can learn about the danger of arson (and stimulate the economy, if Cash for Clunkers is our guide).
  • Dalmia Goes Non-Linear

    I usually like Shikha Dalmia. But this article, castigating the AMA — which you will remember I am not a friend of — is stunningly ignorant.

    (Note: part of this is based on e-mail exchanges with my dad, who is a surgeon).

    First off, the AMA represents less than 1/6 of doctors, including academics. They are hardly a cartel although I will let on that they have too much influence.

    Second, she claims:

    According to a 2007 study by McKinsey&Company, physician compensation bumps up health care spending in America by $58 billion annually,on average, because U.S. doctors make twice as much as their OECD peers. And even the poorest in specializations like radiology and surgery routinely rake in around $400,000 annually.

    This is not even supported by the article she cites:

    Surveys by medical-practice management groups show that American doctors make an average of $200,000 to $300,000 a year. Primary care doctors and pediatricians make less, between $125,000 and $200,000, but in specialties like radiology, physicians can take home $400,000 or more.

    In other words, the 400 grand she cites as what the poorest doctors make is, in fact, the high end of the range. Now that’s misquoting.

    That article notes that our doctors make a lot more than doctors in other countries, which is a questionable point in and of itself. Even without any corrections for different economic systems, however, $100-300 grand does not seem to me an unreasonable salary for someone who saves lives, works seven days a week and is constantly on call for the hospital.

    Someone also noted in the comments that she conveniently takes the cost of physician compensation from one source, then cherry-picks a figure for defensive medicine from another. That’s Michael Moore territory.

    Dalmia’s article is poorly researched bashing of a political organization she doesn’t like that, not coincidentally, manages to slag all doctors in the process. This is something I expect from Daily Kos, not Reason and not Forbes.

    Wednesday Morning Linkorama

  • Yet another decorated soldier is run out of the military for the heinous crime of being gay.
  • Another debunking of the Peak Oil Theory. I think Peak Oil is partially wrong, but I still think investment in alternative energy is a good way to hedge the bets here. We’re going to run out of oil some day. Eventually the Peak Oilers will be right (and, of course, happily ignore the century or so that they were wrong).
  • My understanding is that Obama doesn’t control the Social Security COLAs, which are set to go to zero this year. COLAs need to change if Social Security is to be viable in the long term. This will be a good test of the political feasibility.
  • My take on the wealth gap? I think we are all moving up, true. But it seems that there is a class of people who are simply stuck at the bottom.
  • Cash for Fridges. Is there any payout that our government isn’t going to do?
  • It turns out that education costs are rising faster than healthcare. This is almost certainly aided by the open-ended commitment of our government to pay for higher ed, no matter what the cost. However, if another industry were experiencing such rising costs — and paying, on average, half a million to its presidents, you can bet we’d be hearing some noise about it.
  • Typical. The ban on pseudoephedrine, designed to combat meth, is just forcing the dealers to use more dangerous methods. A similar thing happened in the 80’s, when an ether ban forced coke makers to use cancer-causing benzene. The only way this make sense is if you think the only good drug user is a dead drug users.
  • Another scathing indictment of the teachers’ union. Note the salaries being paid. What strikes me most is how bad I feel for the teachers caught up in this nightmare of a system. Wasting five years in a rubber room is a terrible way to live.
  • Terror Revelations

    For once, I’m on the same page as Julian Sanchez. The revelation that the US threatened to kill a detainees children and rape his mother if he didn’t give them information is appalling. I don’t know that it rises to the level of “torture” specifically. But, judged purely as a technique, I severely doubt its efficacy. The breakthroughs we have made in interrogation have been those that used traditional interrogation techniques.

    I suspect the torture defenders will only quibble that we didn’t actually kill any detainees’ children or rape their mothers.

    I think it’s also worth nothing something caught by Chris Bodenner. Dick Cheney is standing by the CIA in their actions, but refuses to stand by the Abu Ghraib soldiers who use the same techniques with his authorization. I guess it’s harder to supporter to support the troops when there’s photographs of the terror you unleashed in your delusional paranoia.

    Lawyer Lies

    Now that malpractice reform is back in the air, the legal profession is doing what they always do, using hired guns to muddy the waters with lies, distortions and half-truths.

    Sorry, bitches. It’s the Blog Era. The compliant media might buy your line of crap. But we don’t. The best thing about this era is that all the information locked up in the general public’s head is available. We’re no longer at the mercy of talking heads.

    Weekend Linkorama

  • Cool. My mind is bent.
  • Good luck with trying to privatize the post office. The idea is right; the will is non-existent.
  • Mints sent a guy to jail? Seriously? Yet another triumph in our stupid War on Drugs.
  • You stay classy, MSNBC. Show guns at an Obama rally, imply racist murderous intent, neglect to mention that the man carrying the weapon was black. Nicely done.
  • I know how he feels.
  • Yes another study concludes that high-speed rail is a boondoggle. But noting’s a boondoggle when it enriches powerful interests.
  • Le Illusion. As I said before, my patience with people who believe in “free” healthcare is limited.
  • Yes, elements of the Right have gotten ridiculously silly about healthcare (death panels? Really?) But let it not be said that the Left is also very very silly. I propose that we lock all these people up in a small room and let them fight it out while the rest of us run the country.
  • Um, Yeah, No

    Look, I’m not going to say the US healthcare system doesn’t need fixing. But this makes one of the stupidest points I’ve ever read.

    Americans spend around one in every six dollars on healthcare. But, in aggregate, they’re not getting much bang for their buck. People in the United States are as likely to die from diseases like lung cancer as citizens in all OECD countries – which, on average, spend less than half as much per capita.

    Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers out there, with a five-year survival rate of about 15%. Patients typically have less than two years to go when its diagnosed, partially because it’s difficult to detect early. The US does have a better lung cancer survival rate in Europe, but the improvement is small, a few percentage points. But that’s because of the deadliness of the cancer, not an inadequacy of the system. You could have the best healthcare system in the world and the survival rate would still be minimal. Using lung cancer survival rates as proxy for healthcare quality is like using the survival rate for suicide by bazooka.

    In the meantime, US heart attack, cancer and stroke survival rates — treatable conditions — lead the world by quite a bit.

    Nice try, Foreign Policy. Go back to square one.

    Update: Just to show I’m bipartisan in my bashing, the WSJ points out that our huge healthcare system employs a lot of people and generates a lot of income. That’s true; but it’s a Broken Window Fallacy. You could just as well argue that we should stimulate the economy by giving everyone cancer. The worth of the healthcare system is not how much money it spends but how much it improves peoples lives. A more efficient system would create just as much health improvement while freeing up resources to find alternative energy, develop better iPods or create a summer movie that doesn’t suck.

    Update: More on healthcare from Paglia.