URLs du Jour

2019-05-29

[Amazon Link]

  • Avik Roy provides advice at National Review about health care policy: To Stop Socialized Medicine, Expand Individual Choice. It's a longish but perceptive study of the dysfunctions of our current "system", and recommendations about how to move forward more sensibly. Skipping to the bottom line:

    First, we have to end welfare for the rich, and refocus health-care subsidies on those who truly need the help.

    Second, we have to expand the freedom to choose customized, private health-insurance plans: both in the employer-sponsored system and in public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

    Third, we have restore competition to the provision of health care, so that hospital monopolies, drug monopolies, and the like have an incentive to reduce prices and improve quality.

    The probability that any of that will happen is pretty low, but it's nice to have it out there.


  • This editorial, discussing Kamala Harris's latest vote-for-me scheme is probably behind the WSJ paywall, but I've heard that it's semi-permeable: The ‘Wage Gap’ Commissars. On her proposal to demand that businesses with over 100 workers receive “Equal Pay Certification” from the federal government:

    North of 100,000 companies in the U.S. have at least 100 workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Together they employ some 80 million people. How in the name of Post Office efficiency does Ms. Harris expect the government to expertly second guess all of their performance reviews? She says certification must be complete in three years. The process would be run by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has a staff of about 2,000.

    Most workers aren’t in a factory making identical widgets. Say that one lawyer writes a long and complicated legal brief, while another writes several short and simple ones. Is that equal work? What if output is similar, but one employee requires heavy managing, while the other is at risk of being poached?

    Senator Kamala should resign and start, and mind, her own business. Instead of trying to micromanage others'.


  • Drew Cline at the Josiah Bartlett Center provides A skeptic's guide to commuter rail boosterism. He looks primarily at that poll, commissioned by a group called "N.H. Business for Rail Expansion", finding that about ¾ of respondents were in favor.

    I had previously speculated it was a "push poll". That was incorrect; the question asked was: “Would you support or oppose commuter rail connecting Manchester or Nashua with Boston?” Ostensibly neutral. But:

    Before accepting these poll results at face value, journalists and lawmakers should consider whether they would publish a story or cast a vote after asking only a single, generic question. Commuter rail is a complex issue. Asking whether people would prefer commuter rail in the abstract is like asking if people would prefer to eat ice cream every day. Of course they would. But their answers will change if asked to weigh the tradeoffs.

    There's a link to details: the (large and certainly underestimated) costs; tax increases; negligible impact on highway traffic; zero reduction in commute times; zoning changes; and much more.


  • [Amazon Link]
    At Law & Liberty, Kevin Gutzman looks at a new book: Cleansing Our Institutions the Lessig Way. (Amazon link to the Kindle version at right.) Sample:

    The book’s chapter on our corrupt media presents what by now has become a standard left-liberal account of the contemporary American political and media scene. Where once Americans shared a common news culture, which was highly admirable other than its various race-, class-, and gender-based biases, they now lack one.

    “We are leaving an era of rich democratic journalism,” he laments, “when strong ideals about the purpose of journalism were set and practiced.” These included being independent of government, of commerce, and of partisan politics. “Journalism, like many institutions in modern America, has suffered from a growing, almost universal skepticism.” That skepticism marks “the gap between what we imagine journalism should be—vibrant, focused on truth, and independent—and what we see it actually is—too often cowardly, commercially interested, and deeply partisan.”

    I've (reluctantly) put the book on my get-at-library list. Sounds tedious, but might have gleanable good stuff.


  • Daniel J. Mitchell asks the musical question: Where in the Developed World Are Average Workers Most Over-Taxed?. Spoiler: it's Belgium. But click through for the details.