Education

Daily Round-up, 1/23
January 23, 2009

President Obama overturns the global gag rule today. Bush's global AIDS coordinator has been asked to resign. More elderly Americans are skipping prescribed meds because they can't afford them. A hospital in Minnesota is being used for charging patients a "usurious" 18% interest rate. A bill requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose their gifts to physicians was introduced in the Senate. A terrorism preparedness expert has been appointed to head the CDC. Poor accounting of health care costs is still afflicting the Veterans Affairs Department.

Your Hospital Shouldn't Make You Sick
January 22, 2009

When you go into the hospital, you probably worry most about whether your treatment is going to work. Will the medicine cure my disease? Will the surgery repair my broken body? But few people ever consider another kind of threat--the threat of hospital-born infection. According to some estimates, about two million people get preventable hospital infections every year. That's not only costly. It's also tragic, since nearly half of those people die. But there's now some good news to report.

Daily Health Round-up, 1/21
January 21, 2009

Scientific American wonders if Obama is right that technology can lower health care costs, as the president claimed in his inaugural speech. Most small business owners want the government to provide a public health insurance option, according to a new survey. The Wall Street Journal considers whether Daschle should appoint a "Health Fed" to assess the cost-effectiveness of drugs. George Washington University released a study looking at the health consequences of the 2008-2009 recession. Despite the dismal economic climate, the U.S.

Obama's Speech: Solid Themes, But No Style Points
January 20, 2009

Unlike John, I thought Obama's speech was thematically coherent, its basic message being: "Our ideals helped us do great things in the past. We took an unfortunate detour these last eight years. But now we're back." There's very little in the speech that doesn't relate to this theme in one way or another.

Obama's Liberalism And Pragmatism--one And The Same
January 20, 2009

Four years ago, I wrote an article for TNR's 90th anniversary issue making the case that domestic liberalism is fundamentally about empiricism. Another way of putting it is that there's really one one true ideological tendency in American politics, and that's conservatism. Conservatism has a strong a priori belief about the proper size of government--a belief that big government is wrong even if it accomplishes its stated goals. Liberalism has no a priori belief about the size of government.

Reform: "as Soon As Possible"
January 16, 2009

As I mentioned earlier, Peter Orszag’s confirmation testimony--though barely noticed in the media--was full of hints about the policy directions the Obama administration will take. One particularly important clue came during an exchange with Sheldon Whitehouse, the first-term Democratic senator from Rhode Island. When Whitehouse got his turn to question Orszag, whom Obama has tapped to head the Office of Management and Budget, Whitehouse suggested the country faces an opportunity. The U.S.

Are Moderates Really Pragmatists?
January 09, 2009

Matt Yglesias takes aim at the notion that centrism and pragmatism are one and the same: In the United States, slavish adherence to “moderate” positions is often construed as exhibited “pragmatism” that’s in distinction to the more “ideological” views of people with less centrist views. In fact, moderation can reflect ideology ever bit as much as extremism can. This is certainly right, up to a point.

The End Of All-you-can-drive Insurance
January 04, 2009

Suppose that, instead of paying for gas each time they filled up, drivers paid a fixed sum every six months to cover their fuel costs. This sum would vary based on the driver's age, type of vehicle, and location, but wouldn't change with the number of miles driven. It sounds absurd, of course, but it's exactly what happens in the auto-insurance market.

Gov. Patterson: Hands Off My Yoo Hoo!
December 19, 2008

New York Governor David Patersen has a commentary up on CNN.com today, arguing for an "obesity tax" on sodas and sugary fruit drinks. Though well-intentioned, this kind of proposal gives me the willies. I appreciate the public health challenges posed by the "obesity epidemic," but there are a variety of reasons why fat is not tobacco (a parallel Patersen draws in his opening graf). I wrote a piece to this effect back in 2002--which I would link to if our archives weren't so craptacular.

Hands Off My Yoo Hoo, Buddy!
December 19, 2008

New York Governor David Patersen has a commentary up on CNN.com today, arguing for an "obesity tax" on sodas and sugary fruit drinks. Though well-intentioned, this kind of proposal gives me the willies. I appreciate the public health challenges posed by the "obesity epidemic," but there are a variety of reasons why fat is not tobacco (a parallel Patersen draws in his opening graf). I wrote a piece to this effect back in 2002--which I would link to if our archives weren't so craptacular.

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