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Follow-Up on Health Care, With More Stuff About Veto Points

[ 0 ] September 8, 2009 |

Yglesias responds, conceding that the Swiss analogy doesn’t really work “except in the broad sense that Switzerland is the other example of a developed country that came late to the universal health care game thus did it in a way that involves a lot of compromises with existing interest groups.” To invoke our shared institutional hobbyhorses, I’d also note that it’s not a coincidence that the Swiss system also has an unusually high number of veto points for a European system. (Ellen Immergut‘s analysis is definitive.) But, still, American institutions remain an outlier here, much to the detriment of the possibility of a good health care bill (and ensuring that even if a decent bill somehow passes it will be vastly more expensive than necessary.)


An Analogy With Holes Like…

[ 0 ] September 8, 2009 |

Matt may well be right that whatever bill that emerges from Congress will be enough of an improvement over the status quo to be worth supporting. His claim, however, that the Baucus bill “would create something comparable to the situation that currently prevails in Switzerland” is deeply problematic. There are, first of all, questions about whether the regulatory controls on private insurance would be comparable, which can’t be answered until we see the final bill, but I’m not terribly optimistic. Even more important, however, is the fact that the Swiss system bans for-profit insurance carriers from participating in the basic system. This is really a difference in kind, not degree: obviously, if you take most of the no-value-added corporate looting out of American health care a mandate-subsidize-and-regulate private system would be a massive improvement, but to put it mildly this would not be the result of the Baucus bill. (Indeed, depending on the details the corporate looting could well get worse.) Although worse than single-payer countries, the overhead costs in Swizterland aren’t outrageous — “administrative and profit-margins account for about 5 percent of premiums.” A Baucus system, however better than the status quo, really wouldn’t be much like the Swiss system.

If Only Sarah Palin were Delivering this Address

[ 0 ] September 8, 2009 |

I can only praise Jeebus for the fact that my children are too young to be exposed to the nefarious, American-hating, Marxist doctrines of Barry Soetoro. Of course, we’ll be homeschooling the girls in any case; syllabus suggestions are welcome…

Post Labor Day Wakeup

[ 1 ] September 8, 2009 |

Now the real work begins.

Best Commenters in the Whole Wide Internets Strike Again

[ 1 ] September 8, 2009 |

In the confusion around my move, I was reminded today that I forgot to thank frequent commenter Howard for very generously getting me Speak No Evil and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady from my wish list. Great stuff, and hopefully the Yankees’s commanding lead will put him in the mood to forgive me for the delay…

Straightforward Answers To Very Good Questions

[ 0 ] September 8, 2009 |


Am I the only one who thinks that if the Dems pass a bill with mandates and subsidies for poor and moderate income people to purchase it but no public option or competition with the insurers, that it will be pretty much a catastrophe for the Democrats in political terms?

No. This has been…

And, of course, it’s not just the politics, either. In theory, it’s possible that a bill without a public option (and, more to the point, a bill passed by a Congress whose median votes are sufficiently in hock to insurance interests that a public option can’t pass) could have generous enough subsidies and tough enough regulations to be a large improvement on the merits. I know how I’m betting. And while I’d like to take solace in the fact that in exchange for torpedoing the best chance for health care reform in decades Nelson, Baucus et al. could lose their seats, it’s not much consolation.

See also Amanda and Aimai.

Good Max vs. Bad Max.


[ 0 ] September 7, 2009 |

Yeah, there are better players out there, but it’s still another remarkable accomplishment by a remarkable player. Zumsteg, before the fact:

I would love to see Ichiro! get his 2,000th MLB hit in front of Oakland fans, who are not fans. And I hope when he gets back, he gets the ovation his milestone’s worthy of.

I don’t care if anyone thinks Ichiro! is over/under rated, or over/under paid, and my scorn for the “Ichiro’s bad for the clubhouse” crowd and their leaders is well-known. But if you can’t watch Ichiro! play and appreciate his ability and take some joy from it, I’m sad for you.

Ah yes, the “Ichiro is bad for the clubhouse” crap. The fact that a lazy, inept, dyed-in-the-wool loser like Carlos Silva could accuse Ichiro of being a selfish drag on the team’s efforts and be taken seriously in some quarters…you’ll rarely get a better example of a team’s failures being irrationally blamed on its best players than that.

Send Axe to Africa (Again!)

[ 0 ] September 7, 2009 |

David Axe has managed to secure a embed with anti-piracy forces off the coast of Somalia, but needs help getting where he needs to be. Drop a nickel in the can, if you have a chance.

Well, I’m in Favor of Abolishing Delaware…

[ 0 ] September 7, 2009 |

I’m sure that folks have already seen this:

Farhan Haq told the Swiss News Agency that Libya had submitted the proposal for discussion by the General Assembly. It was thrown out by the committee responsible for setting the assembly’s agenda, since it contradicted the principles of the UN charter.

Swiss parliamentarian Christa Markwalder had told a Swiss public television news programme on Wednesday that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi intended to present the proposal to the United Nations General Assembly, which he is due to address on September 23.

Gaddafi first mentioned the idea of dismemberment during the G8 summit in Italy in July. Switzerland “is a world mafia and not a state”, he said, adding that it was “formed of an Italian community that should return to Italy, another German community that should return to Germany, and a third French community that should return to France”.

Discuss: What countries should be abolished? I say Austria; it’s just like another little Germany all tucked away down there, and really, does the world need two Germanys?

Not the Sort of Company You Want to Be In

[ 0 ] September 6, 2009 |
Washington 23 – 31 LSU

Unlike my colleague Dr. Farley, I will not be blogging much on the (American) football program of my alma mater.  (Perhaps it’s because we suck?)  I fully expected the University of Washington to not win against LSU yesterday.  Indeed, this speaks to the new depths that this formerly glorious program has reached when I walk away from that game thinking “hey, we only lost by a touchdown or so, that’s great!”

Then I read this final paragraph in the Seattle Times’ account of the game:

It was the 15th straight loss for the Huskies, tying a Pac-10 record set twice previously by Oregon State. The first 14 Washington losses came under Sarkisian’s predecessor, Tyrone Willingham.

Because that makes all the difference.  We tied a record set by Oregon State?  
Bloody hell.

Trying to Stay Focused…

[ 0 ] September 6, 2009 |

That is all.

Missing the Point

[ 0 ] September 6, 2009 |

This passage from the WaPo ombudsman’s defense of Monica Hesse’s lengthy puff piece on professional homophobe Brian Brown is revealing in the way that it fails to address the central issue:

I agree that the story fell short, but not because Hesse was naïve or lacked journalistic diligence. In retracing her reporting, it’s clear the research was extensive. And some details about her personal life seem to belie claims she has a conservative agenda (more on that later).

The problems:

  • You know, it would be a real game changer if the phrase “having a(n) x agenda” were thrown under the bus. On steroids! Hopefully the nation’s editors can close the deal.
  • Given what we know about certain major Republican politicians, I would be pretty careful about inferring positions on same-sex marriage from the author’s personal sexuality.
  • But that’s the minor point. I didn’t assume from the profile that Hesse was, necessarily, personally against same-sex marriage. And I actually agree with conservatives that on these kinds of social issues journalists are likely to have nominal positions on the issues more liberal than the population as a whole, although I think that they tend to be liberals of the “I wish the world were a better place as long as I don’t have to do anything and it doesn’t affect me in any way or make anybody too upset” variety. But what this story reveals, taking assumptions about Hesse’s politics at face value, is how little a reporter’s personal politics matter. (The story, as Alexander essentially admits, was seriously deficient whether Hesse had an “agenda” or not.) Polls showing the x percentage of reporters vote Democratic don’t, in themselves, mean anything, because someone who voted for Obama is just as capable of writing a puff-piece about a major right-winger if their editors approve. Just as a reporter’s personal opposition to corporate malfeasance doesn’t mean very much if writing stories critical of a newspaper’s advertisers will get you fired.