17
Nov
09

Back to birdshot blogging

I’ve got a rant on wealth destruction and Generalovernment Motors stewing in my mid-brain; for now, here’s some neat shit from around the big truck*.

——

Remember the uproar from late this May, when Canadian Governor-General Michaëlle Jean ate raw seal heart?  Get ready for some more pants-shitting hysteria from the grass-eaters:

Seal meat is about to join beef tenderloin and baked salmon on the haute-cuisine menu for MPs and senators in the parliamentary restaurant.  MPs say Parliament is picking up the fork from Governor-General Michäelle Jean, who triggered a global controversy last May by gobbling seal meat in a show of support for Inuit culture in the Arctic.

(Image link goes to original source)

——

Next, we have a blinding flash of the obvious from Dr. WhiteCoat as he advances an idea that might actually work:

As I was fixing the wiring in my basement, a thought popped into my head about another way to decrease costs of medical care in this country.

Get rid of prescription requirements for most medications and procedures.

How many people would go to the doctor for a sore throat if they could buy a strep test over the counter? If the strep test is positive, they go to the pharmacy and purchase some penicillin over the counter.  If you twisted your ankle and could walk into a radiography center and get an x-ray of your ankle for $100, would you bypass the emergency department?  If you could buy your blood pressure medication over the counter, would you keep going to your doctor for those $150 checkups? Would you even purchase routine insurance? Or would you stick with just “major medical” coverage?

That makes far too much sense to be actually implemented.

The natural objection (from certain quarters — those Hayek named as “socialists of all parties”) is that people don’t know what’s good for them and must be vetted, advised, nudged, guided, prodded, compelled, verified, examined, and monitored by proper experts… for their own good, of course.  WhiteCoat notes (not unreasonably) that a fully-open system has risks:

I know that issues would have to be worked out with an open access system – such as preventing narcotic abuse and preventing antibiotic resistance due to people taking Zithromax for the flu or Levaquin for their coughs. Maybe we’d have to limit the number of CT scans or angiograms that someone may receive to keep down the radiation doses.

However, there are precedents, and it is in precedent that his introduction rises from irrelevance to shine with the blinding light of “of course… why didn’t I think of that?”

In almost any other situation, if I choose to take care of a problem myself, I can do it.

If I want to cut my own hair, I get a pair of scissors, look in the mirror, and start hacking. I don’t need a stylist’s prescription to purchase scissors.

If I want to sue someone, I can go to court, fill out the papers, pay the filing fee, and play the lotto. I don’t need a lawyer’s OK in order to gain entrance to the court house.

If I need to fix an electric outlet, I can go read about it online, buy the stuff at Home Depot, then hope I don’t get the red and the blue wires mixed up. I don’t need an electrician’s permission to purchase conduit.

When I get in over my head doing any of these things, I either take my chances or I call someone who knows more about the problem than I do.

Why should medicine be any different?

It would be interesting to explore the history of medicine’s regulation and find out how medicine became “any different”.  Sounds like another job for the Glib Dilettante to half-finish.

——

Moving from medicine to economics, we find that Eric Crampton has unearthed a pair of papers on immigration:

First, Giovanni Peri finds that immigration in the US doesn’t crowd out natives’ employment; rather, increases in total factor productivity from increased immigration work to raise income per worker.

You mean the myth of the great American melting-pot as a land of opportunity isn’t entirely mythological?  Comparative advantage works?  Say it ain’t so! (Emphasis in quotation added.)

So if immigration actually makes people richer — even the people who’d likely be seen as in competition with the immigrants — why do batshit xenophobes like Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs even exist?

Next, David Card, Christian Dustmann and Ian Preston find that folks in Europe oppose immigration less because of worries about pecuniary effects on wages and more because of what he calls “compositional amenities” – people, especially the low-educated, value the characteristics of their coworkers, schools, and neighbours, and just dislike foreigners on those margins.

Oh, of course.  It’s because “they’re different”.

Here’s the thing, though: if you go off on a shrill  hysterical rant about how different those hard-working immigrants who moved in next door are, and how they don’t share your core cultural values, you just come across as a narrow-minded asshole.  (Not that this stops anyone.)  But if you go off on a shrill  hysterical rant about how those hard-working immigrants who moved in next door are stealing your jobs!!!!11one, you can get your victim-mentality on, and claiming victim status is how people get ahead these days.

——

And speaking of shrill hysterical people who embrace known-bad political-economic views and plead persecution when they go wrong, Megan McArdle has some bad news about Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chavez:

President Hugo Chávez has been facing a public outcry in recent weeks over power failures that, after six nationwide blackouts in the last two years, are cutting electricity for hours each day in rural areas and in industrial cities like Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Now, water rationing has been introduced here in the capital.The deterioration of services is perplexing to many here, especially because the country had grown used to cheap, plentiful electricity and water in recent decades. But even as the oil boom was enriching his government and Mr. Chávez asserted greater control over utilities and other industries in this decade, public services seemed only to decay, adding to residents’ frustrations.

[...]

This comes on top of the sporadic food shortages that result from price controls combined with high inflation.

So suppose you’re one of Michael Moore’s anointed anticapitalist democrats, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings are booking hotels in Caracas.  What do you do?

Well, naturally you ramp up the bellicose bloviation against one of your neighbours!

Chavez’s solution to these problem has been to go militaristic on neighboring Columbia.

[...]

No one thinks war is imminent; they think it’s just bluster to stir up patriotism and channel it through the figure of one Hugo Chavez.  But then, as the article points out, no one really thought Argentina would invade the Falklands, either.

There’s a cheery thought.

——

* Hey, Ted Stevens?  Fuck you.


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