Tuesday, May 08, 2007
A Tale of Two Industries
Over at TCS Daily is an article drawing parallels between two industrial sectors that receive heavy financial support from the government: medicine and education.
Jon Hall's central point is well worth further exploration.
Assured payment results in waste and fraud. It has caused an explosion in medically unnecessary tests and procedures. It is [also] why universities can provide their professors with cushy sinecures for precious little work. (How else could the University of Colorado afford a 6-digit compensation package for the likes of a Ward Churchill?) The hospitals and universities don't have to economize and prioritize; they can have it all. The money will be there for them.Hall goes from here to argue that we should permit "all workers to divert their share of their company's health insurance budget into HSAs", a measure I could support as a good first step towards truly freeing medicine from the government yoke.
Of course, a question I would have really liked to see Hall toss in is this one: Why not consider a free market approach to education?
Switching Teams: God-Squadder Uses Old Tricks
The below open admission by Frank Pastore of his dishonest method of argumentation -- which he employs throughout this Townhall.com article amused me quite a bit. He describes how he used to "argue" against belief in God.
Throw out lots of words that people can't understand. Talk over them. Blind them with science. Talk about the details of the leaves on the trees but don't allow them to bring it back to "Why the forest at all?" Assert the fact/value distinction. Claim that only science deals with knowledge. Drop in some postmodern gobbledygook. Distract them with how science deals with the "what, where, how and when" and not the "who and the why." Especially avoid people who have had training in the philosophy of science -- they're dangerous because they see through us and know who we are -- they don’t see the shimmering lab coats that everyone else sees. They don't see any clothes at all.In other words, throw up all sorts of dishonest objections, talk non-stop, and avoid addressing any fundamental issues. I get the distinct feeling that he never got anywhere with this approach, least of all with himself.
Pastore's whole essay reads like the above paragpraph as he does exactly what it describes, only seeking to discredit all secularists for his own sins, claiming that there is a God where before he did not, and ignoring all the legitimate questions this brings up, such as the whole matter of burden of proof.
One's focus on philosophical issues should not be on beating everyone else over the head anyway, but with deepening one's own understanding. This is because as men, we are rational animals, and it behooves us to understand the world we are in as clearly as possible.
Hmmm. Maybe part of what the missionary zeal of so many religions accomplishes is to help followers forget their own stake in making sure they have answered "the big questions" correctly. It certainly seems to have worked with Pastore.
Diana West on Our Talks with Iran
Diana West makes many points I have addressed here before or at least thought about, but read her column anyway.
American soldiers now die and are maimed because of such belligerence. Not so very long ago, Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley, Navy diver Robert Stethem, and Marine Col. William Higgins all fell to Iranian-sponsored, Hezbollah terrorism, suffering horrendous beatings and torture before they died, unavenged.At least someone is saying this.
When will it occur to our leaders that Iran is already in a state of war with us? Surely, that's nothing to be "polite" about. [bold added]
Article on Income Inequality
At The American is an interesting-looking article I haven't had a chance to read yet that appears to argue in favor of the growing income "gap": "The Upside of Income Inequality".
Why I Write
Yesterday, my old, but perfectly road-worthy car failed a state emissions test. I'll decide today whether it will be worth repairing it so it can pass or whether I should risk a ticket until I get a newer car. On returning home, my wife (a medical student) told me about a clever way she heard about for physicians to avoid being robbed of their life savings in court. Would someone please tell me why the hell I should have to worry about either of these things?
And then I walked a dog for a friend who is out of town, only to see that nearly every house in his neighborhood recycles. I remember when only hippies and the most annoying busybodies would waste their "nonrenewable" time sorting through garbage and then storing it like it was gold. Now, even in Texas, many communities have "mandatory" recycling, not that anyone needs to be forced to do it any more. Is it any wonder that global warming hysteria is taking hold?
Because the foolish beliefs of other people can easily and wrongly affect government policy, I get to: choose between wasting money on a car I don't want or breaking the law, worry about some parasite stealing my wife's money in court (if the state doesn't turn her into a government slave before that happens), and face the prospect of the generally lower standard of living that global warming legislation will bring about if enacted. And that's just what came up yesterday during about the four hours after 4:00 pm!
Other people think it's okay to use government force to order others around, including me, for purposes that will plainly make my life far less wonderful than it ought to be. I can't just sit here and take this silently. This is wrong and it is hurting me. I must do what I can to put a stop to it.
In Praise of Numb3rs
To end on a more positive note, Andrew Medworth posted a very interesting review of the crime drama Numb3rs over at his blog:
In a world whose artists prefer to focus on the perverted, the depraved and the banal, and sneer at any form of heroism, this show is a breath of fresh air. Not only are the two leads both uncompromisingly good characters, but in each episode the theme is reinforced: the power of the mind to uphold the law and protect the innocent.Perhaps in part because my dad was a cop, I tend to prefer true crime documentaries to crime dramas. But this is one crime drama I plan to take a closer look at.