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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Concierge Medicine, The Antidote to Socialized Medicine

In 2009, I discussed an essay by Lin Zinser and Dr. Paul Hsieh in which they detailed the history of government intervention in the health care market and demonstrated how government, not the free market, is to blame for the state of health care today.  In that same post, I suggested that given the political reality of dramatic government intervention in health care, akin to the throwing of gasoline on a fire, doctors should simply refuse to contract with insurance companies or the government by setting up "concierge" practices that do not accept insurance or medicare but actually ask their patients to pay for the service (gasp).  

To follow up, I link to a current Forbes piece by Dr. Hsieh titled, Is Concierge Medicine Right For You?, in which he discusses alternative practice models being developed to respond to the phase in of Obamacare.  In the wake of an impending physician shortage due to a "silent exodus" from the profession and declining reimbursements, doctors "are establishing “concierge” or “direct pay” practices, where patients pay a monthly or annual fee for enhanced services, including same day appointments, 24/7 access to their doctor, e-mail consultations, and longer appointment times."  He goes on to discuss some key considerations and points out that you will likely face a choice:
Over the next decade, we will likely see the evolution of primary care delivery into two tracks. Some patients receive high-quality care from happy, motivated concierge doctors, whereas others will have to make do with rushed “assembly line” care from overworked providers trying to get their patients in and out the door as quickly as possible.
He concludes that "if you don’t choose, the choice will be made for you."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Michael Moore, Jim Carrey, Bad Thinking, and Why "The Balance of Power is the Scale of Peace"

Once again, celebrity intellectuals give us an opportunity to case study bad thinking methods. First, Michael Moore recently "ranted against the Senate majority leader after Reid removed Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to prohibit military-style weapons from the bill because they wouldn’t have the votes."   Moore said:
“If a man with an assault weapon goes into the school where Harry Reid’s grandchildren go to school tomorrow and kills his grandchildren, would he stand in front of that microphone at five o’clock and say, ‘I know how Dianne [Feinstein] had to witness the mayor getting murdered, but my grandchildren just got killed today, but, you know, we can’t get it passed because we just don’t have the votes,’” 
In other words, according to Moore, if Reid were to have personally experienced the death of his grandchildren at the hands of a crazed gunman, he would be more likely to pass an assault weapons ban.  By this logic, Moore would have to argue that if Reid's grandchildren were killed by a knife wielding maniac, he would be more prone to ban knives.  Or, if his grandchildren were killed by a drunk driver, Reid would move to ban alcohol and automobiles. Perhaps, if his grandchildren drown, he would argue that Reid would be inclined to ban water.  (And maybe Reid would.) 

By this argument, Moore urges us to completely drop the wider context of individual rights, specifically gun rights, and focus on one concrete instance in which guns were used to murder.  Like the examples above demonstrate, if one were to consistently think this way, any instrument or device indirectly involved in a death could be used as a justification for banning that instrument.  

Not to be outdone in the bad thinking category, Jim Carrey has launched his own attack on gun rights.  He is releasing a song titled "Cold Dead Hand" which he described on Twitter as follows:
‘Cold Dead Hand’ is abt u heartless motherf%ckers unwilling 2 bend 4 the safety of our kids.Sorry if you’re offended by the word safety! ;^}
The implication of his tweet is that the only thing standing in the way of children being safe is the drive of the "heartless" gun owner to satisfy his own selfish desire to own guns.  According to Carrey, millions of law abiding gun owners do not mind seeing innocent children slaughtered by crazed killers, because they have no feelings.  Evidently, if they would only "bend", i.e., give up their right to own a gun, then the children would all be safe.  According to Carrey, so evil are these gun owners that their lives are not even worth protecting.

Ironically, the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding people who understand the practical limitations of police protection and possess weapons to prevent the slaughter of their own children.  Yet, Carrey's solution to protect "our kids" is, um, to disarm these very people, since they are the only ones who are likely to abide by laws restricting firearms!    

Obama made a similar emotional appeal, discussed in a previous post, in which he cited letters, not from legal scholars, but from school children urging passage of gun control legislation.  Like Moore, both Carrey and Obama urge us to disregard the concepts of individual rights and self-defense along with the historical justification for the Second Amendment and instead focus on a primitive analysis of the following type:  
i) Man used gun to murder
ii) If man didn't have gun, he wouldn't have murdered
iii) Therefore, government should ban gun        
Arguments of this type provide great insight into the thinking of modern leftist intellectuals, not just in this case, but in every other as well.  Just as Moore and Carrey make appeals to emotion, drop context, and fail to consider the unintended consequences of their ideas, modern liberal economists commit the same fallacies.  Moore and Carrey see people murdered with guns and urge us to ban guns, just as their comrade economists see that the country is broke and tell us just to print money!  

In opposition to the Moore-Carrey method, consider the context in which the Second Amendment was passed, and focus on arguments made by great thinkers.  Fresh from fighting the War of Independence against a despotic monarch, the Founding Fathers rightly considered private gun ownership to be an essential deterrent to tyranny.  This web page lists many excellent quotes related to the Second Amendment such as the following from Thomas Paine: 
The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; the weak would become a prey to the strong."
In other words, it would be really neat if no one had any guns, because we would all be equal, but because criminals and tyrants will not surrender their arms, it is necessary for individuals to possess arms in order not to fall "prey to the strong."  Consider another "heartless motherf cker", James Madison, from "The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared," 46 Federalist New York Packet, January 29, 1788:
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, that could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."
Finally, consider this succinct quote from Noah Webster, 1787: 
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops."
What these quotes unequivocally demonstrate is that the Second Amendment was not enacted just to protect the hunting of squirrels.  The right to bear arms was considered essential in order for the people to protect themselves from tyranny - a concept fresh in the minds of those who fought the American Revolution.  Naturally, Feinstein et al. don't even consider the arguments of this type instead dismissing the concerns of millions of law abiding gun owners as petty politics. Said Feinstein:
“That’s the problem with this place. The gun lobby is inordinately powerful.”
No, Diane, that's not a "problem," because the gun lobby represents millions of people who believe the ideas upon which this country was founded are still inordinately powerful.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chavez is Dead, But His Evil Ideas Live On

In celebration of the death of Chavez, here is a link to all the posts I have written about his evil regime. I think my posts are still relevant because the theme of each is generally not political but rather philosophical.  So although I briefly analyze the evil of price controls and socialized medicine, the failure of public education, the stifling of free speech, the nationalization of major industries, etc. in the context of Venezuela, these specific policies should all be seen as instances of a broader philosophical movement - a movement which is haunting us today. It's important to explain and analyze the underlying philosophy of a dictator, otherwise, another one will quickly take his place.  In this context, I think some of the posts are more relevant than ever.  My favorite is this post which relates the philosophical premises of Chavez, Obama, and Van Jones and explains why they are similar focusing on the tragically flawed notion that socialists have "good intentions." This is my second favorite.