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health care as a moral issue


Preventable deaths accounted for 32% of all deaths in 2002, and this map and link convey where those deaths are occurring (PS – I love these types of maps).

It’s not surprising more preventable deaths are occurring in Africa and India, but the magnitude might be a bit jarring.

One of the issues I have with the health care debate is my liberal side agrees that no American should live a diseased life that ends in premature, painful death because they can’t afford the treatment. That seems wrong. On the other hand, I don’t think these people deserve to be healthy simply because they are Americans, I think they deserve it because they are human beings. The argument ‘they deserve to be healthy because they live in the United States’ doesn’t resonate well with me — there is no moral high ground there. All your doing is expanding the privilege of birth to not just include those born into a high-income family in the US, but all who happen to be born in the US. The message for health care justice shouldn’t be “share your privilege with a few more people nearby,” it should be that health is not a privilege at all, but something all people deserve.

This distinction has major ramifications for health policy, as it speaks to where ‘justice-minded’ folks should direct their intellectual, political financial capital. Given the map above, I think it’s clear that the choice would fall outside America. Spending tons of resources trying to change people’s eating and exercise habits in the US, or providing relatively straightforward fixes to preventable diseases and conditions that we overcame a century ago?

To continue to focus on domestic policy (even if carving out time for foreign missions as well) would be to a) deny the obvious opportunity costs of domestic efforts and/or b) forsake the moral imperative for the mantle of nationalism (one step closer to conservatives, one step further away from winning them over to your policies).

The odor of local poverty and disease may be stronger given my location, but I should remember that this odor pales in comparison to the stench of death found abroad. There is a continuum of health problems — and America’s are way down on the list.

On a related note, Megan McArdle has an old post on the morality of health care finance, where she makes the argument that most believe in a single-payer system because they feel it is indeed more just, and she explores the alleged violations of justice that the proponents are seeking to rectify.

“1. They are needy. The class we propose to benefit has greater need for the money than the class from whom we propose to take.

2. It’s not fair. The class we propose to benefit has been unluckier than the class from whom we propose to take.

3. They are responsible. The class from whom we propose to take has in some way contributed to the problems we are trying to rectify.”

In the end, she argues convincingly that these reasons fall flat. Check it out to see if you buy it.

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Filed under: Misc

How Publius beats the market…

What stocks does Publius own? In case you were wondering, here’s my portfolio. If you don’t, ah well, you’re here anyway. I’ve let go of Apple, Intuitive Surgical, and a few other big winners; here’s my current crew.

Blue Chip Stocks

JNJ
Johnson & Johnson is engaged in the research and development, manufacture and sale of a range of products in the healthcare field. Johnson & Johnson has more than 250 operating companies. The Company operates in three segments: Consumer, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Devices and Diagnostics.

GE
General Electric Company (GE) is a diversified technology, media and financial services company. With products and services ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, media content and industrial products.

MMM
3M Company (3M) is a diversified technology company with a presence in various businesses, including industrial and transportation, healthcare, display and graphics, consumer and office, safety, security and protection services, and electro and communications.

Energy

BEXP
Brigham Exploration Company is an independent exploration, development and production company that uses three dimensional (3D) seismic imaging, drilling and completion technologies to explore for and develop domestic onshore oil and natural gas reserves. The Company’s exploration and development activities are concentrated in four provinces: the Onshore Gulf Coast, the Anadarko Basin, the Rocky Mountains and West Texas.

TNP
Tsakos Energy Navigation is a provider of international seaborne crude oil and petroleum product transportation services. Tsakos Energy Navigation owns a fleet of tankers providing worldwide marine transportation services for national and other independent oil companies and refiners under long, medium and short-term charters.

COP
ConocoPhillips is an international, integrated energy company. It has six operating explores, produces, refomes markets crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, and petroleum products.

CHK
Chesapeake Energy Corporation is a producer of natural gas in the United States (first among independents).

Water

SBS
Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo (SABESP) provides water and sewage services to a range of residential, commercial, industrial and governmental customers in the City of Sao Paulo, Brazil area. The Company also supplies water on a bulk basis to municipalities in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Region, in which it does not operate water systems.

SJW
SJW Corp. is a holding company with three subsidiaries: San Jose Water Company, SJW Land Company and SJWTX, Inc. San Jose Water Company is a public utility in the business of providing water service in the metropolitan San Jose area.

PHO
PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield of an equity index called the Palisades Water Index, which includes water companies drawn from sectors, which include water utilities, treatment, analytical and monitoring, infrastructure and distribution, water resource management, and conglomerate water companies.

Electricity

JST
Jinpan International Limited (Jinpan International) through the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Hainan Jinpan Electric Company Ltd. (Hainan Jinp), designs, manufactures and sells cast resin transformers for voltage distribution equipment in China.

HWCC
Houston Wire & Cable Company (HWC), formerly known as HWC Holding Corporation, is a distributor of specialty wire and cable and related services to the United States electrical distribution market.

Technology

AMX
America Movil, S.A.B. DE C.V. (America Movil) is a provider of wireless communications services in Latin America. As of December 31, 2006, it had 124.8 million subscribers in 15 countries.

GOOG
Google Inc. maintains an index of Websites and other online content, and makes this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. The Company’s automated search technology helps people obtain nearly instant access to relevant information from its online index. Google generates revenue primarily by delivering online advertising.

CTRP
Ctrip.com International, Ltd. (Ctrip) is a consolidator of hotel accommodations and air tickets in China. The Company aggregates information on hotels and flights, and enables its customers to make hotel and flight bookings. The Company targets its services primarily at business and leisure travelers in China.

Finances

NYX
NYSE Euronext operates a liquid exchange group offering a range of financial products and services. In the United States, through NYSE Group, the Company operates the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (the NYSE) and NYSE Arca, Inc., and in Europe, it operates five European-based exchanges that comprise Euronext: the Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon stock exchanges, as well as the Liffe derivatives markets.

HTGC
Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Inc. (Hercules) is a specialty finance company that provides debt and equity growth capital to technology related and life sciences companies at all stages of development. It primarily finances privately-held companies backed by major venture capital and private equity firms.

MRH
Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd. is a provider of global property and casualty reinsurance and insurance products through its principal operating subsidiary, Montpelier Reinsurance Ltd.

BBD
Banco Bradesco SA (Bradesco) is a Brazil-based holding company involved in the banking sector. It is engaged in two main areas: banking and insurance.

PCAP
Patriot Capital Finding, Inc. is a closed-end, non-diversified investment company. It is a specialty finance company that provides customized financing solutions to small- to mid-sized companies.

Transport

GEF
Greif, Inc. is a global producer of industrial packaging products with manufacturing facilities located in over 45 countries. The Company offers a line of industrial packaging products, such as steel, fiber and plastic drums, intermediate bulk containers, closure systems for industrial packaging products, and polycarbonate water bottles, which are complemented with a variety of value-added services, including blending, packaging, logistics and warehousing.

SSW
Seaspan Corporation (Seaspan) is engaged in the business of owning and chartering containerships pursuant to long-term, fixed-rate charters to container lines.

Natural Resources

ACH
Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco), along with its subsidiaries, is engaged in the exploration and production of bauxite; and the production, sales and research of alumina, primary aluminum and aluminum-fabricated products.

PCU
Southern Copper Corporation is an integrated copper producer. The Company produces copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver. All of its mining, smelting and refining facilities are located in Peru and in Mexico, and it conducts exploration activities in those countries and Chile.

RIO
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale) is a diversified metals and mining company. The Company is a producer and exporter of iron ore and pellets and a producer of nickel. It also produces copper, manganese, ferroalloys, bauxite, precious metals, cobalt, kaolin, potash and other products. Directly and through affiliates and joint ventures, the Company has investments in the aluminum, coal, energy and steel businesses.

Industrial

CX
Cemex S.A. B de C.V. (Cemex) is a holding company primarily engaged, through its operating subsidiaries, in the production, distribution, marketing and sale of cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and clinker.

MTW
The Manitowoc Company, Inc. diversified industrial manufacturer in three principal markets: Cranes and Related Products (Crane), Foodservice Equipment (Foodservice) and Marine. The Company’s Crane business is a global provider of engineered lift solutions, which offers a line of lifting equipment. It designs, manufactures, markets, and supports a line of crawler cranes, mobile telescopic cranes, tower cranes, and boom trucks.

SDA
Sadia SA (Sadia) is a Brazil-based company involved in the food processing sector. It is principally engaged in the production of refrigerated and frozen food products. Sadia operates 14 industrial units and 16 distribution centers located in 14 Brazilian states. The Company’s product line includes pork meat, cooked meat, poultry cuts, sausages, margarines, pizzas, soups, desserts and pasta.

Automotive

TM
TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TOYOTA) primarily conducts business in the automotive industry. Toyota also conducts business in the finance and other industries.

TTM
Tata Motors Limited is mainly engaged in the business of automobile products consisting of all types of commercial and passenger vehicles, including financing of the vehicles sold by the Company.

Agriculture

SYT
Syngenta AG (Syngenta) is an agribusiness that is involved in the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of a range of products designed to improve crop yields and food quality.

Filed under: Misc

rash decision-making: environment edition

Well, here’s a prime example of “moralized” decision-making where the perceived importance of global warming/climate change made it seemingly every intelligent person’s duty to support all initiatives aimed at limiting future warming. Al Gore, among others, pimped the ethanol hard — which makes sense, since it has a ready-made farming lobby that loves subsidies — and now biofuels are making it harder for poor people to eat.

Now, I’ll be forthright, I am not convinced that man has had, or can have a significant impact on the atmosphere, though clearly he has a direct impact on the Earth’s ecological systems (hence, methinks the environmental lobby might be a little lost…). Still, given the potential catastrophe if I am wrong, I am open to efforts to curb our atmospheric impact. Of course, if you think it’s the US that’s holding back environmental progress, you’re kidding yourself. Sure, Europe makes a lot of noise, but they still love dirty energy just as much as the next American. Of course, all this is dwarfed by the two big-boned elephants in the room — China and India. The US makes a convenient focal point for environmental, anti-corporate ire, but with weakened prestige and limited influence, I’m not quite sure what the US can do besides parrot the party line and flap its wings obnoxiously.

Yet many still think we should be trying every lame-brained environmental strategy lobbyists dream up, wasting precious political capital, and in this case, the meager amount of food of the poorest people in the world.

Also, if you’d like a summary that shows why I am still straddling the skeptic line, click here.

Filed under: Misc

fearless predictions: middle east edition

I have a pair of fearless contrarian predictions for our troubled friends. First up, Iran, the story in 2009-2010 will be Iran’s role as the world’s best friend in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad will be gone, replaced by a new leader who emphasizes global economic integration and regional leadership, seeking to work with, rather than against, Iran’s well-educated and ambitious young people.

And Iraq?

Well, eight months from now the end will be in sight. There will be major positive developments as the local population embrace opportunity to take control of their communities and the politicos finally make the big-money compromises necessary to get buy in from all vested interests. The counterinsurgency effort, shaped by General Petraeus, will continue to secure major gains and we will announce plans for further withdrawal with remaining troops concentrating on border security

The end result will be far better than would be expected over the last few years, with credit going to the local Iraqis for winning the peace. There will be no apologies from those who wanted to withdraw TODAY (or sixth months ago) in the middle of a civil war — all questioning of these parties will be met with the response, “Well, I also didn’t want to go there in the first place, and I was right about that,” which will be true, but alas, irrelevant.

Iraq will fall under an increasingly benign Iranian influence. There will be tension between the Sunni and Shia states, with the Sunni reputation suffering from their illiberal regimes and economic exploitation.
.

Filed under: Misc

trusting individuals to make good choices

I found an interesting observation by a conservative blog that I just stumbled upon, which reinforces my opinion that conservatives and libs are inconsistent with their policies.

Progressives who support the right to a person making unfettered choices in sexual partners don’t trust people to make their own choice on seat belt use. Progressives who support the right of fifteen year old girls to make decisions about abortion without parental notification do not trust these same girls later in life to make their own investment choices with their Social Security funds.

Clearly, neither group can say they believe firmly in an individual’s right to choose (including with reasonable qualifiers to control negative externalities).

Each group’s respect for individual liberty is conditional with their approval of the individuals’ possible choices. Each group embraces paternalism, and applies it based on their objection to individual choices.

An example on the macro level is the United States applauds democracy … unless it yields an unfriendly government.

In my opinion, the challenge is to create an objective process, or framework to decide when it’s proper to infringe on individual liberty — rather than simply ad-hoc moral judgments of the ways people use that liberty.

An example of such a test is the let-individuals-do-what-they-want-unless-it-impedes-on-other’s-liberty. In a simple characterization of this world, killing yourself with drugs is OK, killing someone else — not okay.

Filed under: Misc

value-based health care

While large-scale health care reform has been debated at length in political circles, academics and the industry itself have been exploring ways to improve the health care market. Of course, each health care enterprise, be it pharma, hospitals, insurers, or physician networks have their own interests, but these interests dovetail with the greater good more than you might think.

The future is value-based health care; the question is how exactly will we get there and what will it look like.

Value in this sense is the patient’s clinical benefit per dollar spent. Currently, while payers (public and private) can put significant restrictions on products (be it physician procedures or pharmaceuticals) because of a high price, the best they can do drive utilization of more value-based treatments is to charge a higher co-pay (instead of $15, it maybe $50, or it may be 20%).

Or as the Center for Value-Based Insurance design puts it:

Value – the clinical benefit achieved for the money spent – is absent from the current dialogue on how to solve the health care dilemma. Instead, the dialogue focuses on two trends in benefit design – cost containment and quality improvement – which create a conflict of incentives for patients.

For example, employers increasingly enroll beneficiaries in expensive disease management programs designed to improve patient self-management, often by intervening to enhance compliance with specific medications. However, at the same time, rising copayments and greater cost-sharing create financial barriers that discourage the use of recommended services. When patients are required to pay more for their health care, it is well known that they buy less – of both essential and excessive therapies alike.

Health care spending is for the most part cost-based, with each player taking a cut proportional to it’s bargaining power. Value-based purchasing isn’t impossible — it can be the key to added payment for revolutionary products or procedures — but it is the exception, not the rule.

Here’s a quote from a Medical News article on the potential for value-based insurance:

“Like a one-size-fits-all shirt that doesn’t fit anyone very well, American health insurance plans charge every person the same out of pocket cost for medical services – regardless of their effect on a person’s health.

So, whether your visit to the doctor is for life-threatening cancer, or just the common cold or a sprained ankle, you’ll pay the same co-pay or deductible. These cash costs set by your employer and your insurance plan are designed to keep you from using “too much” health care.

But what if those out-of-pocket costs are high enough to keep your co-worker from taking a medicine that could greatly reduce her risk of having a heart attack, or to keep her from refilling a prescription that could prevent her child’s asthma attacks?

American employers – and citizens – could get a lot more value out of their health insurance by abandoning the old-fashioned system of charging everyone the same, says a team of University of Michigan and Harvard University researchers…

How would this play out?

Under their approach, a person with diabetes would pay little for drugs that can delay diabetes-related health problems, and for eye and blood tests that can spot those problems early. And employees in their 50s might get free or low-cost colonoscopies, to spot pre-cancerous polyps and treat them before they become cancer.

“”It makes absolutely no sense to have the all patients pay the same for medical services that may have enormously different health effects. Costs should be lowest for those for whom the evidence of benefit is strongest – and vice versa, with higher costs for services where the proof of benefit isn’t strong,” says Fendrick.

What’s the biggest takeaway?

“We can’t expand coverage, or maintain it at current levels, without dealing with the cost of care. VBID is a “fiscally responsible, clinically sensitive’ way to improve quality, access and cost-effectiveness.”

Filed under: Misc

the man in mccain’s corner

US News had a sitdown with McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who appears to have the Senator’s ear when it comes to the economy. Holtz-Eakin appears to be very sensible, and put’s a plus back in that corner. One of the things that I’ve heard Holtz-Eakin mention is that McCain would be looking to cut spending not only in domestic programs, but also in the military. I’m not sure if he would do it, but McCain is one of the only politicians with the weight and the rebel streak to actually cut very politically-connected military spending waste.

Filed under: Misc

the self’s compromising of moral aims

I had an earlier draft of this post where I spoke of “others” and their propensity to moralize issues, and after testing the reaction of a dairy product I decided to explore the same idea but through my own experience. The title of the post, while changed, unfortunately remains terrible.

A political philosophy professor at BC gave a talk a week ago related to foreign policy, and brought up that people are naturally hawks or doves, and that they should keep this in mind when they think about policies, always being sure to question themselves when they tend towards this instinct — don’t trust it. It is an emotional tendency that blinds your intellectual exploration.


That doesn’t mean I try to suppress my morality, it means I try to better serve the moral maxims that I think should be lived by.

One example that I’ve struggled with is how to alleviate human suffering. To this end, I want to alleviate as much suffering as I can, doing as large a part as possible to elevate the human condition. Intellectually, I understand this aim and I respect it as worthwhile. Yet there is a related emotional tie I have to this aim, which causes me to be upset when I see suffering on even the smallest scale. This emotional trigger cannot be trusted to serve the intellectually tested greater purpose.

Straightforward example, I will get unbelievably angry or upset when seeing a child mistreated, yet not bat an eye when seeing a headline about the number of murders in a year in a faraway city.

Proximity and presentation matter, and my emotional response will be biased. I cannot rely on this emotional response as a mechanism to serve the end.

When I was younger, my response to this moral imperative was indeed shockingly local. The population I targeted for assistance was American, mainly in urban areas.

The policies or ideas I supported can be best characterized as the most direct attempt to alleviate the suffering of those most close to me.

Guided by my emotional response, my beautiful purpose of alleviating the suffering of mankind was transformed into the support of doing whatever plan was most popular to directly and immediately provide assistance to those whose suffering best plays on my emotions.

Since then, I think I’ve come a ways in keeping my emotional response in check, and ensuring my practical ideas for advancing my theoretical morals are guided by measured intellectual thought. I’ve become a lot more skeptical about any plans that assume all suffering is within our control as a nation to alleviate, as well as more skeptical of direct intervention as leading to an immediate positive response.

Yet, I’ve noticed I’m still very local in my thinking.

People are eating dirt sandwiches in Haiti, and I’m concerned with fat Americans, or kids not getting the best education? American poverty does not register on my intellectual “to-do” list.

The common response is you can be concerned about both. You can, but that doesn’t deny there are tradeoffs. When you are learning about fixing US health care you are not learning about new methods of combating preventable disease that is killing hundreds of thousands (more?) a year in the developing world. When you are spending political capital on welfare reform, you are not spending it on aid packages.

Would there be less human suffering if the US scrapped the welfare system in its entirety and flung open its borders? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that it’s an uncomfortable question to ask. The idea of having more suffering in my neighborhood, but less worldwide is an uncomfortable proposition – yet with much of the debate about globalization, immigration, and the welfare state, it is a very relevant question.

My natural response to this question was, “Well, maybe we can’t actually help to alleviate suffering abroad very much, they have to do it on their own, but we can do it here, so we should.”

That’s possible, but the fact that was my response demonstrates my tendency to avoid seriously weighing these uncomfortable questions.

For an unrelated example, the idea of a market for organ donors sounds terrible. It doesn’t sound fair, and the idea of a poor person in dire need of a donor being “outbid” is gut-wrenching. But what if more people, including poor people, will receive organ donations because of a market like they have in Iran?

It’s another question that’s uncomfortable for the same reason that killing horses sounds a lot worse than killing fish.

I write this post because I think a lot of people who try to look past their own needs or desires and vote for the greater good are led into a trap which provides a great deal of self-satisfaction, but fails to best serve their moral end.

That doesn’t mean I’m advocating the end of helping thy neighbor. Your actions and your support of greater policies must find where the greatest suffering and your ability to alleviate it intersect. So you might end up helping someone locally, but only after you judge your ability to help those suffering more further away — if I have the opportunity to help kids in Sudan or kids in Baltimore, Sudan is the selfless choice that best serves my end.

So perhaps your political support should back assistance to help the people in the world’s more hellish places to either leave or improve their lot where they are (taking away support from assistance programs at home), while your personal attention should be very local, where it will have the most effect. Of course, to be fully selfless, you might have to move to that hellish place to directly help them. That might not be practical for most people, but at least you’ll be honest with yourself about what you are being truly selfless about and what you’re making a conscious decision to not do.

This blog post has been a bit all over the place, but alas, that’s the nature of the beast. I do think it is significant and worth debate, as it has major implications for domestic assistance programs, possibly implying that assistance programs should be judged solely on their personal utility to each taxpayer (which might be tricky…).

If you’re passionate about human suffering, where should your limited resources be put to use? What should you be doing for work? What should you be studying/reading about? What policies should you be fighting for? All this becomes much more complex and requires much more thought if you are going by your brain rather than your emotional reaction.

Filed under: Cognition

US health care’s chronic condition

Health care in the US is a mess – everyone agrees about that. The question is how best to clean up this mess. Should we copy the Canadian model? German? French? British? As George Halvorson and George Isham argue in “Epidemic of Care,” what many don’t seem to realize about these health systems it that the majority entail central government ownership of hospitals, turning physicians into government employees, etc. – basically, what would be the greatest nationalization in the history of the United States.

Some are more possible than others, like the German model, which allows for citizens to choose a health fund, which then receives a premium from the government to provide all health care. This is similar to what gun-toting, church-going, American-pie eating Hillary Clinton fought for in the 90s.

But do we want a single-payer system? I won’t say empirically yes or no, but I will say that I think it distracts from the real issues that cause the American government to spend more tax money per person on health care than the British government (and the British provide universal coverage).

The problem with US health care is not who is paying the bills.

One of the most basic problems with American health care is that it is trying to do two things at once.

1) Provide health insurance by pooling risk to pay for care in case of any accidents or unforeseen developments.
2) Provide chronic care and high-cost procedures for patients with known health problems.

79-percent of health care expenditures was directed towards patients with at least one chronic condition in 1998; more than half of spending went to individuals with multiple chronic conditions.

With this population, “insurer” is a misnomer. They are payers, be they public (Medicare, Medicaid) or private.

The market can do a good job providing health insurance because risk is actually pooled.

The introduction of the chronically-sick changes the game from pooling risk to simply pooling money. And as we’ve learned from the Social Security, there is nothing magical about pooling money – you get what you put in. The introduction of the “sick” population to the “healthy, but might get sick in the future” only drives up premiums in what amounts to a redistribution of income from the healthy to the sick.

I don’t think there is anything implicitly wrong with that (though I don’t want to pay for millionaire medication…), but clearly the government is better suited for economic redistribution than the private sector.

To further illustrate the health care split, only one-percent of patients encompass 30% of health care spending; 70% of the people encompass only 10% of total spending.

Heart transplants, dialysis, kidney transplants, etc. are the big cost drivers, and their relation to common health and lifestyle issues underscore the fact that the American health care crisis is profoundly behavioral.

Single payer systems accomplish both aims by making all citizens pay a higher premium by way of taxes to subsidize the chronic care while providing benefits not really in tune with the needs of the healthy 70%. It’s a compromise they are willing to make, and their large and active governments are well-suited to own and manage hospitals, employee physicians, etc.

The American model has clearly been a disaster, as it attempts to accomplish (1) and (2) partly with government programs and partly with private payers, with no delineation of responsibility or authority. The end result is a big game of cost-shifting, which runs both ways.

What’s the solution?

I’m not quite sure. The major problem is that chronic conditions are unbelievably expensive to treat, and while we know how individuals can minimize their risk for most conditions, we don’t know how to MAKE them do so. (Should Medicaid be handing out Whole Foods vouchers? Gym memberships)

I think the most important takeaway though is that there are two different problems. The more glaring is the healthcare system itself, which is overregulated, underregulated, and provided with a series of perverse incentives – yet, for most people, it really does an adequate, if not better job, and the changes being made are certainly going in the right direction. We’ve come a long way from the 80s.

The bigger problem is the population who live unhealthily. Rather than Universal Coverage or Single Payer, I think the more sensible rallying call would be for funding the heck out of Medicaid and instituting creative plans to minimize the unhealthy behaviors.

Again, I’m open to a single payer system (I’d take it over what we have now), but I think we’d be better off with a state “care” plan for the sick and those prone to sickness, and a separate insurance industry for healthy individuals for protection in case of emergency.

Filed under: Health

She & Him: Music to make you wiggle…


Zooey Deschanel does her best June Carter/Linda Ronstadt/Dusty Springfield on Volume One, a new album which sees Zooey handling the majority of the songwriting and vocals and Indie stalwart M. Ward producing.

Volume One sees Zooey dance effortlesly from countrified Beatles cover to 60’s pop-soul on the strength of her distinct voice, which carries a depth and character sorely lacking in 21st century music. It’s no wonder then that Zooey sounds so at home with M. Ward’s retro production.

You may recognize Zooey from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, or a host of other films and TV shows. She is one of a few actresses (see Johanson, Scarlett, Lewis, Juliette) daring the skeptics of Pitchfork, Stereogum, et. all. You can read Pitchfork and Stereogum‘s takes, but I’d also suggest listening to sampling of She & Him here.

Occasionally, the album borders on kitsch, but that’s nitpicking. Amy Winehouse rode her soulful sound to the top of the charts. I don’t know where Zooey’s voice will take her, but her first offering is certainly refreshing and deserves a place on your playlist.

Filed under: Misc