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July 2012

"Obamacare, Cronyism, and Discrimination"

Peter Kirsanow and Carissa Mulder:

. . . crony capitalism is one of the under-remarked characteristics of the Obama administration. Obamacare is but one example of how the administration picks winners and losers through a process susceptible to discrimination.

One small section of the Affordable Care Act illustrates in a microcosm how the administration has privileged big business over the free market in two ways: (1) by encouraging and solidifying market structures that favor huge insurance companies over small companies or start-ups; and (2) by giving government bureaucrats license to play favorites.

"End-of-life medical advice: Devaluing patients in name of greater good?"

Excellent piece by David Shaywitz.

Yes, a lot of money is spent on the last six months - but this strikes me as more a statistical feature than anything else; what would an alternative spend distribution look like? 

It's important to recognize that first, we often don't know just how near the end is, and second, even if we have a clear idea, then so what?  If someone is diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer or certain types of brain tumors, should we tell them that for the good of society, please don't rack up additional bills, the treatments probably won't do much good anyway? 

"Why Does the World Exist?"

Interesting review of a new book. Especially interesting is this bit from the author's interview with Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg:

When I brought up string theory, a melancholy strain became detectable in Weinberg’s voice.

“I was hoping that with string theory things would fall into place much more rapidly than they have,” he said. “But it’s been rather disappointing. I’m not one of those people who bad-mouth string theory. I still think it’s the best effort we’ve made to step beyond what we already know, but it hasn’t worked out the way we were expecting it would.”

"A Preview of an Olympic-Sized Fiasco"

Der Spiegel is pessimistic. An interesting tidbit:

Those who have to remain mobile in London during the Olympics are well-advised to rethink their strategy. The German package delivery service DHL, for example, plans to shut down part of its London delivery fleet, knowing that traffic will be moving even slower in the downtown area than at the typical snail's pace of 11 kilometers per hour (7 miles per hour). Instead, DHL plans to have extremely fit jogging couriers making package deliveries during the games.