Gimme some money

by Ted on April 14, 2005

Kash on the comparative waits for health care services in Western democracies.

Washington Monthly’s piece about VHA hospitals.

The New Yorker’s excellent medical writer Atul Gawande on how a doctor is paid.

I’m going to be writing about what deregulation of health care might mean1, but I think that I’ll end up coming back to how an American doctor gets paid by insurance companies2. This is not the best way, or the only possible way, but it’s where we’re starting from. From the New Yorker article:

[click to continue…]

Dealing with the Parliament II

by Henry Farrell on April 14, 2005

Today’s FT has an interesting short article about the growing foreign policy clout of the European Union (something I wrote about back in June of last year). Robert Zoellick recognized this when he took time out of his short European tour to talk to MEPs in the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Even more interesting is that the Parliament has been taking more of a hands-on role in the enlargement process; a highly critical Parliament report on corruption in Romania (which is an EU candidate state) triggered a government reshuffle there. This is the kind of under-the-radar change that is likely to have substantial long-term repercussions for the transatlantic relationship. On the one hand, as I noted last year, this is likely to mean a more stormy relationship between the EU and US over the medium term. Just as the US Congress passes laws and makes demands that constrain the ability of the executive to make international deals, so too the European Parliament is likely to make it more difficult for the EU as a whole to reach accommodations with the US. This is especially likely in the touchy issue area where human rights and security concerns intersect. When I talk to people in the Parliament about transatlantic cooperation in security and intelligence sharing, the Maher Arar case and the practice of extraordinary renditions come up again and again. On the other, the Parliament may provide the US with a new ally in areas such as the China arms embargo, where Parliament’s concerns about human rights and US foreign policy interests point in the same direction.

Promoting Democracy

by Belle Waring on April 14, 2005

If Vicente Fox is serious about democracy in Mexico he will exercise his power of pardon and allow Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (currently polling ahead of all other candidates for the upcoming Presidential race) to stand for election next year even if he is found guilty of what amount to minor charges in Mexico’s corrupt political culture. In fact, it would be fairer to pardon him in advance of the verdict in a lengthy court case, Mexican courts not being known for swiftness.
The U.S. should make its views known as well. Lopez Obrador may not be the most palatable candidate, but that is all the more reason for the U.S. to take a stand in favor of his not being shut out on dubious procedural grounds. This seems a chance for the U.S. to show its pro-democatic bona fides at little cost.

[Presidential spokesman Agustin] Canet Gutierrez strongly denied that Fox was trying to scuttle Lopez Obrador’s candidacy, but he said the critics had a point in noting that seemingly far greater corruption had gone unpunished.

“It is difficult to answer that — it doesn’t show coherence, and we accept that,” Gutierrez said.

That’s just what I was thinking…

LibDems ahead on 58%

by Chris Bertram on April 14, 2005

The preliminary results from the first 13,000 voters on the “Who Should You Vote For?”: site are interesting ….

bq. Party the user expected:
Labour 21%
Conservative 20%
LibDem 37%
Green 6%

bq. Actual party suggested: Labour 4%
Conservative 9%
LibDem 58%
UKIP 12%
Green 17%

Take a break

by Eszter Hargittai on April 14, 2005

By this time in the week most people are ready for a break (that’s probably why you’re visiting CT in the first place, right?:). Here are two amusing links (in that geeky sort of way at least:).

  • NetDisaster (I’m especially fond of the dinosaurs option)
  • Get Perpendicular! (you’ll want to check this out when you can have the sound turned on)

Strange deaths

by John Q on April 14, 2005

I’m not sure if this is an occult link with the Zeitgeist, or just a manifestation of the reallocation of attention that leads new parents to notice other people’s babies, but a month ago, I finally got around to ordering “The Strange Death of Liberal England” (George Dangerfield) which arrived at Easter. In the ensuing couple of weeks I’ve seen not one but two uses of the same idea, with both Protestantism and Toryism dying strange deaths. Maybe this is happening all the time and I’ve just started noticing.

No vote is wasted

by Chris Bertram on April 14, 2005

“Over at John Band’s site”: they’re all doing Chris Lightfoot’s “Who Should You Vote For?”: (in the coming UK general election) test. Annoyingly, I came out Lib Dem on this though I fully intend to grit my teeth and vote Labour anyway. But for the purposes of this post I’m going to go all meta and discuss what we are trying to do in voting and how that affects how we should vote. Here’s something I posted on the philos-l list just before the 1992 general election:

bq. A friend asked me to provide him with an argument against tactical voting and I came up with this – derived very loosely from some of the things Geoff Brennan says in his ‘Politics with Romance’, in Alan Hamlin and Philip Pettit eds The Good Polity (Blackwell 1989).

bq. The only situation in which an individual voter can affect the outcome is one where there is a tie among the other voters. But in a large electorate this is unlikely to be the case. I want to do two things with my vote: express a preference and secure an outcome. But since my chances of the latter are so small, I may as well concentrate my deliberations on the expressive side. If I am a positive identifier with a particular party — and this is more important to me than my negative feelings towards another party — then even if my party is third I should still vote for it (if I vote). By doing so I secure one of my objectives (the expressive one) but run only a vanishingly small risk of incurring the cost of bringing about a worse outcome than if I had voted tactically. The rational voter should therefore vote for the party she prefers unless it is more important to you expressively to declare your hostility to the party you loathe most – in which case vote for the best placed challenger to that party.

In other words: it is a waste of time and effort to try to bring about a determinate outcome. You’ll almost certainly make no difference. Tactical voting is an attempt to bring about some determinate outcome. But if what is important to you is saying “Blair hooray!” or “Howard boo!” then you can do this perfectly well (voting being only one way of doing it of course). And there’s no merit to the argument that voting for the Lib Dems, Respect, or even the Monster Raving Loony Party is a “wasted vote”. It is no more wasted than any other. So vote for whom you like best, or against whom you hate most, instead of making micro-calculations about effectiveness.

(BTW I realise that this argument deprives me of one lot of nasty things I might say about people who voted for Ralph Nader in either 2000 or 2004, but there are many other nasty things to be said about such people anyway, so I don’t care that much.)