Dentists and Orthodonists

by Harry on June 1, 2007

We had a scare last year; our eldest was warned that she might need very expensive orthodondistry in order to be able to be a fully-paid up participant in the ideology of perfect teeth. We had a narrow escape — or, at least, a stay of execution, as she is only to be monitored for the next year or so. But at some point the fight will loom; do we spend a fortune on something that we’ll be told is medically valuable by someone whose living is made by contributing to wasteful positional competition. If only everyone had imperfect looking teeth, no-one would care.

But dentists really do matter.
As Anne Alstott reminds us, a large swathe of American children never see an orthodontist, because they never get to see the dentist who might refer them, and with tragic results:

Earlier this year, Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy living in Maryland, died after he got a tooth infection that led to a brain infection. Deamonte had never had routine dental care.The problem wasn’t that he was among America’s 47 million uninsured. He was covered by Medicaid, the federal health-insurance program for the poor, which includes dental care for kids. But Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists in Maryland—as in many states—are set at such low rates that few dentists accept Medicaid patients.

Driver’s tragedy is only the most extreme consequence of poor access to dentists. Ask any teacher in an elementary school with lots of low income kids, and she’ll tell you stories of kids in prolonged and sometimes intense pain during the schoolday; public money being thrown away on teaching kids who can’t concentrate because they don’t get proper dental care. Anyway,
read the whole thing.

Two footnotes

by Henry on June 1, 2007

to _Methodenstreit: The Extended Blogospheric Remix_. First, as a few commenters here and there have noted, Herb Gintis’s review of a Post-Autistic Economics reader has disappeared from Amazon. I’ve been in contact with Gintis, who not only didn’t take it down himself, but is rather annoyed at its disappearance. I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing it below the fold for the sake of posterity. Second, I see that an “Econ prof” claims in correspondence with “Ezra Klein”:http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/2007/05/more_on_heterod.html that “Aklerlof, Stiglitz, etc. all got published very easily.” For Akerlof at least, this “isn’t true”:http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/articles/akerlof/.

I received my first rejection letter from _The American Economic Review_. The editor explained that the Review did not publish papers on subjects of such triviality. In a case, perhaps, of life reproducing art, no referee reports were included. … again rejected on the grounds that the _The Review_ [i.e. _The Review of Economic Studies_ – hf] did not publish papers on topics of such triviality. … The next rejection was more interesting. I sent “Lemons” to the _Journal of Political Economy,_ which sent me two referee reports, carefully argued as to why I was incorrect. After all, eggs of different grades were sorted and sold (I do not believe that this is just my memory confusing it with my original perception of the egg-grader model), as were other agricultural commodities. If this paper was correct, then no goods could be traded (an exaggeration of the claims of the paper). Besides — and this was the killer — if this paper was correct, economics would be different. I may have despaired, but I did not give up. I sent the paper off to the _Quarterly Journal of Economics,_ where it was accepted. I had had such a hard time getting this article published, that I was quite surprised, on a trip to England in the fall of 1973, to discover that, not only had it been read, but even with considerable enthusiasm.

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Heterodoxy is not my doxy

by John Quiggin on June 1, 2007

Following up on a couple of recent posts, I thought it might be useful for me to explain why I don’t think of myself as a ‘heterodox’ economist or even find the concept particularly useful. Although I’m clearly to the left of most people in the economics profession (including a fair number who would call themselves heterodox) I’m happy to identify myself with the mainstream research program in economics.

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Bogus statistical claims watch

by Chris Bertram on June 1, 2007

Jeff Randall in an article tellingly entitled “It’s not racist to worry about immigration”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=GC4DUTALG01A3QFIQMGSFF4AVCBQWIV0?xml=/opinion/2007/06/01/do0101.xml&posted=true&_requestid=6551 in the Telegraph:

bq. Never mind arguments over race, diversity and multi-culturalism, England (where most immigrants want to settle) is horribly crowded. With 50 million people, it is the fourth-most densely populated country in the world, excluding city states such as Hong Kong and Dubai.

The trouble with this sort of claim is obvious. If England (density: 388.7 /km²) counts as a country then all kinds of other non-sovereign-state units ought to be included in the sample — New Jersey (438/km²) perhaps, or Puerto Rico (434 /km²), or the Palestinian Territories (615 /km²). But if sovereign states (apart from city states) _are_ the relevant unit, then the UK (243 /km²) comes in behind “rather a lot of places”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density .