Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quick Hitters

Today's headlines and comments offer such a broad range of topics, I can hardly focus on any one in particular.

Thoughtful commenter Steve, who often challenges me and Dean asks "What alternative plan would get more people to engage in end of life planning?" in response to my objection to government incentives to have this discussion. My response, nothing. The discussion shouldn't be the subject of government incentives because it pollutes the discussion. Further, medicare needs to be fundamentally changed because the government has an incentive for people to die early. If we are going to subsidize elderly health care, then we would be better off providing them a voucher to purchase their own health insurance, to which they could add their own funds. The health insurers could offer plans that include the counseling or not and the individual patients could make the decision.

According to the New York Post, union sanitation workers deliberately slowed the clearing of city streets to protest budget cuts, and the demotion of supervisors. There are indications that the demoted supervisors were culpable. Thanks for making the case for privatization gang. If private firms were contracted to do the work, this would not have happened if proper incentives were in the contract. (A big if, but I know of many ways to put proper incentives in contracts.)

I am worried about the economic recovery. The Wall Street Journal has some contradictory indicators. First, loan activity to businesses is increasing, usually something that is a lagging indicator for economic for recovery. Contrariwise, we see home prices stalling which could presage a double dip recession. My intuition is that housing prices were never allowed to fall far enough to allow for the economy to recovery. Peter Schiff makes that case today, but a picture is often worth a thousand words:

The efforts to prop up the housing market are going to come back to bite this administration, as falling prices and loss of equity choke off recovery.

Finally, more government action to help you die more quickly, at least if you have breast cancer. The FDA is forbidding the use of Avastin in the late treatment of breast cancer, on the basis that it is not "sufficiently" effective. Sufficiently in this case means that it costs too much. When did the FDA get into the business of deciding which drugs are too expensive? Avastin is good enough to treat other forms of cancer, and the FDA has not been aggressive in the past about off label use, so why the rush now? Does Obamacare have anything to do with it? Rivkin and Foley lay out the whole sordid tale.

However, there is some good local news. Walmart collected enough signatures to put the big box ordinance on the ballot. Now the City Council is going to have reconsider their folly. I hope they will repeal the ordinance and spare us the expense of an election. Another opportunity for new council member Lorie Zapf to shine.


  1. Thanks again Steve and Bdaddy for thoughts on this and other subjects.

    Too many times, the right and left become "team players" for the party without regard for the often complicated facts.

    But no matter what your idealology, we are paying for diminishing services that are wrought with fraud and bloat. To hand over any more power to thieves without a fight is not in my nature.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Glad to see we get to decide whether or not big box stores can reside in San Diego. Since when did the CC get the power to decide what businesses should, or should not, be allowed to be here? I think we should recall the city council, with few exceptions, and start over again with people who will do what is right for San Diego.