Well, hello (again)

A few stories to catch up from my unplanned absence.

First, Don Boudreaux offered a fascinating comparison of Sen. Barack Obama’s fund-raising and economic populism.

… Last quarter Sen. Obama raised, as the Times puts it, “a whopping $31 million.”

These funds, of course, are all voluntarily contributed. The fact that I, personally, do not care for much of what Sen. Obama espouses is irrelevant: lots of people like what he says. They like it enough to contribute to his campaign. The result, designed by no one, is a huge campaign chest for Sen. Obama. He will be well-financed to pursue his ambition. (In my opinion, this ambition is an especially greedy and venal one, but that’s just my opinion.)

In May, however, the very same Sen. Obama called for Senate hearings into allegedly excessive pay for CEOs of corporations.

The rest of Mr. Boudreaux’s analysis is perfect. When someone earns achieves superior results through voluntary exchange, any action to alter those results by a third party is wrong. “Too much” success notwithstanding.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I will not be voting for Sen. Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination precisely because he is an economic populist. I did not vote Democratic in the last election to institute economic populism. Severe displeasure at the current administration and climate should not be seen as an overwhelming desire to be economically stupid.

Next, I still think public money for this is questionable, at best, but I like the approach this writer uses to explain proposed funding for circumcision as an HIV prevention.

One of the suggested health campaigns reviewed by the Global Health Program is provision of adult male circumcision to decrease individual likelihood of sexually acquiring HIV infection. Some recently published studies performed in Africa suggest circumcision may offer an impressive 60 percent margin of protection against HIV infection, which is well below consistent condom use and complete sexual abstinence, but far better than any other currently available interventions for men. Ambassador Mark Dybul, who runs the PEPFAR program, told the Council that he would provide funds for circumcision programs if the governments of the 15 countries PEPFAR works with requested such support. But strong concerns have been raised regarding the quantity and skill level of medical personnel required to perform this bloody surgical procedure. Though the procedure itself is inexpensive, adult circumcision risks exposing both healthcare workers and patients to blood-borne infections, including HIV. Diverting scarce health talent to large circumcision campaigns could impede other public health and clinical efforts.

In that context, my only concern is the public financing. The writer mentioned all the key aspects of circumcision as an HIV prevention technique. It should be up to the adult male, it’s effectiveness is significantly outpaced by non-invasive methods, and there are considerable risks to be addressed before applying it to African countries facing a severe epidemic. Radical solutions should be tied to real-world facts, considerations, and consequences.

Speaking of radical solutions needing to be tied to real-world facts, I haven’t seen Sicko yet. I don’t make it a priority to pay for propaganda. Anyway, I’m fairly certain what my opinion will be when I get around to it. I imagine it’ll be something like Kurt Loder’s opinion. (Someone else deserves credit here, but I can’t remember where I saw this link.) The entire piece is worth reading, but I like this best:

Moore’s most ardent enthusiasm is reserved for the French health care system, which he portrays as the crowning glory of a Gallic lifestyle far superior to our own. The French! They work only 35 hours a week, by law. They get at least five weeks’ vacation every year. Their health care is free, and they can take an unlimited number of sick days. It is here that Moore shoots himself in the foot. He introduces us to a young man who’s reached the end of three months of paid sick leave and is asked by his doctor if he’s finally ready to return to work. No, not yet, he says. So the doctor gives him another three months of paid leave — and the young man immediately decamps for the South of France, where we see him lounging on the sunny Riviera, chatting up babes and generally enjoying what would be for most people a very expensive vacation. Moore apparently expects us to witness this dumbfounding spectacle and ask why we can’t have such a great health care system, too. I think a more common response would be, how can any country afford such economic insanity?

I guess we’re supposed to fall back on the argument that it’s somehow free. No need to trouble ourselves with economic laws or evidence that demonstrates those laws or even the nuances of any argument that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant. Right?

I will see Sicko at some point, if only to understand what stupid people are believing. I don’t really want to give Moore any money, but I’m thinking back to how people paid for a different movie and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 instead. It’s tempting as a “gotcha”, but I wouldn’t do it. Unlike Moore, I consider honesty an asset. Whatever small price he’ll get from my (matinée) viewing is surely worth remaining above his level.

5 thoughts on “Well, hello (again)”

  1. We’re spending about $12 billion a month on George Bush Jr’s Middle East misadventure right now with no end in sight. Why do Mr Loder and the other mainstream media pundits only seem to care about fiscal responsibility when the issue of universal health care comes up, hmmm?

  2. …if only to understand what stupid people are believing…
    Stupid people? As a supporter of the single-payer health care model, I take umbrage with your unwarranted slur.

  3. …I take umbrage with your unwarranted slur.
    That wasn’t directed at people who believe in single-payer health care. We can have intelligent disagreements on that. It was directed specifically at anyone who would watch Sicko and come away thinking Moore had told nothing but truth without deception, and had provided all the relevant facts rather than just those that helped his case. As I said, I haven’t seen Sicko yet, so I’m only going on what I’ve read of it, but I’m fairly confident he hasn’t done that. Judging based on Fahrenheit 9/11, I understand Michael Moore to be an amateurish documentarian more interested in propaganda than investigative journalism and solutions based in fact.
    As an example, it’s possible to advocate for single-payer health care, but it’s not possible to believe that rationing won’t occur. Deciding that rationing for all is better than some people not having health insurance is a judgment call I wouldn’t make, but it’s consistent and acknowledges reality. Deciding that the government is benevolent and wise and can and will offer any and all services without any ramifications (rationing, fewer doctors, longer waiting times, etc.) isn’t possible.
    Look at it this way. You believe that single-payer health care will work to end routine infant circumcision. I disagree, for various reasons, but I won’t disregard it as an argument. It’s possible, maybe even inevitable. But implicit in that idea is that rationing of medical services will occur. Michael Moore doesn’t seem to admit that. Anyone who thinks he’s telling the whole truth is misguided, at best.

  4. Your “stupid people” remark still sounds pretty open-ended to me, despite your assurance that it was only aimed at certain individuals.

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