Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

From deepest darkest Los Angeles...

by Izzy Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 06:23:25 PM EST

Way back in ancient blog times, aka 2005, there were a couple of diaries, one by Fran and one by Canberra boy, linking to a UN report which said that parts of America were as poor as the Third World.

Some dismissed the report as hyperbole, but I thought it was entirely accurate and ended up engaged in an argument that ranged across several posts and became increasingly heated.  The argument derailed into things such as the finer points of US labor law, international comparisons on the price of a gallon of milk, and whether or not it's ok to call someone an asshole over a Walmart dispute.


But at the time I was still quite overwrought post-Katrina.  I ended up writing an emotional and somewhat useless diary about poverty in which nothing was really settled or even fully explored, but which served the purpose of becoming a venue for everyone to comment themselves into exhaustion.

But I stood by, and still stand my, my original point, which may or may not have gotten lost in the ensuing dustup, so I'll quote myself -- "If you cannot eat, find clothes or shelter or medical care, and you have to perform all of your bodily functions outside and die of starvation or exposure, that seems pretty third world to me."

All of which I'm dredging up here because of an article in today's Los Angeles Times:

At free clinic, scenes from the Third World

"Do you want to see the tooth?" Dr. Mehrdad Makhani asked me Friday morning at the free clinic being staged inside Inglewood's Fabulous Forum. "Come. I'll show you."

Jenny McLean, 36, opened her mouth and Makhani aimed a little flashlight in there.

"You see here?" he said.

The area around a back tooth was red and swollen, and McLean's eyes were teary with discomfort. She'd endured the pain for more than a year because she's had neither insurance nor the money for a dentist since losing her job as a social worker.

It was a story repeated hundreds of times last week at the Forum, where a nonprofit called Remote Area Medical had brought in volunteers to treat legions of the uninsured.

(...)Makhani pointed me to another dentist. "Talk to him. He's worked in Brazil."

That would be Joseph Chamberlain, a Westwood dentist who said he's done charity work in Brazil, but not in conditions like this.

"They have a nice system of public hospitals and clinics," he said.

But don't patients have to wait for treatment?

"Yes," Chamberlain said. "But not like this. Not for a year."

Stan Brock, who founded RAM in 1985 to bring medical care to Third World countries, told me that in 1992 he began getting requests to do the same work in the United States.

"The people we're seeing here have teeth as bad as the people in the Upper Amazon,"

Sometimes I hate being right.

Display:
This hits close to home.  When I heard that RAM was coming to LA, I wasn't sure whether to volunteer or get in line.  That dilemma was moot though -- I've spent the last couple months sick because of a tooth, so was unable to do either one.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 06:30:34 PM EST
Too bad you couldn't do both.  Neo-Classical, "Mainstream" Economics has, since RR, turned much of the USA into a third world country.  It is just that the third world part is mixed in and around the first world part and people prefer to ignore it.  Glad you did this diary on this subject.  RAM at the Fourm caused a large part of Third World Los Angeles to assemble in one place for a few days.

If we keep going down this path we will all have the privilege of living in a shipping crate set in a vast open sewer.  Perhaps places of employment will again provide showers for their workers, this time to use before they go to work instead of before they go home.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 07:25:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have my best wishes.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The huge turnout each day at the Forum made it clear that although Southern California has quite a few free medical and dental clinics, there aren't enough to handle the demand. Among those waiting patiently for help was Walter Samwel, a 70-year-old Vietnam vet from Gardena who has been putting off a root canal for two years.

I asked Samwel why he didn't go to the VA and he said they're swamped with recently returning vets, and more severe dental problems take priority. He had arranged time off from his part-time job as a maintenance man at a Long Beach senior center to come to the Forum, but this was his third attempt to get help. The first two days, his number was too high, and the dental clinic shut down before he was called.

Would his Medicare cover the dental work?

No, he said. There's lots it doesn't cover.

There's something shamefully wrong, I told him, when a man who served his country overseas for seven years can't get basic dental care.

"This is true," Samwel said, "but nobody wants to hear it."

Is there anything that can help Samwel?
It seems that he does not like VA services and that is suppose to be good enough for all of us. And he says Medicare would not cover his dental work and again that is suppose to be good enough for us all.

Am I missing something or did he need a limousine ride to his dental appointments?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 07:43:31 PM EST
It seems that he does not like VA services

No, he says:"they're swamped with recently returning vets, and more severe dental problems take priority"

That's not Samwel's opinions or feelings, that's the way VA medical works - they triage based on priority - and there are not enough dentists.  

And his medicare doesn't cover dental, which is common, what's not to understand?

The guy needs a root canal, but it's evidently not an emergency so he can't get it done.  He's desperate enough to make the trek from Long Beach to Inglewood and brave the lines, which the local news has been reporting have been going on all night, every night.  He's 70 years old and still works as a maintenance man, and you make a crack that he evidently needed a limo?  Wow.  Fucking stunning.  Congrats - you've shocked me.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 08:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying that he could not wait? Priority does not indicate NO, does it?

It says that he is from Gardena. Know the distance from Gardena to Inglewood?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know whether 'priority' indicates 'no.'  It said he's had the problem for 2 years, which is a long time with a bad tooth.  

What I also know is that anyone who can read that article, focus on some unclear wording on the part of the reporter, and who reads about a 70-year-old vet who's still working and has had a bad tooth for 2 years, yet can only think to be sarcastic and paint him as, ...what exactly?  spoiled?  lazy?  stupid?  because I can't think of anything else you might be implying with that limo crack -- that anyone who does that is a person I don't understand.  At all.  Maybe you could explain your thinking to me, 'cause in my view, you just look, at best, ...callous.  

What is your point, exactly?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:32:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Izzy, you ever live in LA? Gardena to the Forum is not very far, good bike ride.

Do you think he is lazy, stupid or spoiled? I would not judge him in that way only noting that he has two government sponsored health plans and chooses to have a free clinic. Obviously he is choosing the most "convenient" to himself.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:08:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I am, in fact, an LA native who currently resides there.  If you knew what you were talking about, you wouldn't be suggesting that anyone rides a bike to the forum from anywhere.  But that's all beside the point, and you know it.  

The point is that an old man who's had a bad tooth for two years has to travel to a charity event in an arena, wait 3 days, and can't get in because it's so crowded.  Then your only comment is to disparage him.  

And, no, I don't think the man is lazy, stupid, or spoiled.  That's what you implied with the limo remark.  Don't pretend you didn't know what you were saying just because someone has called you on how horrific it was.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:13:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange, I see and saw a lot of people on Hawthorne Blvd riding bicycles. Have you ever? Where do you live/lived in LA?
I only want to know to what level of convenience is good enough for Walter.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ronald Rutherford:
I only want to know to what level of convenience is good enough for Walter.

Probably the level where he gets to meet an actual dentist and have his tooth problem solved. I suspect that would be convenient enough for Walter.

As the article stated neither of VA or Medicare actually provided this. Do you believe that transportation is the issue not dental care?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And did he not get his services that he wanted? The question is whether VA would if he was patient enough and waited for others that higher "needs" to go first.

Possibly an issue. It seems the nearest VA is: Directions - VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Facilities

The Inglewood Forum is closer.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And did he not get his services that he wanted?

We don´t know if he did or didn't get appropriate service at VA or if he did or didn't get service offered in an appropriate time (or if he was stuck in traffic??) - because the article doesn't make that  clear. So unless someone has information I haven´t noticed in this thread, the point is moot for all I care and making arguments by using one (=1) veteran as an example is beyond the event horizon of silly.

The point is that in America, there is such a need for free clinics run by volunteers and there is a comparison of the USA to third world countries. Why pick at one person who makes use of the clinic?

by Nomad on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 03:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad:
Why pick at one person who makes use of the clinic?
Because that was you can distract attention away from the point
that in America, there is such a need for free clinics run by volunteers and there is a comparison of the USA to third world countries
Do not feed the tRDRoll.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 03:56:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's droll...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 05:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you think there's any convenience in waiting 3 days at the forum for dental work, then there's really no point discussing this with you.  The distance and or travel mode is beside the point and you know it.  You're obviously not interested in having a real conversation.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:36:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is a "real conversation"? Seems I have responded to your posts and asked a few questions and challenged some beliefs. And you have responded in a conversational manner.

Remember it was "part-time job". Seems a very good chance that he was able to rearrange his work schedule.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, what beliefs have you challenged?  A 'real conversation' would be one in which you addressed the issues raised in the article and here in the comments, which is medical care in the US, in case you've lost the plot.  So far as I know, no one is interested in either disparaging an old man or discussing the minutia of LA geography.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just like the thread below this one, that points out that the the proposed new socialized medicine would not solve Walter's problems and he already is eligible for two health programs.

It was someone else that said distance was a concern for medical treatments {i.e. Long Beach to Inglewood}.

"Disparaging", you mean like assuming that he could not speak Spanish? That he is unable to manage his own life? That he would not seek out the services most convenient to him and his situation? Just curious...

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:38:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Disparaging" in that you continue to attempt to impose a "rational choice" frame in a context, ET, where it has been repeatedly pulled apart, discredited and rejected, and use this frame to psychologically dissociate any emotional or compassionate response to the suffering of your fellow humans from your cold intellectual frame.  If you want to attempt a defense of "rational choice" theory, good luck.  The usual response of the leading lights of current Mainstream Economics is to ignore, divert attention away and then compartmentalize inconvenient  developments that undermine the foundations of of their "discipline."  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 04:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that too in a way, but I was specifically referring to the blatant disparagement here:

did he need a limousine ride to his dental appointments?

I find it completey inappropriate to imply that an elderly vet, or anyone waiting 3 days at the forum for healthcare, is only there because a limo didn't deliver them to their other options.  That is explicitly, not implicitly, disparaging of both the man and his circumstances.

Forget that guy, AR - he's not arguing in good faith.  I'm done with him, but thanks for trying.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not say rational choice. But if that is what you consider wrong in my analysis then please provide a better tool than "rational choice". Are you to consider that other humans can not make rational choices about their lives? Just curious.

Izzy, why argue? I was hoping this is a place where intelligent/intellectual people gather to discuss in a cooperative nature.

I was wondering what more convenience he needed. Maybe he is irrational after all and wanted to be quoted in the paper.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hoping this is a place where intelligent/intellectual people gather to discuss in a cooperative nature.

An clearly your limo comment is a hopeful contribution to intelligent/intellectual discussion.

Not.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 06:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What analysis?  Please do tell me what your analysis is of the situation.

I was hoping this is a place where intelligent/intellectual people gather to discuss in a cooperative nature.

It is, which is why it's so offensive when discussing an old man trying to get dental care at an arena to say -- "did he need a limousine ride to his dental appointments?" -- Do you believe that's intelligent discourse?  What part of this don't you understand?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 06:07:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to be since that is the focus of much of this discussions...

I don't understand why it is so bad that a man used the free service that must be more convenient in some way or he would have chosen the path of least resistance. I just figure that he used less gas those days and we should all be happy for that including he might have bicycled there.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 06:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here you go again with "convenience"!  What has his circumstances to do with convenience?  His issue is clearly lack of availability and your seeming obtuseness on this issue is either trollery or blindness.  He chose to ride over on a bicycle? Gimme a break. Could he have afforded a limo he would likely have gone directly to a fee for service dentist near his residence.  BTW, "rational choice" frames things in such terms as agent preference, convenience, optimizing his utility function, etc.  Your Neo-Classical Economics/libertarian frame jangles rather obviously about your persona.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 08:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your Neo-Classical Economics/libertarian frame jangles rather obviously about your persona.
Really?
I said he could have decided to ride the bike.
Do you consider Neo-Classical and Libertarians similar in ideology? Are there differences, and what are them?
Would you prefer that I could address this in classical economic thoughts?
What is your "jangle"?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 09:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you care, read this diary and comment thread.  And yes, libertarians seem to find Neo-Classical Economics congenial.  Ayn Rand, it seems, was Alan Greenspan's idol, after all.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 11:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting but I did not see any reference to "libertarians". I also wonder if you would consider Parson Malthus as a "Neo-classical" economist? Do any other branch find Neo-Classical Economics congenial?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 02:34:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Malthus was towards the end of the group that is commonly called The Classical Economists.  John Stuart Mill is generally considered the last major figure.  It is interesting that you mention Malthus, who, when called on the contradiction between his advocacy of just letting the Irish starve during the potato famine, as feeding them would just cause them to breed more Irish, with his vigorous advocacy for the retention of the protectionist Corn Laws in England, repeal of which would cause a serious hit to his income, but would reduce costs for manufacturers and improve the lot of the very poor.  The good parson was accused of clearly seeing the mote in his neighbor's eye but not the log in his own.

J.S. Mill, on the other hand, wrestled with his conscience and in the end added "On Socialism" to his Principles of Political Economy. That set off alarm bells for the well off and was at least part of the impetus for the creation of Neo-Classical economics.  Robert Nadeau provides details of some of the more amusing aspects surrounding the birth of NCE, including the inappropriate borrowing of mathematical models from what turned out to have been failed physics hypotheses by Helmholtz.

As a bonus, you will find, towards the end of the diary, a link titled "rational choice" which will clarify much of that to which I have alluded.  In both this diary and the one I referenced in an earlier comment the comment threads greatly magnify and clarify what was stated in the diary itself.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 09:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Robert Nadeau provides details of some of the more amusing aspects surrounding the birth of NCE, including the inappropriate borrowing of mathematical models from what turned out to have been failed physics hypotheses by Helmholtz.
The physical hypotheses may have been wrong but the mathematical methods were the same as Gibbs would later use to put thermodynamics on a more solid footing. And it was Gibbs' methods that Samuelson borrowed for his work in the 1940's.

Essentially Neoclassical economics basically uses the Clausius-Clapeyron equation to reason about how the equilibrium changes when external parameters change.

The fact that equilibrium statistical mechanics is entirely the wrong model for economics is neither here nor there, apparently.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 09:51:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was years ago that I wondered about using thermodynamics as a metaphor for economics... I actually may have done so here...

That people use the same methods (mathematical) ones to extract some predictions, fine of course. But the model is based on the same mathematical foundation (axioma?) as Clausius-Clapeyron, and this is still the standard today?

by Nomad on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 10:03:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paul Samuelson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samuelson's book Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947, Enlarged ed. 1983), is considered his magnum opus. It is derived from his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University, and makes use of the classical thermodynamic methods of American thermodynamicist Willard Gibbs.[2] The book proposes to:

  • examine underlying analogies between central features in theoretical and applied economics and
  • study how operationally meaningful theorems can be derived with a small number of analogous methods (p. 3),

in order to derive "a general theory of economic theories" (Samuelson, 1983, p. xxvi). The book showed how these goals could be parsimoniously and fruitfully achieved, using the language of the mathematics applied to diverse subfields of economics. The book proposes two general hypotheses as sufficient for its purposes:

  • maximizing behavior of agents (including consumers as to utility and business firms as to profit) and
  • economic systems (including a market and an economy) in stable equilibrium.

In the course of analysis, comparative statics, (the analysis of changes in equilibrium of the system that result from a parameter change of the system) is formalized and clearly stated.

Comparative statics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In economics, comparative statics is the comparison of two different economic outcomes, before and after a change in some underlying exogenous parameter (Mas-Colell, Whinston, and Green, 1995, p. 24).

As a study of statics it compares two different equilibrium states, after the process of adjustment (if any). It does not study the motion towards equilibrium, nor the process of the change itself.

Comparative statics is commonly used to study changes in supply and demand when analyzing a single market, and to study changes in monetary or fiscal policy when analyzing the whole economy. The term 'comparative statics' itself is more commonly used in relation to microeconomics (including general equilibrium analysis) than to macroeconomics. Comparative statics was formalized by John R. Hicks (1939) and Paul A. Samuelson (1947) (Kehoe, 1987, p. 517).

I have to say, when in 2004 I decided to teach myself economics I took a stab at reading Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis and found it unreadable.

Another analogue of what Economists are trying to do here (but more ambitious that comparative statics) is mean-field theory in statistical mechanics. But while mean field theory gives the correct qualitative picture for many systems, it gives quantitatively the wrong critical exponents. This was already known at the time of Samuelson's work.

The "methods of thermodynamics" that Samuelson borrowed are basically the use of partial derivatives of state functions. Anyone can use partial derivatives, and I did so here to obtain the supply curve from the production possibility frontier. But that begs a lot of questions anyway and is not really a thermodynamic analogy...

For thermodynamic analogues of economics one would have to turn to (say, Prigogine's) non-equilibrium thermodynamics. But studying non-equilibrium systems would be antithetical to neoclassical economics which is concerned with the properties of (a purported) economic equilibrium.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 10:29:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But studying non-equilibrium systems would be antithetical to neoclassical economics which is concerned with the properties of (a purported) economic equilibrium.

This cuts to the chase.  The chief problem with NCE is that it does not include dynamic elements and, at best, can only apply to static situations.  The problem is that dynamic situations are where a competent theory is most needed.  Steve Keen, building on Hyman Minski, is of interest in this regard. Steve is also developing a lecture series on behavioral finance.

The most significant fact about the founders of NCE and about Samuelson's work is that they did not attempt to derive their theory by induction from observation of behavior but rather sought to find mathematical formulations that would lead to polemically and rhetorically useful outcomes that would serve the interests of those for whom, ultimately, they worked--moneyed elites.  Behavioral economics is starting to fill the void left by this sleight of hand, but is being resisted and will likely again, as with Keynes and his original macroeconomics, be hived off into its own compartment so that they can keep safe the sacred microeconomics and the whole NCE edifice built thereupon, which is so useful to their benefactors.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 11:00:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, to be fair, there's value in the toy examples. The problem is when they start pretending the toy examples are applicable to the real world.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 11:49:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is value to those who don't want the nature of what they have accomplished to be well understood, but, aside from that, they have to pretend that their "toy examples" do apply to the real world in order for them to benefit from them.  And they have been wildly successful in that endeavor.  Public policy discussions are framed in terms of Neo-Classical Economics.

Worse, Samuelson took Keynes' work, which was a much better basis for public policy, and tried to cross-breed it with NCE to come up with a new synthesis.  The offspring was sterile and weak, but given the opportunity provided by the "stagflation" of the '70s, they blamed Keynes for this and have saddled the vast majority of those who have any claim to economic literacy with NCE blinders.  That led to the deregulation of finance and banking which led to the GFC.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 12:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The hard won success of Thermodynamics in the 19th Century impelled everyone to go around applying it to everything they could think of.  The height of the frenzy was the 1940s so Samuelson was merely Yet Another manifestation.

One only has to observe, "The Economy is not a closed system" - in Thermo terms - to strike down its applicability.

Of course one has to have some grasp, which I admit only a fingerhold on, Thermodynamics of what that means.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 12:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A "system" is defined by an imaginary boundary.

The boundary may not allow energy (heat or work) or matter to be exchanged across it, in which case the system is isolated.

The boundary may allow energy exchange, but not matter flows, in which case the system is closed.

The boundary may allow both energy and matter flows, in which case it is open.

But what does any of this have to do with health care in LA?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geezer, I will just respond to this post as it seems the most appropriate overall and most of the other posts can be covered here also.

First, Malthus was mentioned by Mason as being Neo-classical. There was some other aspects that he was also wrong about but that was the most blatant mistake found so far. Even before studying any of Malthus economic theories, he has never held any water with me. In fact, he has done more harm than good with followers like Paul R. Ehrlich. I have heard that story also about him as well as some of his theories based on his religious convictions. The classical economists thus range from Adam to Marx to Malthus to Mills so optimists and pessimists in the mix.

Second, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation does not look like any econometric formula I am familiar with. Not to say there is none but I would need more information than Wiki.

Third, the one that seems to be using "the inappropriate borrowing of mathematical models" mentioned here is Paul Samuelson who is clearly a Keynesian. See any contradiction is what you have been saying so far? Do Keynesians also support NCE or are at least congenial with it?

Fourth, Ben Bernanke said it best when in his lectures that Macroeconomics is not rocket science. I can look up the exact quote if you want at the Fed website.

Lastly, I find this article by one of my professors actually something that you may enjoy reading-being so esoteric as to be worthy of being mentioned here. Reorienting Economics Through Triangulation of Methods    Paul Downward and Andrew Mearman

So...

Your Neo-Classical Economics/libertarian frame jangles rather obviously about your persona.


Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, Malthus was mentioned by Mason as being Neo-classical.

I presume you are referring to Mason Gaffney.  I find your assertion in the above blockquote hard to believe.  Citation please.  Malthus died in December, 1834, according to Wiki. Whereas Gaffney wrote:
Having taken shape in the I880-l890s, Neo-Classical Economics (henceforth NCE) remained remarkably static.
Given Gaffney's scholarship I find it inconceivable that he would make such an assertion.  However, this does expose sloppiness and an error on my part.  Obviously Malthus could not have been concerned with the impact of the Corn Laws on the Irish Famine in 1847, except, perhaps, through his ghost.  Malthus was, however, a long time supporter of the Corn Laws, which favored the landowners, whereas most of the classical economists, including Ricardo and J.S. Mill, supported repeal of the Corn Laws and were aligned with the industrialists.  I should have checked. Malthus was more a contemporary of James Mill, John Stuart's father.
Third, the one that seems to be using "the inappropriate borrowing of mathematical models" mentioned here is Paul Samuelson who is clearly a Keynesian.
Samuelson tried to marry Keynes to Neo-classical Economics.  He thereby rebuilt a sound theory, that of Keynes, on an unsound basis, the NCE part.  Then the failure was blamed on Keynes.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 03:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geezer, it was your links and diary so not sure why the need for citations. http://www.masongaffney.org/publications/K1Neo-classical_Stratagem.CV.pdf

Page 31:

As policy-makers, neo-classical economists present us with "choices" that are too often hard dilemmas. That are in the tradition of Parson Malthus, who preached to the poor that they must choose between sex or food. That was getting right down to grim basics, and is the origin of the well-earned "the dismal science" epithet. ...

While you can say that he did not say Malthus was a neo-classical, he most definitely did not attribute Malthus to classical economists and the implications are there.

I hope it was not your writings already but I heard similar about the corn laws.

As far as who to blame, I would blame it on the "Keynesians". Considering I think of myself as Neo-Keynesian then I divorce from such nonsense. But you do raise a question in my mind. If Samuelson theories was built on unsound concepts in NCE, would you provide the exact models or theories that was dependent on NCE in the macroeconomics sense. Citations please.

But it does seems that NCE is congenial to more than just Libertarians at least. Wonder who else might be married?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 04:26:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good work finding the source, RR. I did not recognize it from your description for, as you say, Gaffney did not say that Malthus was a Neo-Classical.  What he did say was that the Neo-classicals liked to frame things in terms of "choice" as that led to grim choices, such as the one that Malthus proposed for the poor between sex and starvation.

Buy the way, did you find that quote by reading Gaffney to page 31 or did you find it from my comment towards the end of the comment thread?  Either way, I am impressed.  I did not recognize it and read my original diary in totality, failing to find it.  Knowing that Gaffney's piece is around 165 pages, I asked for the source, as I "knew" it could not be what Gaffney meant.

The most basic problem with NCE, aside from its "original polemical intent", as described by Gaffney, is that it utilizes a methodology of "comparative static equilibria" which, for each set of different circumstances requires a separate determination of equilibrium conditions and variable values.  It cannot deal with the transition between equilibria as a consequence, nor does it try to. This is set forth in the Wiki piece about Samuelson cited by Migreu up thread:

It does not study the motion towards equilibrium, nor the process of the change itself.

This, of course was extremely awkward in the environment of the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The entire economic environment was highly dynamic and an understanding of where the market and the economy was going and why was what was needed.  Neo-Classical Economics was silent on these subjects.  Keynes could address these issues. He went back to original sources and derived The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money from first principles.  Keynes' theory worked well enough to give predictable results in economies that could be treated as closed systems and was widely used. As Richard Nixon famously said: "We are all Keynsians now."  In the late 40s New Zeeland economist Bill Phillips, created the hydraulic model he called the Moniac as a teaching aid at the London School of Economics.  It solved the Keynesian national income equation:

   Y =C + I + G + (X-M)

(income equals household expenditure plus business investment plus government expenditure plus export sales, less purchase of imports).

Phillips Moniac allowed the various components to be changed while the model was running.  This allowed crude visualization of dynamic changes.  Of course the model was not the economy, but Samuelson's system refused on principle to consider dynamics.  

Samuelson re-constituted the original formulation of NCE by replacing the mathematics used by Helmholtz, with that used by Gibbs, which is what still stands.  (Migreu is far more knowledgeable on the physics, mathematics and economics of this than am I.)  But this remained a static equilibrium analysis.  Samuelson did his best to incorporate Keynes into his system, but his static system weakened what Keynes had created. (Bruce McF is much better able to describe this aspect than am I.)

Perhaps you are aware of The Cambridge Controversy, a dispute over the nature of capital between Cambridge, UK and Cambridge, Mass.  It was, I believe, Joan Robinson of Cambridge, UK who referred to Samuelson's "Neo-Classical Synthesis" as "bastard Keynsianism" in the process of that debate.

I hope this is of use to you.  It has been a non-trivial exercise to assemble this comment.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 09:23:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Geezer, I appreciate the efforts but there are several things that I must address.

  1. Gaffney may not have tried to say Malthus was a Neo-Classical Economist but the implications are there and he left no doubt that he felt that was related to NCE. My books described the classicalists as everything from pessimistic to optimistic.

  2. The Equation:
    Y =C + I + G + (X-M)
    is a definition equation or identity equation when dealing with simultaneous equation models. Now if they provided the reduce form equations for this:
    The system is programmable and capable of solving nine simultaneous equations in response to any change of the parameters, to reach a new equilibrium.
    then we would have something. Basically everyone agrees with that identity so no controversy.

  3. No I was not familiar with Cambridge Controversy but this just reminds me that the whole conversation I kept thinking that no Macroeconomics uses the Marginal Utility theories except to note that consumers are rational.
    Most of the debate is esoteric and mathematical, but some major elements can be explained in relatively simple terms and as part of the 'aggregation problem' faced by neoclassical economics. Alternatively, this controversy might be seen as being parallel to the recent rejection of representative agent models of aggregate activity, based on neoclassical general equilibrium theory. That is, the critique of neoclassical capital theory might be summed up as saying that it suffers from the fallacy of composition, i.e., that we cannot simply jump from microeconomic conceptions to an understanding of production by society as a whole.
    That basically sums what I would say also. Anyway back to Walter would be something that I would consider strictly as a microeconomics phenomenon.


Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 12:27:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you do not wish to be considered a proponent of NCE or Libertarian philosophy, I will withdraw any such assertions or imputations.  Similar conclusions can follow from diverse backgrounds, not that I would agree with any of them.  But I must grant you the right to self identify or not as you wish.  My experience, however, is that the sorts of conclusions you drew about Walter most commonly are reached from those positions.

1. Gaffney did say that the founders of Neo-Classical Economics, who followed Malthus about fifty years later, did adopt the sort of imposed repugnant choice approach that Malthus had used.  He contrasted this to Henry George's "we can have it all" approach, which was much more appealing to most people.  

Unfortunately, "having it all" derived from taxing the privilege of exclusive use of land, but not the improvements thereupon.  This was threatening to the financial powers of the day, such as J.P. Morgan and Ezra Cornell, who had much of their wealth in land grants from the US government from inducements to build transcontinental railroads and land grant universities and wished to sit upon them until they could dispose of them at the greatest profit.  It also insured that the tax burden fell most heavily on those with the most wealth.

Economists who sprang into action to redefine the terms of debate to confound Henry George and the Georgists found favor with these financiers, who were the primary benefactors of influential universities such as Columbia, with Morgan, and Cornell, with Cornell.  Add to the list the University of Chicago, with John D. Rockefeller, Stanford University, with Leland Stanford and many others.  With teaching and research positions going to the proponents of NCE and being denied to opponents this strategem was and is highly successful in shaping the field of debate and, indeed, our very perceptions of the nature of society and the economy.

Unfortunately, providing a functional description of the working economy was subordinated to rhetorical utility in the process and we are living with the consequences today.  The baleful and stultifying effects of NCE on public policy is one of the things that has been significantly discussed on ET.

2. As I understand the paper on the Moniac it could indeed solve the nine simultaneous equations described.  Analog computers are amazing devices.  Phillips used an hydraulic analog computer, probably to provide a visualization of the process of solution as variables changed.  Claude Shannon had used vacuum tube operational amplifiers to create electronic analog computers that could continuously solve simultaneous equations in his masters thesis at MIT in the late '30s.  That technology was used for fire control of naval guns during WW II and may have still been classified at the time Phillips did his work.

I believe Phillip's Moniac was the starting point for later computer based econometric models.  Bruce McF has pointed out that the rise of international corporations and the erosion of controls over international capital flows undermined the stability of these sorts of national income models by the '70s.  The situation got to be so complex as to preclude clear solutions when the models were based on national economies but the actors in those models were international in nature.  Naturally this difficulty was blamed on Keynes.

3. Recent work in experimental economics and behavioral economics has undermined the "rational actor" model so dear to the microeconomics that is at the core of NCE.  Emotion has been shown to play a decisive role.  Marketing has long understood and taught this.  That is why, IMO, NCE has taken the route of compartmentalization. That allows them to preserve the rhetorical utility of their model based on the "rational actor" microeconomic fairy tale.  A rhetorical edifice that protects the assets of the wealthy is far more important to "Mainstream Economics" than having a functional economic science, it seems.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 08:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, it seems a little late for "right to self identify" but I am sure that you meant it in the best way possible.

I do honestly hope that you find something to comment on at: Male bias in macro-economics???
If nothing else maybe you can explain more about NCE and how it relates to the questions I have posed. There must be some fertile intellectual ground in there somewhere, no?

  1. I can not think of anything that does not have trade offs. Even what I have read of George has trade offs. For example if there is a rise in the commons then there is a good chance of "tragedy of the commons". I really do not see that NCEs would actually be like the sense of Malthus. Malthus allowed his ideology to cloud his thinking with regard to the constraints he placed on models. For example, I may also start out that yes there is a trade-off between sex and food but also religious beliefs could be altered, that is contraceptives. With that there can be development including more education for women and more opportunities for them in the "productive" capacity of an economy and of course secure property rights for women as well.

  2. I am sure you are right about just a nine simultaneous equations compared to some that got to be hundreds of equations. Again, Ben states Macroeconomics is not rocket science. I just wanted to see the reduced form equations.

  3. Behaviorism is dead according to my Psychologist friends. As far as compartmentalization, I think all disciplines are experiencing that "division of labor". Again my friend likes to spout Eco-psychology. That seems to epitomize that concept.

Not sure why the obsession with NCE but I just wonder if you have considered that NCE {marginal utility theories} form one of the tenants of progressive taxes as well as the Social Discount Rate. Just curious, and hope to get your insights into the Men and Macroeconomic Bias...

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 01:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am afraid I have little I could say about male bias in economics, except that I am certain that it exists just from the relative proportions of the sexes of the practitioners.  Were there any female economists on ET perhaps they could intelligently comment.  There are people here knowledgeable about gender issues...

Perhaps after I have had a chance to look more closely at the Triangulation article you cited from Post Autistic Economics Review I may be able to comment further.

But your diary does remind me of a homework assignment...and in a field of which I am woefully ignorant at that.  As much as I enjoyed grad school, that was 40 years ago and I have real world problems to deal with on my property here in northern Arkansas.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 03:37:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I said he could have decided to ride the bike.

Maybe, of maybe not. He's a 70-year old after all.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ronald Rutherford:
Are you to consider that other humans can not make rational choices about their lives?

Your posts so far suggest very much that rational choice isn't quite a given.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 06:08:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
below, is reminding me of my encounter with Eliza long ago as a computer student.  

Enough said.  

Gaianne out.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
above.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comment display preferences...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:48:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... cases higher priority than yours to keep the VA dentists fully employed, then yes, of course, priority means "no". If there is not capacity to meet the caseload, then there is SOMEONE with a priority low enough that "low priority" means "no" rather than "wait for a slow week".

Its just like the "too lazy to find work" argument when there are more job seekers than openings. You can train and motivate someone to move up in line, but it means someone else misses out on a job ... with very effective training you can upgrade the quality of the unemployed part of the labor by quite a bit, but it doesn't create new jobs.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 04:26:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there anything that can help Samwel?

Well, if he could afford to go to Cuba perhaps he could get help.  Even Mexico would be a lot more affordable, but English is almost certainly his second language and expecting him to learn enough Spanish to accomplish his goals in Cuba or Mexico is a long shot at his age.

Have you, your freinds or your relatives ever had any dealing with the VA or medicare?  I am on medicare, thankfully, and it is great, except that it does NOT and NEVER HAS covered dental expenses.  I have a brother-in-law who is retired Army, diabetic and on dialysis.  He is being "treated" by the VA, often at their facility at Fort Lewis, outside of Tacoma.  That treatment has left him with two multiply drug resistant infections, which have repeatedly caused the removal of his dialysis shunt.  He is legally blind and his wife has severe MS and lung cancer, (she never smoked, so don't blame her.)  The VA keeps trying to send him home so she can care for him.  If they can get him home for a certain amount of time, certain clocks on coverage they have will be reset.  I won't even go into the problems his wife, my wife's identical twin sister, has had with her splendid VA care.  Unfortunately, she has two years and two months until she qualifies for medicare.

It is so easy to blame the victims.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 08:48:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are plenty of English speaking dentists in Mexico and the prices for dental work, like root canals and crowns, are a fraction of the standard US price. However, who wants to risk life and limb traversing drug war infested areas along the border.  Best choice these days would be Merida, Yuc., which so far has managed to stay mostly out of the drug wars.  I believe I've posted this solution before, but my recommendation for any American who needs lots of dental work would be to save it up (if you can stand the pain) and then fly to Mexico (Merida).  Turkey is, or used to be, a good place near Europe.  Prices were low and dental work (by dentists my friends saw) was on par with or better than in the US and the dentists spoke fluent English.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 10:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes thanks for your comments. I do wonder why it was assumed that Walter could not speak Spanish or at least enough to convey his needs, especially if he lived in LA area.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 11:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That might be what homo economicus, that mythical species, might be expected to do.  Unfortunately for our vet he is probably on the margin as is.  Would it not be a more reasonable expectation that an allegedly civilized country actually try to take care of their citizens at an affordable cost instead of whoring them out for the profit of insurance companies and the medical industrial complex?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you continuing to prejudge our Vet?
I have not assumed anything beyond what was stated. Of course being the reporter I would have found out more information.

Nothing spectacular with regards to expecting him to find the most convenient way for him to get his medical treatments done, and in this case he found something that fit his needs. Right?

Do you think that government knows best how to solve individuals problems?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, cuz standing in line all night at the forum in Inglewood is obviously the most "convenient" choice for 'our Vet.'  You're really something.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think that government knows best how to solve individuals problems?

So that's what it is all about for you. You Libertarians now sound just as dogmatic as the state propaganda used to here. (They at least managed to run a proper healthcare...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 09:17:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you continuing to prejudge our Vet?

Aren't you? Specifically:

I have not assumed anything beyond what was stated.

Actually, you seem to be assuming that the vet was taking off from his job and driving across town 3 days running because this is merely the most convenient way for him to obtain dental care.

This is rather an odd concept of convenience, to say the least.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 09:27:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Across town. I already asked Izzy. Do you understand Gardena to the Forum is shorter than  Gardena to Long Beach? He did not have to get stuck in traffic {actually parking lot} also on the 405. He choose it, so I could easily conclude that it was the most convenient.

So far, I am "something" and a Libertarian. Glad to know what I am at least.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:15:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With no due respect, regarding health care and the hungry, me always thought it's better to eat trolls than to feed them.  Not that they're tasty or anything.

i say nothing more until you are in the same circumstance, and we see what you do.

( My rechtsanwalt has advised me that it is illegal in Germany to call someone an asswhole.  But he did not say it was illegal to think it.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 04:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me be clear.  I understand Samwel and many many others cannot afford the costs of travel, and of course even for those who can this is not a real solution to the problem of affordable health care.  It's more of a work-around that could help many others who are not as close to the edge, yet can't afford to spend their life savings on dental work.

A single root canal and crown in the US can cost over $2,000. I have been putting off getting a crown over a root canal tooth for four years, because my dentist in the US says I will also need a bridge that will cost big dollars. Eventually the root canal tooth will break so I may lose it unless I get the crown.
In Merida, Mexico a good specialist dentist charges about $400 for the whole kit and caboddle (root canal and crown). This is what the "well off" middle class pays in Mexico, not a bottom of the barrel cost. Not a public health system service.

What we really need, of course, is a health care system that sets this kind of pricing making health care "affordable", but provides it free to citizens through tax payer subsidies.  It's a matter of national priorities - as oft stated here and elsewhere.

Until we get genuine competition or price controls for health care, we (the citizens) will continue to pay the highest medical costs in the world and people like Samwel, Jenny, and yes you, Izzy and myself will suffer needlessly. Right now it's a profit driven business fueled by a basic need/demand for service that rivals the need for oxygen and sustenance.  It's inhumane, right up there with torture, and we need to put a stop to it right now.  We cannot afford to just chop a few dollars off here and there over the next ten or twenty years.  The current US Health care system is totally broken and it's quickly dying.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 11:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The current US Health care system is totally broken and it's quickly dying.

I agree with the overall sentiment and the need for an excellent yet cost effective health care system.  However, I must note that it is the population that is dying.  The current US Health care system is the healthiest in the world and is doing exactly what it was designed to do: extract the most wealth while providing the least service.

The problem is the frame: that health care should be a for profit business.  Wanna talk "death panels"?  They would be an improvement over what happens in the US medical insurance business, where people are assigned to review cases and retroactively deny coverage where large expenses are anticipated.  Recent examples have included women diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer.  Arguably it could be more humane simply to put out hits on those diagnosed with potentially lethal but very costly diseases rather than finding some pretext on which to cancel their coverage.  And this will be done by a single individual who will get a bonus based on the amount of expenditures their actions save.  A panel would be a great improvement.  The worst publicly funded health care system would be a great improvement.

The current system of private insurance has been shown to greatly increase costs for large numbers of people and to significantly decrease outcomes.  In other words, the medical insurance business, as a class, is a pack of social parasites that need to be removed from the body politic.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 04:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, the medical insurance business, as a class, is a pack of social parasites that need to be removed from the body politic.

My sentiments, exactly. It's not health care that's thriving, it's the health care business. Health care is dying.  The system that provides health care is broken.


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:49:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes all this worse is the ridiculous opposition we're seeing against Obama's health care plan, which probably won't even cover dental. Most medical plans in the US, including the Government one don't include dental. The people behind the opposition are the ones who'll have us living in those crates and showering at work.

One headline today said Obama may be willing to drop the public option to bring more Republicans on board. Outrageous!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Aug 17th, 2009 at 08:00:47 PM EST
I don't think dental work is that well covered in Europe either. In France, dental and eye care are pretty expensive and largely not covered by basic social security (private insurance will cover with a wide range of cost coverage, but not everybody has private insurance).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NHS coverage in the UK used to be reasonable, now it's patchy.

I get NHS coverage, and it's relatively affordable. But local coverage is very poor, so getting to the not-so-local dentist and back can easily waste a day.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 07:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dental care is reasonably affordable,  but can be a nightmare to obtain in rural areas. Several years ago, in rural wales, a new dentist opened. 800 people queued up to obtain places on their list. It was the closest space with free places to me and was 28 miles away. since then there has been a campaign to open new dentists covering rural areas more effectively. and four surgeries have opened in villages that were previously covered by the site I originally mentioned.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 06:14:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Germany, statutory health insurance covers a minimum, "medically necessary" level of dental care, which covers the regular checkups and any treatment above a certain level of severity. Dental prostheses are usually a copay.

Root canal work, as described here, would usually be covered, unless the likelihood of preserving the teeth was uncertain.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 09:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dental care insurance varies in the US. Many Private employers have much better coverage than the Government plan, which is practically non-existent.  Supplemental coverage, which we now subscribe to, is more of a savings plan than anything else.  We pay premiums every month and the company agrees to pay, generally about 50% of the cost of a single procedure up to a annual maximum dollar amount. If we don't use the coverage, the premium money is lost at the end of the year.  It's a well-planned risk-assessed program to make money for the insurance company, otherwise they wouldn't do it. It helps us absorb the cost of unforeseen care.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 11:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden you get:
a) free dental care until you are 20 years old.
b) adults get a 15 or 30 euros/year check for dental care that can be saved for a year. Essentially this means one free check-up every other year for young adults and elderly while those in the 30-74 year old span get the lesser amount and thus get half the cost of the check-up paid.
b) if you pay more then 300 euros/year for dental care you get compensated with 50% of the cost between 300 and 1500 euros and 85% of the cost above 1500 euros.

It is more expensive then general care where you never have to pay more then 90 euros/year for care and 180 euros/year for medicine. But it is still quite good.

(Everything calculated on a 10 SEK/euro ratio.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"not everybody has private insurance"

which is not the same thing as saying that it would only be the privilege of a few: good private insurance can be found at a cost comparable to that of a cell phone plan.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 07:08:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
H.R.3200,

Sec.122 ESSENTIAL BENEFITS

      (b) Minimum Services To Be Covered- The items and services described in this subsection are the following:

            (1) Hospitalization.

            (2) Outpatient hospital and outpatient clinic services, including emergency department services.

            (3) Professional services of physicians and other health professionals.

            (4) Such services, equipment, and supplies incident to the services of a physician's or a health professional's delivery of care in institutional settings, physician offices, patients' homes or place of residence, or other settings, as appropriate.

            (5) Prescription drugs.

            (6) Rehabilitative and habilitative services.

            (7) Mental health and substance use disorder services.

            (8) Preventive services, including those services recommended with a grade of A or B by the Task Force on Clinical Preventive Services and those vaccines recommended for use by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

            (9) Maternity care.

            (10) Well baby and well child care and oral health, vision, and hearing services, equipment, and supplies at least for children under 21 years of age.

mystery solved, no dental, no vision.

But, wait. Sec.203 BENEFITS PACKAGE LEVELS.

      (b) Limitation on Health Benefits Plans Offered by Offering Entities- The Commissioner may not enter into a contract with a QHBP offering entity under section 204(c) for the offering of an Exchange-participating health benefits plan in a service area unless the following requirements are met:

            (1) REQUIRED OFFERING OF BASIC PLAN- The entity offers only one basic plan for such service area.

            (2) OPTIONAL OFFERING OF ENHANCED PLAN- If and only if the entity offers a basic plan for such service area, the entity may offer one enhanced plan for such area.

            (3) OPTIONAL OFFERING OF PREMIUM PLAN- If and only if the entity offers an enhanced plan for such service area, the entity may offer one premium plan for such area.

            (4) OPTIONAL OFFERING OF PREMIUM-PLUS PLANS- If and only if the entity offers a premium plan for such service area, the entity may offer one or more premium-plus plans for such area.

      All such plans may be offered under a single contract with the Commissioner....

             (2) BASIC PLAN-

                  (A) IN GENERAL- A basic plan shall offer the essential benefits package required under title I for a qualified health benefits plan....

            (3) ENHANCED PLAN- A enhanced plan shall offer, in addition to the level of benefits under the basic plan, a lower level of cost-sharing as provided under title I consistent with section 123(b)(5)(A).

            (4) PREMIUM PLAN- A premium plan shall offer, in addition to the level of benefits under the basic plan, a lower level of cost-sharing as provided under title I consistent with section 123(b)(5)(B).

            (5) PREMIUM-PLUS PLAN- A premium-plus plan is a premium plan that also provides additional benefits, such as adult oral health and vision care, approved by the Commissioner. The portion of the premium that is attributable to such additional benefits shall be separately specified.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:10:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like Sec. 203b(5) would allow the offering of dental and vision.  Question is on what basis. Most current Govt. plans offer these "enhanced" benefits on a no cost to the Govt. basis with the insured picking up the entire premium cost for the supplemental benefit but under Govt. sponsored group rates and conditions.  Can be too expensive to afford for many people.  Govt. plans that include generous dental and vision benefits have very high premiums and most avoid them.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 02:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My jibe in today's Salon about measuring the pseudo-penises of economic ideologies across nations - would this sort of news you report get the MBA people defending their belief in the free market system in the USA look up and get nervous or would they simply ostracise it?

Perhaps we should start tallying how many USA economists who write about the superiority of unregulated free markets have private healthcare...

by Nomad on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:38:29 AM EST
between ranking countries by how the best in each are doing, and by how the worst in each are doing.

I usually read in wonder articles that say that Rawls was an influential philosopher when his main argument is that societies should maximize the worst outcome and that argument is clearlt NOT being implemented these days...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
provoke philosophers and economists to argue for the opposite . . .

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think they'd care. The important economic metrics are the ones that apply to special people.

Everyone who isn't an aristocrat is invisible, so their problems aren't a factor in the real economy.

I wish this was just cynicism.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 07:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you'd know you're supposed to say "I wish it were" ... ;)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 12:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tense yet--though not for lack of trying!  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 01:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure they all have private health care insurance, either through their employers or on their own if self-employed.  The rich can afford a totally private plan.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 12:03:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According the American Human Development Index, which is an attempt to impute American human development indicators into the UN human development index framework, the poorest area in the US is actually Fresno, California. The wealthiest, at least in terms of the indicators used in the index, is the Union Square-East Village neighborhood in Manhattan, NYC, which serves as home to an eclectic mix of many struggling college students as well as both homeless street people and some of the rich and famous.
by santiago on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 01:28:24 PM EST
a real troll looks like?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:32:03 PM EST
Did you come back to remind them?  Oh! Snap! </duck, runs>  You know I am just kidding!!!  You know I adore you, redstar.  Seriously.  It is nice to see you here! :)

p.s. I think someone stole Platforme from the library.  And I don't want to buy it.  But I do want to read it.  Jerome's meant to be writing a Houellebecq diary.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:42:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for dna....

I'll let you guess how ;-)

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:46:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh huh.  I should probably get tested, after having read those 2 other Houellebeqc books from the library...  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:52:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're probably safe.

But, you ever know...plus, I think it got a really good review in the Wall Street Urinal, that's enough at least for a shower.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a diary on Kos suggesting that instead of townhalls full of rabid wingbats, Obama should go to the clinic in Ingleside and give a townhall speech.  I thought that was a BRILLIANT idea.  Which means he won't do it.  But I really think he should!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 03:45:09 PM EST
That would require a willingness to offend the health insurance business in the USA.  He wants to steer clear of such confrontational approaches as he hopes they will be part of the solution.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 04:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He wants to steer clear of offending The Money.

Either because he's a bit of a milquetoast, or because they'll kill him if he doesn't behave.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But he would hate to think any of those things, so he would prefer to think that they might be part of the solution.  Then the worst outcome for him is "to be deeply disappointed"  which is what many of his followers are currently becoming with him.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama should go to the clinic in Inglewood

Had he or his "campaign" wanted or had the guts to do that they would have been there Saturday at the latest and would have found a way to extend the clinic for another week.  Some of the Hollywood Democrats could easily have bankrolled that.  It is all just a game of "Looking Good" to him.  He doesn't do "They Are Looking Bad" games.  He is way too cool.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 18th, 2009 at 05:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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