You are browsing the archive for 2013 August 22.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

The second annual Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference takes place on November 1-2, 2013 at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus in Toronto,Canada.  The Keynote Speaker is Dave Howden professor of economics at St. Louis University-Madrid Campus in Madrid, Spain.  Howden is the co-author with Philipp Bagus of Deep Freeze:  Iceland’s Economic Collapse and the editor of the soon to be launched Journal of Prices & Markets.   He is also a former fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.  The conference is sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Man Who Was Treated for $17,000 Less

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

Every so often I have an extraordinary and surprising experience with a patient—the kind that makes us both say, “Wow, we’ve learned something from this.” One such moment occurred recently.

A gentleman in his early 60s came in with a rather routine hernia in his lower abdomen, one that is easily repaired with a simple outpatient surgical procedure. We scheduled the surgery at a nearby hospital.

Bypassing his third-party payer, my patient avoided a high hospital ‘list price.’”

My patient is self-employed and owns a low-cost “indemnity” type of health insurance policy. It has no provider-network requirements or preferred-hospital requirements. The patient can go anywhere. The policy pays up to a fixed amount for doctor and hospital bills based upon the diagnosis. This affordable health-insurance policy made a lot of sense to this man, based on his health and financial situation.

When the man arrived at the hospital for surgery, the admitting clerk reviewed the terms of his policy and estimated the amount of his bill that would be paid by insurance. She asked him to pay his estimated portion in advance. (More hospitals are doing that now because too often patients don’t pay their portions of the bills after insurance has paid.)

The insurance policy, the clerk said, would pay up to $2,500 for the surgeon—more than enough—and up to $2,500 for the hospital’s charges for the operating room, nursing, recovery room, etc. The estimated hospital charge was $23,000. She asked him to pay roughly $20,000 upfront to cover the estimated balance.

My patient was stunned. I received a call from the admitting clerk informing me that he wanted to cancel the surgery, and explaining why. After speaking to the man alone and learning the nature of his insurance policy, I realized I was not bound by any “preferred provider” contractual arrangements and knew we had a solution.

I explained that just because he had health insurance didn’t mean he had to use it in every situation. After all, when people have a minor fender-bender, they often settle it privately rather than file an insurance claim. Because of the nature of this man’s policy, he could do the same thing for his medical procedure. However, had I been bound by a preferred-provider contract or by Medicare, I wouldn’t have been able to enlighten him.

Hospitals and other providers make their “list” prices as high as possible when negotiating contracts …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Syria's Kurds Take the Offensive

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

If the Syrian civil war wasn’t already murky and complex enough, the country’s Kurdish minority has added a new element of instability in recent weeks. Kurdish militias have launched offensives against Syrian rebel forces operating in the northeast and have scored significant victories. That development sets off alarm bells with both the Obama administration and the government of Turkey. The Kurdish agenda in Syria is increasingly clear: to establish a de facto independent state in northeastern Syria similar to the self-governing Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Since the authority of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is now nearly nonexistent in northeastern Syria, the militia victories over Syrian rebel forces brings the realization of that goal tantalizingly close.

Turkish leaders consider such a prospect anathema. Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has long been a thorn in Ankara’s side, and Turkish officials see the KRG as being an inspiration to secessionist Kurdish forces inside Turkey. Indeed, the Turkish military has conducted several offensives inside KRG territory in recent years to root out insurgent forces that established sanctuaries there. The last thing that the government of Prime Minister Erdogan wants to see established is an equivalent of the KRG in Syria. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stated bluntly that his country supports Syria’s territorial integrity and will not tolerate the creation of another autonomous Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border.

Washington’s policies in Iraq and Syria are a mess.”

Indeed, Turkey worries that a Syrian Kurdish region would soon merge with its Iraqi counterpart, creating an even larger and more powerful de facto state. That is not paranoia. Massoud Barzani, president of the KRG, recently issued a statement that his forces would not stand idly by while Syrian Kurds were brutalized. Iraqi Kurdistan, he pledged, “will make use of all of its capabilities to defend the Kurdish women, children and citizens in western Kurdistan.” Even his use of the term “western Kurdistan” was likely to foment worries in Ankara and other capitals, since it implies the existence of a larger, unified Kurdish entity.

All of this places the United States in a very awkward position. The Obama administration has gradually but inexorably increased its support for the Syrian insurgents trying to topple Assad’s regime. However, Washington shares Ankara’s goal of keeping Syria intact in a post-Assad era. U.S. officials also fret that the insurgents include some unsavory Islamist elements allied with …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

No, NATO Shouldn't Let Georgia In

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Is NATO fundamentally a military alliance or a social club? Michael Cecire would have us believe the latter as he makes the case for membership for the nation of Georgia.

Since its formation, NATO really has stood for North America and The Others rather than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States always was the dominant member with the largest and most capable military. This was to be expected initially, but the gap closed little even after the Western Europeans recovered from the devastation of World War II.

The U.S. government’s test for any new NATO member should be: would it enhance American security?”

Throughout the Cold War, European NATO members with the most at stake in deterring the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact routinely welshed on their promises to increase military outlays. They knew they could rely on Washington and saw no reason to spend more than the bare minimum. Nothing has changed even though the European Union possesses a larger collective GDP and population than America. Financial and economic crises have reinforced the Europeans’ unwillingness to maintain sizable and capable militaries. Even France and Great Britain are cutting back. Who needs “defense” when there is a welfare state to fund?

America had cause to give Europe a cheap, if not quite free, ride when confronting the Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan once called Moscow and its dominions. But there’s no there there any more, as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland. Russia is nasty if not exactly evil. But it’s not an empire and has little ability to become one. The European Union, with ten times Russia’s economic strength and three times Russia’s population, doesn’t need defending by the United States. Thus, in the aftermath of Communism’s collapse the world’s most powerful military alliance touted its nonmilitary virtues when inducting former Warsaw Pact members, emerging Balkan states, and even former pieces of the Soviet Union. True, as Cecire observed, NATO served a “sociopolitical” purpose during the Cold War. But that was always ancillary. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no alliance.

Today the Russian threat doesn’t measure up, and the European Union more than compensates. “Humbly encouraging international freedom” is a worthy objective, but need not be done with tanks and defense guarantees. Instead, the EU, with its extensive and complex membership requirements, is most able to push the “eastward …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Why Get off Welfare?

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Contrary to stereotypes, there is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy. Indeed, surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job. But there is also evidence that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities. Despite work requirements included in the 1996 welfare reform, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says less than 42% of adult welfare recipients participate in work activities nationwide. Why the contradiction?

Perhaps it’s because, while poor people are not lazy, they are not stupid either. If you pay people more not to work than they can earn at a job, many won’t work.

Poor people aren’t stupid. If they can get more from the government than they can from a job, they aren’t going to work.”

A new study by the Cato Institute found that in many states, it does indeed pay better to be on welfare than it does to work.

Most reports on welfare focus on only a single program, the cash benefit program: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This focus leaves the misimpression that welfare benefits are quite low, providing a bare, subsistence-level income. In reality, the federal government funds 126 separate programs for low-income people, 72 of which provide either cash or in-kind benefits to individuals.

Because there are so many categories of welfare recipients and so many different types of benefits, it is extremely difficult to determine how many people get what combination of benefits. For the purposes of this study, we assumed a hypothetical family consisting of a mother with two children, ages 1 and 4, and calculated the combined total of seven benefits that family could receive in all 50 states.

If that mother received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, it is almost certain that she would also receive food stamps and Medicaid as well. Roughly 87% of Needy Families do.

Approximately 61% of all Needy Families fitting our profile also receive aid from the Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, so we included that benefit. (If the children were older, they would not be eligible for WIC but would receive other benefits such as subsidized school lunches and breakfasts.) We also included utilities assistance, given that half of welfare recipients are on that program.

Housing assistance was a tougher call. Nationwide, the rate of participation varies from nearly 82% of Needy Families in North Dakota to virtually none in Idaho. Housing programs also generally have waiting …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Vanessa's Favorite AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Film: The Donner Party

August 22, 2013 in History

August 22, 2013 6:00 a.m.

Just a little background – I love horror movies. I’ve seen every classic horror movie and then some. So I was completely mesmerized by The Donner Party when I watched it in 2009. It’s a tragic story about pioneers looking to start new lives out West. They put their faith in a new route across Utah and Nevada – Hastings Cutoff. Little did they know that the man who created the map, Lansford Hastings, had never taken the trail by wagons.

The group set off in May 1846 with the plan to settle in the Sacramento Valley by September. But they found themselves struggling to make the journey and they ended up stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountain range during the winter of 1846. That winter led to starvation and cannabalism. The group of 81 American pioneers had dwindled to 45; they had starved and cannibalized before they were finally rescued in February 1847.

My favorite AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film premiered in 1993. However, I didn’t discover The Donner Party until I had to update the film for a PBS repeat. My colleagues had raved about this film, calling it both gruesome and heartbreaking, so I was incredibly eager to see for myself. I watched the entire film in a dark editing room, completely shocked by the horrifying history I had just witnessed.

Vanessa Ezersky is the Post Production Supervisor for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

…read more

Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

Avatar of admin

by admin

How to Attract and Retain Investment in a Competitive Global Economy

August 22, 2013 in Economics

In a global economy, where investors have options, governments are in a competition to attract the financial, physical, and human capital necessary to nourish 21st-century economies. While historically, no country has been a stronger magnet for foreign direct investment than the United States, in recent years the U.S. investment climate has deteriorated. A new paper from Cato scholar Daniel J. Ikenson argues that U.S. policymakers should take this opportunity to make policy reforms to create an environment that is more attractive to prospective investors.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES