You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 15.

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Why Doctors Give Obamacare a Failing Grade

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

The Physicians Foundation made shockwaves last month when it released its 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians. The survey’s top-line finding: Of the 20,000 doctors surveyed, almost 50 percent stated that Obamacare deserves either a “D” or an “F.” Only a quarter of physicians graded it as either an “A” or a “B.”

Count me among the discontented. Obamacare has harmed too many of my patients.

It has done so by disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and thereby worsening the quality of patients’ care. This is the heart and soul of medicine, as I have learned in in my 33 years as a practicing physician. The doctor-patient relationship is critical for positive health outcomes because it allows both parties to work together to identify and ultimately treat medical problems. Simply put, a relationship of trust and continuity is essential to our professional mission.

Count me among the discontented. Obamacare has harmed too many of my patients.”

Obamacare’s assault on the doctor-patient relationship first manifested this time last year, when my patients began receiving cancellation letters indicating that their plans didn’t meet the law’s minimum requirements.

Some of my patients were transferred to plans that did not include me in the physician network. In some cases this meant they had to find another surgeon to assume care while they were recovering from the first stage of a multistage surgical course. Others were enrolled in one of the Medicaid plans in which I participate. These plans make it difficult for me to coordinate with other specialists when treating cancer and other complex surgical patients because of the scarcity and distance of other specialists in the plan. And some could only afford plans that significantly limited their health care options.

No matter which option they chose, Obamacare forced my patients to make trade-offs between pricing, access, and quality of care.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion exacerbated this patient crisis. Arizona, the state in which I practice, expanded Medicaid in 2013 under the assumption that it would give the poor better access to medical care. Yet many of the new Medicaid enrollees—perhaps as many as 80 percent of them, according to one recent study—were merely forced off their private insurance plans and into Medicaid.

Several of my patients experienced this first-hand. They have found that Medicaid offers sub-standard health care compared to the private insurance they used to have. Their choice of doctors has been severely curtailed, even …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A New One for the Photo Archives

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Thank to Walter Block who recently posted this on his Facebook page:

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Walter Block Interviewed about His Book ‘Toward a Libertarian Society’

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Walter Block

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

In this video, Walter Block briefly goes over where rights might come from. He mentions Murray Rothbard’s natural rights theory, the utilitarian argument for rights and Hans Hoppe’s argumentation of ethics. Block, goes over what libertarianism consists of, namely, abiding by the non-aggression principle which he defines.

For more, read Toward a Libertarian Society:
http://mises.org/document/7448/Toward-a-Libertarian-Society

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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America Adrift

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s biography, released last week, provides a picture of a White House beset by crises and indecision. Panetta describes a decision-making process marked by vacillation and a reticence to engage with pressing problems. But while attention has mostly focused on his revelations about Syria, his biography also provides further evidence that the biggest problem in U.S. foreign policy isn’t inaction, it’s trying to do too much at once.

The world is not actually more dangerous than ever, but you might think it is if you watch the news. The media bombards Americans with crises like the rise of the Islamic State group, failing states in Iraq and Syria, the growing Ebola epidemic, the failing ceasefire in Ukraine and widespread protests in Hong Kong. There is also civil strife in Yemen and Libya, nuclear negotiations with Iran, a potential coup in North Korea, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, security concerns in Afghanistan and a civil war in the Central African Republic. And that doesn’t even touch on non-security foreign policy issues like trade, climate negotiations or relations with China.

Foreign policy is about setting priorities. But Washington has been erratic in its approach, trying to tackle countless global issues in isolation with no reference to the bigger picture. The Obama administration has wavered between a desire not to get involved in conflicts and an apparent desire to be seen to be doing something.

Under the Obama administration, U.S. foreign policy lacks a strategic focus.”

The current situation in Syria is not dissimilar to last year, when 70 percent of Americans opposed arming Syrian rebels, but shock and fear at Islamic State group atrocities has dramatically increased public support for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Although this level of support is likely ephemeral, it quickly led to intervention. The White House’s swift about-face on the issue obscures the fact that there is still no clear strategy for how the Islamic State group can be degraded as a threat using air strikes alone. Indeed, the militant terrorist group continues to make territorial gains despite several weeks of bombing raids.

Washington’s approach to other recent crises has been similarly lacking in strategic focus. The White House’s commitment to solving the Ukrainian crisis is unclear: The administration has denounced Russia, participated in sanctions and has agreed to train the Ukrainian military, but seems content to ignore the shaky ceasefire and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is the Surge in Capital Goods Orders Due to Malinvestment?

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

6921

Mises Daily Tuesday by Frank Shostak

Orders in capital goods have been going up since 2009. Normally, capital goods purchases suggest economic growth, but if the orders are a result of easy money, the purchases point not to wealth creation, but to a bubble.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Rothbard-Paul Message

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

2801

Mises Daily Tuesday by Darrell Falconburg.

A young libertarian tells where the liberty movement should go.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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“Jean Tirole wins Nobel for a pseudo-problem”

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

The Financial Post picks up Joe Salerno’s blog post on the latest Nobel Prize winner in economics.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Robert Reich: Why Is the Government Subsidizing the 1 Percent of Colleges?

October 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

What justifies so much government spending per student at private elite universities?


Imagine a system of college education supported by high and growing government spending on elite private universities that mainly educate children of the wealthy and upper-middle class, and low and declining government spending on public universities that educate large numbers of children from the working class and the poor.

You can stop imagining. That’s the American system right now.

Government subsidies to elite private universities take the form of tax deductions for people who make charitable contributions to them. In economic terms a tax deduction is the same as government spending. It has to be made up by other taxpayers.

These tax subsidies are on the rise because in recent years a relatively few very rich people have had far more money than they can possibly spend or even give away to their children. So they’re donating it to causes they believe in, such as the elite private universities that educated them or that they want their children to attend.

Private university endowments are now around $550 billion, centered in a handful of prestigious institutions. Harvard’s endowment is over $32 billion, followed by Yale at $20.8 billion, Stanford at $18.6 billion, and Princeton at $18.2 billion.

Each of these endowments increased last year by more than $1 billion, and these universities are actively seeking additional support. Last year Harvard launched a capital campaign for another $6.5 billion.

Because of the charitable tax deduction, the amount of government subsidy to these institutions in the form of tax deductions is about one out of every three dollars contributed.

A few years back, Meg Whitman, now CEO of Hewlett-Packard, contributed $30 million to Princeton. In return she received a tax break estimated to be around $10 million.

In effect, Princeton received $20 million from Whitman and $10 million from the U.S. Treasury – that is, from you and me and other taxpayers who made up the difference.

Add in these endowments’ exemptions from taxes on capital gains and on income they earn, and the total government expenditures is even larger.

Divide by the relatively small number of students attending …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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America's Fatal Blunder in the War against ISIS

October 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

U.S. and Western officials like to portray the campaign to defeat ISIS as a struggle between the civilized world and a monstrous terrorist organization. As with most wartime narratives throughout history, that portrayal greatly oversimplifies matters. The war against ISIS actually involves numerous factions, each with its own policy agenda. The American people need to grasp the extent of the complexity, lest the United States drift into an endless war with no coherent, attainable objective. Admonitions from U.S. military and political leaders that the anti-ISIS mission will be a very long one—perhaps lasting three decades or more—should sound alarm bells about the likelihood of policy drift.

An especially important factor is the need to understand the number of players in this conflict and their conflicting agendas. Washington’s attempt to assemble a broad international coalition against ISIS largely ignores that factor—which could be a fatal blunder. In addition to the United States and its European allies, there are at least five major factions involved in the turmoil afflicting Iraq and Syria.

The Radical Sunni Islamists

ISIS constitutes the core of this faction, but the organization has important allies in both Iraq and Syria. It is hardly a coincidence that ISIS has been strongest in the Sunni heartlands of both countries. Indeed, without the aid of Iraq’s Sunni tribes (especially in Anbar province), it would have been extraordinarily difficult for the insurgents to have mounted such a successful military drive—which has now reached Baghdad’s outer suburbs. Not surprisingly, most areas of Iraq that have come under ISIS control in the current offensive are the same areas that rose against the Baghdad government during the peak of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007. General David Petraeus’ policy of providing generous financial aid to the Sunni tribes impelled them to put their insurgency on hold, giving Iraq an all-too-brief respite from that violence.

Given the disparate motives of the various parties, it is unwise for U.S. officials to view the fight against ISIS as a stark conflict between good and evil.”

A similar situation exists in Syria. The core of ISIS power is in the majority Sunni regions of that country. And many of the supposedly “moderate” elements of the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad, including portions of theU.S.-backed Free Syrian Army, have turned out to be ISIS fighters—or at least sympathizers. The primary goal of ISIS and its …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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This Koch-Backed Charter School Founder Is Making Millions Off of Public Education

October 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Marian Wang, ProPublica

Businesses can now run chains of public schools, conflicts of interest be damned.


Versions of this story were co-published with The Daily BeastRaleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer.

In late February, the North Carolina chapter of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation — a group co-founded by the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers — embarked on what it billed as a statewide tour of charter schools, a cornerstone of the group's education agenda. The first — and it turns out, only — stop was Douglass Academy, a new charter school in downtown Wilmington.

Douglass Academy was an unusual choice. A few weeks before, the school had been warned by the state about low enrollment. It had just 35 students, roughly half the state's minimum. And a month earlier, a local newspaper had reported that federal regulators were investigating the school's operations.

But the school has other attributes that may have appealed to the Koch group. The school's founder, a politically active North Carolina businessman named Baker Mitchell, shares the Koch's free-market ideals.  His model for success embraces decreased government regulation, increased privatization and, if all goes well, healthy corporate profits.

In that regard, Mitchell, 74, appears to be thriving. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell's chain of four nonprofit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.

The schools buy or lease nearly everything from companies owned by Mitchell. Their desks. Their computers. The training they provide to teachers. Most of the land and buildings. Unlike with traditional school districts, at Mitchell's charter schools there's no competitive bidding. No evidence of haggling over rent or contracts.

The schools have all hired the same for-profit management company to run their day-to-day operations. The company, Roger Bacon Academy, is owned by Mitchell. It functions as the schools' administrative arm, taking the lead in hiring and firing school staff. It handles most of the bookkeeping. The treasurer of the nonprofit that controls the four schools is also the chief financial officer of Mitchell's management company. The two organizations even share a bank account.

Mitchell's management company was chosen by the schools' nonprofit board, which Mitchell was on at the …read more

Source: ALTERNET