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07/02/13

Toll Roads

Filed under: Economics — Jared @ 2:20 pm

I’d pay tolls on Rt. 95 to have traffic suck less; I love finding economists that I actually agree with:

Free roads are anything but free

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52 Comments »

  1. The arguments he makes are the same as those made in any free market vs. socialism argument:

    “Artificially boosting the number of people collecting tolls cannot be good social policy.”

    “As Governor-elect Deval Patrick prepares to take office, he and his nascent administration should understand the best function of tolls: to charge for the use of scarce road space.”

    “This approach has given us endless traffic jams, because as any former Soviet commissar can tell you, if prices are too low, endless queues follow.”

    And so on. These are undisguised statements that “price controls are bad” and “prices are simply a way to allocate scarce resources as efficiently as possible.” You know – the same things I’m always telling you.

    But in other contexts you tend to dismiss these economic effects. Why do you agree with this guy here but have more socialist leanings when it comes to, say, health care?

    Just like with roads, health care payments must come from somewhere – and without correctly functioning prices and profit incentives, and therefore incentives to operate as efficiently as possible, the total cost paid by “everybody” is higher. The whole package is more expensive when people can’t individually control how much they spend and on what.

    This guy is absolutely right in this article, and I’m glad you recognize that. Now just extend that thinking to *everything else*, because it all works on the same basic principles.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/13 @ 7:46 pm

  2. That story is the dumbest thing I have ever read in my life.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/14 @ 7:09 pm

  3. I’ll address Scott first:

    That story is the dumbest thing I have ever read in my life.

    Why? Tolls suck ass, but if roads are not paid for by tolls (paid by the users of the roads), then they are paid for by the taxpayers generally. I for one do not believe the bill should be footed entirely by users, as I think there is reason for the public to want a good set of roads available, but some burden should be borne by those who use the roads. And if you are going to have tolls, why not use them in part to reduce traffic?

    Matt:

    But in other contexts you tend to dismiss these economic effects. Why do you agree with this guy here but have more socialist leanings when it comes to, say, health care?

    To put it simply, because comparing road tolls to healthcare is like comparing reciting your ABC’s to modeling protein folding in realtime (quite the tough task, given that Folding@Home distributes the task all over the globe, and doesn’t get it done in realtime, nor does it get it done accurately most of the time). They are unrelated both in goals and complexity.

    Road tolls serve a few potential purposes. The typical reason (in my experience) is to pay road construction and/or maintenance. A second possible purpose (the one suggested by the article) would be to do traffic shaping, for which there have been many attempts (look at HOV lanes as they exist). The insentives in this model are relatively few, and are pretty easy to handle. Also, the goals are pretty clear: we want to [help] pay for the roads, with the possible goal of reducing traffic during rush hour. The actors involved are many, but of basically one class: drivers. And we can guess how they’d react: either they would pay to use the road when it is most expensive, or they would aleviate traffic by going when it is cheaper. The goal here is efficiency.

    A healthcare system, however, is a system with many more actors, and almost inumerable insentives. Patients, doctors, nurses, administrators, drug salesman, drug manufacturers, equipment repair people… the list goes on, ad nauseum. All of these people are involved, and they all have different (and sometimes competing) interests. We also, from a ethical standpoint, have more than just efficency in mind: for a healthcare system to function, it must balance efficiency with ensuring that every patient be treated as well as reasonably possible, given current technology.

    The system is too big for either one of us to model. It’s easy to abstractly say “health care payments must come from somewhere”. I agree with you. But the interests in this are numerous, and given the lack of a complete model (I wonder if anyone anywhere really has a good model of all of the interests involved; if so, I’d love to see it), what I have to go on is my gut. My gut tells me that profit as the only modivator is dangerous, because it is way easier to incur irreplaceable losses in those cases where greed leads to malpractice.

    Ok, i’m rambling incoherently at this point. Short version is that effiency is not the only goal. If you can come up with a healthcare system that requires no government intervention, and can serve all patients regardless of them having the money to pay for treatment, then do it, because you will rule the world in short order.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/14 @ 10:29 pm

  4. To put it simply, because comparing road tolls to healthcare is like comparing reciting your ABC’s to modeling protein folding in realtime

    Not if you’re considering the road system of the entire country. As an overall industry, with all the players involved keeping it functioning, it’s certainly in the same ballpark in terms of complexity. And in fact, we’re talking about price controls on the very same layer of each system – the end consumer payment model.

    Ok, I’m going to be obnoxious here and replace your words with [mine]:

    [Hospital bills] serve a few potential purposes. The typical reason (in my experience) is to pay [hospital] construction and/or maintenance. A second possible purpose (the one suggested by the article) would be to [prevent mis- or over-use of available care], for which there have been many attempts (look at [private practice] as they exist). The insentives in this model are relatively [many], and are pretty [difficult] to handle. Also, the goals are pretty clear: we want to (help) pay for the [health care], with the possible goal of reducing [overcrowding, overworked staff] during [all day long]. The actors involved are many, but of basically one class: [patients] [not true at all! see below]. And we can guess how they’d react: either they would pay to [go to the doctor] when it is [necessary], or they would [free up hospital resources for patients that really need them] by going when [they need it]. The goal here is efficiency.

    The goal is always efficiency. In healthcare, it boils down to this: how to get a scarce resource (doctor time, medication, etc) to where it would be put to best use (the patients that need it).

    And as for drivers being the only parties economically entangled with the road system? Hah! There’s every corporation that ships stuff via trucks, there’s taxi and limo drivers, there’s construction workers, concrete companies, construction equipment manufacturers, Roy Rogers (nasty ass rest stop burgers)… there’s everybody in every other shipping or transport industry who has to play by the same rules – but without taxpayer subsidy… there’s every industry that depends on these roads, that is losing money because of traffic… need I go on?

    But you said it best yourself when you said:

    The system is too big for either one of us to model.

    EXACTLY. And THAT is why the free market (and for the same reason, freedom of expression, and every other “get the government out of my face and let me make my own decisions” philosophy) is ALWAYS better than centralized planning in any even remotely complicated situation. Centralized decisions are always poor decisions, and they get worse the more people they affect.

    You cannot model a system this large involving this many people, with disparate incentives, resources, and uses for those resources. But that is exactly what you are proposing to do. Whereas I am proposing to let each individual actor decide what is best for him, and let the overall group reach the best compromise for all involved.

    It’s democracy, man. Anything else is un-American (*cough*).

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 1:26 am

  5. Ok, I’m going to be obnoxious here and replace your words with [mine]:

    I see what you’re getting at, but it was obnoxious, and it misses the point.

    There’s every corporation that ships stuff via trucks, there’s taxi and limo drivers, there’s construction workers, concrete companies, construction equipment manufacturers, Roy Rogers (nasty ass rest stop burgers)… there’s everybody in every other shipping or transport industry who has to play by the same rules – but without taxpayer subsidy… there’s every industry that depends on these roads, that is losing money because of traffic… need I go on?

    You don’t. You made no point in that statement; these are all drivers, consuming the same resource (road space), in the same way. The only sense in which they make the model more complicated is in the sense that there are a lot of “drivers” on the road.

    “Healthcare”, however, is a monolith, with so much more than just patient to doctor transactions. Like I said, ABC’s to protein folding.

    The goal is always efficiency. In healthcare, it boils down to this: how to get a scarce resource (doctor time, medication, etc) to where it would be put to best use (the patients that need it).

    If you define efficiency in broad terms, fine. But the second a patient suffers because their doctor and nurses were worrying about money rather than treating them, the efficiency of the transaction becomes zero.

    And THAT is why the free market (and for the same reason, freedom of expression, and every other “get the government out of my face and let me make my own decisions” philosophy) is ALWAYS better than centralized planning in any even remotely complicated situation. Centralized decisions are always poor decisions, and they get worse the more people they affect.

    I’m not advocating centralized planning, because it doesn’t work. But price incentives won’t get every patient the treatment they need every time. For you, maybe the malpractice involved will be minimized to “acceptable losses”. To me, those losses aren’t acceptable, and because of the way prices work, they’ll come at the expense of those least equipped to at least attempt to protect themselves from such malpractice (the poor).

    You cannot model a system this large involving this many people, with disparate incentives, resources, and uses for those resources. But that is exactly what you are proposing to do.

    No, it’s not what I am proposing to do. I do think attempting to model such complex systems is valuable from an academic standpoint, but I would not suggest centrally planning such a complex system based on incomplete academic models. What I am saying is that it’s unethical to have healthcare go to the highest bidding patient. And ethics do count for something, at least in this particular system. You don’t have to agree with that, but if they didn’t, instead of having organ donor lists such as we have now we’d just auction them off to the highest bidder. We don’t, because it’s grossly unethical.

    I’m not pretending I have a good answer here. The only system I can think of that might work, at least without rebuilding the system from the ground up, would be to privatize things as much as possible, and subsidize the purchase of private insurance for those who can’t afford it. I suspect that wouldn’t work very well either, but it might be better than what we’ve got now.

    Anything else is un-American (*cough*).

    Ok Mr. Bush 😛

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 9:08 am

  6. EXACTLY. And THAT is why the free market (and for the same reason, freedom of expression, and every other “get the government out of my face and let me make my own decisions” philosophy) is ALWAYS better than centralized planning in any even remotely complicated situation. Centralized decisions are always poor decisions, and they get worse the more people they affect.

    You cannot model a system this large involving this many people, with disparate incentives, resources, and uses for those resources. But that is exactly what you are proposing to do. Whereas I am proposing to let each individual actor decide what is best for him, and let the overall group reach the best compromise for all involved.

    To quickly address this point a little further, using a concept I’ve picked up from your basic econ book: There are external costs to this most basic doctor-patient transaction. They are enormous, and to deal with them requires some modeling, for the same reason we put so much energy into environmental, defense, and educational modeling: if we don’t, the external costs have the potential of ruining the system.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 9:48 am

  7. I see what you’re getting at, but it was obnoxious, and it misses the point.

    How does it miss the point? I replaced your words with their direct equivalent in the health care industry, and it came out making just as much sense as what you said in the first place.

    You made no point in that statement; these are all drivers, consuming the same resource (road space), in the same way. The only sense in which they make the model more complicated is in the sense that there are a lot of “drivers” on the road.

    They’re all drivers in the same way that everybody is a “patient” when it comes to health care. But the economic relationship of “road to construction worker” or “road to train industry” is not one of an end consumer, same as “hospital to syringe supplier” or “insurance company to hospital.”

    But the second a patient suffers because their doctor and nurses were worrying about money rather than treating them, the efficiency of the transaction becomes zero.

    Even if under another system, that patient would not have had access to care at all, or had to wait months for surgery? How is that better? At least this way the maximum number of people are being treated.

    To me, those losses aren’t acceptable, and because of the way prices work, they’ll come at the expense of those least equipped to at least attempt to protect themselves from such malpractice (the poor).

    Explain how you reach that conclusion, because I don’t. A free market has the explicit effect of making desired resources available to those who want them as efficiently (i.e. cheaply) as possible.

    What I am saying is that it’s unethical to have healthcare go to the highest bidding patient.

    But that’s not how properly functioning markets play out. What will happen is that it’s not *free* for everybody, so they don’t overuse the system, but the profits are there so the supply will be there, available at (once the dust settles) a price point that makes sense for all parties involved. If you ask me, it’s unethical to let resources go to waste when they chould be used to provide care to those who need it.

    And ethics do count for something, at least in this particular system. You don’t have to agree with that, but if they didn’t, instead of having organ donor lists such as we have now we’d just auction them off to the highest bidder. We don’t, because it’s grossly unethical.

    … but then again, this is another case where a free market would stop people from dying while they wait for a new heart. The Freakonomics guys argued for this exact solution, actually.

    Ethics are a personal thing, obviously, but if you ask me the ethical thing to do is to make sure resources (things people need, whatever they may be) make it to where they are needed, with as little waste as possible (and “waste” doesn’t just mean direct waste, but also misallocation where one area has an oversupply while another has a shortage, and so on). Statements like “money is the root of all evil” should not be taken at face value, since the “obvious” direct effects of economic policies are not all there is, nor are they the most powerful. When you look at the big picture, the value of getting decent care to 99% of patients at a much cheaper cost to society than getting crappy care to 100% of patients (provided they’re willing to die of cancer while they wait) is obvious to me.

    To quickly address this point a little further, using a concept I’ve picked up from your basic econ book: There are external costs to this most basic doctor-patient transaction.

    I don’t understand how you got this from that book. That book explicitly argues that these costs (and every other) are best handled on a local, individual level, and NOT centrally modeled/planned for.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 10:46 am

  8. I replaced your words with their direct equivalent in the health care industry, and it came out making just as much sense as what you said in the first place.

    Right, and instead of talking about the healthcare system generally, you were talking about doctor-patient interactions. They aren’t the same thing.

    You asked, originally, why I would back this sort of toll system, when I am so “socialist” when it comes to healthcare. It is, in part, because “healthcare” is about much more than doctors visiting patients. Stop trying to confuse the two. Patients visiting doctors is only a component of “healthcare”.

    Even if under another system, that patient would not have had access to care at all, or had to wait months for surgery? How is that better? At least this way the maximum number of people are being treated.

    I’d call this a total failure of imagination. Look at the donor pair program in the Freakonomics-esqe article you linked; you don’t need to pay people in order to align their interests.

    Explain how you reach that conclusion, because I don’t. A free market has the explicit effect of making desired resources available to those who want them as efficiently (i.e. cheaply) as possible.

    I reach that conclusion from the experiences I have had with the health system in this country, first and second hand (via reading, talking to people, etc). Long term, yes, the market MIGHT drive down the cost of medicine (I am beyond skeptical of this, but I’ll give it to you because I didn’t want to argue healthcare in the first place). The costs are infinately higher than in our minimum wage discussion however – while we wait for more doctors and nurses to be trained, and more research to be done, people die. Not an acceptable transition.

    Overuse is definately a problem. The solution isn’t to, today, take the ability to use the system at all out of the hands of the poor. Sorry, I don’t think I’m ever going to agree with you on that.

    … but then again, this is another case where a free market would stop people from dying while they wait for a new heart. The Freakonomics guys argued for this exact solution, actually.

    Ethics are a personal thing, obviously, but if you ask me the ethical thing to do is to make sure resources (things people need, whatever they may be) make it to where they are needed, with as little waste as possible (and “waste” doesn’t just mean direct waste, but also misallocation where one area has an oversupply while another has a shortage, and so on). Statements like “money is the root of all evil” should not be taken at face value, since the “obvious” direct effects of economic policies are not all there is, nor are they the most powerful. When you look at the big picture, the value of getting decent care to 99% of patients at a much cheaper cost to society than getting crappy care to 100% of patients (provided they’re willing to die of cancer while they wait) is obvious to me.

    I agree, I’d rather get good care to 99% rather than crappy care to 100%. By putting on the doctor the incentive to try to yield profit from his activity, you end up with a situation like the one the guy who runs a clinical lab was telling us about: They do two different tests. Say for a second both cost $10 per test. One test gets reimbursed by insurance companies at $5/test. The other get reimbursed at $20/test. Therefore, anytime they need to run the first test, they also run the second. Efficient, huh?

    I don’t understand how you got this from that book. That book explicitly argues that these costs (and every other) are best handled on a local, individual level, and NOT centrally modeled/planned for.

    You said you haven’t finished it, right? The only place I’ve seen him explicitly discuss external costs is in a section titled something like “External Costs” (surprise) in the chapter on the National Economy. His examples boiled down to environmental policy and national defense. The gist I’ve gotten from him (and the only one that makes sense to me) is to keep things as local and small as possible, given the particular example. The Feds don’t need to be involved in zoning laws, and it doesn’t make sense to have Massachusetts institute a CO2 cap.

    I happen to think, as is evident, that you need to look at this from a wider perspective than doctor-patient interactions. Nothing you’ve said has persuaded me otherwise. I respect your opinion, and this is why I stopped arguing about it with you before. I’m willing to continue this discussion ad naseum, I just don’t hold hope that either one of us is going to “see the light” as it were.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 12:36 pm

  9. Tolls reduce traffic like jail time reduce crime.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 12:39 pm

  10. Scott:

    Tolls reduce traffic like jail time reduce crime.

    Heh, jail time does reduce crime, presuming we’re talking about violent crime.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 12:55 pm

  11. Right, and instead of talking about the healthcare system generally, you were talking about doctor-patient interactions. They aren’t the same thing.

    Right, because you were talking about driver-road interaction, which is the same level in each system. But you mess with the economics at the bottom and everything else in the system gets screwed up as a result.

    It is, in part, because “healthcare” is about much more than doctors visiting patients. Stop trying to confuse the two. Patients visiting doctors is only a component of “healthcare”.

    I’m not confusing the two at all, and I never claimed it was just about doctors visiting patients. That’s the easy part, and if that were all there was to it, a socialized solution would probably work.

    But the reason I’m against it is because it is so much more than that, and when the economics at that level aren’t functioning properly, the economics don’t work at any other level in the system. The doctor-patient relationship is not an isolated thing.

    I’d call this a total failure of imagination.

    Well, that’s how socialized health care has played out everywhere it’s been tried thus far. People die, and tumors go from benign to malignant, while they’re waiting for treatment.

    The costs are infinately higher than in our minimum wage discussion however – while we wait for more doctors and nurses to be trained, and more research to be done, people die. Not an acceptable transition.

    People are dying now because they just can’t get the care. How would the transitionary period be worse?

    And it’s not just about waiting for doctors and nurses to be trained – there are a million variables here where resources could be aligned more optimally than they are now, and a lot of those would fix themselves very quickly.

    Overuse is definately a problem. The solution isn’t to, today, take the ability to use the system at all out of the hands of the poor. Sorry, I don’t think I’m ever going to agree with you on that.

    You completely misunderstand what I am saying. Would you advocate for socialized food? i.e. everybody gets a certain ration of cabbage and chocolate? Or do you accept that a free market brings the costs of food down for everybody, and while some people eat caviar and drink champaign while others eat ramen noodles (generally for only a short period in their lives), it is better for everybody this way?

    Doesn’t charging for food “take it out of the hands of the poor?” No! It makes the system more efficient and gives everybody access to more available food.

    Remember, if prices are high it is only because supply is overwhelmed by demand. If you don’t use price to allocate the resource in question, you have to use some other method. In other countries where they have socialized health care, that method is generally “wait a year, then maybe we’ll get to you.” But also, when prices are high, supply moves in to profit form them, which drives the prices back down. Take away that profit incentive, and how do you increase supply? Take away the direct cost to consumers, and how do you decrease demand?

    These are the fundamental questions that do not have good answers in anything but a free market system.

    By putting on the doctor the incentive to try to yield profit from his activity, you end up with a situation like the one the guy who runs a clinical lab was telling us about: They do two different tests. Say for a second both cost $10 per test. One test gets reimbursed by insurance companies at $5/test. The other get reimbursed at $20/test. Therefore, anytime they need to run the first test, they also run the second. Efficient, huh?

    Well, it’s the job of the insurance company to watch for that kind of stuff and take their business elsewhere. In a free market, nobody is forced to do business with anybody else.

    You said you haven’t finished it, right?

    Nope. Still waiting for you to give it back :\

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 12:56 pm

  12. These are the fundamental questions that do not have good answers in anything but a free market system.

    I am of the opinion that a free market system does not have good answers for these questions. I don’t think profit incentives, at the patient-doctor level, make for good medicine. You’re welcome to disagree – yaay for democracy.

    How would the transitionary period be worse?

    More people dying, of course.

    Well, that’s how socialized health care has played out everywhere it’s been tried thus far. People die, and tumors go from benign to malignant, while they’re waiting for treatment.

    Good thing I’m not advocating socializing the system, or we’d have a problem.

    Take away that profit incentive, and how do you increase supply? Take away the direct cost to consumers, and how do you decrease demand?

    Well, for starters, by matching kidney donor/recipient pairs that are compatible! Not all incentives are about money.

    Nope. Still waiting for you to give it back :\

    Sorry, I’m trying to get through it, but the guy is a bit of a wind-bag, which makes it slow to read.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 1:10 pm

  13. I stand by my answer. tolls not equal to reduced traffic

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 1:34 pm

  14. Scott:

    I stand by my answer. tolls not equal to reduced traffic

    You are very possibly right, but why do you think this?

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 1:44 pm

  15. The pike has tolls and it’s still a parking lot. There is a certain number of people who need to get from point A to point B at a certain time. Charging money will not stop this. Add to this fact that every year more people buy more and more cars for the same number or roads. There is no simple answer to this problem that will make the delays go away. (unless cheap flying cars are the answer you are thinking of, and even the jetsons had to wait in traffic.)

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 1:56 pm

  16. I don’t think profit incentives, at the patient-doctor level, make for good medicine.

    Well, first of all, there would be no profit incentives at the patient-doctor level, unless the doctor himself owns the practice (or it’s some bizarre parallel universe and he works on commission). The profit incentives are with the shareholders of the company.

    But even ignoring that for a moment, why are doctors going to go out of their way to screw people? Does every other corporation you deal with on a daily basis look for every possible way to screw you? Sure, some do – but others believe you can do better business by treating your customers well, and you can choose which to deal with.

    Why is this system good enough for most everything else, but when it comes to doctors you would get screwed at every turn? Are doctors inherently more immoral than, say, plumbers?

    More people dying, of course.

    Clearly that’s what you were getting at. But why would that be the case?

    Good thing I’m not advocating socializing the system, or we’d have a problem.

    But you are advocating socializing one important piece of the puzzle, and expecting the rest of it to be unaffected.

    Well, for starters, by matching kidney donor/recipient pairs that are compatible! Not all incentives are about money.

    Money is an illusory concept anyway. For example, today I went over to the mall to get some lunch. In effect, I said to the guy at the cash register, “Hi. I’ve spent my morning writing code so you or anybody else can get yourself cheaper (and better!) dental implants. Will you spend a few minutes of your time making me some food in return?” The money that I’ve made represents my contribution to human society. The money he makes feeding people represents his contribution to society. Money just abstracts away the details.

    So really NO incentives are about money, because money is really about something else (time, hassle, pleasure, security). If you can spend $5,000 and buy yourself a new kidney, thereby sparing yourself the next 2 years of dialysis, what are you really doing there? You’re exchanging part of your net contribution to society which (in an ideally functioning economy) is equal to the money you’ve been paid.

    Trying to take money out of a system turns the system in effect into a black market economy. It’s still an economy, with the inequalities that come with that, but it is based on different abstractions and is missing the incentives that make the whole mess work.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 2:00 pm

  17. The pike has tolls and it’s still a parking lot. There is a certain number of people who need to get from point A to point B at a certain time. Charging money will not stop this.

    Then clearly they’re not charging enough. And as they start charging more, somebody else will say “Hey, this thing is making quite a bit of change. Let’s build another one!”

    Then the traffic drops in half, and the prices come back down as each competes with the other for business.

    I fail to see what’s so complicated about this.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 2:10 pm

  18. Well, first of all, there would be no profit incentives at the patient-doctor level, unless the doctor himself owns the practice (or it’s some bizarre parallel universe and he works on commission). The profit incentives are with the shareholders of the company.

    Even if the doctor receives no money from the patient, there are still potentially profit concerns involved for him. For example, if he orders a bunch of those $5-reimbursed tests, without ordering the $20 one, he will get fired. The same would be true if the hospital frowned on him preforming a test because the chances of the patient having the ailment the test looks for is low. Getting fired removes any chance of profiting on his part. Simple incentives. You’d do it too.

    Clearly that’s what you were getting at. But why would that be the case?

    Because, as an example, testing for rare conditions (where the tests are costly) might be omitted by the hospital in an attempt to yield increased profit.

    But you are advocating socializing one important piece of the puzzle, and expecting the rest of it to be unaffected.

    Well, providing socialized health insurance would be an option, I suppose. Just like with education, however, I wouldn’t actually advocate banning privatized insurance.

    I’m going to avoid the “money is illusory” lesson, because it seems irrelevant to me. Instead, I’ll suggest a possibility, which was suggested by some well-liked economist who’s name illudes me on On Point the other day: what if the reason that our private health care system works so much better than the socialized systems in other countries isn’t because of some perceived flaw in providing social health insurance, but rather because the socialized systems elsewhere spend a fraction of what we do on each patient?

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 2:18 pm

  19. The pike has tolls and it’s still a parking lot. There is a certain number of people who need to get from point A to point B at a certain time. Charging money will not stop this. Add to this fact that every year more people buy more and more cars for the same number or roads. There is no simple answer to this problem that will make the delays go away. (unless cheap flying cars are the answer you are thinking of, and even the jetsons had to wait in traffic.)

    The article suggests that the tolls as they are levied are not appropriate. Instead of a fixed toll, you instead levy higher (potentially much higher) tolls during time of great demand (i.e. rush hour) and lower tolls outside of rush hour. Even if this does not lower traffic on its own (which I do think it would), it would provide more money for building and/or expanding roads, which could be used to let off some of the traffic.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 2:22 pm

  20. Even if the doctor receives no money from the patient, there are still potentially profit concerns involved for him. For example, if he orders a bunch of those $5-reimbursed tests, without ordering the $20 one, he will get fired. The same would be true if the hospital frowned on him preforming a test because the chances of the patient having the ailment the test looks for is low. Getting fired removes any chance of profiting on his part. Simple incentives. You’d do it too.

    Sure – but that’s why the consumer should have the choice to not deal with that particular company at all. And in this day and age of free information flow, it would be easy to tell which companies are better and which are worse in regards to screwing their customers. Competition is what keeps companies from getting away with screwing people, and capitalism doesn’t work without it.

    Again, this process works beautifully in other industries. What makes this one different?

    Because, as an example, testing for rare conditions (where the tests are costly) might be omitted by the hospital in an attempt to yield increased profit.

    If the test costs $200, they should be charging the customer $220. So they wouldn’t leave the test out simply based on profitability. They charge based on costs, plus a little extra to make it worth their time and their investors’ money.

    Well, providing socialized health insurance would be an option, I suppose. Just like with education, however, I wouldn’t actually advocate banning privatized insurance.

    I’m not convinced a mix of the two would work very well. Then you end up with situations where two players in the same game are playing by two different sets of rules.

    I’m going to avoid the “money is illusory” lesson, because it seems irrelevant to me.

    I was just trying to point out that your disdain for money is misguided, as you will either pay for something with time, effort, or money, and all three are interchangeable.

    what if the reason that our private health care system works so much better than the socialized systems in other countries isn’t because of some perceived flaw in providing social health insurance, but rather because the socialized systems elsewhere spend a fraction of what we do on each patient?

    Uh. Seriously? How much of the rest of the world’s medical knowledge comes from U.S. medical R&D? It’s easy to spend less when you’re not doing the hard work, just implementing it once it’s been figured out. Who is pushing the boundaries of modern medicine? We are. Where is that funding coming from? Right. Profits being reinvested into the future.

    And it’s not fair to call other countries’ budgets “a fraction” of ours. Yes, we spend more than other countries, but a quick Googling shows our budget is 53% higher (per capita) than the average of the rest of the world. But we’re using that extra money to develop the medical techniques that they end up using.

    Oh, and we have higher incomes too. I don’t have the figures at the moment, but I guarantee our incomes are more than 53% higher than the rest of the world’s.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 2:38 pm

  21. Yes I understand what the article was saying. What I am saying is that even with higher tolls people would still use the same roads and would still be stuck in the same traffic only this time they’d be even more pissed cause they paid 25 bucks to do so. Raising the tolls doesn’t eliminate the need for the roads at that time.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 2:39 pm

  22. Using tolls to raise money to build more roads(environmental issues asside) = Brilliant.

    Using tolls as a deterent for traffic = stupid

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 2:41 pm

  23. Using tolls to raise money to build more roads(environmental issues asside) = Brilliant.

    Using tolls as a deterent for traffic = stupid

    Heh. Well if it was really a free market, they wouldn’t be using them as a deterrent for traffic. They’d see that they have more business that they know what to do with, and they’d raise prices “because they can.”

    This has both desired effects: first, it does deter traffic, at least to some extent, and second, it generates money to build new roads, or it attracts new investors who see the high profitability of the business, who then build new roads of their own.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 2:50 pm

  24. Uh. Seriously? How much of the rest of the world’s medical knowledge comes from U.S. medical R&D? It’s easy to spend less when you’re not doing the hard work, just implementing it once it’s been figured out. Who is pushing the boundaries of modern medicine? We are. Where is that funding coming from? Right. Profits being reinvested into the future.

    And it’s not fair to call other countries’ budgets “a fraction” of ours. Yes, we spend more than other countries, but a quick Googling shows our budget is 53% higher (per capita) than the average of the rest of the world. But we’re using that extra money to develop the medical techniques that they end up using.

    Oh, and we have higher incomes too. I don’t have the figures at the moment, but I guarantee our incomes are more than 53% higher than the rest of the world’s.

    I don’t have the figures in front of me either, which is why it’s more of a thought question. The costs he was discussing weren’t R&D costs, they were costs of implementation. Thanks to a free market, it’s up to the R&D companies to decide where and how to do their research; my bet is that R&D costs alone have little to do with that “53%” you googled. He was mostly comparing us to Europe and Canada, given that they are the symbolic social medicine disasters.

    You could be right. Given a lack of actual reason to believe you are, and what I have learned throughout my life, I’m inclined to feel you aren’t. As I’ve said before – yaay for democracy.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 2:52 pm

  25. I stand by my statements. (especially statement # 9)

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 2:58 pm

  26. Thanks to a free market, it’s up to the R&D companies to decide where and how to do their research;

    Right. But under a socialized health care system, that money would all be sucked away into maintaining the inefficient system, and no research would be done. And what little research is done will be the first to go next time there’s a budget crunch (which, under government-run programs, is always).

    my bet is that R&D costs alone have little to do with that “53%” you googled.

    Perhaps not directly, but they are enabled by the free market nature of the system, as companies invest for profit potential 10 years down the line. But regardless, they do come out of that same 53% larger pool of money in the end.

    He was mostly comparing us to Europe and Canada, given that they are the symbolic social medicine disasters.

    Can you give me an example of a “social medicine success?”

    You could be right. Given a lack of actual reason to believe you are, and what I have learned throughout my life, I’m inclined to feel you aren’t.

    For me, the “actual reason” to believe I’m right is that this is how economics works everywhere else, and the same effects that are caused by price controls on food, oil, labor, or anything else, can be observed quite clearly in socialized healthcare programs as well. Until I hear a compelling argument as to why this industry is any different than the rest (like there is for education), I will not change my mind.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 3:01 pm

  27. Right. But under a socialized health care system, that money would all be sucked away into maintaining the inefficient system, and no research would be done. And what little research is done will be the first to go next time there’s a budget crunch (which, under government-run programs, is always).

    Which would be one of the many reasons I would not advocate a socialized health care system. I’m not convinced this is what would happen under a socialized insurance system, but I’m not sure I’d advocate that either.

    Can you give me an example of a “social medicine success?”

    I don’t suppose I can, although that was not the point I was making. The point was more that both Canada and Europe are more like us than say, Brazil, so that is what was being compared to us medicine wise.

    For me, the “actual reason” to believe I’m right is that this is how economics works everywhere else, and the same effects that are caused by price controls on food, oil, labor, or anything else, can be observed quite clearly in socialized healthcare programs as well. Until I hear a compelling argument as to why this industry is any different than the rest (like there is for education), I will not change my mind.

    Great. I wasn’t trying to change your mind. But for the same reason I won’t leave things like education and environmental policy to the free market, I don’t see any reason to think that it’d be any better at handling healthcare.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 3:07 pm

  28. Which would be one of the many reasons I would not advocate a socialized health care system. I’m not convinced this is what would happen under a socialized insurance system, but I’m not sure I’d advocate that either.

    Then what are you advocating? Seems to me you want to keep things as they are, without the profit incentive (at least in some areas of the system). That’s socialism in a nutshell.

    But for the same reason I won’t leave things like education and environmental policy to the free market, I don’t see any reason to think that it’d be any better at handling healthcare.

    But economics tells us that unless there’s a compelling reason otherwise, a free market provides the best (known) solution to this problem. So it seems to me that the onus is on you to come with a reason why this case is different (if not to convince me, then to at least have an internally consistent world view yourself).

    Education is the one area I concede is not well served by a free market, but there are fundamental reasons why this is the case. I don’t see any comparable reasons when it comes to health care.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 3:27 pm

  29. under each of your systems what should we (society) do with health care for the poor or the people who can’t afford ins or doctors?

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 3:35 pm

  30. Then what are you advocating? Seems to me you want to keep things as they are, without the profit incentive (at least in some areas of the system). That’s socialism in a nutshell.

    I’m not sure what I would advocate, which is one of the reasons I TRY to stay away from this. Honestly, I think nationalized health insurance is likely the best of the evils we have around, and is probably inevitable. And I don’t see any reason why it can’t coexist together anyway – national health coverage wouldn’t be aimed at you and me anyway, it’d be aimed at the poor, the old, the young, and the unemployed, were it deployed properly. That the government can’t even set up road tolls properly, let alone a health insurance system, is for another debate.

    But economics tells us that unless there’s a compelling reason otherwise, a free market provides the best (known) solution to this problem. So it seems to me that the onus is on you to come with a reason why this case is different (if not to convince me, then to at least have an internally consistent world view yourself).

    Education is the one area I concede is not well served by a free market, but there are fundamental reasons why this is the case. I don’t see any comparable reasons when it comes to health care.

    I know you don’t. I do. I don’t think that doctors (and nurses, and hospitals, and health insurance companies, et cetera) are any more or less likely than anyone else to try to pull of various shenanigans; I just think that they are more likely to kill people quickly when they do.

    As to my world view, it is as consistent as I can make it at any given point in time. I’m pretty comfortable with it, and the things I’m not comfortable with I attempt to revise. Some things just obviously don’t fit in with a price-driven model to me. Education is one. National Defense is one. Health Care also happens to be one.

    Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 3:37 pm

  31. under each of your systems what should we (society) do with health care for the poor or the people who can’t afford ins or doctors?

    For the absolute poorest who TRULY can’t afford it, it should be subsidized by tax dollars. But if things were functioning properly, health care would be much cheaper, and this would be an absolutely tiny minority.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 3:38 pm

  32. I don’t think that doctors (and nurses, and hospitals, and health insurance companies, et cetera) are any more or less likely than anyone else to try to pull of various shenanigans; I just think that they are more likely to kill people quickly when they do.

    What about car manufacturers, or pilots, or building engineers, or any of the millions of other people who have other people’s lives in their hands every day?

    National Defense is one

    What? Why is this? This ridiculous, misguided war would be costing us a hell of a lot more if the government was trying to tackle the whole project itself instead of relying on private industry.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 3:42 pm

  33. To be honest car companies do the kind of shitty things that I think Jared is trying to avoid. For example if there is a fault in a car design they will look at the cost of a recall vs the cost of possible law suits. If the cost of a recall is higher they will do nothing and wait for the law suits to come. This idea is brilliant from a company stand point because you can save tons of money for your company. But it sucks for the poor family who gets killed in one of the faulty cars. If money is only a stand in for a persons time and effort what is the cost of a human life in dollars?

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 3:48 pm

  34. What about car manufacturers, or pilots, or building engineers, or any of the millions of other people who have other people’s lives in their hands every day?

    I’m of the opinion that price-driven economics drive them away from making such mistakes. I’m not convinced it does in medicine.

    What? Why is this? This ridiculous, misguided war would be costing us a hell of a lot more if the government was trying to tackle the whole project itself instead of relying on private industry.

    So you’d what, privatize the military?

    Either way the cost of this war stems from a few points: first that we shouldn’t be there in the first place, second that there was no post invasion plan, and third that our stratagy was to fly in something like 300 tons worth of cash into Baghdad, make a big pile out of it, and let the Iraqi’s roll around in it.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t farm out things like reconstruction or research of fighter jets to private industry; what I am suggesting with that comment is that I’m uncomfortable enough with the government having all the big guns, I sure as hell don’t want some private contractor (or even a bunch of them) having them.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 3:50 pm

  35. If money is only a stand in for a persons time and effort what is the cost of a human life in dollars?

    There is no answer to that question (as I’m sure you know, being a philosophy major).

    But another way to ask the same question is, “would society be better off if that family were still alive, but without the economic conditions that are created by companies having the right to make those sorts of decisions, and which lead to a society where everybody can HAVE a car?”

    I’m of the opinion that price-driven economics drive them away from making such mistakes. I’m not convinced it does in medicine.

    But why? All I’m asking for is an argument as to why this industry is any different than all the rest.

    So you’d what, privatize the military?

    No. The military is the enforcement wing of the government, and government is logically separate from private industry. By definition, a government has a monopoly on the use of force. But I would keep most R&D privatized (as it is today, since the DoD is concerned with actually getting something accomplished).

    The ideal global endgame would be to reach a state where every country’s economy has reached a state of stable maturity, and economic differences are settled economically rather than militarily. When it reaches a point where wars are more of a hassle and a disruption than a benefit *to all involved players*, military will be unnecessary. It’s highly unlikely we will ever reach that point though.

    Either way the cost of this war stems from a few points: first that we shouldn’t be there in the first place, second that there was no post invasion plan, and third that our stratagy was to fly in something like 300 tons worth of cash into Baghdad, make a big pile out of it, and let the Iraqi’s roll around in it.

    I’ve never supported this war, nor the incompetent monkey running the show.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 4:09 pm

  36. There is no answer to that question (as I’m sure you know, being a philosophy major).
    Yeah but I was never a very good philosophy major.

    The only reason I can think of for Health care being diff then any other biz is because it deals directly with human life and health on a daily basis. Isn’t a Doctor’s creed “do no harm?” I actually don’t know if it is, I just heard that somewhere.

    The sole goal of a doctor should be the health of the patient not making money or pushing a company agenda. If a doctor is thinking about what the stock holders are going to say when he is examing a patient trouble isn’t far behind.

    The free market is a good idea but cannot be applied as a fix all solution.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 4:18 pm

  37. But why? All I’m asking for is an argument as to why this industry is any different than all the rest.

    Based on my understanding of the incentives involved, a little coloring of my own ethics, and my gut. Like I’ve said, I’m not trying to convince you of anything, nor am I trying to make a proper argument. As I recall, you started this one 😛

    The ideal global endgame would be to reach a state where every country’s economy has reached a state of stable maturity, and economic differences are settled economically rather than militarily. When it reaches a point where wars are more of a hassle and a disruption than a benefit *to all involved players*, military will be unnecessary. It’s highly unlikely we will ever reach that point though.

    That’s definitely the desired endgame. It won’t come in our lifetimes, or our grandchildren’s lifetimes, but either we get there or we kill each other off.

    But another way to ask the same question is, “would society be better off if that family were still alive, but without the economic conditions that are created by companies having the right to make those sorts of decisions, and which lead to a society where everybody can HAVE a car?”

    We’d be better off if the car company was legally forced to notify owners of the defect, so that the could attempt to repair it on their own, or sue to instigate a recall. If that means cars go away, so be it. Given that I highly doubt it would mean cars go away, I find it to be a non-issue. The same logic would defend the stupid data brokers when they leak our private information and don’t notify us.

    I’ve never supported this war, nor the incompetent monkey running the show.

    I know you don’t – it’s not like we disagree on everything.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 4:18 pm

  38. If they tell people about the problem they gotta fix it. It’s a problem with the product they sold their customer, defective merchandise and all.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 4:26 pm

  39. We’d be better off if the car company was legally forced to notify owners of the defect, so that the could attempt to repair it on their own, or sue to instigate a recall.

    Maybe. But that’s a different issue (it’s an implementation detail, not a fundamental flaw), and it doesn’t mean that the company should be forced to make a bad business decision (though one may argue that declining to do a recall when everybody knows about the problem is a bad business decision from a customer relations standpoint).

    In the general case, I’m fine with mandatory disclosure of negligence or faulty products (in your data brokers example too). Just as long as that is not followed with a requirement to “fix” it.

    If that means cars go away, so be it.

    Really? For all the bad effects that cars have, are you seriously suggesting we’d be better off without them?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 4:26 pm

  40. Really? For all the bad effects that cars have, are you seriously suggesting we’d be better off without them?

    If all it took to make cars go away was to take away the car company’s choice of recall vs lawsuit, then yes, I think we could do without them.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 4:28 pm

  41. In a free market society if cars were to disapear I’m sure a new product would come out. 🙂

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 4:34 pm

  42. If all it took to make cars go away was to take away the car company’s choice of recall vs lawsuit, then yes, I think we could do without them.

    Well that’s an absurd argument. Cars (or more generally, accessible personal transportation) are one of the two enabling factors of economic mobility (the other being available communications technology, like the telephone and now the internet).

    Without cars you’d probably be a farmer in Lincoln right now, and the majority of the economic developments of the past hundred years would be nonexistant.

    You think it’s hard for somebody at the bottom to change their lot in life now? What would it be like if they were limited to only the economic opportunities within a radius of 2 miles of their home?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 4:36 pm

  43. Spong has a point. Now just think of what would happen to the person who owned a car but couldn’t afford to drive it because of all the tolls on the roads.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 4:38 pm

  44. In a free market society if cars were to disapear I’m sure a new product would come out.

    Of course, but then you people would be fighting to get rid of them too as soon as somebody got hurt.

    The reason cars are the most popular method of transportation is because they are the most efficient one available (when you consider the production costs down through maintenance and fuel costs). If they weren’t, the free market would respond and the better alternative would become popular.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 4:40 pm

  45. Nice one Scott.

    Well that’s an absurd argument. Cars (or more generally, accessible personal transportation) are one of the two enabling factors of economic mobility (the other being available communications technology, like the telephone and now the internet).

    Without cars you’d probably be a farmer in Lincoln right now, and the majority of the economic developments of the past hundred years would be nonexistant.

    You think it’s hard for somebody at the bottom to change their lot in life now? What would it be like if they were limited to only the economic opportunities within a radius of 2 miles of their home?

    Well then, my guess would be, given the enormous demand for that very important innovation, that taking the right to choose recall vs. lawsuit away from a company wouldn’t make them go away. Seems they’re too important 😛

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 4:41 pm

  46. I’ve had fun killin time during work but I gotta go home now. Have a good day all. We should all get together some time.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/15 @ 4:43 pm

  47. Now just think of what would happen to the person who owned a car but couldn’t afford to drive it because of all the tolls on the roads.

    Same thing that would happen to the person who couldn’t afford to put gas in it. Your point?

    Well then, my guess would be, given the enormous demand for that very important innovation, that taking the right to choose recall vs. lawsuit away from a company wouldn’t make them go away. Seems they’re too important

    Setting that kind of precedent for government interference in the day-to-day operations of a business would have far-reaching implications. The net effect of that would be to push companies (and jobs) to other countries that don’t have these kinds of restrictions.

    Either you believe in a free market or you don’t. Halfway doesn’t cut it, it just destroys our global competitiveness. Seemingly small regulations that knock a percent or two off companies’ bottom lines have huge negative consequences for our country as a whole.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 4:47 pm

  48. Setting that kind of precedent for government interference in the day-to-day operations of a business would have far-reaching implications. The net effect of that would be to push companies (and jobs) to other countries that don’t have these kinds of restrictions.

    Either you believe in a free market or you don’t. Halfway doesn’t cut it, it just destroys our global competitiveness. Seemingly small regulations that knock a percent or two off companies’ bottom lines have huge negative consequences for our country as a whole.

    And let me guess, by questioning the President’s “Surge” plan we’re emboldening the terrorists?

    Life is easy when you can take such absolute, black and white stances. I just see the world as blurrier than that. I don’t see free market economics as this entity that I have thus far read about. To me it’s a tool, created by humans, used by humans, to serve humans. Besides, if shit is as fragile as you imply it is, we’re screwed anyway.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 5:02 pm

  49. And let me guess, by questioning the President’s “Surge” plan we’re emboldening the terrorists?

    Oh come on. This is not some abstract idea – investing in a business is risky enough already (hence the appropriate level of reward when things go right), and if you artificially add to that risk without appropriately increasing reward, investors will rightfully go elsewhere. It’s already happened in response to Sarbaines-Oxley.

    And without investment, you have no new development, and hence no economic growth.

    Life is easy when you can take such absolute, black and white stances. I just see the world as blurrier than that.

    I don’t see the world in black and white at all, but I do see that everything economic works on a few basic principles. When you screw with these principles, things break. All the various kinds of human economic activity are the same, simply because it’s humans doing it, and humans have a certain mental process. If there’s no incentive for them to do something, they either won’t do it at all, or they’ll drag their feet and do a half-assed job. They’ll steal and skim whatever they can get away with, and it’s worth aligning incentives to keep productivity high and corruption low. That’s the way capitalist incentives are set up, but not government ones. And the results speak for themselves.

    I don’t see free market economics as this entity that I have thus far read about. To me it’s a tool, created by humans, used by humans, to serve humans.

    Nah, it’s more of an organizational system which is set up in such a way as to get people off their lazy asses to accomplish something. That wouldn’t happen any other way.

    I think part of the problem here is you don’t see how interconnected everything is. You can’t look at one individual industry without considering implications to the overall economy.

    Besides, if shit is as fragile as you imply it is, we’re screwed anyway.

    It’s only fragile when you screw with it in ways that weakens the system. Any system has weaknesses – I’m just arguing that your ideas would just add to the weakness and damage the functioning of the overall system.

    If you remove 20% of your skin, you’d die. The point? Don’t argue that that particular weakness makes the whole thing pointless, just don’t peel off your skin!

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 5:18 pm

  50. Oh come on. This is not some abstract idea – investing in a business is risky enough already (hence the appropriate level of reward when things go right), and if you artificially add to that risk without appropriately increasing reward, investors will rightfully go elsewhere. It’s already happened in response to Sarbaines-Oxley.

    And without investment, you have no new development, and hence no economic growth.

    Like I said, this sounds like “emboldening the terrorists” propaganda to me. I call it like I see it.

    I don’t see the world in black and white at all, but I do see that everything economic works on a few basic principles. When you screw with these principles, things break. All the various kinds of human economic activity are the same, simply because it’s humans doing it, and humans have a certain mental process. If there’s no incentive for them to do something, they either won’t do it at all, or they’ll drag their feet and do a half-assed job. They’ll steal and skim whatever they can get away with, and it’s worth aligning incentives to keep productivity high and corruption low. That’s the way capitalist incentives are set up, but not government ones. And the results speak for themselves.

    Like I said, I see the real world as being a lot blurrier than that picture describes. Almost more importantly is the point that what is required is the aligning of incentives. I think for some things prices don’t do this properly; we’ve already agreed on education as an example. I think health care is too. I’m not trying to convince you of this, but based on my life experience, it is what I think.

    Somehow I feel like I’m repeating myself…

    I think part of the problem here is you don’t see how interconnected everything is. You can’t look at one individual industry without considering implications to the overall economy.

    t’s only fragile when you screw with it in ways that weakens the system. Any system has weaknesses – I’m just arguing that your ideas would just add to the weakness and damage the functioning of the overall system.

    If you remove 20% of your skin, you’d die. The point? Don’t argue that that particular weakness makes the whole thing pointless, just don’t peel off your skin!

    Yeah, I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I’ve taken my share of classes on systems biology, be they physiology or environmental. It’s why I believe in the threat of global warming, and it’s why I think GE should be held responsible for the PCB’s they’ve spent decades dumping in the country’s rivers. But I also don’t think that we should continue allowing activity that we know is wrong continue, just because we might not like all of the economic consequences. This applies to both of the disclosure examples we’ve discussed (auto defects and loss of personal information).

    Thing is, I believe the system is strong enough to take it. Yes, it will have some deleterious consequences, but I think they’re outweighed by the duty that companies have in both situations to disclose. Sorry, I’m betting you’re not going to convince me otherwise.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 7:59 pm

  51. Like I said, this sounds like “emboldening the terrorists” propaganda to me. I call it like I see it.

    Except that this actually has a logical sequence of causes and events that makes sense and reflects prior experiences.

    I think for some things prices don’t do this properly; we’ve already agreed on education as an example. I think health care is too. I’m not trying to convince you of this, but based on my life experience, it is what I think.

    I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

    But I also don’t think that we should continue allowing activity that we know is wrong continue, just because we might not like all of the economic consequences. This applies to both of the disclosure examples we’ve discussed (auto defects and loss of personal information).

    Obviously. But you’ve gotta weigh the pros and cons – if the economic impact will greatly outweigh the damage being prevented, then I think you have to consider that.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/15 @ 8:07 pm

  52. Except that this actually has a logical sequence of causes and events that makes sense and reflects prior experiences.

    Presuming that companies were punished willy-nilly, for no good reason, with no attempts to deal with the damage that such policies would cause, sure. But crap like “Either you believe in the free market or you don’t” sounds like the kind of propaganda our government is famous for.

    I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

    And I don’t. As before, yaay for deomocracy!

    Obviously. But you’ve gotta weigh the pros and cons – if the economic impact will greatly outweigh the damage being prevented, then I think you have to consider that.

    This is the kind of logic that allows iPod Cities to exist. If you’re allowing people to die because it will have a negative economic impact, you are putting a value on human life. I personally think the economic impact has got to be pretty damned disastrous to outweigh the needless loss of lives.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/15 @ 10:13 pm


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