Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Health Care Debate IV

The purpose of market is to provide a place for the producer and consumer to form voluntary contracts. The market has no intrinsic morals and only one rule: the best deal. The producer makes supply, the consumer makes demand. Between them, and the competition of various producers to provide for various consumers, this constant desire for the best deal drives price ever downward. It rewards the most efficient producer and the most efficient consumer alike. It’s almost a kind of magic.

Market failure doesn’t refer to a total break down of the buying and selling but a break down of the magic, of the automatic best deal for everyone. It’s not discrete point, but direction the market can go. The opposite direction leads to the perfect market. It too is not a destination but a direction, the ideal by which markets are judged.

A perfect market consists of a few key principals, describing the market as a game it looks like this: (1.) Rationality of all players in the game. (2.) No hidden costs to any move. (3.) Enough players that no single one can steer the game by their behavior. (4.) something all the players want to play with [demand] (5.) Freedom to play or not play at any point (6.) No barriers to entering or leaving the game (7.) No barriers to any player about information on any other player.

How does the medical industry fail these criteria?

Rationality of all players in the game

(1.)Well, first of all, the medical consumers are highly irrational. Short term fun at the expense of long term health is not rational, yet 80% of heat disease alone is preventable. Throw in smoking, obesity, diabetes, etc, and the single greatest killer is short sightedness. In a perfect world, doctors would serve as check on this irrationality, but the fact is, doctors are over-treating (which gets people killed) because of their fear of litigation.  The consumer is crazy and so is the producer.

No hidden costs to any move

(2.)The whole field is full of hidden costs. From regulations you never heard of to taxes you can’t imagine, the medical field is a minefield of hidden costs.

Enough players that no single one can steer the game by their behavior

(3.) Well, about half of the cost is payed for by one player (gov-care), and up to 70% of the remaining half is payed for by one company per area.  Normally, this would be called oligopoly, but honestly, its worse than that.  Because the first half is the government, its more like a oligopoly on the second half and monopoly on the first.  Under normal circumstances, even if a player owns 50% of the total market, that player can rarely take away your organization’s legal right to exist, or place members of your organization under arrest. The government has what is known as a monopoly on force. Monopoly represents a market distortion. Force, on the other hand, represents the nonexistence of market.  The foundation of market is people forming contracts of their free will, ie, without threat of force.

Something all the players want to play with [demand]

(4.) Demand, we’ve got. Sort of. The fact is, while doctors may not be the paragons of reason we hope, the producer side (as is typical in other industries) is better at being rational then the consumer side. If nothing else, it’s better organized. The consumer demand is health, not care. But doctors have no economic incentive to pursue health. They have need to produce care. So there is break down between the needs of the consumer and the ability of the producer to meet that need. Note, I am not saying there is a conspiracy by doctors to keep people sick. Doctors are like most people: there’s a few true saints, a few evil bastards, and lot of pretty ethical folk.  But the fact is, we must relay on doctors’ moral incentive and not their economic incentive to provide us with health. Systems work better when the two incentives are the same.

Freedom to play or not play at any point

(5.) This one absolutely does not apply. Playing in this case means the freedom to form or not form voluntary contracts. If the consumer doesn’t enter the market he suffers or dies. At the same time, if the producers do not enter the market many suffer or die. Further, hospitals must provide emergency care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.  On the insurance side, insurers must provide insurance to at a loss to certain high risk people. They must by law.

No barriers to entering or leaving the game

(6.) Well, the barriers to entering the game are enormous. Lets say we want to start a tiny private practice, with very limited services. First, the price of becoming a MD is between $175K and $200K. Then, the first year cost for 1600 square foot commercial space, a receptionist and tech who makes no benefits is about $250K­. So, minimum startup cost is right around half a million dollars. Nor can hospitals simply exit the market, they provide a community service and without them people will suffer and die. Insurance is the most heavily regulated industry in the US, so even if cash on hand was not a problem the regulations would be, but in any case, and insurance company must have the cash on hand to pay out all claims if they were all called at once. The startup costs for an insurance company are in the tens of millions.

No barriers to any player about information on any other player

(7.) This is the worst. Insurance companies use hundred page contracts written legalese on purpose, to hide the information the consumer needs to know. At the same time, insurance fraud is a huge expense, because people aren’t honest with the companies either. If people are totally honest with doctors, their premium could go up. Conversely, if doctors are honest about risks with patients, the patients will simply go to another doctor who paints a rosier picture.  Again, the moral incentive is diametrically opposed to the economic one.

All in all, it’s a wonder health care is as cheap as it is. Again, I’ve hit over 1000 words, so I will post my solution(?) later. Thanks for reading all, feel free to weigh in on any of this.

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August 30, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Government, Pharmacology, Politics, Religion, Science, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Church Eats Her Young.

Posting poetry pretty much kills activity on my blog.  I just can’t tag the poems well to get them read.  Atheism, religion, faith, skepticism.. these are things which people want to read about.  I generally don’t have the skills to write poetry about things like that, but I am working nights of late.  On my days off, I can’t sleep, and since I have 8 hours to write, I took the time to write a poem about my experiences in the church.

I’m not sure how good of a poet I am, so I’ll spell it out a bit before hand.  I was raised a Christian, from day one.  I prayed the sinners prayer as a 2 year old.  My whole life was struggle. I struggled constantly to be the person I was supposed be, to love Christ as he loved me, and do with my life things that would please him.  This was pure misery, but I kept with it because I loved God and wanted to do Right.  I was searching my whole life for people who had something about that God that they could give me so I could enjoy being who God wanted me to be, instead of working so hard for something that only brought me heartache.   Since God is the giver of good gifts, I knew that my pain must come from my failure to love him and not any fault of his.

I now know that I was so unhappy not because I didn’t trust God, but because I tried so hard to trust him.  Had I committed my life to the the ways of Superman, Marge Simpson, or Paul Bunion (other imaginary people of impeccable morals) I am sure I would have had the exact same experience.  Trusting someone who isn’t there to save you isn’t going to work.

I bought my misery with my faith.

The last few years has seen me become a progressively more liberal Christian, then not a Christian at all, and finally, now an atheist. With each shedding of lies and mistruths, my life became more joyful. My highs got higher, and my lows got higher too.

Right now, I am pretty lousy atheist, not in my belief in the Divine, which I think I can safely reject, but in my bitterness at the church. I’m not bitter at Ford for trying to tell me that my life would be better if I drove one, or bitter at Coors for telling me that if I drank their skunky beer, I would be surrounded by beautiful, half dressed woman.  Those too are lies that large organizations tell people to get them to give away their money.  I should have the maturity to shrug my shoulders at the church, and write of the time I spend there chasing unicorns and dragons as a learning experience.  Someday I will, but as of today, I still have to much of my identity invested in the wasted 25 years of my life.

This poem is an attempt to put some of my impotent rage behind me, that I feel for allowing myself to be treated the way I was.  I also write to accept my part in the spiritual abuse of others. Abuse I approved of by continuing to participate in being abused and allowing others to abuse.

I write as tribute to the following people, broken for, by, and near the Church:

Jason, who never gave up.  Paul and all other Z kids who suffered for no good reason. Kat, who prayed everyday for a conscience. Christopher, who joined a cult.  Mom and Dad, who did their best.  Lydia, who endured more pain than I can ever imagine.  Travis, who will never understand.

Holy and true were we

Heads and hearts bowed low

Broken hearted, on bended knee

Our source to you did go

We were born for You

A generation set apart

Our first breath for You

Always seeking Your Heart

We grew up in Your house

Clothed in Your words

Worldly desires doused

For Your presence we burned

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

First there was our Father

The reigning King of All

Who’s love and wrath ran like water

Beating us, breaking Adam’s fall

To save us from His wrath

He sent His only Son

Bloody death, His ultimate task

Our sins murdered the Holy One.

And to keep us Right

He sent his Holy Spirit

Teaching us Love’s flight

Lest we fear it

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

Last we loved our Divine Mother:

The Church, His Son’s Bride

His Love through Her, our cover

and to one another, our hearts tied.

In each other we saw God

Our love was His reflected

When on each other we trod

The failure ours, God neglected

In Her, His Beloved

We would stay forever curled

Side by side, we Beloved

Loving, apart from the world

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

But the eyes grow old

Though the heart does not

Truth be told

Our brothers and sisters fought

And did everything

Which our Father had banned

Sex and drugs and anything

A devious sinner could plan

The Bride was filthy

Her gown in tatters

Tithes and taxbreaks made wealthy

But bankrupted spiritual matters

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

We could not complain

The Bride was each other

If she was roughly arraigned

We were failing one another

If Father took away

If Spirit did not heal

All was His any way

Everything in the world

The pot dares not whine

To it’s master the Potter

He made and makes things fine

To Him we would totter.

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our live true to Faith

Led by Fools

With used carman smiles

We buried our tools

And deleted our files

Mastered by louts

And ruled by musicians

We hid from our doubts

And murdered statisticians

The facts were Bible

Anything which disagreed

Was prone to be libel

And not guarenteed

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

Questions were good

When they lead right directions

Encouraging one to “Should”

And not source inspections

We, the young set apart

With sharpest of minds

with purest of heart

Were told doubt is what one finds

In a heart full of lust.

Such thoughts were not level

“You’re not one of us…

Your of your father, the Devil.”

Our youths they were wasted

Desperate dreams, never tasted

Sweet mother Church,

You call this defection?

You and us these questions hurt!

We need Your affection

She threw a holy fit

and said, “We will be One.”

I watched in amazment

As she ate us, her young

Our youths, they were wasted

Desperate dreams, never tasted

Unity at any cost?

Dissent must be crushed

We were damned, lost

Under the rug, our questions were brushed.

On the outside

Afraid and alone

Learning she lied

My reason was honed

Free at last

Her “teachings” but splatters

Faithless, with happiness

I know now what matters

Our past, it was wasted

But I sip the Real, a wine rarely tasted

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment