Assorted links

by on August 22, 2009 at 5:21 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Is Viagra bankrupting Brazilian pensions?

2. The decline of the super-rich.

3. Markets in everything: North Korean restaurant comes to NYC.

4. Brahms Complete Edition, 46 discs for $62.

5. Via Chris Masse, Hal Varian on how the web challenges managers (for the video version click on "launch interactive" and "all videos").  Chris also refers us to the Avatar trailer, which he describes as the best science fiction movie ever.

6. The Singapore model: sign me up too.

steve August 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

You favor the Singapore model? I would have thought that a libertarian would oppose the mandatory 33% pension contribution. There is also a public option for health insurance and mandates. Lots of loss of liberty. It also looks as though, this is unclear in the article and also from my other readings, maybe someone else knows, that they use some price controls. Does their top tax rate of 60%, I am counting the mandatory pension contribution as tax, concern you?

Steve

Jim Clay August 22, 2009 at 9:08 am

Sign me up too. I already moved my family from a PPO to a high-deductible HSA.

dearieme August 22, 2009 at 10:24 am

All I know about Brahms is Tchaikovsky’s assessment: “talentless bastard”.

Ricardo August 22, 2009 at 10:31 am

Looks like the HSA idea is starting to get traction with “the left”. If only Krugman would abandon his silly public-option dreams and embrace this, I think it could happen. This being an idea from “the right”, it won’t be easy for Obama and the democrats get on board. This is where I think Krugman could be pivotal, him being the most respectable intellectual leader and Obama’s fiercest critic on that side of the economic spectrum.

Tyler will you talk to him?

David Shor August 22, 2009 at 11:09 am

What’s interesting about Delong’s plan, is that the two sides see entirely different things. The left sees single-payer healthcare(Government pays for everything over 15% of income) and socialized healthcare in the form of publicly funded clinics, as well as a novel means of forced savings. The right sees health savings accounts and strongly hates literally every other component of the plan. The left meanwhile, finds the HSA’s to be needlessly complicated, and would push to abolish it, replacing it with a mix of socialized medicine and single-payer.

Andrew August 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm

“I think, honestly, it’s one of those “make markets work better” things that conservatives are supposed to like…”

That is what the HSA’s are. If your offer is I get HSAs and the left gets “public option” that is pay as they go, deal.

“The left meanwhile, finds the HSA’s to be needlessly complicated, and would push to abolish it,”

God I hope you are right. I love seeing leftists fall on their face.

Ricardo August 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

David,

I’m nobody to speak for conservatives (or for libertarians, as we here prefer to be called). But the reason I dislike the public option is that never in the history of mankind (yes, I can be known to hyperbolize) has there been a non-subsidized govt-run company that could out-perform private companies. It would be no different in this case, and the public option would soon disappear. Or it would be deemed too important to fail, in which case it would survive from one bailout to next. It’s an idea that will either do no good or a lot of harm.

I’m a big fan of competition, but we already have laws for that. Break the state monopolies into several different companies. Or even better, allow competition across state lines.

David August 22, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Sorry… does the label apply.

Doug August 22, 2009 at 2:57 pm

“The problem with this, is that when health insurance companies capture large segments of the market, they have pricing power by means of their size, and can hold costs down. Costs are down, great! But now, they can direct a small proportion of that toward lowering premiums, and chase the other insurance companies out of the market.”

How is that going to be any different with a public plan option?

“The public option, though only open to a small segment of the population, would serve as an “Honest bidder” in the exchanges that could not be colluded with. If insurance companies try to collude their way to an enormous profit margin, then they will lose their bids to the public option.”

Why do you believe the public option cannot be colluded with? Do you not believe that insurance companies will use lobbyists and lawyers and industry connections to influence the rates set by the public option? Do you have some examples of agencies in our government that have been immune to collusion with industry?

“In order to keep the public option from posting prices that are too low, they are forbidden from negotiating drug prices, and are required to raise a profit every year.”

The problem with this, from my perspective, is that it seems clear that the public option will not, in fact, be able to raise a profit, deliver an acceptable level of coverage, and also provide coverage at prices people are willing to accept from the government (see indignant cries when postage rises by 2 cents). Once the public option is in place, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to scrap, and we will eventually be forced to adopt taxpayer subsidies to the public option–subsidies that we just cannot afford. Obama may say that won’t happen, but I say I don’t believe him.

Andrew August 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Will the public option be allowed to sell across state lines?

NewYorker August 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

#3 – Markets in Everything inefficiency: no such place. Kottke’s link goes to McSweeney’s.

jacksmith August 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm

NO CO-OP’S! A Little History Lesson

Young People. America needs your help.

More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

Our last great economic catastrophe was called the Great Depression. Then as now it was caused by a reckless, and corrupt Republican administration and republican congress. FDR a Democrat, was then elected to save the nation and the American people from the unbridled GREED and profiteering, of the unregulated predatory self-interest of the banking industry and Wallstreet. Just like now.

FDR proposed a Government-run health insurance plan to go with Social Security. To assure all Americans high quality, easily accessible, affordable, National Healthcare security. Regardless of where you lived, worked, or your ability to pay. But the AMA riled against it. Using all manor of scare tactics, like Calling it SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!! :-0

So FDR established thousands of co-op’s around the country in rural America. And all of them failed. The biggest of these co-op organizations would become the grandfather of the predatory monster that all of you know today as the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry. And the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry.

This former co-op would grow so powerful that it would corrupt every aspect of healthcare delivery in America. Even corrupting the Government of the United States.

This former co-op’s name is BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD.

Do you see now why even the suggestion of co-op’s is ridiculous. It makes me so ANGRY! Co-op’s are not a substitute for a government-run public option.

They are trying to pull the wool over our eye’s again. Senators, if you don’t have the votes now, GET THEM! Or turn them over to us. WE WILL! DEAL WITH THEM. Why do you think we gave your party Control of the House, Control of the Senate, Control of the Whitehouse. The only option on the table that has any chance of fixing our healthcare crisis is a STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION.

An insurance mandate and subsidies without a strong government-run public option choice available on day one, would be worse than the healthcare catastrophe we have now. The insurance, and healthcare industry have been very successful at exploiting the good hearts of the American people. But Congress and the president must not let that happen this time. House Progressives and members of the Tri-caucus must continue to hold firm on their demand for a strong Government-run public option.

A healthcare reform bill with mandates and subsidies but without a STRONG government-run public option choice on day one, would be much worse than NO healthcare reform at all. So you must be strong and KILL IT! if you have too. And let the chips fall where they may. You can do insurance reform without mandates, subsidies, or taxpayer expense.

Actually, no tax payer funds should be use to subsidize any private for profit insurance plans. So, NO TAX PAYER SUBSIDIZES TO PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PLANS. Tax payer funds should only be used to subsidize the public plans. Healthcare reform should be 100% for the American people. Not another taxpayer bailout of the private for profit insurance industry, disguised as healthcare reform for the people.

God Bless You

Jacksmith — Working Class

Twitter search #welovetheNHS #NHS Check it out

(http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbWw23XwO5o) CYBER WARRIORS!! – TAKE THIS VIRAL

Andrew August 23, 2009 at 8:53 am

18% of people believe jacksmith.

I made the point that Blue Cross was a co-op in another thread. It was a joke. I didn’t mean for it to be taken viral.

The tendency towards bigness is so clear to me. People don’t want to think about their insurance. They just want something everyone else has validated. I wonder how people can’t see that the enticement of Blue Cross and government payer are the same trend. I wonder how people can think that the problems of a quasi-government-run insurance company will be solved by a government-run insurance company. I think people think they will be solving a problem for themselves and won’t have to think about it anymore. I wonder if people who go through life like that are happier in general.

Thomas August 23, 2009 at 12:51 pm

The article forgot to mention that in addition to the HSAs, there are many high-quality public hospitals and clinics in Singapore whose fees are income pro-rated. So how much you pay depends on your income. That is in some sense healthcare insurance for everyone — probably will be decried as socialism in this country.

Punditus Maximus August 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Andrew — I agree in part, which is why I’m for a $5/gallon tax on gasoline.

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