Sunday assorted links

1. Cass Sunstein on Gone With the Wind.

2. These people need the Pigou Club.  Or maybe this is the Pigou Club?  But no, it is the “Sea of Death tourist resort.”  Are you sure it’s not the Pigou Club?

3. Medical bill for a rattlesnake bite.

4. Is it possible to privatize marriage?

5. “She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah.

6. The most common and distinctive ingredients by cuisine.  For which cuisine is egg the most common element?  And profile of Daniel Kahneman.

7. The hitchhiking robot.


4. And what is fundamentally wrong with 19 people getting married? How is it wrong-er than 2 guys getting married? Why not 3? or 4? or 19? How come 2 is a magic number?

i've told my poly friends they should just have a ceremony solemnizing an S-corp for their relationship, but for some reason they said that 'wasn't romantic' :(

Burn in Hell you Bigot! Marriage is for 4 or 5 people as long as two are male, not 6 or if there's only 1 male! You sound like the xir scum bigots of the 2020s!

Aids. In Africa.

If suggest that before you go ahead and change policy and societal norms you get the next generation of anti biotics working.

I see nothing wrong with plural marriages, but plural divorce would be a nightmare for courts.

4. It might or might not be a good idea, but it's certainly possible to privatize marriage. Right now, you can make your facebook status "in a relationship," but the government does nothing administratively to register or regulate this status. On certain occasions, the courts may have to adjudicate disputes concerning that "relationship" (e.g., in a palimony dispute), but the government is fundamentally not in the business of regulating romantic relationships as such.

4. Marriage creates rights and obligations, usually conferring the former on the the spouse with less and imposing the latter on the spouse with more; marriage, at bottom, promotes equality. This is usually defended as avoiding society having to assume the obligations of the spouse with more who abandons the spouse with less. The author of the linked article conflates marriage and parenting, but they're different, as children aren't born of their own will while marriage is a voluntary act by adults. I've often thought that the rights of spouses upon divorce are backwards: that the spouse with less should have the obligation to reimburse the spouse with more for the benefits of having what he/she would not have absent the marriage; it's counterintuitive (to me anyway) that the spouse with less, having become accustomed to more, would have a right to more after divorce, and that the spouse with more, having shared his more, would have an obligation to share after divorce.

"I’ve often thought that the rights of spouses upon divorce are backwards: that the spouse with less should have the obligation to reimburse the spouse with more for the benefits of having what he/she would not have absent the marriage; it’s counterintuitive (to me anyway) that the spouse with less, having become accustomed to more, would have a right to more after divorce"

I'm not sure what you are proposing but the reasoning behind the status quo is straightforward. Suppose a high-earning man marries a woman, they have children and the woman decides to quit her job when she has her first child. Maybe she stays out of the workforce for 5 years or maybe gets a part-time job after a while but earning much less than she did before she married. The guy contributes most of the money to buy a house and is the primary earner in the household.

Suppose the guy leaves. Under your proposal, if I understand it, he could kick her out of the house he paid for, he might owe little to no child support if he decides he doesn't want custody of the child and then the mother is stuck with most or all child-rearing expenses on her own and pays for these out of a salary that is certain to be low due to her long resume gap.

The bottom line is that people make non-monetary sacrifices in a marriage and the person who earns less would be permanently impaired as a result of these sacrifices if the marriage fails.

BS argument. Alimony is unrelated to children of the marriage. And, at this point, marriage is not related to children either.

Having just taken the "persons and domiciles" bar exam earlier today (for a new state, eight years out of law school), a Louisiana court will consider the following factors in determining the amount of permanent periodic support ("alimony"):

Tax consequences
Financial obligations
Rehabilitation needs
Income and means
Earning capacity
Duration of the marriage (goes to dependency)

3) there is a near monopoly on snakebite drugs. That $80000 one listed in the bill posted here may get a little cheaper soon. However, the same stuff often costs less than $2000 when purchased for animal uses or about $100 in Mexico. America, what a country!

So if you get a snake a bite in the US, you will go bankrupt. That's wonderful....

Securing innovation by heroic drugmakers sometimes requires a few people to go bankrupt. Life-saving innovations such as anti-venom don't come cheap.

This is also just the bill. We don't know what the insurer will actually pay for this, if he has insurance, though it is surely very high.

But how can you put a price on life? I mean really...especially your own life! Good thing we passed that affordable care act, the bill could've been 10x as much, or 100000000000x as much....oh wait, they still can charge whatever they want and I still can't import snake anti venom from mexico, and even if I could, it would be against the law to administer it....I guess that's the free market for you...

Unfortunately, the drug industry (and the patient groups they pay) is one that has both R's and D's in its pocket. While a few brave D's were able to insert a couple good drug provisions in the ACA, such as greater rebates for Medicaid, for the most part it just helped drug companies. The ACA gave name brand-name biologic makers 12 years of protection from generics ("biosimilars" in this case). Why should biologics get longer protection from generic competition than small molecule drugs? Because industry said so, that's why. And now it has become a foreign policy focus, with Obama's negotiators demanding that the very annoyed TPP countries also adopt the policy of12 year monopoly pricing for biologics.

We are going to be seeing more and more drugs come online that cost tens of thousands of dollars annually, and we have no answer for it. Pharmaceuticals should not be an unregulated, completely free market. But it should also not be a stupidly regulated market, especially when it comes to the price tag, which is what we get when PhRMA and BIO name their own price.

Legalize drugs and treat them all like tobacco and alcohol. Let the stupid drug addicts burn themselves out, feed them drugs until they're dead and if they commit crimes that have victims, lock them up and throw away the key. Open the medical industry up to competition. Stop forcing them to give free treatment to the poor, require society to pay through government, charity or insurance if society thinks emergency care should be free.

Something tells me rattle snake anti venom is past the 12 year monopoly...

If you read the top of the image, it seems to indicate the unfortunate bitee had no insurance and is applying for MediCal. So he's paying the rack rate.

I think what you do is be all "I will give you people 18k, which is everything I have and we are done, or will declare bankruptcy, which do you prefer?" Suddenly they will be amenable to a figure a lot closer to that - like 18k now and 10k over the next 2 years.

Insurers have pissed everyone off so much with their endless piles of paperwork and approvals and other just stupid shit that billing offices get mean. You have to get a little mean back.

The average reimbursement rate for uninsured/self-pay patients is on the order of 33%. Something tells me that for this treatment, it is even lower. Trust me, if you offer the hospital a single cash payment, and have a little perseverance, they'll take it.

They will usually settle for significantly less than what the insurance companies pay.

He had no insurance and not much income or assets - he applied for Medicaid, according to the bill.

If we had free market health care, he would have been put back in the street as soon as doctors knew what his problem was. Or sent to a hospice which what hospitals were in 1796 when Congress authorized funding for a mariner hospital in New England to send dying seamen.

If we had free market health care, he would have been charged according to a straightforward sliding scale founded in price discrimination. Too bad Medicaid makes that illegal, because now he will be subjected to months of painful negotiations that will achieve the same result.

The animal treatment isn't actually the 'same stuff', though it is similar.
Crofab was actually developed in Wales.

Note that this is the summary. There's more to the bill, broken down by diagnostic codes (at least that's my understanding of what medical bills have to include), and the diagnostic codes are quite detailed.

Which does not mean that this bill is not outrageous, or that the hospital actually expects someone to pay it. Quite to the contrary. Even if they have to write the whole thing off, they will then get to count the entire $153 K as a provision of charitable services, which is helpful in maintaining their non-profit status.

3. Medical bills

I have no idea if this commenter is a libertarian, so I don't know if the comment is credible. For all I know, he might do some weird $h|t like speaking Esperanto.

#4 Israel

As I understand it, Israel:

1. Officially designates certain religious institutions as the official institutions regulating marriage within their respective communities.
2. Marriage between people of different communities is generally not allowed.
3. However, any two Israeli citizens can travel to Cyprus, get a civil marriage there and it will be recognized as a legal foreign marriage by Israel.

The Israeli system isn't so much to privatize marriage as it is to outsource the duty of officiating marriages to religious institutions and foreign governments. I think it is still the case that having a marriage that is legally recognized in Israel confers certain rights and privileges that would otherwise be unavailable.

It's weird seeing someone (SD) with a libertarian resume arguing for market inefficiency and the need of government regulation of social affairs. Efficient marriage-esque contracts would emerge naturally in a world of privatized marriage; she needs to reread Hayek. And why should the state have any role in determining whether 2 is the magic number?

Is the assumption that the private civil union contract equivilen t of the religious marrage contract (not really a contract I've heard argued but rather a covanent - suble difference as I understood the claim) will enjoy all the other rights and privileges the blessed marraiage relationship does? Taxes? Assumptions about weath transfers whree no clear bequests exist, end of life visitation rights and the like?

1) How can we as a society nudge Professor Sunstein towards including spoiler alerts in his book reviews? Academics...

A privatized city can have a privatized marraige. Cities can make cross-agreements.
And the author has a typical progressive's view of regressive. Does she actually know any Muslims?

#4 - that article is pretty muddled. Marriage is how we keep men invested in their biological children and the women who bore them; it is not nearly as relevant to everybody else, and in fact most homosexuals and plenty of heterosexuals prefer not to adopt the State's marital strictures. Of course, the author can't poke around that line of inquiry for too long if she wants to keep her progressive bona fides. Simultaneously, she has to tread very lightly around the fact that women's relationship value declines further and faster than men's, and since we acknowledge that fact even if we dare not speak it, we've rejected the marital norms from outside the Hajnal lines. Yikes! More thoughtcrime!

The article is a good example of how political correctness inhibits clear thinking. She flips and flops over the right finish line (society has to designate which relationships merit the dignity of legal recognition) marriage) but of course leaves that hole you can drive a train through (and we will): if you are going to allow two homosexuals to marry because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, there's little reason to deny the pious Muslim or Hindu, or polyamorous swingers, their marital preferences.

"and the women who bore them..."

You can say that again!

@honkie: Outstanding

4) Why have privatized marriage when you can have an open marriage?

How often are you actually paying attention to the words? Its on in the background...subconscious likes simple shit.

With respect to marriage, I haven't a clue as to why government does it, instead of just enforcing marriage contracts. Can anyone explain?

Government determines which relationships it will recognize as legal marriage, just like it determines which contracts are enforceable.

I haven't a clue as to how government has any real interest in who decides to marry.

There's the kids argument, but I don't see how making it straights only helps that: I'm 33 and I'm never getting married. There's no reason to. Cultural changes "these girls ain't loyal" which you can cry about, or play. How about I knock up some random, I pay for it, she carries it, two gay guys raise it? Everyone wins

Concur. It chafes me enough that the government fondles me at airports and makes me produce ID to buy wine. Dafuq kinda person wants to hand the government the reins over his personal relationships?

Actually I tell those closet cases that they have to buy me dinner before they feel me up.

Most don't even get it, just get mad...

Women that are saddled with children they can't afford by husbands that leave them. That is the kinda person.

So how about a marriage contract that says the same thing? Rather than a creepy state involvement in sex/love/what have you

A major government interest in marriage arise from citizens marrying foreigners. Who has the right to live in the US, and to apply for a visa? In general, I, as a private citizen, am not allowed to give out visas to foreigners I like, but if I had married one, I could (in effect nearly) do so. What will happen to those rights if polygamy becomes legal?

More likely, she is on birth control or aborts your offspring rather than bear a child to term and lose her SMV for the sake of some sperm from a guy named Ben.

IOW, you really don't have any skin in this game.

6 - You need to recalibrate by assigning potency to outcome for each ingredient. Unusual prevalence isn't the right way do do that.

The music I write is in the hard rock genre and not very "poppy", but the choruses do indeed tend to be more simple and repetitive than the verses. Am I looking at the other end of the same phenomenon?

4. "For example, a Muslim man could divorce his Muslim wife by saying "divorce" three times as per sharia's requirement and leave her high-and-dry with minimal financial support (this actually happens in India and elsewhere). Obviously, that would hardly be an advance for marriage equality."

Wouldn't it?

Dystopia! Coming soon to a megalopolis near you!

I'm pretty sure they just watched Judge Dredd and said "Hey let's do that!"

What I love are those collections of pictures of Beijing that are indistinguishable from the cityscapes in Blade Runner. Although they have yet to reach Brazil levels of dystopia.

Open borders is getting results??

Head coach Po-Shen Loh (far left) and assistant coaches John Berman and Alex Zhai (far right) flank the members of the winning squad: Shyam Narayanan, David Stoner, Michael Kural, Ryan Alweiss, Yang Liu and Allen Liu.

We cannot escape the fact that marriage is an intrinsically public institution. We can’t avoid making collective decisions about its meaning and purpose. If we don’t do it explicitly, we will end up doing it implicitly.


Although I am attracted to the idea of govt. disinvolvement in family law, it really is the best solution to a problem that won't go away.

Plenty of folks die intestate, or with minor kids, or they disappear or whatever, either in that Bruce Springsteen sense (Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack/ I went out for a ride and I never went back. . .) or they are kidnapped/murdered no one finds them. People don't plan for that stuff. Or you have custody battles between in-laws, not uncommon. You have to have some underlying protocols for dealing with all the legal messes of property and relations.

As long as the govt is in the business of providing family law, and no one else will do it consistently and it has to be done, govt must necessarily be in the business of defining what a family is.

#4 is comically confused and/or disingenuous. Perhaps the author thinks that "privatize marriage" means that marriage continues to carry all the legal consequences it does now, but is simply not solemnized by civil servants; that's not what those of us that advocate it mean. We mean that the government taxes and provides pension benefits to all people as individuals, that property and child custody disputes are handled just as their are among unmarried people, and that people specify their heirs via wills and their medical proxies via powers of attorney however they like. There simply ceases to be any legal consequence to being married, apart from whatever legal arrangements the parties choose to enter into among themselves.

It's not at all clear why the government would need to record marriages in such a world. Government records property deeds and auto titles mostly because it wants to tax them; the vast majority of property and contracts are not centrally recorded. Nor is it clear that child custody would become any more contentious; does the author present any evidence that divorcing couples litigate over child custody any less than unmarried couples with children who are splitting up? The idea that paternity would be less clear is just weird; DNA tests are ridiculously easy and cheap.

I encounter this kind of nonsensical response often. Do people really not understand or are they just incapable of imagining a world in which they don't get some official stamp of approval on their relationshop

The author also seems worried that some people (Mormons and Muslims are her examples) might enter into contractual arrangements of which she doesn't approve. (Why Mormons and Muslims? I suspect that men in these groups leave their wives in the lurch at rather lower rates that others.) I've got news for her: either by avoiding legal marriage or by layering contracts on top of it, people who want to can pretty much enter into these sorts of arrangements already. And I've got more news for her too: since alimony is pretty much a thing of the past, if there is no joint property or children, you can leave your wife "high and dry" with no financial support whatsoever with one of those new-fangeld, secular, no-fault divorces even without being one of those suspect Muslim men. (If there is joint property or children, we have laws covering those situations whether you were married or not.)

On "privatizing marriage," there are many, many complications. A marriage license confers many legal rights and privileges automatically on each partner. For instance, marriage means you have the right to petition for a spousal visa if your spouse is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You have the right to make medical decisions on behalf of the spouse if he or she is incapacitated. You have the right to assert spousal privilege if asked to testify against or reveal private conversations with your spouse. Your spouse can inherit your property tax-free when you die and can receive Social Security benefits that he or she would otherwise not be entitled to. And as the article notes, marriage helps simplify disputes over child custody, paternity and child support in the event the couple separates.

Trying to replicate all these benefits and more through private contracts would be enormously burdensome and, while it might be nice for the family lawyers who would get to charge for crafting these agreements, it would not make anyone else's life any better. And for things like spousal visas and spousal privilege, the government has no choice but to either set rules for what it will or will not consider a legal marriage or else abolish these privileges altogether.

If it's a privilege granted by the state (e.g. tax benefit), abolish it. What possible ethical justification could there be that people in special approved relationships get special government benefits?

If it's an arrangement between the parties, they can replicate it by contract if they want. Medical power of attorney, for example, is a simple one page form. That's a lot simpler and cheaper than planning a wedding.

Cass Sunstein's essay is really quite beautiful, and elegantly written. It goes to the heart of artistic independence and human fragility. For those who have not read it, Gone With The Wind is possibly not a great book, but it is at least a very good book, not least for it's understanding of the survival skills of women.

#3: That "typical" snakebite Baines described could put a patient back about $160,000 before insurance, which offers variable coverage.

#5 - Repetition for the sake of memorability is a cheap trick. If you don't have any other tool in your songwriting kit, then just repeat the same thing over and over and over again. Yes, it works, but is that the kind of song you can be proud of? Full frontal nudity can also make people into pop stars, but is sales the only relevant benchmark we care about anymore? Like Prince said, "They'll get the audience they deserve."

I think the entire discussion and understanding of marriage - not just in the current debate but at least over the past couple of centuries or longer -- is a case of lossing sight of the forest for the trees. Moreover, the whole evolution of laws and regulations surrounding the relationship has done a great job or planting a lot of additional trees that never needed to be part of the forest and help create all the confusion.

I fully expect the current efforts to result in yet more tree planting rather than any pruning activites.

#6 -- I didn't find the most common ingrediant list very insightful or even useful (though was a bit surprised to see soy sauce higher for chinese than japanese). I did think the distinctive ingrediants list more informative in terms of separating out cuisines.

1. Sunstein on "Gone with the Wind". He tells us he wasn't expecting much when he decided to read the book, but was pleasantly surprised. Though I've not read the book myself, I've seen the movie and had a similar experience. More to the point, when I set out to read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" I was expecting a mindless piece of abolitionist propaganda. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a much better book than I'd expected.

It would be interesting to compare these two books. But I'm not going to do it as I've got other things on my plate. I will note, however, that UTC has had a greater effect on popular culture, though you might not recognize the tropes as coming from that book. But then it's been around a lot longer. Apparently it was second in book sales in the 19th century. The Bible was 1st.

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