Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yes Virginia, there is a wise capitalist

I am going to commend to your attention a sage who you may be surprised to see touted on this pinkish page: hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham. This is a fairly large PDF, so give it time to load. You may then want to scroll down to page 7, where he discusses global warming, followed by the intermediate term economic prospect, and finally the issue of health care spending.

It particularly warms the cockles of my own heart (whatever the hell that means) that he is so droll about his fellow obscenely rich capitalist pigs. E.g.

This brings us to the U.S. Here the possibility of rationing health benefits to the level society is willing to pay is so anathema that it cannot be talked about sensibly and, if at all, the language must be tortured in order to talk around the point. Our culture demands the best that money can buy, combined with unlimited legal liability (courtesy of the legal lobby and all those lovely lawyers in Congress), and friendly conditions for the drug and insurance industries (courtesy also of their effective lobbies). Nobody gets treated badly except, of course, the ordinary user. That is to say, the ordinary taxpayer, who pays a third more for mediocre or worse aggregate health results, lower life expectancy, etc., etc., etc. Yes, I know for the very rich it is said to be the best system in the world. Yet I am rich, and have had less than brilliant experiences recently with a tiny country tick running rings around the medical industry. And never get sick during vacation season. “Dr X is fishing in Alaska so your call will be forwarded to Dr. Y, who is scuba diving in Grand Cayman. Click.” Anecdotal evidence. Heresy. Strike it from the record!

Our cost-laden health system is perhaps fine if you are willing to pay for it. But the same people who scream “death panels” at the concept of sensible rationing also reach for their revolvers, of which they insist on having plenty, at the prospect of having a tax structure nearer the average of the rest of the rich world. Now, this is a non-compute. It has to be one or the other, either rationing or taxes. Presumably we will hunker down, wait for a crisis, and then respond. (To be fair, we did modestly extend the age to receive Social Security and I, for one, had to wait an extra four months. Rage, rage.)

Perhaps a certain pediatric urologist should consider investing with him -- I'm sure he has plenty of loose change.

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