Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, February 03, 2014

It's in the New York Times!

A few things today, actually, that stimulate me to comment.

The blogosphere is aflame over Nelson D. Schwartz making official (by saying it in the Times), what has been widely noted elsewhere, i.e. with all the money flowing uphill, businesses that serve people with moderate incomes are losing customers. It is a very obvious point that such as Krugman, DeLong and Duncan Black keep repeating -- if people don't have money, they can't buy stuff, and that means, if you are in business, you can't sell your crap. Ergo, we're stuck in a listless economy and ultimately, the Gilded Age is unsustainable. Capitalists figured that out in the 1930s, but the class of plutocrat we have today is evidently as stupid as it is psychopathic. Go figure.

The death of PS Hoffman has shocked people around the world, but we shouldn't be so shocked. I've said it here many times, we have a horrific epidemic of opioid addiction in this country and it typically follows the pattern we saw with Hoffman. People get hooked on prescription drugs but they're relatively hard to get (and expensive, though that probably didn't matter to Hoffman) whereas heroin is everywhere and cheap. So they go on to heroin. Unfortunately, the dose is not precisely measured as in prescription drugs, and sometimes people get a hot shot, which kills them. So why is heroin everywhere and cheap? Well, therein lies a tale. It's because after all the blood and billions of dollars we have spent on the military occupation of Afghanistan, the country is still completely lawless and the opium growing and heroin manufacturing industries are cranked up to the max. When the Taliban ruled the country, they outlawed it. And it worked. Just sayin'. (Go here for the latest on Afghanistan. My post yesterday was particularly interesting.)

And, right next to the other two stories on page A1, Gina Kolata discusses the Center for Medicare Innovation getting some criticism for funding demonstration projects, but not randomized trials to fulfill its mandate to study innovations in health services organization, financing and delivery. Well, this is pretty much inside baseball. I think their procedure has been reasonable -- analogous to doing Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials before going to full scale RCTs. We need to learn a little bit about how to implement changes and get a sense of what works and how before we invest in controlled trials. Yes, people are impatient but that's life.

Now, go to the op-ed page and check out Krugman (of course), and Harlan Krumholz (who you probably haven't heard of before but who is a big name in my field.)

The Gray Lady comes in for her share of criticism, but she is an indispensable institution. We need her to stay financially healthy so that we still have an aggressive, investigative newspaper of record.

No comments: