Quick hits (part II)

1) John Judis, who once argued for the “Emerging Democratic Majority” takes to Vox to caution that maybe changing demographics are not so beneficial to the Democrats.

2) Yglesias on the single-payer debate we are not, but should be having:

Medicare works because it pays providers less

Single-payer skeptics tend to be simply incredulous that government-run systems, both in the United States and abroad, are more cost-effective. Isn’t the government a legendary cesspool of waste and inefficiency? Why would a government-run system be more efficient?

Well, here’s the answer: Foreign single-payer systems pay doctors less. They also pay pharmaceutical companies less. They pay less for medical devices, too.

It turns out that Medicare uses this trick, too, offering doctors only about 80 percent of what private insurance plans pay them…

The problem, politically speaking, is that doctors and hospital administrators like money. When politicians try to take away their money, they complain and they lobby. And it turns out that most people have more confidence in doctors than they do in members of Congress, so not only does the lobbying cash count but the complaining is extremely effective.

3) And Harold Pollack on the incredibly difficult politics of creating a single payer system in America.  These two paragraphs are important:

As with ACA, the biggest winners would be relatively disorganized low-income people in greatest need of help. The potential losers would include some of the most powerful and organized constituencies in America: workers who now receive generous tax expenditures for good private coverage, and affluent people who would face large tax increases to finance a single-payer system. [emphasis mine] At least some of these constituencies would need to be accommodated in messy political bargaining to get single-payer enacted. And states would have a role to play, too, potentially replicating the messy patchwork we got with ACA reforms.

Single-payer would require a serious rewrite of state and federal relations in Medicaid and in many other matters. It would radically revise the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which strongly influences the benefit practices of large employers. Single-payer would require intricate negotiation to navigate the transition from employer-based coverage. The House and Senate would be in charge of this tension, and at risk of the negotiations among key legislators and committees who hold sway.

4) So, this is a somewhat old National Journal piece analyzing the states that will pick the president.  It’s still incredibly relevant, but I’ve had it in an open tab for far too long without ever writing a post.  So…

5) Maybe teenage marijuana use does not lead to lower IQ after all.  Maybe.

6) How will you die?  Who knows?  God?  But you can at least take a look at these cool statistics for the likeliest age and cause (short version: old from disease).

7) Tipping as we practice it is, of course, so stupid.  But as long as we’re going to continue with it, servers should definitely be pooling tips.

8) Great Dahlia Lithwick (and Sonya West) piece on Florida’s absurd law to prevent doctors from asking about guns in the home:

The result was the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act. The law provides that licensed health care practitioners and facilities: “may not intentionally enter” information concerning a patient’s ownership of firearms into the patient’s medical record that the practitioner knows is “not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others,” and “shall respect a patient’s right to privacy and should refrain” from inquiring as to whether a patient or their family owns firearms, unless the practitioner or facility believes in good faith that the “information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.” Violations of the act could lead to disciplinary action including fines and suspension, or revocation of a medical license. Proponents of such laws say these doctor-patient dialogues violate the patients’ Second Amendment rights.

If something seems amiss to you about this argument, you’re not alone. A group of three doctors, the Florida Pediatric Society, and the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, joined by the Brady Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit, claiming that the gun-talk ban violates the physicians’ free speech rights. As their complaint points out, restrictions on speech (such as this one) that only apply to a particular subject matter are generally recognized as being the worst kind of First Amendment violation—a content-based regulation. In order for the government to enact a content-based regulation on speech, it must show that the law serves a “compelling” interest. The doctors explain, however, that in light of the connection between guns and injuries, accidents, and suicides, this law actually stops doctors from addressing an incredibly serious health-related topic.

9) Want to reduce political polarization?  Give to political parties, not candidates and groups.


10) Apparently, the state of Kansas considers using marijuana (even if clearly prescribed for medical purposes in a state where it’s legal) to be cause to take your kids away.  Yet, you can be a raging alcoholic.  Ugh.

11) Interesting take on our over-protectiveness as parents and what it says about us as a society:

In September, the journalist Selena Hoy tackled the unique independence of Japanese children for CityLab, noting that kids in that country often venture onto public transit by themselves at age 6 or 7. She found the big difference between Japan and the U.S. to be an “unspoken” sense of community. Hoy writes:

What accounts for this unusual degree of independence? Not self-sufficiency, in fact, but “group reliance,” according to Dwayne Dixon, a cultural anthropologist who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Japanese youth. “[Japanese] kids learn early on that, ideally, any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others,” he says.

The path to giving American kids greater autonomy may have nothing to do with laws, but with parents putting trust—misplaced or no—in the kindness of strangers.

12) Way back when, I use to drive a Plymouth Sundance Turbo(!).  Sold it the week before I got married for a Geo Prizm because I wanted something more reliable.  Apparently turbo engines are way more advanced now and making a comeback.

13) Eric Holder takes a big step to limit the utter travesty that is Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Sadly little news coverage of this.  Thanks, Obama!!

14) Andrew Prokop on Trump and Cruz’s contrasting strategies for winning Iowa:

The upshot is clear: Cruz thinks he can win by mobilizing the traditional conservative base whose pulse he’s spent years taking. But Trump is hoping to win by using his star power and xenophobic rhetoric to transform the composition of the GOP caucus electorate. And the question of which of them succeeds will have major implications not just for the primaries but for just what the Republican Party actually is today.


15) On moms as the default parent.  I got an email the other day from an organization that does focus groups and they need kids.  “Moms, tell us what toys your child plays with…” began the email.  I was so pissed.  As if a typical dad could not even tell you his child liked legos or barbies or whatever.  I responded as I think Evan would love a lego focus group, but I let them have my $.02 on how the email was addressed.

16) I don’t recall super-highly recommending Frum’s Atlantic cover story analyzing the fractures within the contemporary Republican Party.  If I already did, it is certainly good enough to read again.



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