Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lagging U.S. life expectancy ranking blamed on health system

Blaming the U.S. health system is pure unsubstantiated speculation and they offer no evidence for it. It's just their theory. But what would we expect of a study that was paid for by the Commonwealth Fund? The Fund is led by Karen Davis, a nationally recognized progressive economist.

The fact that other nations have improved more quickly than the USA could simply mean that the US average is held back by the unhealthy lifestyles and resultant low life-expectancies of America's large black minority -- but such a possibility would be unthinkable to a "progressive" of course. The speculation concerned below -- JR

The United States is falling sharply behind in worldwide rankings of life expectancy, and shortcomings in the U.S. health care system may be to blame, scientists say.

Researchers studying the issue concluded that obesity, smoking, traffic accidents and homicide can't account for the drop" -- leading us to believe that failings in the U.S. health care system, such as costly specialized and fragmented care, are likely playing a large role," said Peter Muennig of Columbia University, lead author of the study.

In the research, which appears in the Oct. 7 online issue of the journal Health Affairs, Muennig and coauthor Sherry Glied of Columbia cite the growing lack of health insurance among Americans as a possible culprit.

The study looked at health spending, behavioral risk factors like obesity and smoking, and survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the U.S. and 12 other industrialized nations.

While the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates decade by decade from 1975 to 2005, the researchers found that other countries enjoyed even greater gains. So the U.S. slipped in the ranking, even as per capita health care spending rose at more than twice the rate of the other countries.

Around 1950, the United States ranked 5th for life expectancy at birth for women and 10th for men among developed countries, according to research cited by Muennig and Glied. The most recent figures, from the CIA World Factbook, rank the United States 22nd among those same countries.

Muennig and Glied found similar trends in the 13 countries that they studied, though they only examined 15-year survival rates for people at age 45 and 65.

When they compared risk factors, they found very little difference in smoking habits between the U.S. and the comparison countries; in fact, U.S. smoking rates declined more quickly than most other countries.

And while people are more likely to be obese in the U.S. than elsewhere, this was also the case in 1975, when the U.S. was less far behind in life expectancy, the investigators noted. Moreover, they said, the percentage of obese people actually grew faster in most of the other countries between 1975 and 2005.

Homicide and traffic deaths, meanwhile, have accounted for a stable share of U.S. deaths over time, and can't explain the drop in life-expectancy ranking, the scientists said.

The most likely remaining explanation is flaws in the health care system, said Muennig and Glied, pointing to the role of unregulated fee=for-service payments and high reliance on specialty care amid skyrocketing costs.

"It was shocking to see the U.S. falling behind other countries even as costs soared ahead of them," said Muennig. "But what really surprised us was that all of the usual suspects -- smoking, obesity, traffic accidents, and homicidesare not the culprits."



NYT defence of Woody Wilson and the early 20th century "Progressives" gets a robust reply

An online discussion entitled “Hating Woodrow Wilson” hosted by The New York Times is being used by the Left as a way to attack and sully Fox News personality Glenn Beck who has been sharply critical of the former president and the progressive era in general. But it does offer a number of engaging nuggets that are worth reviewing.

Some of the liberal commentators make the point that Beck and company are too fixated on Wilson and do not take into proper account the progressive contributions of Teddy Roosevelt and others. The discussion does open some worthwhile historical considerations that serious thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum should peruse.

Michael Lind with the New America Foundation throws down the gauntlet with this dig at conservatives:
“Each faction on the right has had its own view of the past, with its own canon of heroes and its own list of villains. While many conservatives claim to be ‘constitutionalists,’ some states’ rights theorists argue that not only the Civil War but also the Founders’ Constitution of 1787 led to a tyrannical consolidation of power in the federal government. For decades highbrow cultural conservatives have accused the 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau of wrecking Western civilization with his cult of the primitive.

For most conservatives, however, the fall of America from the paradise of small government to the hell of statism came with the New Deal and the Great Society. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, one would think, would be more natural targets of the right than Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps someone should tell Glenn Beck.”

One of the most insightful, probing contributions in the exchange comes from George H. Nash, a historian and biographer, who explains how contemporary Tea Party activism directed against President Obama’s policies also connects with renewed antipathy toward Wilsonian progressives. He writes:
“In place of a regime of carefully limited government, the Progressives initiated one of potentially unlimited government guided by bureaucrats and experts increasingly insulated from popular consent. In place of the traditional understanding of our rights as natural and unalienable, the Progressives claimed that our rights were derived from government — the state — and could be created or abridged as the custodians of the state deemed expedient, in the light of modern conditions and the perceived imperatives of progress.

“Why is this view of Woodrow Wilson now agitating the American Right? The answer is simple: conservatives see in the Obama administration another great leap in the working out of an unconstrained, Wilsonian vision of government-from-above. And like Americans in 1776, conservatives are responding with the cry: Don’t tread on me!

“As the Tea Party movement attests, conservative Americans resent the royalization of American politics that has afflicted much of American liberalism for decades. They do not want to be ruled or ‘nudged’ by a government of their “betters.”

“Like America’s Founders, conservatives in 2010 prefer a government of and by, and not just for, the people.”

This is the kind of unfiltered, robust exchange that The Times should pursue.

SOURCE. No mention from the Left of Wilson's racism or TR's war-mongering, of course. For more history of the Fascistc "Progressives", see here -- JR


Capitalism Saved the Chilean Miners

The profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at the mine rescue site

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism. Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:
"The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper."

Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners.

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit. This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above.

A remarkable Sept. 30 story about all this by the Journal's Matt Moffett was a compendium of astonishing things that showed up in the Atacama Desert from the distant corners of capitalism.

Samsung of South Korea supplied a cellphone that has its own projector. Jeffrey Gabbay, the founder of Cupron Inc. in Richmond, Va., supplied socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria, and minimized odor and infection. Chile's health minister, Jaime Manalich, said, "I never realized that kind of thing actually existed."

That's right. In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry. But the reality behind the miracles is the same: Someone innovates something useful, makes money from it, and re-innovates, or someone else trumps their innovation. Most of the time, no one notices. All it does is create jobs, wealth and well-being. But without this system running in the background, without the year-over-year progress embedded in these capitalist innovations, those trapped miners would be dead.

Some will recoil at these triumphalist claims for free-market capitalism. Why make them now? Here's why. When a catastrophe like this occurs—others that come to mind are the BP well blowout, Hurricane Katrina, various disasters in China—a government has all its chips pushed to the center of the table. Chile succeeds (it rebuilt after the February earthquake with phenomenal speed). China flounders. Two American administrations left the public agog as they stumbled through the mess.

Still, what the political class understands is that all such disasters wash away eventually, and that life in a developed nation reverts to a tolerable norm. If the Obama administration refuses to complete free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, no big deal. It's only politics.

But that's not true. Getting a nation's economics right is more important than at any time since the end of World War II. Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil are pulling away from the rest of their hapless South American neighbors. China, India and others are simply copying or buying the West's accomplishments.

The U.S. has a government led by a mindset obsessed with 250K-a-year "millionaires" and given to mocking "our blind faith in the market." In a fast-moving world filled with nations intent on catching up with or passing us, this policy path is a waste of time.

The miners' rescue is a thrilling moment for Chile, an imprimatur on its rising status. But I'm thinking of that 74-person outfit in Berlin, Pa., whose high-tech drill bit opened the earth to free them. You know there are tens of thousands of stories like this in the U.S., as big as Google and small as Center Rock. I'm glad one of them helped save the Chileans. What's needed now is a new American economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us.




FL: Judge rules ObamaCare challenge can continue: "In a blow to the Obama administration, a federal judge in Florida today issued a ruling allowing parts of a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the recently passed health care legislation to proceed. The two parts of the law that will proceed to trial are expansion of Medicaid and the individual mandate that requires qualifying individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014.”

All strung out on Koch: "So what’s all this scandal-mongering about libertarian billionaire business owners David and Charles Koch supporting libertarian causes? Republican billionaire business owners support Republican causes. Is that a scandal? Democrat billionaire business owners support Democrat causes. Is that a scandal? Yet because the Kochs advocate freedom (libertarianism) they’re reviled by the likes of CommonDreams, calling them ‘The Money Behind the Hate: The Kochtopus’ alongside the ‘Wanted for Climate Crimes’ poster on their website.”

“Nobody gets their kids back”: "The ‘Petition for Abuse/Neglect’ filed on behalf of Cheyenne Irish by New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) alleges that the baby, who was born on October 6, was ‘neglected’ by her mother on that very day in the hospital where the infant was born. What this means is that Stephanie Taylor’s act of ‘neglect’ was to give birth to her child, and that the only way she could have avoided that charge was to have Cheyenne killed in utero. Because Stephanie had neglected this supposed duty, the DCYF kidnapped Cheyenne a little more than 16 hours following her birth.”

Invisible victims: "Laws, policies and regulations based on over-caution and political correctness can kill. We need to make invisible victims, visible. … The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. Drugs must meet FDA approval before they can be marketed. FDA officials can make two kinds of errors. They can approve a drug that has unanticipated, dangerous side effects that might cause illness and death. … FDA officials have a bias toward erring on the side of over-caution. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution, approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media, patient groups and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who’s to know? The victims are invisible.”

Mass pessimism in Obama's America: "Americans say they have weathered the worst of the longest recession in seven decades, even as they are pessimistic about prospects for their retirement years, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. "I see some hope, but not a lot," says poll respondent Brian Ridlon, 34, an out-of-work resident of Green Mountain, Arkansas, who wants to learn how to become a barber. "There are some avenues to improve yourself, but we need more." What optimism there is about the immediate future doesn't carry over to the longer term. Pluralities of those polled say they're not hopeful they will have enough money in retirement and expect they will have to keep working to make up the difference. More than 50 percent aren't confident or are just somewhat confident their children will have better lives than they have...


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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