LInks 11/7/08

Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds PhysOrg

Monsoon link to fall of dynasties BBC

Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question New York Times. In August, our guest bloggers Paul Davis (in “Rinse and Repeat“) and Jim Fitch (“The real purposes of a democratic society …“) offered some skeptical commentary on the US-Georgian version of the dispute at the time, which also elicited some very good reader input (particularly from Richard Kline). Their jaundiced take is now starting to become revealed wisdom just after the Republicans (and more importantly, the neocons) are officially on their way out. Hhhm.

Hospitals See Drop in Paying Patients New York Times. A useful but frustrating article, in that it mentions in passing how people without insurance rely on emergency rooms. This is one of the most costly aspects of the US health system, that people who cannot pay are forced into the single most expensive service delivery channel, and that policy forces hospitals to have more emergency room capacity than they would otherwise need. See Malcolm Gladwell’s Million Dollar Murray.

Central bank reserve managers still are running away from risk … Brad Setser

The mother of all balance sheets FT Alphaville

Forget Corn: Mushrooms May Hold Key to Energy Crisis Bloomberg

Insight: The price of false economies Paul Davies, Financial Times

Ben Franklin Was Right Independent Accountant. Your 401 (k) tax bennies may be at risk. No joke. Scream at your Congressman now, and often.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Anonymous

    About ERs being the most expensive form of health care: I see Yves comment here in the links, and heard a fluffy piece on Marketplace yesterday.

    Why exactly is the ER so expensive? It should be the least expensive: the ER is usually full and so is operating at peak efficiency in terms of fixed costs, and is staffed almost entirely by MD and RN trainees making about $40k a year and pulling 12-hour shifts. Where is the high cost?

  2. Anonymous

    Yves, regarding the 401k thing, it’s good to see you can blast the Dems when you think they need it. Gives me more confidence in your analysis of the world.

    If Obama is stupid enough not to kill this idea before it gets any farther, he is going to see his honeymoon end abruptly as word gets out about this.

  3. Peripheral Visionary

    The 401(k) story is why I have been against Roth IRAs from the start. The promise of a tax break in the future is only as good as the word of Congress, which is to say, very little, as there is a high possibility of tax protection getting thrown out the window the second Congress needs the cash. In short, always take a guaranteed tax break now rather than the promise of a tax break in the future.

  4. River

    Will the bear sitting at the picnic table successfully blend in as just another tourist?

    Will some family visiting the park sit with the bear and break out the picnic lunch?

    Will the bear display the good manners to share the family’s lunch without being overly aggressive?

    Will the bear eat the entire lunch and then the tourists?

  5. donna

    Why don’t hospitals open an urgent care next door to the emergency room? Seems like it would be easy enough to do to handle the less seriously ill patients who just need a few stitches or whatever.

    Our medical system is just seriously stupid, really.

  6. Anonymous

    Donna: Many do. The problem with urgent care centers is that payment is required up-front. People who use the ERs as primary care don’t have the money to go to them.

    Ultimately… is health care a right or a privilege? Think about it from various people’s perspectives before answering that question. The answer to that question ultimately is the solution.

  7. doc holiday

    Ben: I’ll take Picnics for $100,000.

    Alex: What failed bank was named after a song that was reminiscent of the song “Death or Glory”?

    Ben: “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is a song written by John Walter Bratton in (1907), with lyrics added in 1932 by prolific songwriter Jimmy Kennedy, and is still a popular tune recorded by several artists and appearing in many children’s recordings. Ironically, one of the main themes is strongly reminiscent of the celebrated Robert Browne Hall March “Death or Glory” composed 12 years earlier.

  8. dh

    Alex: Sorry Ben, you apparently didn’t understand the question, so your clever answer is wrong, we need the name of a failed bank. Hank, what was your answer? Focus dude!

  9. Elizabeth

    We work with real people on their financial matters, including their retirement savinsg. The 401(k)/IRA “system” is an unmitigated disaster and license to steal for Wall Street. It costs a ton and does little to encourage incremental saving. While this particular proposal may be slightly loony, we really need to think about how to fix things. At least these guys are putting something forward.

  10. Independent Accountant

    Are you serious? Yes, many 401(k)s have high participant costs. So? What will Uncle Sam do with the money? STEAL IT! Or do you believe the “inflation protected” securities the learned professor intends to stuff these plans with will ever provide a real return? Can you possibly be this naive? If you want to fix things, push to repeal the Federal Reserve Act and for a massive increase in interest rates such that someone can use bonds as a savings instrument.

  11. Dave Raithel

    Re the 401k: I guess if I’d ever made enough money to have a 401k, I’d have a dog in this fight. But as it is, I either work for a capitalist, or I work for da guvmint. I have no sway over my capitalist; with da guvmint, I have a vote ….

    This is another instance of the plaint: Oh no, everybody might become as bad off as sombodies have always been ….

  12. Anonymous

    Bear sits sedated/food coma at table after last meal wondering if he will get more before winter/hibernation, only to awaken in spring and visit the same picnic table, then eat more tourists with baskets full of goodies with short term memory issues.

    Thank you Yves we all need to laugh in the face of doom/hardship.

    Medical care is capital and liability heavy regardless of wage issues. The ER is just one of the front doors into the hospital and the most financially un-secure.

    I live in Australia and we have both private and public health care. In public your in a line for help, but its there. Where with private you have more control over all aspects of of your care and its more immediate. I feel its good to have both for the Country’s benefit/prosperity long term. Dead/sick people can’t support their family’s/contribute to society.

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