Recommended Reading – Thursday, April 26th

Apr 26, 2012 by

Even In Health Care, Incentives Matter  (Fraser Institute)

“As those who have ever endured painful months, or even years, waiting for medically necessary treatment have discovered, all the new cash poured into Canada’s health care system in recent years has made little difference.

Last month the Canadian Institute of Health Information [CIHI] released a report indicating that about 80 per cent of patients received treatment in priority clinical areas (cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration) within targeted benchmarks. But a closer examination suggests that it is certainly no reason for celebration.

First, flip that figure over: it means about 20 per cent of patients do notget access within these target times. That is a troubling proportion, given the length of some of the benchmarks touted as “acceptable.” For example: 182 days (six months) for hip and knee replacement, and 112 days (almost four months) for cataract surgery.

This reality is not entirely lost in the CIHI report, where it was noted that “few improvements were observed compared with previous years” and that “few provinces completed 90 per cent or more of procedures within a clinically appropriate time frame.”

Second, according to CIHI’s previous reports, the surgical procedures included in the priority areas only represent about one-eighth of all surgeries those performed in Canada. That omits the wait Canadians face for the other 88 per cent of surgeries.”   (Click here to read more)

Avoiding The California Nightmare In BC  (Macdonald-Laurier Institute)

“California, more so than almost anywhere on the planet, has all the ingredients to flourish and prosper. Its economy is well-diversified with everything from basic agriculture to high-tech research and development. Its coast provides incredible scenery and shipping access to the fastest growing regions in the world. California has a world-class system of universities and colleges. And its climate and environmental amenities make its lifestyle difficult to compete with. Yet despite all these advantages, California is an economic laggard.

California’s unemployment rate of 11 per cent is the third highest in the U.S. It ranks second worst on a broader measure of unemployment, with 21.1 per cent of workers in the state either unemployed, marginally employed, or only able to work part-time when full-time work is preferred.

Most tellingly, Californians are voting with their feet. Nearly four million more people have left California over the last two decades than have moved to the Golden State from other places in the U.S. Simply put, families are choosing to leave California for better opportunities.”  (Click here to read more)

 How Employment and Economic Growth Are Hindred by Politics (The Daily Reckoning)

“Since 2000, the working age population of the US has grown by 30 million. But the actual number of people with jobs has grown only by 12 million.

And if they reported the unemployment rate today the same way they did during the Great Depression, unemployment would be at 22% — only slightly below the level of the ’30s.

So, what happens to all the people who don’t find work? They go on disability!

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Social Security’s disability trust fund will run out of money in four years — in 2016. It will be amazing if it lasts that long. Because the disability rolls are growing twice as fast as the employment rolls.

Yes, dear reader, since the recession ended, officially, in June ’09, for every new person who has found a job, two supposedly have been disabled. At least, they’ve been added to the list of people receiving SSID benefits.

Could you get on disability, dear reader? Maybe. We went to the website to see if we could qualify. You just have to show that you have a condition that will prevent you from working for at least a year. And you must show that you’ve been employed in the past. If you’re 60 years old, for example, you need to show 9-1/2 years of previous employment.

During the Nixon administration, approximately 2% of the labor force was disabled. Now, it’s over 6%.

Disability, not employment, is Obama’s real achievement. Since June 2009, he’s added 4.7 million people who are judged too crippled, too stupid, too fat, or just too lazy and depressed to find work.”  (Click here to read more)

Are Democrats Wrong To Blame Teachers Unions  (Cato Institute)

“[W]hy are teachers unions so much more successful than other unions? The answer is simple: public schools lack both competitors and paying customers, eliminating the checks and balances on union demands that exist in the private sector. A business whose unionized workers drive up costs without raising quality loses customers and may have to lay off workers or even shut down. Union success is thus self-regulating. But if, as a parent, you don’t like the way your local district runs its schools, you have nowhere else to turn — not without moving or paying for a private school. And as a taxpayer, if your local schools mismanage your tax dollars, you can’t send those dollars anywhere else. That’s why public schooling’s inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has more than doubled in the past four decades despite stagnating or declining academic outcomes: revenues don’t depend on satisfying customers.

That’s not the unions’ fault. It is the natural result of operating K-12 education as a fully state-funded monopoly. That, however, may explain why education-reform Democrats so often blame the unions instead. Acknowledging the real root of the problem — state school monopolies — seems like an attack on government or even on the ideal of universal education.

But it is not an attack on government to observe that government is bad at running schools, anymore than it’s an attack on shovels to note that they make lousy Web browsers. No single tool can do every job. Nor is it an attack on the ideals of public education to say that state monopolies are an ineffective way to pursue them. That’s a confusion of ends and means. Public education is a not a particular pile of bricks or stack of regulations, it is a set of goals: universal access, preparation for participation in public life as well as success in private life, building harmony and understanding among communities.”  (Click here to read more)

Why Moral “Don’ts” Matter Most (The Foundation for Economic Education)

““Moral do’s” are exhortations that tell us what to do if we are to be moral. Since the positive moral action they encourage is often a matter of degree, they tend not to be specific. For example, the moral exhortation “be generous” may induce you to give a beggar money, but it does not tell you how much to give in any given circumstance. Moral exhortations leave unanswered the question of how generous is generous enough to be moral. There are different degrees of generosity, and what you might think is appropriately generous in a given circumstance I might find inadequate.

Since there is no objective basis for determining the proper place to stop on the continuum of positive moral action intensity (people can honestly disagree about how generous is generous enough, for example), moral exhortations are inherently subjective. Moreover, encouraging one to be completely generous or completely kind just trades a specificity problem for a feasibility problem, since in most cases the upper bound (if one even exists) of the intensity of any given positive moral action is above any individual’s ability to pay. This brings us to a key point. Because moral exhortations normally require action, and action normally requires resources, moral exhortations normally force us to choose.

“Moral don’ts” are prohibitions that tell us what we shouldn’t do if we are to be moral. Unlike moral exhortations, moral prohibitions are not inherently matters of degree. Consider the moral prohibition “don’t steal.” One either steals or does not. While it is true that there are degrees of stealing, there are no degrees of not stealing.

Because positive moral action is normally a matter of degree, there is normally no objective basis for concluding that someone has behaved immorally in any given circumstance. But because of the categorical nature of moral prohibitions (one is either in the set “not steal” or one is not), obeying moral prohibitions is inherently objective. With respect to moral prohibitions, then, you either behaved morally because you obeyed or you behaved immorally because you did not.”  (Click here for the rest of the article)

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