Quick hits from the Insomniac

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The good thing about insomnia: in the wee small hours, you get caught up on your blogging and finally have time to link to all those things you’ve been meaning to. Got some email answered, too. Please forgive me if I have not responded; I try, but lately there is so much of it, that some does slip through the cracks.

Happy 5th Anniversary: to American Digest. Vanderleun seems inclined to his couch for the summer. Not a bad idea as we gear up for what promises to be an eventful autumn political campaign.

Socialized Medicine: it really doesn’t work, if you’re just out to live longer. I’m coming to believe that socialized medicine – particularly as we see it evolving in Europe, into a slow-but-steady “ah, you’ve lived long enough” mentality of utilitarianism – is a soul-killer. I think Thomas Sowell is right to wonder why some want to bring to America what is not really working in Europe. The good news, though, is that in Canada, they’re considering sending very ill children to the US, so they can get treated. Tell me again why we want to socialize healthcare, here?

Getting snarky: Michael Ramirez’ brilliant riff on the Beverly Hillbillies and the 30 + years-long Democrat resistance to drilling.

Getting noticed:
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says drill here, dammit!.

Getting Spun:
a big broken campaign promise

Getting Leggy:
The Mortgage Scandal.

Getting no hard questions:
Dean Barnett has a few

Getting Sickening:
Green is “the new patriotism”. Conservation is always laudable, but extremism never is.

Getting Gone:
the seal.

“I’ve got a mustard seed, and I’m not afraid to use it”:
Spengler continues his look at Pope Benedict and President George W. Bush, and what their respective actions mean to the West. Extremely interesting follow up to this and this and this. As I wrote a while back:

There have only been 43 American Presidents in 230 years. There have only been 267 popes in 2000 years. There have been billions of other people. Greatness is not an illusion. And it is not fomented with easy praise. I worry sometimes that our over-indulged, over-applauded youngsters may not have the requisite strength within themselves to find “greatness” when we will need it.

Katrina and Cedar Rapids: Glenn Reynolds has the quote and he links to all the “good” Katrina stories that the press managed to miss, back then. In building their narrative, the press missed a lot. A lot. But who needs intellectual honesty, anyway?

Walking for Fiscal Health: I love this story, via Deacon Greg, of a 70 year old pastor walking for pledge money as a means to retire his parish debt. I love the idea and am going to send a small donation to this fellow and then approach my own pastor with the notion. Maybe we can make it parish-wide; get the whole crew up and walking!

Bookstuff: Inside Catholic is forming a book-reading group (nothing to join, you just get a copy of the book they’re reading – the terrific-sounding Exiles; a Novel by Ron Hansen – and join in the discussion) and I think it’s a great idea!

Over the course of the week, Amy Welborn, Matthew Lickona, Joseph O’Brien, and Bishop Daniel Flores will be sharing their thoughts on Exiles, the latest novel from Ron Hansen, author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Mariette in Ecstasy…we’re encouraging any and all interested readers to pick up their own copy of the book and join in the discussion. Where else will you be able to join a book club with distinguished panelists and fellow Catholics from around the globe?

Also, there is this book called The Shack, that is making some waves in Christian circles; sounds intriguing – has anyone read it?

“Cruelly Complex Rubrics!”
: My post at Inside Catholic on the looming “civil war” between Novus Ordo and Tridentine Mass Lovin’ Catholics in the UK.

UFO’s in Cardiff, Wales:
I’ve read that in Ben Stein’s documentary, “Expelled” Richard Dawkins, suggests that alien beings from outer space may have settled planet Earth. He might like this piece. Hey, I believe in angels and that the Mother of God has visited us on earth. There are more things than are dreamt, Horatio!

I don’t know which of these cakes is more impressive
: the party dress or the dresser, but this is remarkable work. I wouldn’t want to eat them, though. It would be like taking a knife to a painting.

Thank heavens for the gatekeepers!
As of this writing – 3:45 AM, it’s still uncorrected. As I asked all that time ago, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Finally, from Deacon Greg, again
- a video of a guy giving free hugs. At first I thought, “no…not my cuppa…” but then I thought…in a way, isn’t that what God offers us? He’s like the guy standing there with a sign saying “Free Hugs” and we’re the wary folk walking by and cutting a wide berth.

If the Free Hugs guy can be analogous to God, maybe Matt’s beautiful dancing trek can be analogous to the Holy Spirit.

As ever, if you purchase stuff at Amazon via this site, a portion of the kickback gets donated to this hospice or to various retreat house “scholarship” funds, which help provide retreat opportunities for folks who otherwise could not afford one. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve been on one, myself.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • gcm

    Regarding Katrina and Cedar Rapids: Many of us here in Midwest are asking, “Where’s Sean?”. How come Sean Penn didn’t show up in his row boat to help us out?

  • GM Roper

    Dear Anchoress, friend, college and role model. Thank you for the link on my health care riff, I truly appreciate it. As for Obama’s old seal, may I gleefully suggest my design for his NEW SEAL?

  • GM Roper

    Uhhh, that should be “collegue.” Sigh.. Too early, not enough coffee.

  • http://davejustus.com Dave Justus

    I’ve made something of an amateur study of socialized medicine propossals, and I am not sure you are being entirely fair in your characterization of them.

    First off, I certainly tend to favor a free market approach, but a purely free market solution is certainly not what we in America today. It also isn’t something that we are going to have in the forseeable future. With that in mind, it is possible that a completely socialized program would be better then the half and half mix of government funding, special privildges and corporate protectionism that characterizes medicine in America today.

    In looking at that, it is only fair to actually make an evaluation of what is being propossed. Pretty much all of the liberal commentors that I have read who desire socialized medicine agree that Britain’s implimentation of it is horrible, and that Canada’s is only a bit better. Those are the worst examples, and certainly we shouldn’t do it that way. What most proponents of socialized medicine actually want is more along the lines of the French model, which basically features a mandatory minimum government supplied policy and private supplimentary policies for those who desire them. I am not 100% convinced that this is the way to go, but I do think it fair to analyze what is being asked for, rather then using scary stories from a system even proponents of socialized medice admit is very poor.

  • TheAnchoress

    Dave, I’d be interested in learning more about the French system – can you point me to a good online source?

  • rcareaga

    Richard Dawkins does not, in fact, believe in panspermia (which, as he and others have pointed out, merely kicks the origin question upstairs: whence these alien horticulturalists?). By Dawkins’ own account, Stein asked him something to the effect of “Are there sense under which ‘intelligent design’ could be conceivable?” and RD responded with this hypothetical scenario. In the film, his answer was edited to make it appear that he was replying to the question “What is the origin of life on earth?” Other scientists interviewed for the film have had similar complaints about the producers’ disingenuous editing.

    I have admired Dawkins since discovering his work a quarter of a century ago (although I think him less persuasive as a polemicist than as a scientist—The God Delusion seems to me for that reason his weakest tome), and am confident that he has been misrepresented by the impertinent designers of “Expelled.”

  • Bridey

    I tend to be very suspicious of any kind of government-mandated anything, so my take on why so many people who should know better want socialized medicine is that it’s not about health care nearly as much as it is about running people’s lives for them. Even a mandatory minimum government policy has to be paid for somehow, and it seems to me that it would, albeit perhaps more slowly, offer the same excuses for intrusion into what should be private matters that single-payer health care would.

    That said, something has to happen, on the market level, to make reasonable health care accessible to those who are shut out through no fault or choice of their own. But there are many steps to be taken before a society-changing government mandate. Allowing a wide range of professional and other organizations to pool their membership for insurance purposes could help, or a meaningful assigned-risk system. (Tax rebates are nice, I suppose, but in themselves they don’t help those who are currently uninsurable.)

    But, in my opinion, keeping the government out of things is, except in limited areas of infrastructure and security, just about always the best option.

  • TheAnchoress

    Rand, I tend to think there was a touch of over-zealousness to “Expelled” myself, from my reading, which is why I merely related an anecdote and did not link to the stuff. But then again, I find Dawkins a bit over-zealous as well. I’m sure he’d think the same of me! You’ll note that little blurb was meant to be a gentle bit of snark, meant to play with the UFO story, and so I also acknowledged my own beliefs and how they might seem odd to others. I do try to be fair!

    Bridey, I agree with you that our health care coverage system is far from perfect and have wondered why professionals and organizations have not done as you suggested, and pooled their resources for affordable insurance rates, like AARP and others. Rudy Giuliani came up with an idea whereby those who were shut out of other health insurance opportunities would be able to buy-in to the same plan the city employees used. That might be an idea, too – allow people to opt into affordable plans (even on a limited basis which is better than no coverage at all). I’m a freelance writer; I’d be very happy if freelancers got together and pooled into a plan.

    Perhaps the solution is not for the government to take action, but for those with organizational skills to tap into their own hobbies, or professions, cottage industries, etc – even churches and civic groups – and work with insurance companies to create programs – or supplementals – that are affordable in their spheres. I’d frankly much rather see people take responsibility for creating their own insurance programs within their own communities than see the government take charge. Anyone have thoughts?

  • http://davejustus.com Dave Justus

    Ezra Klein wrote a peice comparing different countries health care solutions here. It is a pretty good overview.

    There are a whole lot of reasons why simple common sense solutions to health care costs don’t work. One is that there is currently a whole lot of government intrusion. Each state has rules for what insurance companies can and cannot offer and what requirements there are to be a company that sells insurance. As is often the case, these requirements are usually written by established insurance companies to prevent competition and maintain the status quo (see regulatory capture.) There is also the undeniable problem that it is best for insurance companies to only enroll healthy people and not enroll sick people. It is cheaper for me if I am in a pool of people who are healthy, unless of course I get sick and they find a way to kick me out of that pool. Universal health care does solve this issue.

    In any event, while it is theoretically true that keeping the government out of health care may be the best outcome, that isn’t really the question. The question is that given the already massive intrusion of the government into health care, often to the benefit of private companies, is it wiser to simply have them take the whole thing over. I’m not 100% convinced, but it is a pretty good question. My primary worry is that innovation would slow, and I think paying a much higher price for care today with innovation is a better alternative then cheaper care and stagnation of innovation.

  • Gayle Miller

    Ah, the big-eyes kitty is a nice touch!

    Anyone who is actually fully sentient knows full well that private enterprise can ALWAYS solve problems more effectively and economically than the government, which exists to perpetuate its own massive size and lack of function. Although there are many exceptional government employees, they are consistently overwhelmed by the non-functioning, barely literate weight of their far more numerous colleagues who barely show up, let alone perform any useful tasks.

    [compliment to Anchoress edited out (but kept privately, with her sincere thanks) because it just feels like leaving it up would be too much like tooting her own horn! - admin]

  • TheAnchoress

    Dave, thanks for the Klein link – I’ll peruse later – would you have any other links? Klein is certainly a good writer, but as biased as any of us. I was hoping for something written by a group or organization that has no ax to grind…if such a thing even exists anymore! :-)

  • http://davejustus.com Dave Justus

    Klein is certainly biased, but he has made himself somewhat of an expert on socialized health care and I have never found what he has written to be innacurate on that topic.

    Here is an article about an experience with the french system. Anecdote isn’t data of course, but it is interesting.

    Here is a wikipedia page that talks about the health care systems of different countries, including France.

    And here, if you want to spend the time on it, is a pretty good in depth comparison of the French System to the American One.

  • TheAnchoress

    Dave, thanks again for the citations – very interesting reading, particularly about France and Germany. Klein did a good job, but I do think his praise for the VHA, while mostly valid, has a shade of disingenuity to it, that being that when he’s extolling the excellence of its treatment for diabetics, for instance, he does not note that the VHA is LARGELY (although not completely) invested in caring for veteran heath concerns related to their military service. In that capacity they are treating relatively few diabetics, or cancer patients, etc as compared with the medical community and the general populace,hence the high praise tends to mislead and perhaps oversimplify. I suspect Klein included the VHA, even though on every level one cannot get balanced comparisons to the medical realities of the rest of the nation, because he is able to write – correctly – that it is “socialized medicine” that “works” and to include a plug for electronic medical records which are quite NECESSARY for military personnel, but which create some worry about intrusiveness, confidentiality and selectivity in the real world, where personal information can impede opportunities for jobs and the like.

    So, I understand WHY Klein enthusiastically included the VHA in his work, but in terms of scope and scale, it really didn’t belong, and that seems a bit manipulative to me.

    Thanks again.


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