Monday, August 12, 2013

Speed Blogging, Monday August 12, 20013: On Media, Fracking, Gender and Death Panels.

Today's funny cartoon.  As you may note, I'm still frustrated about the collapsed anthill aspect of public debate.

But it's better than the alternative, which appears to be one future possibility:  A world where a few very rich men decide what we are to learn, what news we will get and what facts we will not obtain.  I hope that is a science-fiction nightmare and not the actual world in a few generations.  Let's keep it that way, please.

Fracking.  I don't know enough of it to write about its desirability in general (though I doubt mother nature likes it much), but this example highlights the blindness of free marketeers and the profit motive when it comes to externalities.  Things are interconnected.  We live in a giant web, and someone cannot just go and madly snip all threads in one corner, expecting nothing else to be affected.

Or put in other ways, those in power should use that round ball thing which serves to keep their ears apart for something more than that.  And no, it's not just a hatstand, either.

Cordelia Fine has put together some criticisms about the popular culture fad of viewing our brains as pink or blue.

Finally,  death panels.  For the innocent and serene among us, death panels (by Democrats)  are part of the mythology of the American political right, to be filed under the same heading as the arguments that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president because he supposedly was born abroad (Hawaii, though it's not abroad) or that Obama is a communist (rather than a politer version of most former Republican presidents) and so on.  The weird nightmarish ideas about what a country run by Democrats might look like.

The idea behind the death panels is a simple one:  The conservatives argue that the new healthcare system will have panels which decide who will die.  Paul Krugman wrote about a recent example of this argument.

The argument is deliciously muddled!  It's horrid to limit Medicaid spending!  But we MUST limit Medicaid spending.  The latter is what the Republicans usually do.  So they are for death panels, except when they are against them.

That whole idea deserves a much longer post, but the gist of it is that care will always be "rationed" by something, either by price or by more direct restrictions on access.  Every day the health care markets "ration" care, both because insurers refuse coverage for something or because the patients or their families no longer have enough funds to cover care out-of-pocket.  Inability to pay for care can also be a death panel.   Or at least an odd sort of triage.