Why Healthcare Cannot Be a Completely Free Market

The concept of supply and demand is the cornerstone of economic theory. For simple commodities, the theory predicts that the demand for a product decreases as the price of the product increases and consumers are unwilling to pay the higher price. The supply increases as the price increases and suppliers increase production to capture increased profits. The actual price of the product is a compromise between the desires of consumers and the acumen of suppliers.

Mr. Trump and the Global Circus

Just what is the crazy-like-a-fox President-elect of the U.S. up to? His antics would make P.T. Barnum blush with admiration. Mr. Trump has created a spectacle of showmanship on a scale unequaled at any place and at any time in the past. His millions of voters are more Pavlovian than a 50-dog act. And his detractors are as puzzled as they are livid. Let’s step back and take a look at the history leading up to this circus. Perhaps this can provide us with some hint on what to do next, before the lions are released into the cage with us.

The Decline and Fall of Globalization

To understand what happened in the recent US Presidential election, we have to go back to the early 1980s. At that time the overall global social mood shot upward, probably as a consequence of growing international financial integration that tended to undermine the age-old paradigm of “international diversification”. As the social mood became ever more positive, feelings that “everyone is a potential friend” grew stronger and drove events toward increasing interdependence, trade, and cooperation. It’s no accident that the European Union was formed during this period, along with the World Economic Forum in Davos. This story is graphically shown in the diagram below, where we see globalization totally flat until the mid ‘80s, where it exploded until around 2008.

Some Modest Proposals

I am a social-media whore. I am awake after midnight fascinated by what people might say next. Now that Mr. Trump won the Presidential election, the future no longer seems to be constrained by civilized precedent. Any proposal is now taken to be credible; even the dismantling of the extremely popular Medicare is on the table.


Conventional wisdom has it that political trends are a key determinant of the stock market’s gyrations. As an election approaches, commentators endlessly debate the effect the outcome of the election will have on stock prices. Investors weigh up which candidates will influence the market to move up or down. Statements like, “If Jones is elected, it will be good for the market, but Smith’s election will cause stocks to tank” are common.

The Strange World of Texas Politics

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills . . . critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education . . . which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the students’ fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

2012 Platform, Republican Party of Texas


No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.


“Columnist Charles Krauthammer slammed President Obama for going on an “ideological holiday trip in Cuba, while the world burns” on Tuesday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel. Krauthammer said, “I thought the whole story of this presidency, and its foreign policy, was seen in the split screen. On one side, you had the video footage of the attack in Belgium. This is the real world, and on the other side was Obama, in the fantasy world he inhabits, where Cuba is of some geopolitical significance, in his mind, but none in the real world geopolitically.”

Two Visions for Healthcare

Last week I attended the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York City. Over 200 healthcare leaders converged on Lincoln Center to discuss and forecast the future of healthcare in the U.S. The heady atmosphere of the conference will provide material for a number of blogs. In this blog I would like to focus on two different visions for the future that emerged in the conference. The first vision is an extension of our current trajectory in which space-age technology yields dramatic, but expensive, health outcomes. The second vision is one in which common-sense medicine produces low-cost very good health over a large segment of the population, but is not necessarily designed to accommodate specialized high-technology procedures.


HAVANA (AP) — President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro tussled Monday over differences on human rights and democracy but pledged to keep working on a new path forward between their two countries . . . (Obama bowed to Raul’s insults).
Asked by an American television reporter about political prisoners in Cuba, Castro seemed oblivious, first saying he couldn’t hear the question, then asking whether it was directed to him or Obama. Eventually he pushed back, saying if the journalist could offer up names of anyone allegedly imprisoned, “they will be released before tonight ends.” (Cuba arrested hundreds days before Obama came to avoid protests in Havana.) “What political prisoners? Give me a name or names,” Castro said. He added later, “It’s not correct to ask me about political prisoners in general.” (Political correctness from a dictator!) After responding to a handful of questions, Castro ended the press conference abruptly, declaring, “I think this is enough” (Allowing free press briefly in for Obama made him very uncomfortable as with any dictator.) In a history-making meeting in Havana, Castro praised Obama’s recent steps to relax controls on Cuba as “positive” but deemed them insufficient. He called anew for the U.S. to return its naval base at Guantánamo Bay to Cuba and to lift the U.S. trade embargo. (More baksheesh for the Castro dictatorship) “That is essential, because the blockade remains in place, and it contains discouraging elements,” Castro said . . . Castro worked to turn the tables on Obama by saying Cuba found it “inconceivable” for a government to fail to ensure health care, education, food and social security for its people a — clear reference to the U.S. (Most Cubans live far below the poverty level. Almost all Cubans struggle to live on twenty to twenty five dollars a month.) “We defend human rights,” Castro said. “In our view, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible, interdependent and universal.” (This from a brutal dictator whose brother imprisoned and slaughtered tens of thousands.) “The future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans not by anybody else,” Obama said. “At the same time, as we do wherever we go around the world, I made it clear the U.S. will continue to speak up about democracy, including the right of the Cuban people to decide their own future.” (Raoul no doubt laughs on the way to the bank with new funds from the U. S.) As Castro prepares to step down in 2018, he’s held firm against any changes to Cuba’s one-party political system. (In short, he told Obama to go to hell with his democracy.)