Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From an interview of Charles Murray by Ginni Thomas; transcribed section starts at about 7:00 in Part 2.

I have four children who are really smart, who love their dad—they're not rebelling against me—who are hardworking and embody all the virtues, who would not think of voting for a Republican. And it's not that they're ideological Democrats. They think of Republicans as being gay-hating, abortion-hating religious fanatics.

. . . It is not that they are actively pro-choice or actively pro-gay-marriage. Here's what's gone on. And you know what, it's gone on with me too. Abortion's a terrible thing. I would hate for one of my children to have an abortion; my children would hate—that would be something they would do only under the gravest of reasons. But they also don't want the government to make it illegal for people to make that choice. They want it to be, and I want it to be, a really, profoundly morally weighted choice where, boy, you do it, you'd better have a really good reason. Like the health of the mother.

But this—with gay marriage . . . My wife and I over the course of the last decade have several gay friends who are living in couples in committed relationships that have been going on for years, and when we are around them . . . they look like marriages. I mean, they have all the qualities of a good marriage. And so, am I really nervous about messing with an institution as fundamental as marriage? You bet your life I am. Have I come to see these relationships as one which are deserving of my respect as loving, caring relationship? Yeah, I also think that.

So in all of these issues, I guess I want to say to social conservatives, I am not trying to persuade you to adopt my view. But I am telling you that there are millions of people out there who on fiscal issues, on issues of limiting the power of government, on leaving people free to live their lives as they see fit in the ways that conservatives believe—they're with you on all of those issues, and you're never gonna get 'em to vote for people who espouse limited government and restoring Constitution and the rest of 'em, unless you are willing to say, Okay, we're gonna put the social issues on the back burner and try to work out the social issues through the culture as opposed to the political process. That's asking a lot, but I guess I am saying, until that happens conservatives are—no, Republicans are gonna have a very hard time reaching a very important part of the electorate that would be sympathetic to them otherwise.

But one of your founding virtues was marriage.

Yup.

So connect those dots. I mean, why can't people who are engaged in what social conservatives view as immoral behavior call it something else? It's been two thousand years.

I've—you know, I'm so sympathetic to that, and . . . I think the train has left the station. I am not sure how it happened; I have—can think of very few issues—well, abortion is another one—issues on which everybody thought one way was right fifty years ago, and, you know, a whole—now that's just swung in this huge way. I can't explain to you why it has; I will join you in the front ranks of saying, You've got to quit demonizing people who hold views that until a few decades ago were what everybody thought. But on something like gay marriage, I don't think that there's much to be done politically anymore. Those who see this as being deeply immoral: That is a position with a long and respectable history; do you want to have the politics of the country enmeshed in that? Or, as you think of your priorities, are you also really upset about a Constitution which is no longer being interpreted as the Founders intended, a country that was so exceptional in terms of its freedom as now being destroyed? Maybe that priority should have first priority, I'm saying to people.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two good short posts from Craig Newmark, on a bit of federally financed spending and the need for flexibility of approach in different areas.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 5/20/09, by Malcolm K. Sparrow, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government:

The units of measure for losses due to health care fraud and abuse in this country are hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We just don't know the first digit. It might be as low as one hundred billion. More likely two or three. Possibly four or five. But whatever that first digit is, it has eleven zeroes after it. These are staggering sums of money to waste. . . .

The rule for criminals is simple: if you want to steal from Medicare, or Medicaid, or any other health care insurance program, learn to bill your lies correctly. Then, for the most part, your claims will be paid in full and on time, without a hiccup, by a computer, and with no human involvement at all. . . .

For any invisible problem, effective control begins with valid measurement. For health care fraud, control breaks down at this very first hurdle. No-one knows quite how bad the situation has become, and industry practices seem to reflect a broad reluctance to find out. . . .

One fundamental truth of the fraud-control business is this: fraud works best when claims-processing works perfectly.

The health care industry still acts as if it imagines that process-accuracy is the cornerstone of effective fraud control. In fact, process-accuracy (with the transparency and predictability it produces) is a large part of what makes health care payment systems such attractive targets for fraud.