Archive for December, 2015
Douglass C. North (November 5, 1920 – November 23, 2015)

I met Douglass C. North exactly forty-eight years ago, during the final week of 1967, when the American Economic Association was holding its annual meetings in Washington, D.C., and I went to Doug’s room at the Shoreham Hotel to be interviewed for a faculty opening at the University of Washington, where he was chairman...
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Third-Party Bureaucracies Can’t Discipline Healthcare Prices

One of the least substantiated notions behind the modern American doctrine that people should allow insurers or governments to control our health spending is that these third parties can negotiate fees with hospitals and physicians that are better than those which would prevail if patients controlled these dollars ourselves. Years of evidence show that...
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French Doctors Lose Strike Against “Free” Health Care

After a long and arduous fight, French politicians have approved a law abolishing patients’ upfront payments to physicians, which was a promise of President François Hollande’s Socialist Party. Currently, patients usually pay about £23 ($25) when they see a general practitioner. However, some of this fee is reimbursed by the national health scheme or...
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“Fleeced Navidad” Government Wastes Taxpayer Money Tracking Santa

“He’s sees you when you’re sleeping. He’s knows when you’re awake.” Chances are you recognize these lines from the famous Christmas tune, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” We can debate about how it is that Santa knows all these things. Perhaps it’s the fact he’s magical? Is Santa omnipotent? Does he have a...
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What Is Driving Health Prices?

The recent arrest of Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, on charges of securities fraud, reminds us that high prescription drug prices are today’s whipping boy for the costs of health care. Hillary Clinton and other politicians have promised to impose federal controls on pharmaceutical prices. However, prescription drugs have not been the...
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Congress Set to Deficit-Fund Obamacare by Almost $40 Billion

I had always feared that Congress’s alternative to Obamacare was a deficit-funded Obamacare, and it looks like that is coming to pass. This is being done through the so-called “taxibus,” a legislative package that combines popular “tax extenders” (items like research and development tax credits that are legally temporary but practically permanent) with funding...
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The Quality of American Education: Two Types of Evidence

Every so often, articles like this one appear, which seem to show that the American education system is, to use the term in the article, mediocre. What the article shows is that regardless of socioeconomic status, American students score below most developed nations in mathematical ability. The problem with statistics like these is that...
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Why Employer Benefit Costs Are Rising Slowly

Aon Hewitt, a leading actuarial consulting firm, has reported extremely good news about the cost of employee benefits: 2015 Records Lowest U.S. Health Care Cost Increases in Nearly 20 years – Rate of increase was 3.2% – Average health care cost per employee topped $11,000 – Employees’ share of health care costs have increased...
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Privatize the Marriage Market

December is one of the most popular months to get engaged. It seems that every time I get on social media, one of my girlfriends is posting a photo of her left hand and new engagement ring. After getting engaged, and even before, many couples have already combined their lives. They share bills, checking...
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The Stock Market Reacts to the Fed’s Interest Rate Hike

After the Fed’s November meeting, when the Fed decided not to hike interest rates, the stock market fell, indicating the disappointment of market participants. As I noted at the time, because lower interest rates tend to raise asset prices, the market decline was an indication of disapproval from market participants. At the Fed’s December...
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