Saturday, November 28, 2009

Laugh of the Day

The 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn from Twilight via Instpundit:

From a male point of view, the only redeeming feature of the Twilight books and movies is the ammunition they provide against female claims of innate moral superiority over men.
I confess I've seen New Moon. I was fortunate enough not to see it in a packed room of screaming teenage girls, just three who were sitting behind us. The most hilarious part of the movie was when they all audibly gasped when Taylor Lautner took off his shirt in a ridiculous scene to dab a small bit of blood off Kristen Stewart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Summarizing the Subtleties of the Sino-American Relationship (in 7 minutes)

Mildly offensive, quite amusing and unfortunately but substantially true (NBC embed):

From Daniel Drezner (FP): "Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live's cold open managed to summarize the subtleties of the Sino-American economic relationship in under seven minutes. Note that, although it appears that President Hu has the power because he is repeatedly berating Obama, the content of the skit suggests otherwise. Hu's repeated complaints that the United States is, er, "doing sex" to him demonstrates the very limited leverage China has over U.S. policy."

(If the embedded video doesn't work because you're not in the US, assuming it's still up, check it out at Youtube)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tax Cuts vs Stimulus Spending

Imagine that: the People are/were right. It turns out that it's tax breaks that make a bigger difference to economic growth: "Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based upon spending increases." From Harvard's Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna via Greg Mankiw.

They even go further, pointing out that to reduce debt and deficits, spending cuts are more effective than tax increases.

Update: I just don't get it sometimes. 56% of New Yorkers believe the state will be broke by year end (RasmussenReports). So far not so surprising. But then there's this: "An overwhelming 81% of say the bigger problem in New York State today is not that voters are unwilling to pay enough in taxes but that politicians are unwilling to control government spending. Just eight percent (8%) think the bigger problem is voter unwillingness to pay enough taxes." Do these people vote?

WSJ: The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery

You don't have to be a healthcare policy wonk to appreciate the achievements made at the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital in Bangalore, India. It's a hospital that has a higher success rate, performing far greater volumes at a cost that's a 10th of what a typical American hospital might charge for open heart surgery. As founder Dr. Devi Shetty notes, "What health care needs is process innovation, not product innovation."

Here's a graphical summary from the WSJ (makes you wonder what the Christina Yang's (Wikipedia) of the world are doing in the US):

For the bleeding hearts out there, here's an anecdote of how Dr. Shetty makes healthcare affordable:

K. Parashivappa, the boy's father, a sugarcane worker from a village eight hours away, held a cup of water to his son's lips. He says he's known his son needed surgery since he was born with a congenital heart defect. The boy has never been able to run and play cricket like other children, hobbled by chronic shortness of breath and weakness.

Mr. Parashivappa says he can't himself pay for the surgery, but it is covered by a farmers' insurance plan that Dr. Shetty began several years ago in partnership with the state of Karnataka, which includes Bangalore.

Nearly one third of the hospital's patients are enrolled in this insurance plan, which costs $3 a year per person and reimburses the hospital $1,200 for each cardiac surgery.

That is about $300 below the hospital's break-even cost of $1,500 per surgery.

The hospital makes up the difference by charging $2,400 to the 40% of its patients in the general ward who aren't enrolled in the plan. An additional 30% who opt for private or semi-private rooms pay as much as $5,000.

The father, in an untucked brown shirt, raised both hands to offer the traditional Indian greeting, "Namaste," to Dr. Shetty as the hospital head stopped by his son's bed. "Thank you for giving my son his life back."

Read the whole thing (WSJ). While I'd be somewhat uncomfortable with whether the level of subsidization is sustainable, the hospital has a higher level of profitability than its American counterparts. With any luck, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital will do for healthcare what Compartamos is doing for microfinance. Of course, the ideas here aren't exactly new but probably executed far better than the US system allows.

The term "focused factory" in healthcare was termed and popularized by US researcher Regina Herzlinger (I first learned of her work with her book Market Driven Health Care). Perhaps I'm burying the lede here, but there's a healthcare revolution already happening in the US and while I've worried that healthcare legislation winding through both Houses would crush innovation, stories like this show that if the US doesn't lead the world, others will.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Giggle of the day

From a time lapse image gone awry (AwkwardFamilyPhotos):

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Optimism for Humanity Just Rose a Few Notches...

RasmussenReports: "To Create Jobs, Voters Say Cut Taxes and Stop Spending". Sorry, have been battling a rather bad round of jet lag as of late. A bit annoyingly am looking at returning back to Asia fairly shortly. Lots that I want to talk about but that's a bit of the problem. Having to pick and choose... while trying to wade through a mindblowing amount of work.