Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wanna Buy a Liver?

There has been quit a bit of talk around the interwebs about Richard Thaler's piece in this weekend's New York Times. Quite frankly I am a bit surprised that some people are so troubled by changing the way people select their organ donor status.

My own thinking on the issue has evolved over time. I can recall quite vigorously arguing for an open market for organs, in my property class in law school. I still find the idea somewhat appealing on its face, but realize the very real negative risks to such a system. Obviously, a market for the sale of organs would result in the wealthiest members of society receiving most, if not all, of the available organs.

Perhaps some way around this would be a lottery. People who were in need of a liver could enter into the lottery for an available liver that matched. The total proceeds of the lottery, less some administrative cost, would be given to the seller. But you'd have to find some mechanism to prevent wealthier individuals from purchasing so many tickets as to tilt the odds into their favor. Also, without some very strict form of limited ticketing, there would be an obvious arbitrage opportunity. In other words, devising a system that ensured equity in the distribution of available organs would be complex at best, impossible at worst.

Thaler seems to express at least some trepidation about moving to an opt out system, which is why he pushes instead for mandated choice. I do not have any particular moral/ethical reservations about an opt out system. But I do feel it might be difficult to figure out a way to phase it in. I'm not so sure that it's as easy as making the person's next license renewal include the opt out default setting. There are older people who might not be aware of the change, even if it is well publicized.

Of course, the larger issue we have to confront under any change is the way in which Americans cling to life. We can be sure that the usual suspects (pro-lifers and other religious conservatives) will find plenty not to like about a system that makes it easier to harvest organs. Death panels will be replaced with liver panels. I'm sure Betsy McCaughey is working on it already.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When the Gut Rules

You end up with elderly Americans, who are on Medicare, protesting against government run health care. I'd like to know how many of them are willing to give up their socialized medicine in order to jump into the individual market for health insurance.

Are You There God? It's Me, Crazy Michelle

Michelle Bachmann, as has been well documented in other places, is one crazy Congresscritter. But, we can now add auditory hallucinations to the list. Though I suspect there is no God, I would have to assume that if there were she wouldn't waste her time on a nutjob like Bachmann.

Moronica for Morons

In what parallel universe is it okay to carry not only a handgun, but an assault rifle, to an event with the POTUS? This is the third time in the past week that a teabagger has come to an Obama event packing heat. If this doesn't show the American people just how unhinged from reality the right wing has become, then I don't know what will.

Oh, and to the false equivalency people out there (yes, I'm looking right at you MSM)- the crazies on the Left brought puppets to protest, while the crazies on the Right bring loaded assault rifles. See the difference? Idiots.

Plus Ca Change

I have to wonder if there are any people left who still believe that November 2008 actually changed anything. Sure, the Democrats enjoy overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House and control the White House, but the charade that is health care reform is no different from their performance during the eight years of Chimpy McFlightsuit. No lessons have been learned; no spines have been hardened. Instead we get the same old policy of giving in before negotiating.

Wait, maybe that isn't quite right. Perhaps the Democratic idea of negotiation is to give up. To sell out your principles rather than to fight. I mentioned someplace else that the Democrat's idea of a tough negotiation is taking their ass raping without lube. And that seems to be about right.

What else can explain Dem leadership's worshipping at the shrine of Broderian bipartisanship? How is it that Kent Conrad and Max Baucus, Senators who together represent just .52% of the US population, are the arbiters of health care reform? By what freakish turn of events does a member of Congress who feels the need to state that he won't vote for a bill with death panels, which shows that he is batshit fucking insane, get any say over health care, let alone a near veto power?

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. We now have the President's own HHS Secretary insisting that a public option is not a requirement. Are you kidding me?

The likely result of this entire debacle will be some milquetoast "reform" that fails to address any of the very real problems with our current health care system. And we can all thank our ineffectual, no wimpish, Democratic leadership in DC.

Say what you will about Bush/Cheney/Rove, but if they were given the kind of majorities the Democratic Party now holds, they'd have outlawed abortion, invaded Iran and lowered the top marginal tax rate to 20%. So, I suppose there may be some who are grateful that Obama and company are not Bush. But simply being better than Satan really isn't enough to make me want to believe.

Should I Return?

It's something I have been pondering for quite some time. I've replaced my blogging with 140 character messages on Twitter ( and posting links on my Facebook page. But the space limits of those two mediums, and my inordinate amount of free time, has caused me to think about putting the band back together. (By band, I mean blog)

The one downside to reentering the blog world is that I will have to be careful about the topics I write about and the language I use to characterize those in the public sphere. Or, I could possibly begin a new blog using a pseudonym. But I do somewhat prefer to blog under my own name. I have no problem with being held accountable for my ideas and opinions, so long as they don't cost me a job.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spineless Democrats

Once again, the Democrats in Congress have done the impossible, performing an act of self-fellatio. Or maybe they bypassed the self gratification and went straight to inserting their heads up their asses. How else can we explain their caving in to the President and the telecoms on retroactive immunity.

Mr. 28% is not the most popular person in the country. Even the GOP nominee is running away from him like a kid with the cooties. So why should the Dems in DC cave? Because it is hard wired into their DNA. Talk about reinforcing the meme of Democratic weakness.

There has been a lot of talk about more and better Democrats over the past two years. But I hope that sooner than later we focus exclusively on the latter. I am so sick and tired of seeing our so-called leaders snap defeat from the jaws of victory. I am not even surprised anymore when they crumble like a house of cards. I've seen jellyfish with stronger spines than Steny Hoyer et al.

Yet they just assume that we, the base, will come out to support them time and time again. But I have a word of warning- remember Joe Lieberman and Al Wynn. If our current crop of Democrats are too chicken shit to stand up for Democratic values, then we will find candidates who will. And we will primary those weak-willed cowards.