Just jaw-boning or bone-headed?

John Taylor: January 02, 20080 Comments

Sometimes it's smarter to eat crunchy peanut butter on burned wheat toast than to open your mouth -- or pound on your keyboard. Cases to consider:

  • From an Orange County Register editorial, critical of the Schwarzenegger-Nunez notion of health care reform: "But health care is no more a right endowed by our Creator than is a job or a pension or a ticket to the opera. And forcing all people against their will to assume each others' costs and particularly to become unwilling consumers isn't freedom. It's tyranny." (Great Galloping Patrick Henry. Yeah, the only "right" is to show up in the emergency room sicker than a dog, get treated/stabilized (pay or no pay) and then get schussed out the door, with the fates or insurance deciding whether you get followup care -- and avoid another run on the ER.) 

  • The Los Angeles Times reports California prison spending has jumped 79% since 2003 to $8.5 billion a year, in part because of tough-on-crime legislation that has pumped up the jail population. Spending is supposed to hit $10 billion next year. Bob Sillen, former San Jose hospital executive who was named by a federal judge to revive the prisons' dangerous health care system, has hiked doctor salaries and intends to build new treatment facilities: "We're not cutting our spending -- we're planning on increasing our spending." The tab for prison health spending has soared 263% (yep, 2-6-3) since 2000, to $2.1 billion annually, the Times reported. Sillen expects to bump it another $500 million in the next fiscal year.

  • The spread of Valley fever at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga has prompted Sillen and state officials to delay expansion there for fear of kicking up more of the potentially deadly spores. In a New York Times story, Coalinga mayor Trish Hill provided this slice of her reality: "We just deal. You don't do stupid things like go out on windy days or dig in the dirt."

  • The rush to educate more physicians to address aging Baby Boomers has prompted Dr. David Goodman, a researcher at Dartmouth Medical School, to warn that more MDs will send costs into the stratosphere. "Calling for more doctors, like prescribing more drugs, for an already over-medicated patient, may only make things worse," he is quoted as saying in the Washington Times.  Fortunately, there is a quote later on that lifts a bit of the onus from him in the San Joaquin Valley, a medically under-served area (aka if you find a doc here -- Medi-Cal, Medicare, will he take call, is she multilingual -- how can you keep him?): "There are not enough incentives in the market for doctors to go where they are needed most."

  • Lastly, and this isn't a quote, just an opportunity to disgorge one long, superheated sigh. Today, crude oil futures briefly broached the $100 a barrel mark. In December 1998, they were less than $11 a barrel.