April 27, 2005

Radio Silence

Why no posts lately? Ah, life has been busy, work hectic, trying to do a bunch of research on family and sick leave, which will probably be good for a post or five later on. But now I'm going off to see Kung Fu Hustle, so no time to write. Instead, I'll kick things over quickly to three of my favorite conservative bloggers:

Victor of Dead Parrots summons up a bunch of statistics to argue that the U.S. medical system isn't as horrible as all that. Interesting stuff. To be honest, I agree with the brunt of what he's saying—the fact that we have lower life expectancies and whatnot doesn't say anything all that useful about our health care system, though it does help call into question the (common) notion that the U.S. is getting something extra-super-special for a system that has outlandishly high costs and leaves 45 million people uninsured. Which, I guess, is only my bitchy way of saying that if the situation was reversed, and U.S. life expectancies were top o' the OECD, we'd certainly be hearing about all the premature deaths socialized medicine was "causing" abroad.

Meanwhile, Steve Verdon has a conservative health care proposal worth discussing. Of particular interest, though, is that graph he puts up, showing that per capita health care spending has increased in proportion to the decline of out-of-pocket spending. It seems awfully important to try to figure out which factor is causing which here. (I mean, it could be the case that spending is going up because people have to pay less out-of-pocket and hence have less restraint, going to the doctor's for the slightest sniffle and whatnot. Or the reverse could be true, and people can't afford to pay as much out-of-pocket simply because costs are going up for other reasons.)

Finally, John Kalb picks apart my proposal for a party-oriented politics here in America. Oddly, John suggests that stronger parties wouldn't necessarily increase turnout by noting that "voter turnout's been steadily dropping all over the world, even in places like France, where party bosses are extremely important." Well, okay, but in France's 2002 presidential election, turnout was still nearly 80 percent. I'd love to see that sort of "decline" here in America!

It's also true, as John points out, that stronger, more centralized political parties would open the door for Tom DeLay-style abuse by party bosses. But my hope is that, if parties rather than individuals become the dominant unit in American politics, then scandals or corruption by any one politician, especially party leaders, would have repercussions for the party as a whole. That seems to be what's going on in Canada with the Liberals, though correct me if I'm wrong there. By contrast, here in the United States, Tom DeLay answers only to his small district in Texas, despite the fact that what he does very much affects the entire country. He is House Majority Leader, after all. Now yes, in the coming months the DeLay scandals may well bog down the whole party, but that's the way it should always be.
-- Brad Plumer 9:31 PM || ||