Arnold Kling  

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1. Tyler Cowen writes in the New York Times,


Wealthy people will always be able to buy most of what they want. But for everyone else, if we stay on the current course, the lines are likely to get longer and longer.

He is talking about health care in the U.S., and for access to general practitioners he is certainly right. In our wealthy DC suburb, GP's are going "off the grid," by which I mean they won't take Medicaid, Medicare, or even private insurance. I don't mind that, but where I draw the line is "concierge medicine," where the patient pays an annual fee (somewhere north of $500) to have the doctor on retainer, and then you pay additional amounts for each visit. We've had a number of doctors go this route, making us switch to different practices.

2. Speaking of our wealthy suburb, The Washington Post says that we cannot even afford to live here on $250 K per year. The killer in their analysis is the mortgage, which they say runs about $45 K a year. That is crazy. The house must be somewhere close to $1 million. Of course, they do say that you are supposed to live in a neighborhood with the best schools, and we don't do that. Back when the SAT was just math and verbal, I described us as living on the other side of a 250-point SAT gradient--in the better high schools, the SAT's were 1200, and in our high school they were 950. (I took the view that my own kids did not need high-achieving peers in order to do well on their own.) Anyway, some of the other expenses that the Post imputes to an average affluent couple also seem pretty crazy to me. If you're going to do an article like this, you need to explain the details better and make a more persuasive case.

3. The Post has a separate Book World section this week (usually they don't), with a roundup of the year's best books. The only one we agree on is Empire of All Maladies, which they put in their top 100 of non-fiction (I would put it higher). In the non-finance area, I have already tried Kindle samples of a number of their other nonfiction recommendations but did not buy the books. In the finance area, they neglect All the Devils are Here and instead call The Big Short a top ten book (I would be OK with it as top 100, not top 10) and put Chasing Goldman Sachs in the top 100. Based on the review copy I received, I would not have put it there.

4. The Post's Outlook section for Dec. 12 is worth reading in its entirety. Not only do you get Bill Easterly on why John Lennon was better than Bono (as a celebrity activist) and Philip K. Howard making radical proposals to get rid of laws, but you also get Tim Hwang on WikiLeaks and its defenders.


They come from a long tradition of Internet expansionists, who hold that the Web should remake the rest of the world in its own image. They believe that decentralized, transparent and radically open networks should be the organizing principle for all things in society, big and small.

Compare his essay to what I wrote ten years ago (not all of which holds up well, but it was still fun to re-read).

In my opinion, the hackers' attacks on web sites they don't like are mindless. If they worked, it would be awful, because government would use those sorts of tools more effectively than individuals. But otherwise, I really do think that the Internet is a different medium. I predict that the Internet will destroy the FCC before the FCC can destroy the Internet.



COMMENTS (7 to date)
Joe Cushing writes:

"I predict that the Internet will destroy the FCC before the FCC can destroy the Internet. "

That's a an interesting prediction. I hope you are right but I am concerned you might be wrong. The one thing we have going for us, is that people seem to be able to get around anything the government does to try and control the internet.

Adrian Ratnapala writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address and for crude language. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Hyena writes:

Te entire "off grid" GP phenomenon is not something I've experienced or known someone to have experienced. My impression is that it is an issue when a doctor's practice is largely upper income to begin with.

In which case, the doctor is extracting rents from trust and the (perceived) inability to transfer personal medical knowledge between physicians. In addition, the price increases will lead to perceptions of quality, especially if combined with luxurious environments, that will "justify" and perhaps expand the practice.

Not that I blame them, anyway. You should always soak the rich, most have more money than sense, making this a blessedly easy endeavor.

Floccina writes:
I took the view that my own kids did not need high-achieving peers in order to do well on their own.

Isn't the SAT close enough to an IQ test that as long the schools are not among the very few worst in the country, schools are not a factor.

Publius 10 writes:

Floccina: Isn't the SAT close enough to an IQ test that as long the schools are not among the very few worst in the country, schools are not a factor.

The SAT was modified in the early 1990s, such that it is no longer a good indicator of intelligence. For that reason, Mensa and other organizations no longer use the SAT as a valid substitute for IQ testing.

But I agree with the sentiment about IQ mattering far more than school quality in predicting success.

Edwar writes:

As a student I do not believe I need high-achieving peers in order to do well in school. Ultimately, it's up to me whether I achieve or not based on my dedication and the amount of effort I put into my studies.

I also believe that the SAT does not evaluate ones IQ, rather it evaluates if you're college ready.

Hyena writes:

Mr. Edwar,

The link between SAT and IQ is pretty strongly established. It's a good enough correlation that you can use IQ tests to predict SAT performance and vice versa.

In college it is important to have peers who are high performing as they add motivation and, in more difficult coursework, are critical in assisting success. But in high school and lower, your parents are the primary push for performance and your SAT score your most important qualification for college.

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