Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Pretty Good Joke

I've told a variation of this joke for probably twenty years. This may be close to the original.

From a bio of Edward Heath, PM of Britain in the 70s. Heath negotiated Britain's entry into the EU, or whatever it was called at the time. There was a disappointment on the part of other Europeans with the way the Brits dealt with some of the important nitty-gritty of finance.

Pompidou [of France] told Brandt [of West Germany] that Britain was eager to express opinions on the larger geophysical decisions about Europe's future but left the detailed issues of economic integration to France and Germany. 'It is like a husband who leaves all the questions regarding the apartment, the children's education and the holiday plans to his wife--and only wants to concern himself with whether to open diplomatic relations with China.'

Source: Philip Ziegler, Edward Heath, p. 296, citing Marsh, 'Blood, Gold and the Euro.'

I heard it as a husband bragging in a bar, and the punchline being "nuclear war," but still.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Paul Ryan and Obamacare

Republican Paul Ryan proposes phasing out Medicare--the U.S. federal program for seniors, with few limits on costs--and replacing it with a system in which the private sector will compete on price, but also have the ability to impose cost controls.

Some progressives say this is political suicide; after all, Tea Partiers campaigned in 2010 saying something like "Medicare is a sacred trust; Obamacare is evil."

But: others are suggesting that the Paul Ryan plan is actually very similar to Obamacare when it comes to people under-65. See here and here. The fear of Obamacare is that it would weaken Medicare in order to improve Medicaid (for the poor, with doctors often not reimbursed enough to make them take Medicaid patients), and extend it to more people.

Maybe this is a developing consensus--ensure a huge increase in the people who are assured some access to the health-care system, but allow the private sector to impose price controls.

UPDATE: the wonderful Kaus:

So the difference between Obama’s Medicare and the Ryan Plan, according to Paul Krugman is whether you get your coverage denied by “insurance company executives” or by ”health care professionals.” To the barricades! … P.S.: Like I said, Obama and Ryan are on the same side when it comes to abridging Medicare’s promise to pay for “any care that helps.” …

Read more: