Mailvox: expanding Medicaid

In which a question is posed:

I don’t want to ask this question in public for fear of looking a fool cuz maybe somewhere, somehow, this has been addressed and I missed it. But with all this health care/health insurance reform and changing EVERYTHING, why isn’t the government just revamping medicare and medicaid to catch that group that does NOT have health insurance? Am I missing something?

Yes, you’re leaving out the financial angle. Medicare and Medicaid are already spending more money than they’re taking in and are going to go broke in about eight years. This is why so much of the talk about health care reform has centered around rationing. At 7.2 percent of GDP, Medicaid and Medicare make up a little less than half of the 15.3 percent of GDP ($2.1 trillion) spent on health care, so the would-be reformers need to get their hands on that other $1.1 trillion in order to redistribute the services it pays for to the uninsured. Everyone will still pay roughly the same amount of money in, but the government will determine who gets the benefit of it.

Simply expanding Medicare and Medicaid wouldn’t work, because then the government would have to figure out how to bring in the additional money to pay for the expansion. Since Washington is already running an annual deficit of nearly $2 trillion, that’s simply not going to fly.

Reliably wrong

Sam Harris had barely published his Letter to a Christian Nation when he was bitchslapped by science on stem cells. Now one of Christopher Hitchens’s favorite, if totally irrelevant, anti-God arguments goes down in flames. You’d think the self-anointed defenders of science would bother to learn a little more about that which they’re supposedly defending:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS…. Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners.

A few people have asked me if I plan to write a follow-up to The Irrational Atheist. I see no reason to, however, since the New Atheists have been sufficiently discredited to the point that by the end of this year, there should be more anti-New Atheism books written by atheists than there are atheism-related books written by the four so-called New Atheists. The thought of writing a critique of Richard Dawkins’s forthcoming book on evolution has crossed my mind, but if the text is as bad as the title, there won’t be much point. Dawkins has pretty clearly lost his fastball, so I’d be surprised if it was more Selfish Gene than God Delusion in terms of quality.

WND column

The FDIC is broke

The two hallmarks of the Great Depression were unemployment and bank failures. While the same economists who denied there was a recession for the first nine months of the economic contraction are now insisting that it is over and the recovery has begun, I am extremely dubious. Since the crisis became apparent, I believed that 2009 would be the equivalent of 1930, that being the year that everyone expected recovery to be waiting around the corner. But while there are some statistical green shoots, there are also numerous signs that the perceived recovery is illusory, and in fact, the economic situation is more dire now than it was 79 years ago.

There wasn’t space for this additional chart, which shows the difference between the FDIC-reported estimated losses and the actual reductions in the Deposit Insurance Fund in 2008. Note that the reductions shown in the 2009 chart in the column are my projections, while this 2008 chart shows the historical data from the previous FDIC Quarterly reports. We can test the accuracy of those projections soon, as if I’m correct, the next Quarterly will either show a balance of around -$4,407 million or incorporate money borrowed from its $100 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury.