Thursday, June 07, 2007

What is widgetry, anyway?


What exactly, on these premises, would be just another widget?

Are shoes subject to the ordinary laws of supply and demand? Try telling that to a child in a snowstorm who doesn't have a pair! Are flashlights a widget? Even been in a blackout without one?--there are times when you'd pay a thousand dollars for a flashlight. If you're homeless, Pizza Pops aren't a widget. They might mean as much to a bum under a bridge as a defibrillator does to a pork-fed executive collapsed in a marbled bank lobby. To a fellow who's just been laid off from the only job he's trained for, food, shelter, clothing, even money itself, all have non-widgetary nature.

So all hail the new lifeboat economics, which instantly replaces orthodox price mechanisms with the scrawlings of an idiot child in the presence of any good that might conceivably be immediately necessary to life, health, or safety. Is there any reason this intrepid nescience should be limited to health care? If we can't plan for an ambulance ride, how can we plan for anything? (Maybe, he said in an ominous whisper, there are no widgets at all.)
Ezra Klein, as an aside:
What I do have a reference for are private vs. public administrative costs. Studies have found that overhead in the private insurance system -- little things like underwriting, and trying to deny you coverage, and advertising -- account for up to 31 percent of US health care spending. If we had a Canadian style system, we would've saved $209 billion in 1999 -- far more than Armey's nameless "regulations" are costing us. And I'd take some sanitation regulations over the claims department at my insurer anyday.

Mr. Klein clearly isn't familiar with c-difficile outbreaks in Canada, which are caused by poor sanitary conditions in Canadian hospitals. Klein's "lifeboat economics," as Cosh refers to it, certainly don't apply to a Canadian patient being shipped unwittingly to a union-run Canadian facility.
There have been continuing problems with outbreaks of C. difficile bacterial infections at Quebec hospitals, including one at the Centre hospitalier Honoré-Mercier in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., that resulted in 11 deaths. A coroner's inquest was called on Nov. 8 to look into the circumstances surrounding those deaths.

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