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10 April 2008

Sydney Riding

Sydney Riding

I am pretty tired. I rode 37km. I suppose it isn't so far, but you have to remember that I'm kind of a pansy.

8 April 2008

Spare Change

Lately, when people ask me for money, I've been trying to give them more than they've asked for. Usually twice as much. People rarely ask for a lot, so giving twice as much is usually pretty easy out of an average pocket-worth of change.

I think maybe I'll try do that more deliberately. I'm looking for some signal to people that the change isn't begrudged. You could just smile at someone and say "You're welcome". But as I come from an economic tradition I have a bias towards signals that are costly to fake. This signal certainly isn't in the costliness order of Les Miserables, but I suppose that's where the thought comes from.

Mystery Men

Was very funny. Although I slept through possibly half of it.

Beowulf

Beowulf was winner. Good battles and fun mythology. They even threw in a dragon at the end. I like Ray Winstone too. And I love Crispin Glover, who did an awesome job of Grendel... except for one part where he possibly whined a little too much while he slaughtered villagers. I felt like it should have been more of a growl. Even a frustrated whinge would have been OK. But this was a self-pitying whinge, and it didn't fit in with head-munching.

3 April 2008

Night Watch

On my third attempt I finally got to watch the end of Night Watch. It was one cool film. So nicely shot and different. Good characters. Lots of fun Armageddony moral ambiguity. I really love the last scene. Why is it that every country in the world except for the US has a sense of irony? Or at least, every major film-making country. A few Latin American countries are a little light on irony as well. But all the European and Asian film-making countries make winner ambiguous films.

And I like fighting. Almost any film with fighting I will enjoy. Even if there aren't any guns. There weren't any guns in this film. But there were some good weapons. Swords made of spinal columns and that sort of thing. Pretty nifty. And good fights. I like good fights.

Things to do in Mount Isa

  • Catch up on post cards
  • Do your washing (+40°C heat excellent for drying)
  • Work on your tan (UV Index 13 (Extreme) most days)
  • Chat to friends back home (fast internet)
  • Meet new people (unisex dorms) ;)

From Travellers Haven Backpacker Hostel

We're spending two days in Mt Isa. Totally awesome.

2 April 2008

Health Funding Crises

Economists from across the political spectrum understand that one of the major factors driving health care costs is our third-party payment system that insulates consumers from the cost of their health care decisions.

More Than A Theory: Medical Savings Accounts at Work (CATO)

I'm not sure what CATO considers the full range of the "political spectrum" to be, but this statement is pretty much just wrong. There are plenty of economists who don't believe this, and if I count as an economist then I am one of them.

You could conceivably argue that the reason we have "high" health expenditures is because our system "insulates consumers from the cost of their health care decisions". But I can't understand how a system that has scarcely changed in 30 years accounts for the rapid increase in health care expenditures over that same period. The US system has probably became less socialist in that time, and yet health expenditures are increasing a lot. It seems to me that it's less a problem of overconsumption and more a "problem" with the income elasticity of demand for health care. As people get richer they look after themselves better and spend more on health.

But it's still a crisis the economists will say. Health expenditures can't grow faster than income forever. It's true, but isn't necessarily a problem for a long time yet. If our income increases by 5% each year, it's really no problem if our health expenditures increase by 10% each year. Obviously that can't happen for ever, but we don't have to worry about it just now.

Using that example, we have another 60 years before we have to be concerned. If health expenditures continue to grow by 10% and total income continues to grow by 5%, the amount of money we have left over after health care won't actually drop until 2070.

And if health expenditures grow by 15% a year (instead of 10%) then we still have 30 years before our residual income will drop. At that point we'd be spending 77% of our income on health care and we'd still have more money to spend on other stuff than we have now.

Alternatively, if income only grows at 2% (instead of 5%) and health care costs grow by 10%, we also have 30 years.

So I really feel like it's not a big deal. When they make scary claims like "health care costs are rising by 15% every year" you forget that we only spend 5% of our income on health right now.

My original point was mostly just that CATO are silly. And they are. But they're not the only ones. Every research paper or news article about health insurance or health system finance seems to include some spiel about the impending health funding crisis. Sometimes I wonder if economists and bureaucrats just love having crises to make themselves feel important.

Betamax to HD-DVD Converter

This kind of thing makes me laugh. There are people who will buy this for usefulness I'm sure.

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