Still Looking For Alternatives-Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Obamacare vs. Arithmetic’

Full piece here.

Let the markets work!

Click through for some spit-balled suggestions, including some kind of mandate upon all individuals to purchase a basic minimum plan (as Martin acknowledges, this is always open to abuse and expansion of power).

‘Whatever solution we look for though, the really important point is this: the whole basis of Obamacare, the notion that we can have more people, getting more benefits, and pay less, is just impossible. The arithmetic doesn’t work. And if you think that’s “unfair,” I’m sorry.

Avik Roy addressed this before the 2012 Romney/Obama presidential election, before we really started taxiing Obamacare down the runway:

‘Obamacare’s approach to pre-existing conditions, in summary, may help a tiny minority with pre-existing conditions to gain coverage in the short term, but the law will drive up the cost of insurance for everyone else, leading to adverse selection and higher premiums for all. And the price of Obamacare is steep: the individual mandate; trillions in new spending and taxes; deep cuts to Medicare providers.’

Epstein’s position:

The best way to deal with the risk of catastrophe is for people to buy their coverage early, when they are young, so that premiums are low. In any well-functioning market, they can acquire a renewable policy with guaranteed rates. At that point, does it become morally reprehensible to deny additional coverage to those individuals who passed on this possibility? No. Sadly, the abysmal performance of the American healthcare system lies not in the market economy that Kristof deplores, but in the elaborate network of regulation that shrinks the domain of voluntary choices, and leaves consumers with fewer choices than they would have had if the government had just stood by.’

Now the government isn’t just standing-by, it’s forcing people out of their current plans onto exchanges that don’t function, exacting high costs on individuals as part of an enormously flawed law in theory, which is being put into practice.

From Charlie Martin: ‘The Arithmetic Absurdity Of Obamacare’

Full piece here.

I’ve gotten a few emails suggesting there’s been a lot of ‘partisanship,’ on the site lately.  I agree there’s more than usual, but in the face of such a pork-passed monstrosity of a law, with so many bad incentives, so much adverse selection, and young people being forced to work in a system that makes so little sense for them, it’s good to have certain ideas boiled down:

Thanks for any concern.  I assume the risk of driving some people away with all this political talk.


Now, what’s the point of this little fable? Basically, this is the story of health insurance. We started off with “major medical,” which was a way to protect yourself against big medical bills that everyone hoped they wouldn’t have; now what we’ve got is that major medical — but we’re also paying for snow-shoveling, er, we’re paying for everyone’s day to day medical care, and we’re paying for it in pretty much the most expensive and complicated possible way: through a federal government agencyand insurance companies.

Related On This SiteRichard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Train Wreck’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Watching Obamacare Unravel’

From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’

Would You Pay For Journalism?-From Charlie Martin: ‘Why The Newspaper Business Is Doomed’

Full piece here.

See Martin’s previous piece on Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post.

The newspaper business always was about attracting eyeballs, with the rest of the news-bundle and journalism funded with advertising revenue.  Newspapers had pretty well cornered this market, changing reluctantly if at all, as we’ve seen in recent years, with many national dailies going under.

McArdle’s main point is that journalism has been unbundled from its old revenue model, and the competition now earning that advertising revenue online isn’t interested in journalism.

Martin responds to Megan McArdle’s piece, by taking-on the idea that journalism is really all that important in the first-place:

‘The problem being that Megan, who I think very highly of in general, has been seduced by that same notion of journalism as something special and noble. Sorry, while you may be in the business of producing news — Bloomberg gets most of it’s revenue actually selling data to people in finance — most everyone else is in the business of selling ads, whether they know it or not’

Are you actually willing to pay for journalism and/or acts of journalism?

Here’s a photo of the First Amendment on the Newseum’s facade:

Whether or not it’s professionalized and institutionalized, I’d argue that journalism has a place in being responsive to the people it serves, often in relaying information about politics & local events and/or providing a place where whistleblowers can get away from the realities of where money, power & influence meet.  Going to the scene of every accident in town or digging into a politician’s past, of course, can be done by anyone, but it generally takes time and money enough to become a professional activity for those who do it all the time, with an eye towards informing the public.

This is where some professionalization can be a good thing, because there’s pressure put on journalists to at least get their facts straight and sources cited.  It can keep the hacks and hustlers out and readers’ trust up.

This kind of professionalized guild structure has disadvantages, too, of course.  Many journalists can come to overlook their own self-interest, seeing themselves as members of a club full of other journalists and influencers especially if they make the big-leagues.  Human nature being what it is, people naturally seek influence in addition to knowledge.  They seek their place in society, money & status in addition to uncovering truth and getting at facts.  This is why I prefer journalists humble and skeptical, even if I disagree with them ideologically.

Are you actually willing to pay into this professional class of journalists as it stands now?


As a commenter points out over there, many local dailies and community papers actually are doing ok, or at least some are staying afloat.  This local, print option still seems to be working in many markets and funding some local journalism.  Radio’s still around after all, and profitable for those who practice it well.

Also, not all media companies with revenue streams may be wholly uninterested in journalism.  Yes, they can be gossip-filled and pay-per-click or list-obsessed and vapid but those models can work.  They might be able to produce work of some value going forward.

Perhaps I take a less dim view of journalism as a profession even with the curtain pulled back and all the myth, inflated egos, and hot air visible.

Interesting times.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.

In addition to the technology, people also curate culture, and ideas.  David Remnick at the New Yorker just had a piece entitled “A Joyful Folk Summit At Town Hall‘ which through jaundiced eye I see partly as a way to stay relevant and curate a certain worldview along with up and coming music where it’s forming.

NPR does this particularly well, often weaving a deep appreciation for the arts and humanities along with music criticism of folk, jazz, rock, funk and new hipsterism into a cultural cloth which belongs to ‘the People.’  A little too collectivist for my taste, but hey.

Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

Related On This Site:  Technology changing how and why we congregate, and perhaps eroding the civic glue?: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest-’Hey, You’re Truly Unlimited: Didn’t You Know?’

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’

Full post here.

As mentioned on this site, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, knows how to focus on the customer, sit on cash reserves while combining the new technology and retail sales, and be patient.

He may already be in your living room, with a firm handle on the new digital supply chain.  Once there, the thinking goes, he may also be able to place a competitive, new-media Washington Post in front of you.  Perhaps he can aggregate it in such a way that you may be willing to pay, piecemeal and personalized, for the news, information and journalism you consume.

Of course, in purchasing the Washington Post, Bezos has also purchased the old supply chain:  The potentially valuable WaPo brand (influence), the potentially much less valuble linotype and newsroom culture of journalists and cultural gatekeepers battered in the surf of new media and technology.  If anyone has a chance to innovate and stay ahead of the curve of new technology, many hope, Bezos can (assuming he is so inclined).


‘So here’s your new Washington Post: primarily delivered on Kindles, other Android platforms, and on Kindle apps on iPhone and iPad. Amazon applies your reading preferences and generates content with the selection optimized to what you like to read — my “front page” would have lots of politics, science, and foreign news; yours might have the sports pages and feature stories instead.’

I understand that news isn’t free, but I also can’t remember the last time I was willing to commit to a pay-wall without just surfing on, especially in the realm of politics, ideology, news and information.

Sometimes the writer is very knowledgeable, and the writing brilliant. Sometimes I think people really ‘nail it’ and I’m glad they’re there. Sometimes it clearly took years of development and dedication and I feel moved by a piece. But honestly, the wallet rarely comes out. If it isn’t business or something I need, and it isn’t family, friends, and fellow bloggers and connections who’ve exchanged time and ideas with me, I’m not inclined to pay for it.

I’m sure I’m not alone.


***It’s worth mentioning there is a difference between opinion and ideas and providing reliable information, quickly and accurately to those who can pay for it and are responsible for that information to others, but that’s a smaller market:  Financial institutions, traders, businesses with fiduciary and contractual obligations to clients, politicians and other institutions, for example.

Addition:   From an insider at the Post: ‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Related On This SiteBig Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

The Disruption Of Education-From AVC: ‘Video Of The Week: Mark Suster Interview of Clayton Christensen’

Good luck making money blogging:

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Whence journalism?:

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’