The Great Global Warming Swindle

“The Great Global Warming Swindle does not represent the views of the ABC. It is an independent film and is only opinion.”

That much is clear. Last night, the ABC aired the ‘misleading and scientifically flawed’ documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, by Martin Durkin.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the merits of Durkin’s arguments as the film is not new and has been available on YouTube for ages, but to take a look at the reaction in Australia.

In a nutshell, TGGWS is to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth as Chalk is to Cheese.

Since it first aired on Channel 4 earlier this year, the chorus of voices trying to drown out or discredit its message has been overwhelming. Hence the editors at ABC have made a very brave decision to air the documentary. However they sensibly (for their careers, that is) hedged themselves by

i) issuing the disclaimer at the top of this post

ii) discrediting Durkin, by showing previous documentaries he had worked on including one on silicon breast implants, that ABC gratuitously saw as a great opportunity to show footage of naked busty women.

iii) discrediting Channel 4 for commissioning the program, describing them as having a history of producing controversial material (not a million miles off the mark, i have to say)

iv) aggressively questioning Martin Durkin. Jones’ interview with Durkin was excellent (even if he did have to fly all the way to London to film it!). He did what all good journalists should do to all controversial film-makers – he tried to pull his film apart. It is sad that the ABC have not felt the need to subject Al Gore and Stern to the same rigorous cross-examination.

v) discrediting the scientists featured in the film. For example, Fred Singer, who has questioned the relationship between sunlight and skin cancer ( i don’t know the science behind this one but i thought this was largely agreed) and second hand smoke and lung cancer (definitely not agreed), was portrayed as some sort of moonbat.

Following this sledgehammer approach, the program gave way to a panel discussion whereby firmly entrenched people expressed firmly entrenched views. When the panel attempted to besmirch the reputation of Richard Lindzen, one of the scientists in the film, because he ‘smoked three cigarettes during our last meeting’ i realised i was not about to learn anything new. We didn’t really learn a great deal more from this panel except that Tony Jones has less understanding of the science of global warming than my Aunt Gladys.

A commendable decision by the ABC, a good day for the sceptics (The Age write up was astonishingly sceptical), a good day for science (as a scientist myself it was wonderful to hear one of the green scientists on the panel utter the immortal words, ‘I am a scientist. It is my job to be sceptical!’) and a good day for freedom of speech, something head honcho Ben Stewart of Greenpeace needs to remember,

“We have a policy at Greenpeace that we no longer debate people who don’t accept the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change. It’s similar to the policy undertaken by cancer specialists who used to debate the tobacco industry but discontinued doing so.”

However not everyone was happy. The biggest casualty of the program has been the hapless MIT scientist, Carl Wunsch, who saw his career disappearing faster than an Antarctic iceberg when he first watched the film. He was furious with the ABC’s decision to run the program, saying

“Anybody who tells you they know what is going to happen 20 years from now, 100 years from now, is not a good scientist. The science can only say, at this stage, that there are certain possibilities that we are aware of.”

Well, err, quite, Carl. But isn’t this the precise point the program was making?

135 thoughts on “The Great Global Warming Swindle

  1. Critics say the documentary damages the credibility of science because no scientist can make definitive claims about what will happen in the future.

    Really says it all.

  2. Carl Wunsch was interviewed on Lateline not long after the movie (and associated debate). I thought he made a very measured set of statements that seemed quite reasonable. Including the one quoted above. He originally agreed to participate in Durkins movie because he thought it would accurately reflect his view that global warming was being inappropriately packaged by those in the media as a set of simple truths when it is in fact a complex field with much uncertainty.

    The primary problem with Durkins film is not in it’s criticism of the AGW theory (which in spite of some technical errors was done reasonably well). The problem was with the way he then proceeded to promote his preferred alternate climate change theory as gospel truth. This to me smacks of the pot calling the kettle black.

    The distinction between Wunsch and Durkin is that the former is a AGW sceptic that believes that AGW is most likely happening whilst the latter appears to be an AGW denialist. There is no law against denying the validity of a theory however there is a distintion.

    For what it is worth I personally think that the CO2 AGW theory is a valid theory with a few awkward problems.

  3. Terje

    I didn’t find Durkin’s solar activity theory to be central to his film – more his dislike of the fanatacism and anti-free speech nature of the green movement and his equating it with failed communists and peaceniks.

    I agree with you that his is just another theory (like AGW) but frankly, it’s hard to listen to anyone who claims to be certain what will happen to the weather in 100 years time but not whether my son’s soccer match will be rained off on Sunday.

  4. The solar activity theory presented by Durkin is not bad but I do think it was rather central to the second half of the film. And I do think he tried to pass it off as some form of revealed gospel truth.

    I agree on your last paragraph. And in the Wunsch interview this appeared to be his position also.

    Some claim that climate forcasting is easier than weather forcasting but given that there is no track record for the Climate Bureau I think that “wait and see” makes quite a bit of sense.

  5. Pingback: Chris Berg » The official position of the ABC

  6. I do agree with John Humphreys though, that it would be a poor move for the libertarian movement to become associated with the AGW deniers.

    The science is clearly unknown. We should remain sceptical until the data becomes clearer. That means taking whatever small steps we can to reduce CO2 emissions without donning the economic hairshirt.

  7. That means taking whatever small steps we can to reduce CO2 emissions without donning the economic hairshirt.

    Fair enough. But I’d say the best thing everyone could do is shut the fuck up until the scientists get the facts on the table. Which they are starting to do.

    Our friends on the left are doing no one any favours by trying to set this up as the new religion. They, and the media, should just pipe down and shut up. You never know, there is a small chance that they will get their way and have everyone eating lentils in yurts while hand weaving hairshirts, but crying wolf isn’t even helping their case, let alone those who seek the truth.

  8. I thought that the science behind second-hand smoke was not too bad, and that for the general population there is a tiny effect (there are more interesting specific groups like the children of smoking parents). It would be worthwhile comparing that to smog and other types of pollutants that are faily common in Australian (in fact most big) cities to give people some of the risk that we care about, and the risk that don’t. Better yet would be to compare about other types of risks in general that we don’t worry too much about (dying of bird-flu or other nasty diseases, for instance, which seems to have dissappeared from people’s consciousnesses, I presume is a much higher probability. Car accidents are another, as would be eating poor quality food). I think the problem is people can’t evaluate risks well — I remember being in HK, where pollution definitely has an effect that no-one disagrees with(on almost everyone), yet people generally appeared worried about much more trivial things.

  9. I think people, as a whole, evaluate risks very well and passive smoking is an example. The knowledge is pretty much on the table with regards to both the health risks and the addiction problems. People are evaluating whether the pleasure of smoking is worth the cost, and taking measures to ensure that they won’t be addicted if they don’t want to be. Plenty of people think that the pleasures of the brier are worth it, willing to pay higher insurance premiums, and lots of people have cut back their tobacco consumption to manage the risk of addiction.

    This is rational, progressive behaviour. If we get the global warming facts on the table, which is the domain of science in the first instance, then people will make the same rational choices.

  10. Pommy — I don’t necessarily advocate government action as a 1st best policy. Accepting the possibility of AGW doesn’t necessarily lead to government action.

    I just think it is strange and counter-productive for libertarians (or anyone) to pretend that they know AGW isn’t real. Such a position moves from skepticism to denialism (as Terje suggests above) and unnecessarily ties libertarians to a scientific position that is not particularly relevant to libertarian philosophy.

  11. The primary problem with Durkins film is not in it’s criticism of the AGW theory (which in spite of some technical errors was done reasonably well). The problem was with the way he then proceeded to promote his preferred alternate climate change theory as gospel truth.

    I agree, although under the circumstances it was understandable. Durkin acknowledged global warming as reality (up to 1998) and did a neat job of undermining the CO2 causation theory. However, if he had left it there the absence of an alternative explanation would have weakened his case.

    It’s comparable to explaining to little kids there’s no Easter Bunny. Unless you give them an alternative explanation for the eggs, they won’t believe you.

    That means taking whatever small steps we can to reduce CO2 emissions without donning the economic hairshirt.

    I disagree with that. While I don’t necessarily accept Durkins’ alternative explanation, the evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is contributing to global warming is poor. As Durkins showed, even the relationship with CO2 in general is tenuous. It may be that global warming is the cause of increasing CO2.

    It means there is absolutely no basis for government action, which is entirely consistent with libertarian principles.

  12. Davids comment about Easter bunnies and children reminds me of a recent incident.

    One young child I know recently explained to me that God does not exist. I indicated that this was an interesting point of view and for clarity I said “so do you think that God is just make believe like the Easter Bunny?” With an assertive glare she then proceeded to insist that the Easter bunny was real and that I was clearly a bit dim. The memory of this experience still makes me laugh.

    As if that was not enough on a later date I heard my eldest son explaining to his younger brother that God is not real. Without blinking the younger boy said “yeah I know, thats why he lives in heaven”. I thought that retort was just beautiful and happily left the two of them to explore their metaphysics in peace.

  13. The real trouble with the documentary was, and is, the title. To call it a swindle suggests you have opponents, and they are out to lie. If it had been called a controversy (The great Greenhouse Warming Controversy), then nobody would have objected, I think. I suppose ‘Swindle’ made for a more dramatic title, and ensured more viewers.

  14. If it had been called a controversy (The great Greenhouse Warming Controversy), then nobody would have objected, I think.

    Nicholas, please get out more. Try looking at Trinifar’s website even. Islamic fundamentalists have got nothing on global warming fanatics when it comes to opposing viewpoints. It wouldn’t matter what the doco was called. Merely implying global warming might not be caused by humans is heresy and enough to get you burnt at the stake.

  15. I still think the word ‘Swindle’ is what really upsets people. I agree that some people can’t be told, but I don’t think he proved that some folks were swindling others. Ergo, better title please.

  16. DavidLeyonhjelm,

    Nicholas, please get out more. Try looking at Trinifar’s website even.

    If there are any errors of fact or misrepresentation of anyone’s views on my blog, please go there and point them out. I go to great pains to use established science and well-respected sources to motivate my posts as well as to be clear when I’m speculating.

    While I don’t necessarily accept Durkins’ alternative explanation, the evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is contributing to global warming is poor. As Durkins showed, even the relationship with CO2 in general is tenuous. It may be that global warming is the cause of increasing CO2.

    As John said, “I just think it is strange and counter-productive for libertarians (or anyone) to pretend that they know AGW isn’t real. Such a position moves from skepticism to denialism (as Terje suggests above) and unnecessarily ties libertarians to a scientific position that is not particularly relevant to libertarian philosophy.”

    John and Terje have my sympathy. It’s too easy for someone to reason: libertarians advocate for minimal government; if CO2 is a dangerous pollutant and global warming real, then the government would have to act; therefore libertarians choose agree with those who say global warming is not happening and CO2 is benign only because it aligns with their polical/economic philosophy; and consequently libertarians are not rational.

    Every group has problems with their outliers. The large group of credible scientists would have generated the evidence for AGW and the role CO2 plays in it must confront the few skeptical ones. In the same way, liberals and progressives have to acknowledge some of their comrades are tree-hugging lunatics and try to sway them to more rational positions. Similarly, the large group of reasonable liberatians have to confront the AGW deniers in their ranks or risk being identified by the words and actions of its whacky fringe.

    John and Terje are quite right to point to the difference between denialism and skepticism. I would go one step further and note the difference between healthy and unhealthy skepticism. Rather than discrete categories there is a continuum: denialism, unhealthy skepticism, healthy skepticism, rational acceptance, irrational acceptance. It’s important to understand what “established science” means and how it is arrived at, that is, how science works. I think denialism comes from a failure to do that, and unhealthy skepticism is only a marginal improvement.

    Healthy skepticism can only come from an understanding of science and its methods. One hopes that drug and food manufactures are healthy skeptics but it doesn’t matter much if a furniture maker is. My complaint is that the level of science education in the general population (i.e. voters) is so low that politicians can easily be denailists or unheathy skeptics and run for office on an anti-science, anti-reason platform. In the 21st century, that’s especially grating.

  17. Trinifar, you are the most egregiously arrogant blogger I have ever encountered. Given some of the others, that’s saying something.

    You are in America, you know nothing about any of the other bloggers, yet you think you can tell which of us knows about science literacy.

    You obviously don’t understand, but science literacy has nothing to do with whether or not someone agrees with you. Indeed, judging by your blog, I think I and many others know far more about it than you.

    Take your onanism elsewhere.

  18. Trinifar – I always try to sway people to my more rational position on each and every topic. 😉 However I’m quite comfortable with the company I keep, warts and all.

    I did try discussing the science at your website some time ago. However the people I encountered there seemed content to say that the experts have decided already so don’t trouble yourself with questions or doubts about the science. They were very polite but also very disinterested in anything that contradicted their accepted paradigm. Scientistists get stuff wrong all the time. Mostly it does not matter because the scientific process tests things in the real world. However with only one planet to experiment on and with timescales that are large and data sets that are uncertain there is loads of room for healthy scepticism and debate. The CO2 theory of recent climate change is not settled science. It probably won’t be for a very long time. It’s a good theory (possibly the best) but not without many problems.

    There is a serious parallel with socialism here. Socialism was touted as a scientific approach to organising society in the early 1900s. For nearly a century serious educated people would point to evidence and arguments that showed that the theory of socialism was correct. Across the glode industries were nationalised, tax rates increased and glorious peoples republics declared. In the 1950s you could have sided with socialism and found loads of evidence to support your position. However eventually the evidence came home to roost.

    Now I’m not saying that the CO2 theory is socialist. What I’m saying is that some theories only get proved over the long haul. And in the interum debate is a normal thing and to be expected, especially when the stakes are high. We don’t need a totalitarian hive mind telling us what to believe or what to think. And rational people can occupy both sides of this debate. At least when libertarians are disagreeable they generally refer to reasons not experts.

  19. David: Trinifar, you are the most egregiously arrogant blogger I have ever encountered.

    Is that because I think the IPCC reports are good science? Having sat on international standards bodies, even chaired one, I can make an educated guess at what the IPCC process must be like — not just the science part but the politics around writing, editing, and reviewing the reports. The level of tedium involved and my lack of ability to tolerate it for very long is one reason I don’t do that sort of work anymore. (I prefer being on the front lines creating new products.) The thing is, it’s in no one’s interest to get it wrong, and when you assemble a large group of talented people whose work is open to public review and criticism from every angle you are more than likely to get it right _and_ err on the conservative side.

    So I take the IPCC reports that way. I think there is every good reason to believe they are correct and perhaps too conservative. Given that, I’m eager to see the world economy change in order to preserve as much freedom of opportunity as possible. I hope lots of libertarians use their much touted reason to support that quite reasonable position. There is a lot of money to be made for those who are looking ahead and can develop — or invest in the development of — low-carbon technology.

    The last thing any of us wants is government, after dawdling over what to do, stepping in with draconian measures that kill off a good portion of the economy. Now is the time to stimulate the economy in a positive direction — especially important if you want to preserve free markets.

    As far as OZ is concerned, finding a way to sequester CO2 is way better than not being able to use and sell your coal. The whole thing is about science, not ideology.

  20. At least when libertarians are disagreeable they generally refer to reasons not experts.

    Yes, all too true. I wish they’d refer to a few experts since I not aware of any climate scientists who are libertarians! 😉

    Your in the software business. If you wanted to write a parser (and weren’t yourself a parser expert) would you reason through it and create parser technology from the ground up or turn to an expert and find out what knowledge of your problem domain already existed and start from there? If you wanted to invest in some new technology wouldn’t you turn to a credible expert, or if you were going into surgery, do you want an expert or a very reasonable kid just out of med school?

    It’s kind of back to David’s point about my “arrogance.” Is my position more arrogant than that of a non-scientist taking exception to the results of a large multinational group of scientist whose work as a group extends over 17 years and is based on work going back decades more?

    In the 1950s you could have sided with socialism and found loads of evidence to support your position. However eventually the evidence came home to roost.

    Yet socialized medicine has had enormous success. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. Free market capitalism may be coming home to roost right now with climate change as the result. If you don’t internalize costs everyone ignores them, the Tragedy of the Commons.

    I’m all for free markets if all the costs are tallied, new competitors can enter, and they actually work. I’ve personally benefitted from being able to join a small startup and have it acquired by a large corporation. But it can be silly when free markets becomes an essentially religious concept with the true believers ignoring the situations were unconstrained capialism fails. In some parts of the USA we are privatizing roads which to me is selling off public property to private interests in the most nefarious way. Why should a public road built with the previous generations tax dollars and improved with mine be turned into a private one that I’ll never use and generate profits for someone I don’t do business with?

    We’ve privatized prisons with horrible results and public schools often with wretched outcomes.

    Private health care in American has been an utter disaster. Can anyone make a reasonable case for the vast layer of middlemen we call the health insurance industry when Canada and the EU have a demonstrably better systems that run at lower cost and better outcomes?

    On the other hand, the vast amount of government supported research (although declining under Bush) has for almost a century been a fabulous stimulous to the economy.

  21. Apparent my last comment (after the one above to David) which responded to Terje got consumed by the spam filter. Perhaps you could dig it out.

  22. Trinifar, you are dribbling crap saying that nationalised healthcare is better than the private system.

    A US citizen or legal immigrant needs to pay virtually the same amount of FICA taxes to get basic coverage on Medicare (Parts A, B and D I think) compared mid level coverage in private care.

    The US system has problems with medical licensing and patents. These artificially raise prices to true monopoly levels.

    Saying that insurers selling the good are middlemen is absurd. They are selling insurance, not healthcare. They are lowering risk and the direct cost of healthcare. Why not make a similar comparison to the level of employees in the British NHS, Australian HIC or US Medicare? What does Medicare do in Australia and the US? Does it really insure? No, it subsidises losses. Insurers make investments with their premiums, and split the dividends into profit and claims. What does the State do? It taxes people and then doles it out to someone else. Some insurance system….

    The waiting times in the NHS for example, mean that more people die on waiting lists than is necessary.

    A private system works better because queueing is reduced and people can pay for service rather than have it rationed.

    If high prices are a problem, the US AMA and US Pharma/IP laws need serious “microeconomic reform”.

    Having a competitive private insurance market won’t make healthcare too expensive (in Australia though, our insurers are protected from “evil” foreign competitors…tell me why we would be worse off if Deustche Bank or Citibank offered a health insurance plan). But reducing the supply of doctors, prescription therapies and crowding out the private system with Medicare will make medicine more expensive and clearly put a strain on a public system which cannot pay its own way and is more expensive for the same and a basic level of service to healthcare consumers.

    I think Durkin is the wrong kind of guy to sell a realistic message about doubting the significane of carob emissions in AGW.

    There are a few measureable effects which can also explain global warming: cosmic ray cloud formation, a weakening magnetic field of earth, methane production by plants (only a recent discovery), global dimming, a reduction in SO2 levels, and the more sceptical issues about urban heat islands and conflicting results about nightime and tropshepric cooling/warming and the controversies over the reliability over phenomena like sea level rises and does CO2 lead temps or vice versa.

    A good debate and scientific progress would examine each issue seperately and in a “kitchen sink” model.

    Now, CO2 is contributing to global warming. But this raises more issues than it settles.

    1. Role of Chinese, Indian and African development (new coal fired power stations vs the old technology responsible for a pall of smog seen over India).

    2. Viability of a taxation or emissions scheme.

    3. Is there any actual cost or benefit in mitigation?

    4. Role of Government subsidies and regulations in contributing to pollution.

    5. If GW is natural, can or should we alter the climate?

    6. What are the true benefits and costs of GW?

    7. How do conflicting desires (i.e Canada may want more agricultural land that comes with warming, Netherlands doesn’t want dea level rise) get settled?

    8. Should a country like Australia with a marginal output of CO2 even bother if there is a benefit to mitigation or should it simply liberalise and thereby discourage inefficient technology and encourage investment in energy technology ina general sense?

    I also would want a climate model and policy to rest on, as posted here at #51:

    https://alsblog.wordpress.com/2007/06/30/great-global-warming-swindle/#comments

  23. What the hell does the common pool problem have private, market priced insurance? Nothing.

    Public healthcare is rife with common pool problems. Smokers cannot be priced in a socialist system, so the Brits have denied surgery to smokers after years of theoretically paying taxes into the NHS.

    A private insurer could not arbitrarily breach a contract regarding the level of service in a similar manner, even under common law.

  24. Privatisation is good. Roads never fell under the neoclassical frameowrk of public goods. Their construction was merely appropriated by politicians.

    There is a simple solution to your concern – gift the adjacent landholders with ownership of the road, and simply let new developers build roads into new developments where the developer can sell the road rights into a community title.

  25. There is another way, Mark. If the smallest unit of government above the individual landholder (the local county or shire) were to be turned into a share-holder consortium which happened to own the roads, then this entity could raise revenue by licences from the users of the space called ‘local’ or ‘Public’, i.e. licences for cars and machines which use the roads. This could also be a libertarian way of promoting voluntary community action, by revitalising the local government level (especially if we had voluntary citizenship, and a confederation system of STRONG local counties.).

  26. Mark

    good piece on why privatisation is important by Jason Soon in this month’s CIS. whilst the benefits of competition and deregulation are obvious to all but the blind, the benefits of privatisation are not so obvious if a company operates in a competitive, deregulated environment. Mr. Soon points out why this is so.

  27. I am guessing it is supply side related and eventually goes back into allocation of capital which can occur because of correct pricing of resources.

    Please elaborate…

  28. Terje,

    [this is the comment that got caught in the spam filter the other day]

    At least when libertarians are disagreeable they generally refer to reasons not experts.

    Yes, all too true. I wish they’d refer to a few experts since I not aware of any climate scientists who are libertarians! 😉

    Your in the software business. If you wanted to write a parser (and weren’t yourself a parser expert) would you reason through it and create parser technology from the ground up or turn to an expert and find out what knowledge of your problem domain already existed and start from there? If you wanted to invest in some new technology wouldn’t you turn to a credible expert, or if you were going into surgery, do you want an expert or a very reasonable kid just out of med school?

    It’s kind of back to David’s point about my “arrogance.” Is my position more arrogant than that of a non-scientist taking exception to the results of a large multinational group of scientist who have build their work over 17 years?

    In the 1950s you could have sided with socialism and found loads of evidence to support your position. However eventually the evidence came home to roost.

    Yet socialized medicine has had enormous success. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. Free market capitalism may be coming how to roost right now with climate change as the result. If you don’t internalize costs everyone ignores them, the Tragedy of the Commons.

    I’m all for free markets if all the costs are tallied, new competitors can enter, and they actually work. I’ve personally benefitted from being able to join a small startup and have it acquired by a large corporation. But it can be silly when free markets becomes an essentially religious concept with the true believers ignoring the situations were unconstrained capialism doesn’t work. In some parts of the USA we are privatizing roads which to me is selling off public property to private interests in the most nefarious way. Why should a public road built with my tax dollars be turned into a private one that I’ll never use and generate profits for someone I don’t do business with?

    We’ve privatized prisons with horrible results and public schools often with wretched outcomes.

    Private health care in American has been an utter disaster. Can anyone make a reasonable case for the vast layer of middlemen we call the health insurance industry when Canada and the EU have a demonstrably better systems that run at lower cost and better outcomes?

    On the other hand, the vast amount of government supported research (although declining under Bush) has for almost a century been a fabulous stimulous to the economy.

  29. Mark,

    Saying that insurers selling the good are middlemen is absurd. They are selling insurance, not healthcare. They are lowering risk and the direct cost of healthcare.

    All evidence to the contrary.

    We’ll never be able to discuss this. You obviously believe in free markets at any social cost while I look to the success that Canada and the EU contries are enjoying — better heath care outcomes at lower cost — while providing universal care. Both of us are going to see the other as cherrying picking data. Still, entire countries with better outcomes at lower cost while providing care to everyone — I don’t see how anyone can not find that compelling.

    Similarly, with:

    There are a few measureable effects which can also explain global warming: ….

    You apparently do not believe the large number of scientists who have produced the IPCC reports over the last 17 years have addressed these other effects. That disbelief strikes me as unreasonable.

    As I’ve said before, I think libertarianism has much to offer, but not when it’s principles are accepted uncritically as the “One True Way.” At that point it feels much more like a fundamentalist religion than a rational approach to the world.

  30. Trinifar,

    Perhaps you could point out to us some factual information to back up your assertions on Healthcare and AGW? I’d be especially interested in the healthcare side of things. “better heath care outcomes at lower cost” does not ring true with my own experiences with the NHS and the experiences of my friends.

  31. Mark

    Jason’s conclusions are;

    i) govt ownership imposes conflicting objectives on a firm which reduces efficiency
    ii) govt ownership strips away one layer of insulation from arbitrary govt
    iii) govt ownership insulates the firm from the threat of bankruptcy

  32. Trinifar

    while I look to the success that Canada and the EU contries are enjoying — better heath care outcomes at lower cost — while providing universal care

    I’m from the EU – healthcare is a nightmare there.

    However, i agree with you that libertarians often tend to think too dogmatically about issues and need to be more aware of the real world.

  33. Ben Shurey,

    Health care is much debated in the US. Here’s one view from a group of physicians:

    The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $7,129 per capita. Yet our system performs poorly in comparison and still leaves 46 million without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.
    This is because private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

    Physicians for a Single Payer Health Program

    On AWG, see the IPCC reports from this year.

  34. In Canada, patients are forced to wait weeks and months for diagnostic tests, appointments with specialists, and treatment as their deadly cancer cells multiply. In Britain, most NHS kidney patients over the age of 55 are allowed to die rather than offered dialysis. As usual, the working poor suffer the most: they are unable to afford treatment outside the government system they’ve already bought with taxes.

    But, those arguing for government controlled health care always seem to assume a free market system actually exists somewhere. If so, I’d like to know where. They forget how heavily regulated health care is in all western countries, forget about the PBS and that the US has tax payer funded medicare. In fact, in some socialised medical set ups, the decision making bureacrats can operate more freely than their partially socialized western equivalents.
    I’ve worked in a pharmaceutical company in Australia and the amount of government regulation is unbelievable. I spent at least 2/3s of my time on documentation issues and unecessary bureacracy and I was in the reasearch department! The approach is not one of making a process efficient and safe. The mindset is to make sure you follow the government legislation in case you get in trouble with the government auditors. It’s not a mindset of providing safety and efficacy, it’s about doing what you’re told. Not only does this contribute to a poor working environemnt, the lost opportunities due to socialized health care are literally killing thousands of people every year in Australia and millions around the world. However this unecessary loss of life probably doesn’t bother “caring” socialists who usually think the world is over populated.

  35. The uninsured in the US are largely affluent young males.

    Who gives a crap if some day trader or engineering grad doesn’t have health insurance?

  36. Pommy I disagree that libertarians are too dogmatic.
    Just look at how many different backgrounds and personal philosophies exist in the libertarian movement. There are minarchists vs anarchists, there are various religious people vs atheist, some who focus on de-regulation of gun laws, some in drug laws, some who want business law deregulation etc.
    Libertarianism is nothing like religious dogma or subscribing to a consistent philosophy.
    It’s not dogmatic at all in my opinion. Libertarians disagree on many issues.
    If anything I think libertarianism is lacking direction and is a bit wishy washy with all the different ideologies that exist within the movement.
    Just because politics has always involved compromise, dishonesty, lack of principle and corruption doesn’t mean libertarians should automatically think this is inevitable. Perhaps within the context of politics, this is true, but this still doesn’t mean libertarians can’t strive to improve the ideological consistency of the movement as a whole.

  37. Terge, to say that “the CO2 AGW theory is a valid theory with a few awkward problems” is to apply special conditions which make the original premise invalid. In real life a contract based on these premises would end up in court.

  38. Tim

    One of the great attractions of libertarian politics is the refreshing honesty and solid reasoning behind the arguments as well as the diversity of opinion within the label.

    My only criticism of the movement is its tendency to cynicism and criticism and its knee-jerk reaction to the word ‘government’.

  39. So pommy, you don’t think that immediate suspicion of any government proposal is warranted? It is useful to look immediately for the unintended consequences and the costs of a government proposal before banking on the “benefits”. If this is perceived as a knee jerk reaction by the various statists, then so be it. The only defence against accusations of unfair bias is evidence.

  40. Trinifar, that’s not a plausible argument for additional regulation or government monopoly on health care. It is just another version of a technocratic approach and it simply doesn’t hold up as having benefits better than a market system. There are obviously administrative costs of running a health care business, or any business providing any necessary public commodity. These costs will still be there with your ‘streamlined’ approach, and I’ve got to ask, do actually think the level of administrative bureaucracy won’t increase substantially with government control? This is just the view from the left of the medical profession, just like the AMA is in Australia. There are plenty of medical people who feel otherwise.

    As they say: If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it’s free!

  41. Mark Hill: The uninsured in the US are largely affluent young males.

    If you just make up your facts, any position seems viable.

    Michael Sutcliffe: These [health care adminstrative] costs will still be there with your ‘streamlined’ approach,…

    Some of them, sure. But it’s working better in the EU and Canada than the US, less percentage of GDP going to health care and better outcomes, lower infant mortality, longer life spans — even adjusting for economic status. According to the CIA World Factbook, even Cuba with its pathetic economy (and a completely socialized one) has lower infant mortality that the US.

    Not all ideas from the left are bad just because they come from the left.

  42. “Pommy — I don’t necessarily advocate government action as a 1st best policy. Accepting the possibility of AGW doesn’t necessarily lead to government action.”

    But John.

    You have to have some evidence!!!

    And you need to have a reason to believe that there is a problem in the first place before you start pretending there is a problem.

    You are on record as pitching for a carbon-tax. Now there must have been some reason that you would have been going after this.

    “The problem was with the way he then proceeded to promote his preferred alternate climate change theory as gospel truth. This to me smacks of the pot calling the kettle black.”

    But he’s right. He’s not wrong. He’s right. So why ought he not promote the actual science of it if thats what the science says?

    I mean there is more to it. His presentation of what is really going on isn’t the last word on it all.

    But there would be a hole in the documentary if he didn’t point out what was really going on.

  43. “There is a simple solution to your concern – gift the adjacent landholders with ownership of the road, and simply let new developers build roads into new developments where the developer can sell the road rights into a community title.”

    Well clearly this will not do. Because you have to be clear on what their property-rights entail.

    Otherwise I walk out of my house and as soon as I get to the neighbours I’m trespassing even when I’m walking on the road.

    Now get serious Mark. You’ve been saying this for a long time and you just haven’t snapped out of it. It will take many tens of billions of dollars of private investment under CAVEATED property rights prior to going to freehold so we should get started now.

    So you clearly aren’t right here. Property-titles THAT ARE NOT STRAIGHT FREEHOLD have to be carefully defined here.

    The first step is rational government provided pricing, then caveated private property-titles.

    Only when we have tunnells and things all over the place can we get close to freehold.

    Now this ought to be immediately obvious.

    If not just walk out onto the road and walk about 100 metres and then contemplate that under your scheme you would be a serial-tresspasser.

    There’s another thing about this. Why ought existing land-owners be entitled to this free gift when people who don’t own a house are left out cold? Within ten minutes of your transition strategy there would be no ground anywhere, under their feet where they could walk as a free person.

  44. Now Trinifar you are simply lying and accusing others of doing so.

    I will post this in parts as a response to your smug, smarmy “analysis”.

    What do you mean – rather glibly – “all evidence to the contrary” – then you say “we’ll never be able to discuss this” claiming an empirical higher ground. This is a charaltan’s argument.

    Unfortunately pommy has been taken in by your bluster and concedes this is theory. Bollocks. This is all very real world.

    Let me roll out some facts before your “compelling evidence of lower cost healthcare”

    Sorry to do this but I have to call bullshit on Trinifar.

    Public healthcare is really costly – it just isn’t worth it.

    http://divisionoflabour.com/archives/003463.php

    “With much attention focused on universal medical insurance, the abstract of a new NBER Working Paper reminds us that government insurance often crowds out private insurance:

    Quote:
    The continued interest in public insurance expansions as a means of covering the uninsured highlights the importance of estimates of “crowd-out”, or the extent to which such expansions reduce private insurance coverage. Ten years ago, Cutler and Gruber (1996) suggested that such crowd-out might be quite large, but much subsequent research has questioned this conclusion. We revisit this issue by using improved data and incorporating the research approaches that have led to varying estimates. We focus in particular on the public insurance expansions of the 1996-2002 period. Our results clearly show that crowd-out is significant; the central tendency in our results is a crowd-out rate of about 60%. This finding emerges most strongly when we consider family-level measures of public insurance eligibility. We also find that recent anti-crowd-out provisions in public expansions may have had the opposite effect, lowering take-up by the uninsured faster than they lower crowd-out of private insurance.

    A 60% crowd out rate is quite large–for every 5 people taking up government medical insurance, 3 drop private insurance. This is an awfully expensive price for covering 2 additional people.”

  45. http://healthcare-economist.com/2006/07/27/medicares-true-administrative-costs/

    “A common justification for Medicare is that the public health insurance system has an overhead cost which is about 2% of claims, while the private sector has administrative costs between 20%-25% of claims. This tells us that Medicare is the best system for America…right?

    Merrill Mathew’s of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAFI) summarizes the findings of Mark Litow’s paper “Medicare’s Hidden Administrative Costs.” Litow finds that taking into account extra legal costs from Medicare adjudication and CMS salaries, the administrative cost ratio increases to 5.2%.

    Private Insurance on average has administrative costs of 16.7% (varying between 30% for individual policies to 12.5% for large group policies). Yet these figures are inflated. If we exclude taxes and profits, as well as sales commissions, then the total administrative costs decrease to 8.9% overall and 8.0% for large group policies. I do not agree that commissions should be deducted from this this figure but profits and taxes certainly should. Medicare does not pay taxes and does not make a profit so any fair comparison should exclude these items. Further, tax revenue from insurance companies adds to the public’s coffers; profits should be seen as a cost of capital.

    Even with Litow’s manipulation of the numbers, Medicare seems like a better deal. Let’s see why:

    Economies of scale: There are large economies of scale in the insurance business; however ,large insurance companies can certainly replicate the majority of the scale economies Medicare enjoys.

    Cost of Capital: Medicare incorrectly counts its cost of capital as 0. The true cost would take into account the direct cost of hiring IRS workers to collect the taxes which pay for Medicare as well as taking into account the distortionary effects of income taxation on workers labor supply decisions. For the private sector, the costs of capital is transparent: it is simply the interest rate.

    Demographics: Medicare serves the elderly population and thus has a high cost per enrollee. In 2003, the average medical cost for Medicare was $6,600 per person per year, while the same figure for private insurance was $2,700. Thus, if public and private health insurance had the same administrative cost per person, Medicare would still be seen as ‘more efficient’ since Medicare’s administrative cost ratio would be less than half the size of the private insurance’s cost ratio.

    Finally, we need to realize that administrative costs are like people: some are good, and some are bad. What if a private insurance company raised its administrative costs by 1% , but was able to reduce fraudulent claims by 10% and reduce the premium charged to customers by 8%. This is an example of how an increase in the administrative cost ratio can add value. It is likely that private companies try to avoid paying for unnecessary medical treatment and are more vigilant to detect fraudulent claims then Medicare.”

  46. http://www.adamsmith.org/cissues/waiting-list.htm

    Quote:
    “What do waiting lists measure?

    The newspaper headlines which tell us there are now a million people on NHS waiting lists are rightly shocking. The figure means that one in sixty of us are now waiting for medical treatment. And by no means all of us are even ill. Of those who actually need the NHS to do something for them, it is more like one in six who are condemned to wait.

    Waiting lists are the inevitable consequence of a politically-driven, tax-funded, centrally-run health service. Users have no customer power over the system. Since the amount which people pay (through taxation) is unrelated to the volume of services they use, they have every incentive to demand as much service they can get, however marginal or even unnecessary. And because – unlike almost all other goods and services – there is no price mechanism to inhibit the over-demand, the central authorities have to resort to the only other strategy open to them, that of rationing.

    Waiting lists are merely the symptom of this. They represent unmet demand. They are rationing by queuing.

    Undoubtedly, this strategy has some success. Some people do not bother to see the doctor because they cannot face a long wait, while others fail to turn up to consultants’ appointments because they have simply got fed up waiting. A growing number choose to dip into their own savings and pay directly for their treatment in the private sector. A quarter of cardiac patients actually d*e before it is their turn to be called in, which reduces the burden of demand even more.

    But the headline figure for waiting lists conceals a great deal too. There are wide variations in waiting times in different areas, between different doctors and hospitals, or for different kinds of illness. So what is the real story behind the headline figures?

    How long are the waiting lists?

    What patients are concerned with is not so much the number of other people who are on the waiting list, but the length of time which they themselves will have to wait. Obviously, in principle it is possible for the waiting list to be small, but for each person to have a long wait; or for the waiting lists to be large, but for each person to be seen very quickly.

    The National Plan for the NHS published in 2000 states that by 2005 “no one will wait more than 13 weeks for an appointment and 6 months for admission”.

    That was two years ago, but in fact the position has worsened slightly since then. The slide in performance suggests that, however determined the policy objectives might be, today’s centralized control structure cannot in fact deliver even these modest goals.

    In-patient waiting lists. Most urgent cases, however, are actually seen quite quickly. Consider in-patient waiting times – the period between a consultation with a senior doctor and admission for treatment. There are roughly ten million admissions for in-patient treatment each year. Just under half (4.3 million, in England) are emergencies and as such are treated quickly. Just over half (5.7 million) are for other sorts of treatment

    Taking only the figures for England, the one million people on this waiting list at any moment, it is estimated that: 155,000 are seen within 4 weeks.

    However, non-urgent cases can have very long waits indeed. Of the remaining 845,000 who are seen after 4 weeks:
    345,000 are seen before 13 weeks, but
    500,000 are not seen until after 13 weeks, and of those:
    250,000 are not seen until after 26 weeks.
    Out-patient attendance. There are around 44 million outpatient attendances each year. These are people waiting to see a consultant. The biggest delays are in getting to see the consultant in the first place: once you have had a first consultation, subsequent attendances tend to follow more quickly.

    But of the (roughly) 11 million first attendances with a consultant:
    8.4 milllion (78%) are seen within 13 weeks, of whom:
    3.8 million (35%) are seen within 4 weeks; but
    2.4 million (22%) are not seen until after 13 weeks.
    How much time do we waste in waiting?

    Of course, we can probably never entirely get rid of waiting time in any service – either in health care or even at the supermarket check-out. But for the population as a whole, today’s NHS waiting lists add up to a very long wait indeed. As Professor Richard Feachem showed in the British Medical Journal of 19 January 2002, they compare very unfavourably with waiting times in Kaiser Permanente, a California health plan whose spending per patient is remarkably close to that of the NHS. In Kaiser, though, 90% of in-patients are treated within 13 weeks, and 80% of out-patients are seen within two weeks.

    But let us set a more modest target for the NHS and say merely that a wait of over 4 weeks is unsatisfactory – and given the pain and anxiety that people may suffer, it clearly must be. So how much time do NHS patients spend in this ‘clearly unsatisfactory’ state of waiting more than 4 weeks?

    Let us also assume that people reach the top of the waiting lists at a fairly regular rate as indicated by our raw statistics, so that all out-patients are seen within 20 weeks and all in-patients are treated within 36 weeks. (Though as a number of hip-replacement patients will testify, this is perhaps an over-generous assumption.) We can then calculate that, in rough terms:
    the in-patients on the NHS waiting list will spend 235,000 years waiting in excess of 4 weeks for their treatments; and
    NHS out-patients will wait 830,000 years waiting beyond 4 weeks to be seen.
    That is, a total of 1,065,000 years of unsatisfactorily long waiting.

    What are the knock-on costs?

    Of course, this is not the whole story. Waiting lists cost people a lot more than just time. Dudley Lusted, chief economist at PPP Healthcare, undertook a major exercise on the economic cost of waiting lists. His starting point was to estimate the cost to employers of working days lost – counting the period after the first 4 weeks’ absence – where the individual remained too incapacitated to return to work and was awaiting medical treatment.

    Averaged across the workforce, Lusted estimated two days being lost per employee per year. With a workforce of about 22 million that suggests 44 million work days lost due to delays in medical treatment. With a weighted average pay of £15,000 the cost is therefore £660,000,000. As a rule of thumb, the consequential cost of lost work time or covering for absence will be the same again, to give a total cost close to £1.5 billion for employers. This does not include the productivity losses of below-par workers or the management costs of dealing with absence.

    The cost of anxiety and limitations on activity for the patients themselves has been estimated by Professor Carole Propper of Bristol University. Taking this at £5 a day (the mid-point of her estimated range) then the unseen cost of the 1,065,000 years that people spend waiting beyond 4 weeks is approximately £19.4 billion.

    There are, of course, other costs too. A MEDIX survey identified the extra burdens on GPs and their patients. Among the key results were:
    Worsening conditions – 66% of GPs had patients waiting as outpatients admitted as emergency because their condition worsened
    Increased burden – 90% of GPs had patient consultations arising out of waiting list delays and 70% of GPs dealt with problems arising from that – an estimated 1.5 million extra consultations.
    What should be done?

    Although all these costs are necessarily estimates, it is clear that the cost of NHS waiting lists – in terms of anxiety, incapacity, time off work, the cost of absence to employers, the extra costs to the NHS whose condition worsens and the cost to GPs of seeing patients who are waiting for treatment – is well over £20 billion.

    But rough as they are, these calculations do tell us something about the real human scale of the waiting lists and the costs to individuals and economy. Unfortunately, fewer people are being put on the waiting list, fewer of those are being treated in good time, and the total queue is not getting any shorter. Clearly, productivity is falling, despite a real increase in funding of about £5,000 million in the past two years. The inescapable conclusion is that the current structure simply cannot make the improvements that we all want, and that radical reform is inevitable.

    Pumping more money into a failing structure will not deliver the benefits. Importing clinicians or exporting patients is a marginal stop-gap. We need to change the system.

    Most healthcare can be delivered locally, and there is a strong case for managing that delivery locally too. More local management, greater diversity of provision, and methods to make the financial rewards come upward from the patient, rather than downwards from Whitehall and through the health bureaucracy, could all produce a more patient-centred system where there was a real downward pressure on waiting times both from patients and providers.”

    On top of that, the quality of care is much poorer

  47. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nhs/story/0,1480,1036970,00.html

    Quote:
    “Patients who have major surgery in Britain are four times more likely to d*e than those in America, according to a major new study.
    The comparison of care, which reveals a sevenfold difference in mortality rates in one set of patients, concludes that hospital waiting lists, a shortage of specialists and competition for intensive care beds are to blame.

    Fresh evidence of a stark contrast between the fate of patients on either side of the Atlantic will re-open the debate over whether NHS reforms are having any impact on survival rates.

    Mounting evidence suggests that patients who are most at risk of complications after an operation are not being seen by specialists, and are not reaching intensive care units in time to save them.
    This week health Ministers will present the latest figures showing another yearly rise in the number of intensive care beds for those who are critically ill. But Britain lags far behind America and most European countries in its critical care facilities. An authoritative study to be published later this year will demonstrate that the chances of survival after undergoing a major operation are far greater in an American hospital.

    The authors conclude that NHS waiting lists, the lack of specialist-led care and the fact that many patients do not go routinely to intensive care contribute largely to the difference.

    A team from University College London (UCL) and a team from Columbia University in New York jointly studied the medical fortunes of more than 1,000 patients at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and compared them with nearly 1,100 patients who had undergone the same sort of major surgery at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

    The results, which surprised even the researchers, showed that 2.5 per cent of the American patients died in hospital after major surgery, compared with just under 10 per cent of British patients. They found that there was a sevenfold difference in mortality rates when a subgroup of patients – the most seriously ill – were compared.

    Professor Monty Mythen, head of anaesthesia at UCL who oversees the critical care facilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital, led the British side of the research, which will be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal later this year.

    ‘The main difference seems to be in the quality of post-operative care, and who is likely to care for patients in the US, compared with the UK,’ Mythen said.

    ‘In America, in the Manhattan hospital, the care [after surgery] is delivered largely by a consultant surgeon and an anaesthetist. We know from other research that more than one third of those who d*e after a major operation in Britain are not seen by a similar consultant.’

    He also believes that the queue for treatment in the NHS would inevitably mean that British patients were more at risk. ‘We would be suspicious that the diseases would be more advanced in the UK, simply because the waiting lists are longer.’

    The New York patients had paid through private insurance to go to hospital and were therefore likely to be of a higher social class and healthier, whereas the NHS patients were from all social classes. The researchers attempted to level out social differences by rating each patient according to clinical status.

    Each patient was then placed in a mortality-risk category. Those at greatest risk were calculated to have a 36 per cent of dying after surgery, whereas the lowest risk patients had between zero and five per cent chance of dying.

    Mythen added: ‘We looked at a number of hypotheses, but it does seem to show a difference in the systems of care, rather than a reflection of some other factor. The provision of intensive-care beds is obviously one of the differences. In America, everyone would go into a critical care bed – they go into a highly monitored environment. That doesn’t happen routinely in the UK.’

    Each year, more than three million operations are carried out on the NHS. Around 350,000 of these are emergencies, which carry a higher risk of complications, but there is no routine triage system in Britain for picking out patients before surgery, to determine who is most at risk.

    Previous reports looking at deaths that occur within 28 days of surgery have shown that 36 per cent occurred in patients who went directly into ICU after surgery. But a higher mortality rate – 42 per cent – is seen among patients who had first been sent to a ward, got into difficulties and then had to be transferred to intensive care.

    Professor David Bennett, head of intensive care at St George’s, after looking at survival rates, said: ‘There are substantial number of patients each year who d*e, who might otherwise have survived had they got the appropriate kind of care after surgery.

    ‘There’s a crucial six- to eight-hour period when some people need their cardiac output [the amount of blood the heart pumps out each minute] boosted. Even 80-year-olds undergoing heart surgery are far more likely to survive when they receive that care, so why are we not, as a matter of routine, picking out the people most at risk?’”

  48. Is there really an insurance crisis?

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/murray200402190909.asp

    Quote:
    “A recent study by the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis found that from 1993 to 2002, the number of uninsured people in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by 114 percent, while the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 17 percent. The poor are getting more coverage while the comfortably off are choosing to buy less. If rich, young, male software developers working on a contract basis are choosing not to be insured because they reckon the likelihood of them needing insurance is small, then that is an example of labor-market flexibility, not a medical crisis.”

    Private is cheaper and better. Paying for advertising, investigation of false claims or shareholder dividends does not imply it is inferior.

    Now, you are bullshitting me with global warming.

    I am sure the IPPC scientists are very talented. I beleive them as a professional courtesey. Anyone who says that science of global temperature estimates is concluded is delusional. Climnate science is really fascinating and the research that will be put out in the next few years given a better understanding of statistical analysis and recent scientific discoveries will be very interesting.

    I note as well that you lump in practical and eocnomic considerations with applying a policy on AGW as “anti-science”. There is noting anti-science about accepting the science put forward by the IPCC but rejecting intervnetion on economic grounds. Your viewpoint is in fact, anti-economics.

    Then you have the gall to bandy around terms like “One True Way” and “anti-rationalist” even though you claim an empirical high ground but reject empirical evidence and science when it suits you.

    Perhaps you need to reexamine your belief set?

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

  49. “I am sure the IPPC scientists are very talented. I beleive them as a professional courtesy”

    WHAT!!!!!!!!

    A professional courtesy.

    Well why not believe me as a professional courtesy. Because clearly you don’t understand whats going on.

  50. Mark — don’t do that. If you want to respond at length regarding something that’s off-topic do it elsewhere. There is the “discussion” section, but even there this length would be annoying. Instead, consider writing a post. Though even there, you would need to be more concise if you want people to read it.

  51. I would add that violating copyright law is probably not a good anytime but especially so on a blog dedicated to free market capitalism. 😉

  52. Mark – it needs a bullet point summary that outlines the logic of why the cost of private needs to be adjusted and is ultimately cheaper. If I read it right the reasons are:-

    1. Less deaths due to poor care.
    2. Less deaths due to waiting.
    3. Less suffering due to waiting.
    4. Less lost productivity due to waiting.
    5. Mark up due to taxation.
    6. Cost of capital considerations.
    7. Dead weight loss of taxation.

    Personally I enroyed your little rant. It is worthy of an article.

    Trinifar – many libertarians disagree with copyright. They will argue that you may own a book but that there is no natural right to ownership in relation to a sequence of words or letters. In any case Mark would seem to be quite within the “fair comment” rules of Australian copyright.

  53. Terje, the only female commentors seem to be anti-libertarian! Trinifar is a good example. I wonder if this reflects a real difference in the female psyche? Maybe women are more likely to think in terms of groups and centers? I know there are some right-wing female writers, and Margaret Thatcher had some of the right ideas, but they seem rare.
    Therefore, is libertarianism a gender belief, a masculine trait?

  54. Nicholas – I’m not sure why you are directing that question at me. My observation (for what it is worth) is that whatever the political philosophy if the discussion is about politics there are usually more men at the discussion. This would seem to suggest that it is men that are more likely to be interested in groups and centers. However I have little interest or expertise in any such generalisations about gender.

  55. True enough, I should probably make it a discussion point. I asked you because of your comments about my suggestions for Tim’s proposed magazine.
    And I am curious about the point- is decentralism, one of the libertarian ideals, an ideal that appeals more to men than women? If so, is it genetic, or just cultural (the first libertarians were men and so they publicised it in masculine ways)? If cultural, we should be talking about how the government interferes in family matters, and how libertarianism can be a woman’s best friend. If genetic, maybe our natural audience is the same as Playboy and Hustler, and we should just accept that.

  56. Nicholas

    That’s an interesting observation and something that has struck me too. Left wing blogs have far more female contributors. In opinion polls, centre-left parties always have a higher share of the female vote.

    I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the popularity of collectivist politics coincided with women getting the vote during the early 20th Century.

    How we can broaden our appeal to women?

    Terje – no interest? or scared of the subject? the innate differences between girls and boys is a fascinating one (i have one of each – it is amazing how quickly they fall into the typical gender stereotypes despite our best efforts).

    You’re normally full of good ideas – maybe that’s why the question was addressed to you 🙂

  57. The left have hijacked feminism and many other social issues of the 20th century.

    The same bootprint on the face of history is meant to care now.

    The worst polluters in history were totalitarian (leftist) Governments. Now global warming is a lefty issue, and we are meant to tax, regulate and spend our way out. Never mind the 9 billion of subsidies to carbon based fuel doled out every year in Australia.

    I won’t let the right off so easily – the left won’t let you do anything and the right will force you to do things.

    Given the three biggest libertarian authors were women (Ayn Rand, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel paterson)I don’t think our ideas are intrinsically male. We just have to know why we don’t get females? This is only the net, not the real world and as I understand it, more males use the net than women.

    As for the female authors:

    http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=3345

  58. Pommy – Just so you know, I have 6 nieces, 4 nephews, two sons, one daughter, a sister and two brothers. I am more than aware that gender differences are to a very large degree determined at birth. I don’t know why you make a best effort to have any alternate outcome. My advice would be to treat each child as an individual and don’t get too hung up on how little or how much they break the mould.

    I’m not afraid of the topic, but it seems well out of place as a follow on to a discussion about private versus public medicine under an article about global warming. And whilst I’m happy if Nicholas wants to start a magazine promoting liberty with near naked female beauties on the cover I don’t personally have much interest in the idea. The parts of my brain that get engaged by female nudity versus the part that gets engaged by discussing liberty and it’s preservation don’t have many synaptic connections between them. And as a mere male I can only focus on one thing at a time.

    In terms of the political left having more women than the right this would not seem to be true if you used female parliamentary representation and looked at the ALP and Coalition parties as proxies for left wing and right wing. They both seem to be about on par but the ALP has needed party quotas to achieve the same end game. In Australia there are less woman than men in politics but the women seem to span the spectrum as much as the men (IMHO).

    Libertarianism is not in my view at all in opposition to the idea of collectives. Corporations are collectives. Families are collectives. Most forms of social organisation involve collective action and collective initiative. Libertarianism is about minimising coercion not minimising collectives.

    Now given that this discussion has drifted way off topic can we let it die a natural death?

  59. I think there could be something to Nicholas’s theory. My theory is that women are genetically more inclined to obey authority figures. (generalisation)
    Libertarianism isn’t authoritarian by definition and also isn’t very mainstream so perhaps this is one of the reasons for lesser female numbers, but then again Terje has a good point too.
    I think speaking in evolutionary terms, women needed to be more obedient than men simply due to physical strength differences and because usually a male would have led the tribe and been the decision maker for tribal problems as opposed to smaller every day problems.
    A similar theory is used to explain why women are often attracted to “bad boys” who boss them around and act like pricks. It also ties into the theory about how cavewomen wanted the best mate (as opposed to cavemen wanting as many cavewomen as they could get). So the women is programmed to be attracted to the top ranking authoritarian male.
    In addition women are often more emotional and this may create a barrier to libertarian policies such as abolishing welfare.
    So women running on “autopilot” so to speak and not thinking about society much are probably less likely to be libertarian, but this “autopilot” mind state is easy to overcome with a small amount of thought and thus is not really a problem.

    I don’t think women such as Ayn Rand or Margaret Thatcher and others are typical females. They strike me as being very sure of themselves and very ambitious, generally more male characteristcs.

    But the biggest problem facing the libertarian movement is clearly exposure and understanding.

    Nicholas, in regards to the magazine, it was just an idea not really a proposal. I’d be happy to help and even put in a little money but don’t think I could be the main driver.
    I was at home one evening watching the news and getting pissed off at the typical un-libertarian comments. So I started trying to think how difficult or costly would it be to distribute a free newsletter/paper mag to all the pubs in the city.
    Thought I’d put the idea up on discussion to see if it had been tried before, or to see if anyone was keen on the idea afterall, most of the material would probably be a re-hash of past discussions on this site.

  60. If you’re thinking pubs, tim, then a handy graph showing the tax cut from each sector of the economy on the price of beer would be what should go down well- just how much does Government directly tax, and how much is indirectly taxed. I.E. How cheap would beer be if no level of government was taxing it?

  61. Terje: Trinifar – many libertarians disagree with copyright. They will argue that you may own a book but that there is no natural right to ownership in relation to a sequence of words or letters. In any case Mark would seem to be quite within the “fair comment” rules of Australian copyright.

    After a look at Oz copyright laws, I see it explicitly forbids copying the entirity of a news article (or any other written form) with or without attribution just as in US law. That’s what Mark did in at least two cases above. (Copyright was also part of a recent trade agreement between Aus. and the US.)

    Anyway, it’s likely US law applies here since WordPress.com is a US company and you agreed to its terms of service.

    If Mark disagrees with the law and therefore ignores it, well, that’s between him and the authorities, but it reflects badly on your website to tolerate it and makes you liable as well. I think most people from every political slant believe copyright violation is theft. Certainly people like me in the hi-tech sector live day in and day out with copyright and other IP issues and expend a lot of resources to honor other people’s legal rights.

    Of course, if you want to hold up Thoughts on Freedom as engaging in some sort of civil disobedience to protest copyright laws, that’d be an ethically consistent stance as long as you are prepared to pay the consequences — which I assume are no more than getting deleted from WordPress.com for violating its terms of service http://wordpress.com/tos/ :

    “you represent and warrant that the downloading, copying and use of the Content will not infringe the proprietary rights, including but not limited to the copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret rights, of any third party….”

    I know libertarians respect contracts. The question is, are you aware that you entered into a contract by creating this blog?

  62. This is just irrelevant, piss-ant diversion tactics that publishers don’t give a shit about. If anything, I’ve done them a service by having the courtesy of linking them.

    Debate the issue.

  63. The debate as to whether there is global warming due to human influence is over. The hard evidence that warming is taking place in the last few years not correlating to the sun’s activity as it had in the past but correlating to increased fossil fuel burning e.g. as in China and India as an example, is proof enough for any business. That is the reason why business is insuring itself as much as possible and taking onboard all possible actions to ameliorate the problem and keep in business. Risk management is not scare tactics and is normal rational behavior. One of the ways to do it is to embrace renewable energy power production but to date this has not resulted in a concerted effort in that direction simply because government and big business has been fossilized in a previous century and has the belief that coal and nuclear will be and will have to be used as major sources to provide jobs and wealth. And the belief there has not been a breakthrough and probably will not be for quite some time that renewables will displace coal and nuclear as major sources of power is as result of that fossilization. It is not a question of whether there is a breakthrough in technology that will displace fossil fuel and nuclear as major sources. It is because of a lack of awareness that renewables can do it and in fact we are at the crossroads of that happening now.

    There has been a breakthrough in renewable energy base power production! I refer to solar thermal power using a cheap flat mirror system and storage by the disassociation of ammonia in an endothermic reactor then stored at ambient temperature and used at any later time even during wintertime the sun’s energy is not lost being chemically locked up. Then reapplied to an exothermic reactor heat is produced at about 500 degrees to provide steam for power generation. This closed loop system enables 24/7 base power production for industry and it also is able to provide medium or peak power on demand. Not only that the storage system is easy to do and cheap and is based on mature technology and enables the sun’s energy to be stored any length of time without loss so that the energy can be extracted in the wintertime if necessary or any time in the future! No other storage system can do this and it is a real breakthrough. A gigawatt plant is right now being built in America financed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla who says that solar thermal power is poised for explosive growth because of it’s low costs together with Australian scientist Dr David Mills who had to leave Australia because of our government’s unfavorable policies. We could have had this happening in Australia if our government had been receptive. There is certainly no need to have nuclear power here! And in Europe a TRANS-CSP report commissioned by the German government calculates that solar thermal power is likely to become one of the cheapest sources of power including the cost of transmission. Not producing any carbon and it does not have safety issues it’s easy to see why. This is the power that needs to be, and can be sent to third world counties and the rest of Europe via High Voltage Direct Current Transmission lines from solar thermal plants in North African deserts or the Middle East with only 3% loss in transmission. In fact the whole world could use this as a major power source as there are many deserts around. The potential for it to power the world cleanly and safely and reduce greenhouse gasses at the same time is a real bonus. And it is being done now. Lets get on with it and continue! A general understanding and awareness of solar thermal power (CSP) can be seen on http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/index.htm and http://www.trec.net.au/ and understanding of the storage system in schematic form can be seen at http://engnet.anu.edu.au/DEresearch/solarthermal/high_temp/thermochem/index.php

  64. Trinifar – I did not create this blog and I don’t administer it. If it really concerns you then take up the issue with John Humphreys.

    Many, many people spend a lot of effort copying content illegally. Whether it is computer software, music or otherwise. I work in the IT industry and the cultural norm seems to be to willfully copy without paying, but only if it’s for personal use. This suggests to me that either many people don’t regard it as theft, or else that many people are theives if they think they won’t get caught. I don’t deliberately steal software myself but that should be expected because I’m a really, really, really exceedingly good person. 😎

    However it is clear to me now that I confused some of the quoted text as being Marks own words and the demarcation between the quotations and the personal comments could have been much, much clearer. As such I now agree that he probably went beyond the fair use criteria. 😦

  65. Who cares?

    Trinifar has lied about me “making things up” and doesn’t like the empirical evidence which doesn’t support earlier boasts about socialised medicine.

    Trinifar doesn’t want to debate the point either the earlier claims that the science used by the IPCC isn’t final on the matter, and economic and pragmatic considerations which mean a global trading scheme will not work, were indeed wrong and mischaracterised anyone with an opposing point of view.

  66. Mark Hill,

    Trinifar has lied about me “making things up” and doesn’t like the empirical evidence which doesn’t support earlier boasts about socialised medicine.

    You said (comment #36), “The uninsured in the US are largely affluent young males.”

    In response I said, “If you just make up your facts, any position seems viable.”

    How can you construe what I said as lying or what you said as truthful? Your best fallback might be to say you were using some mix of hyperbole and sarcasm to get attention.

  67. How is that untruthful?

    This is wilful ignorance.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/murray200402190909.asp

    And I quote:

    “Part of the reasoning behind the recommendations is that in 2002, 43.6 million people lacked health insurance at some point. That simple figure, however, conceals a much more complicated truth. “At some point,” for instance, means that not all of those millions were uninsured at the same time, and many were only uninsured for short periods. What really matters is those who are chronically underinsured, and that figure is much smaller — between 9 and 13 million, depending on whose figures you believe. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story.”

    I quote again, to the point of your cherished myths:

    “A recent study by the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis found that from 1993 to 2002, the number of uninsured people in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by 114 percent, while the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 17 percent. The poor are getting more coverage while the comfortably off are choosing to buy less. If rich, young, male software developers working on a contract basis are choosing not to be insured because they reckon the likelihood of them needing insurance is small, then that is an example of labor-market flexibility, not a medical crisis.”

  68. Mark,

    You quote an article in a rightwing journal which sights a line in a report by a rightwing think-tank entirely funded with rightwind money and think you’ve made a point?

    The question to ask is wrt “the number of uninsured people in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by 114 percent” how many people is that? Especially compared to “the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 17 percent”. This is the sort of rhetoric that stands in for reputable science. The percentages tell us nothing. And what of the people with incomes between $25 & 75K? This is not rational way to make a point. At least link to the study itself, even better to a study by a nonpartisan, credible organization.

    You ask why I would doubt your claim, “The uninsured in the US are largely affluent young males.” It’s because it is equivalent to saying the population of Australia is 42 and expecting people to believe you. It’s preposterous.

    Mark, by commenting on this blog you are also agreeing to the WordPress terms of service which you willfully violated. That sort of “I have principles when it suits me” attitude and your rhetorical style are why I feel like I’m wasting my time even bothering to reply to your comments.

  69. 1. Guilt by assocaition. The plea that NRO is conservative is a desperate argument from authority.

    2. Data are rhetoric. More upwardly mobile high income earners don’t bother buying and insurance and more poor people than ever have bought insurance. It is fair enough to say “what does this mean” but justifying a single payer system simply isn’t.

    3. You don’t have to back up your own claims. Not one claim you made has been backed up.

    4. Somehow a trivial violation of the terms of service (which, incidentally, never crossed my mind) to which the authors could only benefit somehow absolves you of spouting unsubstantiated assertions and refutes the evidence. I am of course *sure* that you have never broken a trivial point of private or misdemeanor criminal law. Of course, only those who have done the same are worthy to debate you. Do you regularly use this as a debating tactic when you are losing?

    5. Would you like to defend the rest of your assertions, counter the evidence I put before you or will you complain further about trivialities?

  70. Just to link this all back to my original point. I was suggesting that it took nearly 100 years to prove that Socialism was a failed system. This discussion about medicine suggests that some people still believe that coercion has a high level of efficacy in areas such as medicine. This does not change my original point at all. A social policy with supposedly self evident costs and benefits is still up for debate after 100 years. The idea that climate policy will suddenly become a settled issue overnight because the IPCC puts out a report is (IMHO) incredibly optimistic. Climate science and calculations of cost and benefit are at least as complex as the arguments needed to win the “socialism does it work” debate. Except unlike a policy of socialism climate policy can’t be confined to a few nations and then comparative assessments made down the track.

    We have one planet earth so controlled studies are simply not possible. As such I think that the theory will always be a lot weaker than most scientific theories. Even in medicine you can do controlled studies where one group of patients gets one treatment and another group gets a placibo. Often reality confounds the theories and I see little reason to have a higher degree of confidence in climate theory than in the latest untested wonder drug.

    Even if AGW is real I think the best course of action is to slash taxes, liberalise trade, clarify property rights and accelerate towards prosperity. Nothing fosters new technology as readily as a bouyant growing economy. And I do think the answer to any CO2 concerns is ultimately technical.

    I’ll throw a bone to those that are really worried about AGW and vote for a modest carbon tax but only if the proponents also agree to axe other taxes in the process.

  71. Trinifar,

    All the comments you’ve made here have come from a left wing blogger and you think you’ve made a point?

    Please stop relying on Ad Hominem fallacies. It’s such a boring ploy to attack the person. If they are influenced by the people who fund them then it should be easy to refute their false claims.

    Public health costs more money than private health. It’s as simple as that. If it’s cheaper to run things publicly then why don’t we have a public food service? Surely food is more necessary than health and education? We don’t do this because last century it caused millions to starve in Russia and China.

    If you look at the shambles of the NHS and the shambles that public health is becoming in Australia with a critical eye this should be a dead horse argument. Unfortunately, and to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, it’s seems to be attack of the living dead horses around here.

  72. This copyright debate seems pretty stupid considering my understanding of how the law operates. But please fill me in if I’m incorrect because I’m interested in examples of the failures of un-principled, over-sized legislation that can’t keep up with the real world.

    The copyright laws define the worst case scenario penalties applicable when someone wants to prosecute.
    Considering the linked articles have the option of “emailing to a friend”, I hardly think this is an instance where someone has anything to gain from prosecuting. ie: The law is deliberately only there for people who actually care about infringement or who have lost potential earnings, not for all cases of infringement.
    And anyhow, once data is published, I thought it was considered free domain as long as it was acknowledged and not profited from without consent?

  73. And anyhow, once data is published, I thought it was considered free domain as long as it was acknowledged and not profited from without consent?

    As nice as that would be (which is arguable) that’s not how it works, although it depends on what you mean by data. What I was reacting to was the word-for-word copying of an entire newspaper article. That’s a clear copyright violation in every country that honors copyright laws. Doesn’t matter if you are profitting or not from your copying. What you are doing is diluting the value of the original publisher. It’s no different that shoplifting. It doesn’t matter if it is easy to do or quite common; shoplifting meets those criteria.

  74. Mark,

    I’ve no desire to win or lose an argument. I’m interested in learning. It’s likely over a beer in a pub we would enjoy each other’s company, but your style of engagement on this blog is, well, not an example of useful discussion.

    Terje,

    We have one planet earth so controlled studies are simply not possible. As such I think that the theory will always be a lot weaker than most scientific theories.

    I think you are holding onto a naive view of science. Given your approach, you must not put much stock in evolution even though it’s accepted by nearly every scientist on the planet as the very basis of biology with an extraordinary amount of evidence to back it up. Similarly for anthropology and cosmology.

  75. If you are *interested in learning*, re read Terje’s summary and read the articles I linked and posted.

    The facts do not agree with your preferences.

  76. What I was reacting to was the word-for-word copying of an entire newspaper article. That’s a clear copyright violation in every country that honors copyright laws. Doesn’t matter if you are profitting or not from your copying.

    Trinifar, stop it or you’ll go blind. You have no fucking idea how copyright works. You are just wrong wrong wrong. Quit wanking.

  77. Mark,

    Way back up in comment #30, I said, “We’ll never be able to discuss this. You obviously believe in free markets at any social cost while I look to the success that Canada and the EU contries are enjoying — better heath care outcomes at lower cost — while providing universal care. Both of us are going to see the other as cherrying picking data. Still, entire countries with better outcomes at lower cost while providing care to everyone — I don’t see how anyone can not find that compelling.”

    Terje’s summary is just that, a bullet point summary of a set of claims, not facts. The articles you copy/pasted are not evidence any more than the link I gave to Physicians for a Single Payer Health Program is evidence. However, I offered that link and the accompanying quote as “one view from a group of physicians” not as anything more, while you are still trying to claim you’ve made some sort of conclusive argument.

    If you take the time to write a post about health care and assemble a serious argument with some links to good, nonpartisan data to back it up, I’d be happy to engage in an equally serious discussion. Trading barbs in the comment section of a post on global warming is not a good use of our time. (And what’s the point of the personal insults anyway? Do you think it makes your case stronger or libertarianism more appealing?)

  78. “free markets at any social cost”

    Define “social cost”. Who loses in a free market? The service is cheaper and for the same price you get more.

    You are wrong. Terje summarises the facts laid out in the articles you refuse to read because they are not of the correct bias. Your argument goes so far as to deny the facts involving uninsurance and the real outcomes of the British NHS and you’ve just ignored a breakdown of administrative costs in comparing the public and private system. It has been explained to you why “higher administrative costs” are a specious argument for universal health care.

    The authors are biased, the facts are not.

    As for *better health outcomes*, you choose to be wilfully ignorant of the longer waiting times and knock on effects (i.e greater paitient mortality)in the NHS.

    Not only that, you refuse to acknowledge that publicly funded healthcare isn’t really insurance at all (it subsidises losses), and that for the same price people pay into FICA, they could get much better coverage in the US private system.

  79. It’s something that amazes me still. That people don’t realise that governments or academics are biased but they’re so quick to point out industry is biased. It shows how effective politicians have been at brainwashing people over the years.
    Although in some cases ad hominem discussions may be useful for gathering contextual information, they are always logically or scientifically irrelevant.
    Ad hominem is also usually contexually irrelevant because it usually applies to people on both sides of the argument. And you can’t determine the extent of the influence on a particular person. ie: can’t quantitate.

    But if someone doesn’t acknowledge the process of logic and reason or if someone doesn’t think facts are facts. Then, you cannot argue with them.
    It’s like how many objectivists won’t discuss philosophy with people who reject the identity principle, A=A. If someone doesn’t believe reality can be known, then this makes all your and their arguments pointless (because the arguments cannot be known). And their decisions making will have to revert to illogical reasoning such as ad hominem, popularity, correlation, emotion, out of context data etc.

    And this is where I think things get interesting. Because you can use the knowledge of how people work to your advantage. For example, if I want to convince someone at work to do something my way, I sometimes deliberately use incorrect reasoning because I know it has a better chance at being effective. I might say, “well person X does it that way”. This approach depends on knowing how important logic is to the person you are trying to convince, but this approach can be more convincing to a person than all the logic in the world.
    Politicians manipulate people’s opinions all the time with faulty logic. But it’s the peoples’ fault for being so gullible.
    I think it’s perfectly fine to use faulty logic as a tool to convince people of something because it’s just how things are. And, unlike political legislation, my discussions are not backed up with an armed police force, and court monopoly system.

  80. However, I don’t think it’s fine to use faulty logic on the ALS discussion board. I consider the debate to be of quite a high standard on this blog (compared to what I’m used to anyway) and that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy the discussions.

  81. TRINIFAR- here is a point to consider. Mark Hill may be an anarcho-capitalist. Anarchists believe that property is theft, because ‘society’ should own everything. Anarcho-capitalists believe that physical property is ownable by individuals, but that *intellectual* property, such as patents and copyrights, is theft.
    Mark may be practicing principled anarcho-capitalism!

  82. I’m not, common law IP should be preserved, the rest junked and the breach I made was trivial and beneficial to the “injured” parties.

    Trinifar says she won’t discuss this issue on a post about AGW (it is unrelated apparently) when she made several unasserted claims about privatisation vs socialisation, bringing up education, the justice system and healthcare.

    Clearly she is prepared to discuss this, and she has a chance to qualify her claim and repudiate mine severally.

    I agree however, I should blog on the issue.

  83. Tim,

    That people don’t realise that governments or academics are biased but they’re so quick to point out industry is biased.

    We all have our biases. Integrity lies in not letting them color our data gathering, analysis, and reasoning. It also means saying so when we are speaking from our biases.

    The US under GWB has taken government twisting and suppression of its own scientists to new levels to the extent that the doctoring of reports is rarely even debated anymore. The most recent case, just last week, was the former US Surgeon General (our top public health professional) testifying before Congress about how his findings were edited for political reasons — and he was appointed Surgeon General by GWB.

    Science is all about taking personal bias out of the results. That’s the whole point of peer review, replicating experiments, sharing data, describing methods used, etc. Good reasoning and intellectually honest arguments must do the same sorts of things.

    What Mark has done is all too common: googled up a few links mostly to partisan sources, presented them as established facts, throw a few angry words around, and wants to get me to waste my time “combatting” him. There is good data out there, but he didn’t even try to use it.

    Your own statement, “I think it’s perfectly fine to use faulty logic as a tool to convince people of something because it’s just how things are,” demonstrates an absense personal integrity.

    What’s with you guys? Did a sense of ethics just evaporate when I wasn’t looking?

  84. Trinifar, those links took quite a while to find, from another debate on healthcare.

    Seriously, google healthcare. They won’t come up soon.

    I threw a few angry words around? You said I was making things up, to which one of the articles absolutely contradicted you on “underinsurance”. You also took the absurd position that anyone who questions or thinks climatology needs continual development was a “denialist”, and taking on pragmatic and economic considerations of climate science as policy was anti-rational. That would make any reasonable person who can back up their assertions frustrated at the least.

    You are yet to defend your position or to attack mine with the facts I presented.

    We can only assume that you are wrong. You are being invited to debate the issue but won’t because you can’t define the rules. Why are we going to assume or conclude otherwise?

  85. Mark,

    I take exception to your putting words in my mouth but perhaps you can’t help yourself. To the health care issue, I hope you do write about it. Here’s my contribution to your research:

    Wikipedia articles vary a lot in quality, but this one on US health care is well written and thoroughly documented, pointing to the specific sources it used. It also links to a similarly well done Wikipedia article titled “Canadian and American health care systems compared.”

    The issue is not black & white. But if you don’t address things like the percentage of a country’s GDP going to health care and measure that against outcomes like life span and infant mortality, you will miss the boat completely. It’s also essential to address what portion of the population has no health care coverage beyond access to emergency services and what to do about that and why. You might decide they don’t “deserve it” but at least explain why. And if that’s not enough, in the US we have medical costs being the leading cause of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy needless to say is not only bad for the people going backrupt, it’s pretty bad for their creditors.

  86. Where did I put words in your mouth?

    Huh? What does national GDP to healthcare measure?

    What about efficiency measures?

    Read the wikipedia article on FICA taxation. Medicare is a rip off.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FICA#Regressive

    “The Social Security contributions in the FICA tax are generally considered regressive, meaning the tax rate progresses from high to low as income increases. The rate is 12.4% on an amount of income adjusted annually for inflation (e.g., $94,200 for the year 2006). Half of the tax is withheld from the employee’s pay with the other half being paid by the employer. By contrast, self-employed individuals pay the entire amount of applicable tax (on the annually adjusted income amount). However, whether this tax should properly be called regressive is disputed because the untaxed income cannot be counted in the benefit formula for computing retirement benefits (meaning the redistribution of the tax is progressive, giving a higher percentage to those with low income). Therefore, this limit could be taken as a penalty on high-income earners (they are denied the ability to fully participate in the Social Security retirement program and receive no benefit from Medicare). Conversely, it is argued that they can invest the untaxed portion of their income and earn higher returns than a majority of recipients earn on the money they contribute to that program.”

    Healthcare is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US?

    First of all US bankruptcy laws are notoriously lax. Second of all, ho is this measured against other measures of personal financial management? Where does this figure come from?

    I don’t know what that article proved other than there are many points of view.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States#Healthcare_regulatory_costs

    About seven per cent of the cost of healthcare is the net cost of regulation.

    That is what we have been arguing all along – deregulate.

    That articles also makes some ambit claims

    “The costs of treating the uninsured must often be absorbed by providers as free care, passed on to the insured via cost shifting and higher health insurance premiums, or paid by taxpayers through higher taxes.”

    That is not true for private system if they pay the full price of the service. If they are uninsured now and have someone else pay for them in a single payer service, there is no real difference.

    That article is fairly undecided or has some weight in favour of privatisation. The only other claim is that the private system has higher overheads, which don’t really matter. Costs per paitient matter. This is like saying a firm with lower average costs and marginal costs but higher overheads is less efficient with a firm with lower overheads but higher average costs and marginal costs. This is wrong. The first is certianly more efficient but it has more fixed costs.

    If the US medical licesning system was deregulated, the administrative cost would fall to 24%. Canada only claims 16% admin costs, but these exclude the costs of collecting taxes – the deadweight loss of tax collection alone in OECD countries usually varies somewhere between $1.30 and $1.40 for each $1.00 spent by Government, net of collection costs.

  87. What does national GDP to healthcare measure?

    You would expect that the greater portion of GDP a country spends on health care the better outcomes it would have. That is, if you spend more of the GDP on health care then life expectancy should go up and infant mortality down. So why is it that in the US where we spend a higher percentage of GDP on health care than any other country we have the worst results when compared to Canada, Japan, and the EU nations?

    What about efficiency measures?

    Yes, exactly. What about them? Given that we in the US are spending so much more and getting worse outcomes that could speak to vast inefficiency in the system — or that we’ve simply decided that it’s okay for a lot of people to get bad health care because they can not afford it.

    There’s no doubt that some people (a lot of people) get excellent health care in the US, but overall our system is not doing as well as others (who spend relatively less of their GDP on health care) when looking at fundamental outcomes like lifespan and infant mortality.

    When you think about it this is exactly what you’d expect in a free market system. Those that can afford it are willing to spend a lot and get good care. As a result, providers shift to serving that part of the market. There is no incentive whatsoever to provide good, affordable services to people who don’t have much money. No profit in that. I don’t think free markets are always bad, just that they are not appropriate in the area of health care. I don’t they in the 21st century we can call the US civilized when with its vast wealth (only a few small nations come close in per capita GDP) it excludes so many from an essential service.

  88. Really I see two points of contention:

    1. Cost per lifespan is too high.

    2. You think that not having widespread coverage is appalling but there is no incentive to supply it to the poor?

  89. The fact that the USA spends more GDP on health care quite possibly due to factors such as:-

    1. Higher affluence.
    2. Demographic factors.
    3. Consumer preference.

    The fact that less gets spent on health in Canada does not necessarily mean that health services are cheaper in Canada, it may just mean that less health services get consumed in Canada. This may not in fact be a positive outcome at all.

    In terms of infant mortality I expect that Australias network of early childhood community nurses, along with widespread immunisation is potentially a signficicant factor and I understand that the early childhood community nursing services are not readily replicated in much of the USA. However in the scheme of things this service is very low cost. Rather than nationalise the entire US health industry it might make more sence to look at specific health vectors associated with infant mortality and preventative medicine. And these measures may not be incompatible with a general move to deregulate.

  90. Knowing reality and using it to your advantage is not an absence of personal integrity. If fact it’s probably an indication of a higher level of personal integrity because you are being intellectually honest.
    There is no issue of morality involved when convincing someone who refuses to engage in logical debate because there is no issue of force. I’m not forcing anyone to do things my way. It would be impossible for me to change the fundamental belief systems of everyone I meet with limited time and low chance of sucess.
    The reality is that many people can’t think scientifically or rationally (look at media and politics) or that people only think in this way selectively, ie: not much.

    Trinifar your line of reasoning concerning GDP is basically alleging that a public healthcare system is cheaper (ie: more efficient in monetary terms). But public health is clearly not cheaper. Let alone having a better standard of care.
    Also why do you keep mentioning Canada. If you want to start discussing what a disaster socialist style health care approaches are in terms of country examples, then we could easily start reeling off lists of countries with socialised medicare and appalling health outcomes.
    What a revolution in medical care Canada has been with it’s first class treatments and medical discoveries. I don’t think so. What about Canada’s long waiting lists for example.
    Another so called sucess story, Cuba, has a huge black market in medical care, low standard of doctors because many choose other higher paying careers such as tourism, and lower life expectancy even compared to the overweight US population with their partially socialised system. And these are the good examples!

  91. Trinifar, I will make a short comment at the moment.

    Longevity has been linked to low caloric intake in recent studies.

    That says more about incomes and preferences than it does health system outcomes.

    Waiting lists, waiting times and efficacy of service are good measure.

    Average lifespans are related to so many other factors.

    You are positing that other countries have a higher lifespan BECAUSE of their socialised medicine, even though the knock effects of long waiting lists in the UK are well documented.

    Therefore I do not think you have a strong claim that dollars per GDP per lifespan is a particularly definitive measure of efficiency.

    Coverage of the poor covers two issues: affordability and choice.

    As for affordability: We’ve already seen from the wikipedia article you posted that 7% of healthcare costs in the US arise from the net costs of professional licensing alone. The US is also highly protectionist against foreign direct investment. US insurers have a degree of protectionism from full competition. There are also high costs because of an overly strong IP set up with respect to prescription medicines.

    If affordability is an issue, a single payer system is not a solution. The better thing for interventionist policy is direct cash subsidies to the poor, failing that a voucher system to buy insurance and a small allowance for small medical costs. See the Arrow-Debreu theorem to understand the basis of this conclusion.

    Some people will always choose not to take out insurance – over time this is efficient as people who need insurance eventually take it out.

  92. Terje, I had not heard of the Australian system of early childhood community nurses. It sounds very wise. There is tremendous resistance in the US to anything run by the government so even if it is cost-effective and wise, it’s still a tough sell. At the federal level the story will be “If you think it’s a good idea, do it at the state level” and too often at the state level, “We don’t want to raise taxes either, so do it at the local level.” Then you get down to where the rubber meets the road. The localities that most need these services are exactly the ones that don’t have the tax base to fund them.

    Tim: What about Canada’s long waiting lists for example.

    I’m not ready to say that shortening wait lists is more important or a greater social good than lowering infant mortality.

    Mark, you make good points about obesity and its affect on lifespan and that there are other factors that influence lifespan. Unfortunately that is about all we can say: many factors influence lifespan. Certainly not having access to good health care is a factor as well.

    You are positing that other countries have a higher lifespan BECAUSE of their socialised medicine, even though the knock effects of long waiting lists in the UK are well documented.

    It’s not at all clear to me that the ill effects of long waiting lists are nearly as dire as the ill effects of not being able to get care even if you would be willing to wait for it. One factor in the short wait lists in the US is that some people never have the chance to get on the list in the first place.

    You have to remember if you are poor in America you get the worst of the educational system, the least amount of police protection, and the lowest amount of health care — that’s a recipe for ensuring being born poor means staying poor. I saw a recent multigeneration study (and no I don’t have the link handy) that showed that economic mobility in the US is now less than that in Europe.

    If it’s true that the EU generally has longer life spans, lower infant mortality, and greater economic mobility, then doesn’t it seem worthwhile to try to ferret out the reason the US, with it’s much freer marketplace, isn’t performing as well?

    In any case (and completely off topic), I find it highly ironic that we have such a longer average work week here in the US and much shorter vacations than other developed nations. We work very hard, with great productivity, producing the great wealth, but to what end? More work. The American work week is longer now than it was 100 years ago. All these new cars and other toys and less time to enjoy them. This isn’t my idea of cultural advancement.

  93. Trinifar – there is necessarily no need for the Government to run community nursing if it is a good idea. Take MSF for example.

    Also – you seem to agree with me on the measurment of efficiency.

    Working hours are an individual preference. Why complain about “the poor” and “long working hours” in the same paragraph – some people’s greatest asset is their disposable income. It may be the best chance of not being poor, wheras in France until recently it waas illegal to work “too long”.

  94. Trinifar,
    I saw a recent multigeneration study (and no I don’t have the link handy) that showed that economic mobility in the US is now less than that in Europe.

    How was it prior to new deal/welfare statism?

  95. Mark, I agree that many factors influence lifespan, that’s not the same as agreeing with you on efficiency. What about infant mortality?

    Ben, why would the study have to address the time before FDR?

  96. We have a somewhat similar program in the US called WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/ but it is not funded to the extent that it is available to everyone who qualifies, which is too bad because it has been shown to be a net gain. The money spent on it is more than made up for in higher infant birth weights and healthier children with fewer learning disabilities.

  97. Trinifar,

    What do you make of the fact that Australians (who on average are not as rich as Americans) manage to have better outcomes in many of these wellbeing indicators whilst also having a lower tax burden (tax as a percent of GDP) and zero federal government debt?

  98. American society is, more than most, focused on individual wealth creation in the traditional economic sense as opposed to wealth in terms of security, community, healthy living, etc. I don’t know of any other country that values the proposition “every man for himself” more than we do. One consequence is, as I noted before, we work longer hours and take fewer holidays than any developed nation, and, while for a few with fabulous low-stress jobs that’s fine, most people live fairly stressful lives.

    Since 1949 the United States GDP grew six fold in chained dollars, 39x in nominal dollars (see here), but wages have been flat for the last 30 years and have declined since 2000. It’s become a truism that the rich are getting richer — while everyone is working just as hard or harder than ever.

    Australia is one of the few places with younger big cities than the US. Although I’ve not been there I suspect Sydney is a healthier place to live than, say, Chicago, NYC, or even LA which at least has a nice climate. And our cities are still growing, part of the urbanization that is occuring everywhere. (The combined metro areas of Chicago, LA, and NYC contain twice the population of Australia.) OZ is also one of the few places that is less densely populated and has more coastline than the US.

    In an earlier discussion you pointed out that Australia has more small companies. Perhaps there is something less healthy about working in large businesses.

    Then there’s the car culture. We love driving. You do too, but I think with our many large cities and cheaper gasoline we likely spend a lot more time commuting.

    We also do a lot less cooking and eating at home than we used to. Don’t know how that compares. Still, we are the home of McDonald’s and a host of other low quality food franchises.

    Just random thoughts. What do you think?

  99. How do you get security, health etc without individual wealth creation trinifar?

    The US also has record low unemployment and huge legal and illegal immigration inflows.

    The wealth is being shared amongst more people.

    The way to raise real wages is to have more capital investment. Removing foreign investment barriers and cutting taxes on investment will do this. Don’t forget the impact of inflation (excessive money creation) and tariffs on real wages, paticularly those of the poor. They are disproportionately hurt by inflation and tariffs.

    Don’t forget the costs of regulation on real wages. For example, the medical licensing cost 7% of total healthcare costs. Is it necessary to take away real wages just so nurses and medical technicians are barred from jobs they could actually do?

    For your consideration:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_wage

    “Some economists have found that growth in real wages correlate with inflation, growth in productivity, and government spending. Referencing government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in general, the lower the rate of inflation, the lower the rate of government spending as a percentage of GDP, and the higher the rate of productivity will lead to higher rates of real wage rate growth.”

    Which links back into what Terje has said about fiscal policy.

  100. Indeed, it got a bit fruity!

    The question is, WHY did the ABC get these freaks in?

    http://www.cecaust.com.au/

    Read on dear trinifar. Libertarians are the blood sucking blue blooded minions of the Mont Perelin Society.

    Trinifar, read up on Chilling Stars by Henrik Svensmark. He is conducting research with CERN on the issue of solar variation leading to variation in clod formation which he theorises is a key driver for climate change.

    Real Climate simply dismiss CERN and Svensmark as crackpots with an agenda. The reality is they have an agenda – anyone who comes up with an alternative theory or revision is “holding a last line of defence” to what they see as *inevitable*. Who was the last person you saw saying that CERN were notorious for bad science?

    The Chilling Stars theory is quite compatible with a carbon forcing model. The carbon and sulphur forcing is nested within the chilling star model.

  101. Mark, How do you get security, health etc without individual wealth creation trinifar?

    Never said traditional wealth creation by individuals was a bad thing, just that our tendency to the excessive accumulation of material things (the traditional concept of wealth) in the US comes with at the expense of (the missed opportunity cost) of living in a more safe, sane, and healthy society. Even Adam Smith recognized this more than 200 years ago.

    The banner at the top of the page you link to says “This article does not cite any references or sources.” That’s a pretty good sign it’s not to be taken seriously. How can one distinguish it from a rant on a personal blog?

    Also, you frequently bring up the cost of medical licensing. That seems to be a fringe issue without a good argument behind it. How is it different than licensing airplane pilots which to most people seems quite reasonable? Might be better to point to the cost of and limited access to medical schools (at least in the US). Seems to me we unnecessarily limit the numbers of medical doctors and import to fill the void. Lately there have been a number of reports of the same happening with nurses. The nursing shortage here and in the UK is quite real.

  102. A fringe issue?

    7% of healthcare costs is a fringe issue ina healthcare cost and coverage discussion?

    The banner simply means people are lazy.

    There is an obvious relationship between real wages, inflation and GDP. See Russell and Tease (1988) for more.

    The cost of medical schools isn’t an issue on it’s own. The restrictions that the AMA makes on the number of doctors it will train is a quota and therefore lower quantity and raises prices of medical services, and in turn, the derived demand and price of the medical school.

    How is medical licensing and the licensing of medical training at all a fringe issue in this discussion?

  103. Mark,

    Following a link on the page you linked to took me here. Using 1982 constant dollars it shows “For all private nonfarm workers” real wages were

    $302 in 1964
    $332 in 1972
    $281 in 1980 (begining of Reagan era)
    $258 in 1992 (after 12 years of Reagan and the first Bush)
    $278 in 2004

    So we have lower real wages than 43 years ago as well as — when compared to the EU, Canada, and Japan — higher crime, higher infant mortality, and shorter life expectancy. I grant you that the US is not a perfect free market economy, but this is hardly a good case for capitalism versus socialism. You have to grant that those other countries are not perfectly socialist, but the US is on the opposite end of the spectrum of the real countries we can examine.

    I can think of one way to promote the libertarian cause in the face of these data, but it is to say that some people just don’t deserve a better life. While it may be true that the “average” person born in the US may have a rougher time of it than a similar person in the EU, clearly that person has a greater opportunity to get rich in the US. I can see how you can make the case that that’s the way it should be. I can see it, but I think it is an ethically backrupt position.

  104. The banner simply means people are lazy.

    And I see no reason not to suppose that that laziness extends to their thinking.

    7% of healthcare costs is a fringe issue ina healthcare cost and coverage discussion?

    7% is really significant. But saying medical licensing incurs a 7% cost is only meaningful if you can motivate that number. You haven’t.

    Libertarians are the blood sucking blue blooded minions of the Mont Perelin Society

    “Hayek stressed that the society was to be a scholarly community arguing against collectivism, while not engaging in public relations or propaganda.” Be really nice to see an emphasis on the scholarly part and an avoidance of the PR and propaganda parts.

    Chilling Stars by Henrik Svensmark

    There you go. Why should anyone pay attention to a theory thoroughly debunked by multiple scientists? See the Real Climate blog among many other sources.

    Mark, I do really, really appreciate that you see “it got a bit fruity!” in the Q&A at the end of the Swindle Q&A. I have a “moonbat” category on my blog for those people. You don’t fit there. But like I said before, you may be a good bloke and we might enjoy each others’ company over a beer, however, in this format, exchanging comments on a blog, I don’t think you are holding up your end of the exchange.

  105. Really you have three questions on wages.

    Are wages really falling?

    Why do wages fall?

    Why would a single payer system help?

    What on earth are you talking about “some people don’t deserve a better life”?

    This is a good start for “falling wages”

    http://cafehayek.typepad [dot] com/hayek/2006/08/catering_to_ign.html

    “Why would you use a measure of compensation that ignores benefits, an increasingly important form of compensation?”

    A pertinent question. This involves health insurance.

    If we look at the series PRS85006152 from the US BLS, this measures changes in hourly REAL wages for non farm businesses.

    Please go here:

    http://pagebang [dot] com/cgi/nph-proxy.cgi/111011A/http/data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet

    This is the data produced:

    Year Qtr1 Qtr2 Qtr3 Qtr4 Annual
    1982 5.2 -0.9 -0.6 0.8 1.0
    1983 1.4 -1.2 -1.6 0.6 0.0
    1984 -0.5 0.3 2.4 -0.4 0.0
    1985 1.5 -0.3 3.0 3.2 1.1
    1986 3.4 5.7 1.6 4.1 3.3
    1987 -3.9 -0.3 0.3 1.6 0.4
    1988 3.6 0.2 0.2 -1.3 1.2
    1989 -2.6 -4.9 0.3 1.8 -1.7
    1990 1.3 5.0 -0.5 -2.7 1.0
    1991 1.1 5.8 1.9 1.5 1.4
    1992 5.4 0.5 3.5 -1.6 2.7
    1993 -1.3 -1.4 -0.1 -1.2 -0.5
    1994 3.5 -2.9 -3.4 0.4 -0.4
    1995 0.8 -0.8 0.5 1.9 -0.3
    1996 0.8 0.4 0.8 -1.5 0.7
    1997 0.3 2.2 2.0 5.0 0.9
    1998 7.2 4.4 4.7 0.4 4.5
    1999 6.2 -1.5 0.3 5.4 2.5
    2000 10.7 -2.0 4.2 -0.4 3.7
    2001 2.7 -0.4 1.0 3.7 1.2
    2002 4.7 1.2 -0.2 -2.3 2.0
    2003 1.7 6.4 2.9 2.2 1.7
    2004 -2.1 -0.6 2.1 1.9 0.9
    2005 2.7 -2.9 1.2 -1.0 0.8
    2006 10.7 -6.1 -2.5 13.6 1.6

    Recent changes are and why we use this dataseries are summed up here:

    http://marketcorrection.powerblogs [dot] com/posts/1179181536.shtml

    “Some Facts About Worker Compensation
    28 August 2006

    The Editor, New York Times
    229 West 43rd St.
    New York, NY 10036

    To the Editor:

    You allege that ordinary workers today are suffering an unprecedented post-WWII failure of their compensation to keep pace with productivity gains and with profits (“Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity,” August 28). But the significance you accord the story by running it on the Front Page above the fold is at odds with the fact that you quote only one economist, Jared Bernstein. Were none others available?

    Perhaps if your reporters had spoken to more scholars they would not have written that “Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits [along with wages] has also failed to keep pace with inflation.” Bureau of Labor Statistics data series number PRS85006152, which reports the annual-percentage-rate change in real hourly compensation of non-farm workers, shows this compensation rising by nearly 5.1 percent since September 30, 2005.

    Sincerely,
    Donald J. Boudreaux
    Chairman, Department of Economics
    George Mason University”

    Therefore the claim that real wages in the US are falling is fallacious.

    The US Government constantly does things libertarians disapprove of – deficit spending, altering interest rates for political purposes, imposition of tariffs etc.

    These all affect inflation. Real wages go down because of inflation.

    The existence of inflation and low economic growth relative to population growth is not an argument against privatised healthcare, but to control inflation of course!

    Ignoring Government debt, monetary growth and immigration rates with reference to wages is stupid (but wages aren’t falling).

    Any wage rate W, is equal to the capital labour ratio, K/L. Inflation destroys the rate of return on investment, thereby lessening investment and Government spending crowds only occurs at the expense of private spending at a factor of the deadweight loss (but wages aren’t falling).

    The US Government has bad fiscal and monetary policy. Clinton had good fiscal and monetary policy, as the BLS data reveals.

    Government spending crowds out private investment and you guys cannot afford it at the moment. The result would be more inflation and lower real wages if a single payer system was instituted, given current deficit spending or as an extra burden to a balanced budget.

    There really isn’t a claim to have a single payer system because of bad Government macroeconomic policy, when such a costly scheme will make macroeconomic fiscal policy so much more active.

    Since real wages AREN’T falling, patently non-lasseiz faire macroeconomic policy causes inflation and implementing such a medical scheme would just excasserabte fiscal policy, your conclusion that “libertarians…don’t want some to have a better life” is just bunk.

  106. It is lazy, and it does extend to thinking because a relationship between immigration, real wage rates, inflation and GDP is almost tautological to anyone with training as an economist. Please look up Russell and Tease (1991) on google again simply for related articles to see how widely known the relationship is.

    7% of health costs are significant, yep. But I haven’t motivated it?…This was referenced a long time back in the first wikipedia article you linked to (which you thought was a great example). Go and reread the article you linked to. This doesn’t count the benefits from removing cartel control over training of doctors and reducing patent powers over pharmaceuticals.

    As for scholarly defence of liberal ideas, you’ve come to the right place. I am giving you so much raw information people have complained before! The MPS isn’t known as a spin machine, it is a association of liberal minded academics and is largely unknown. So what are you actually complaining about?

    Now you have gone off the rails and slandered Svensmark and CERN, compared to the “REAL SCIENTISTS” at real climate.

    Since when has CERN been known for intellectual dishonesty – Real Climate can only offer block headed complaints of an old idea. This is just dogmatic conservatism by Real Climate.

    Please tell me why CERN or Svensmark have been discredited and why their theory is bunk, when it is completely valid if AGW is considered as a nested sub theory of the larger astroclimatic theory?

    You are the first person I have encountered to have charged CERN of intellectual dishonesty or incompetence.

    The IPCC is not the be all and end all of climate science, even if it is cutting edge and has many excellent scientists working on it. A report simply takes too long to make to be up to date. Plant emissions of methane were largely unknown until a few years ago. I am fairly sure this behaviour isn’t modelled in the IPCC.

  107. Trinifar,

    In my view the most telling statements from the RealClimate article about the Hansen 1988 projections were the following:-

    But can we say that this proves the model is correct? Not quite. Look at the difference between Scenario B and C. Despite the large difference in forcings in the later years, the long term trend over that same period is similar. The implication is that over a short period, the weather noise can mask significant differences in the forced component.

    Combined with this comment shortly after:-

    Thus when asked whether any climate model forecasts ahead of time have proven accurate, this comes as close as you get.

    Sorry to say but the article does not offer anything compelling that would change my position.

    In any case even if the model was spot on for 20 years running I would still not regard the model as proven beyond reasonable doubt. In terms of climate change 20 years is the blink of an eye.

    Some might say that I have a belief threshold that can’t be satisfied in the timeframes available. That is probably correct. I don’t think that there is much that can be said or done to overcome my skepticism in the short term. That does not mean I am not interested in the scientific debate or the new things that we are learning. It just means that I’m a long way short of calling game over. Likewise when Martin Durkin called game over “it’s the sun” in his movie I was also incredulous.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  108. Terje,

    I wonder then on what you choose to base your decisions? Everything has some uncertainty embedded in it.

    One of the things I like about creating software is the ability to see it work, to create some new feature or function and use it, to see my clients use it to their benefit. But, still, as every software engineer knows, you can never prove that a nontrivial program will always work. All we can say is that for a given set of inputs it’s known to work.

  109. Mark,

    Maybe we are the brink of a common understanding. Stranger things have happened.

    7% of health costs are significant, yep. But I haven’t motivated it?…This was referenced a long time back in the first wikipedia article you linked to (which you thought was a great example).

    I thought (and said) that that particular Wikipedia article was well done in that it gave voluminous references to its sources. That’s not to say I take everything it said as the gospel truth, only that it did an honest job of letting the reader trace bace it’s claims to their origination.

    I have seen articles, even some by physicians, that claim elimination of medical licensing would be a boon to mankind by reducing costs and providing higher quality care. I don’t understand that reasoning — not at all. I think the analogy to airline pilots is a good one, both professions hold the lives of others rather directly in their hands. Would you argue that pilots not be licensed?

  110. Mark,

    You are the first person I have encountered to have charged CERN of intellectual dishonesty or incompetence.

    Where did I say that?

    The IPCC is not the be all and end all of climate science, even if it is cutting edge and has many excellent scientists working on it. A report simply takes too long to make to be up to date.

    The IPCC has issued it’s fourth report in its 17 year history. Each one has improved on the previous ones.

    Plant emissions of methane were largely unknown until a few years ago. I am fairly sure this behaviour isn’t modelled in the IPCC.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060125082122.htm

    Claims about some aspect of mainstream science are far more powerful when coupled with an understanding of the science in question and an acknowledgement of the countervailing views. Otherwise you look like you are just clutching at partisan straws.

  111. The net benefits of medical deregulation are 7% of healthcare costs, in a study done by the Cato Institute. If you don’t understand, go read the article. Basically it means that licensing is so rigorous that simple tasks nurses or technicians can do are regulated into the hands of doctors who don’t have the time. There is little need to regulate aviation. The self interest of airline companies and their insurers sees that they would select the right staff anyway.

    It will be good when my other post gets unmoderated, suffice to say that you have been conned on real wage data (benefits, such as insurance have been excluded the proper data set you should see is PRS85006152, published by the US BLS, US macroeconomic policy is patently non lasseiz faire and this reduces real wages, which aren’t actually falling.

    Furthermore, a single payer system will only increase downward macroeconomic pressures on real wages.

    Svensmark works with CERN. Real Climate are bad mouthing them as well, with little to actually complain about other than – it is an old idea (which no one has thoroughly tested).

    See this on the last page for “consensus” (it is only 8 pages long anyway):

    http://cloudws.web.cern.ch/cloudws/documents_talks/IACI_conclusions/IACI_conclusions.pdf

    There is nothing partisan pointing out that the science in the IPCC isn’t up to date. If every other alternative factor or theory is rejected singularly, of course carbon forcing becomes the dominant model.

    This is patently stupid. You cannot test factors singularly in a statistical model to build a joint model. They must be tested jointly then omitted if they are insignificant in the joint model.

    Statistical modelling is valid when all possible factors are modelled and you look for nesting and feedback. AGW may just be nested in Svensmark’s astroclimatic model.

    If 20% of emissions causing gases are natural, then you may end up with a bad policy by taxing their use as if they were all man made.

  112. Trinifar,

    Different horses for different courses. If you were making a computer model of a chemical reaction that in nature took 2 days to transpire then after 20 years in which there were millions of confirmed successful predictions executed by hundreds of technicians you would say that your software was pretty robust. However one prediction that works out kind of successful does not make a model robust.

    Even so it is not unheard of for systems in medicine and in science that have been relied on for decades to be found to contain serious flaws. I have a friend who does medical research and compiles statistics and he is always sharing with me stories of where they found that long standing conventions were seriously flawed. One he related recently was a long standing practice in some hospitals of giving steroids to road accident victims. Apparently it turns out that the practice increases mortality by 15% over the alternative of not giving steroids. Medicine has millions of patients to experiment on and centuries of experience and they still get things seriously wrong. Why should I be convinced in the precision of climatologists who have only one patient to play with, who have been looking at this issue for a much shorter period of time, who are dealing with something that operates over vastly longer timeframes and who must contend with much worse data.

    If we were looking at a medical intervention we would not generally accept the baseline case being offered. And if we were going to use coercion to apply the intervention (eg court ordered treatment) we would demand an even greater threshold of evidence.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  113. Terje,

    Sounds too much like my friend who was in an auto accident while not wearing a seatbelt. It was the odd sort of crash in which his being ejected actually saved his life — contrary to all the data from thousands of accidents which shows that wearing a seatbelt and avoiding ejection is the most effective safety measure to take. On the basis on one exceptional case would you say that wearing a seatbelt is bad?

  114. Trinifair;
    I probably would consider it it bad if I were to be the person involved.

    It would be an interesting case if the authorities were to ‘do the right thing’ and charge him with the relevant offense.

    What right do you claim to have over and above the rest of us, that allows you to compel us to wear seat belts. Common sense says we should, the rest should be up to the individual.

  115. Trinifar – I almost always wear a seatbelt when I’m driving (on odd occasions when reversing I don’t). I’m not sure how your point relates. We have loads of examples of seatbelts making a difference in accidents. We are not dealing with a sample space of one. When it comes to climate models we have a sample space of one and as such a far less mature set of models. You seem to have misunderstood my point.

  116. How many earths are there? For how long has carbon been a leading indicator of temperature (as the ABC pointed out)?

    Another thing: Austrlia produces a miniscule amount of global GHGs, China already produces 15%.

    Now, note that subsidies are implict taxes to all other producers. Australian subsidies to carbon based fuels are at approixmately 9 bln AUD a year (about 1 % of GDP). It would be foolish taxing this without removing the subsidies, but if the tax was equal to or less than this amount, there would be little point in levying such a tax after the subsidies were removed, because most modelling doesn’t even take the subsidies into account, but only the impact of such a tax.

Comments are closed.