Evening Links

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Because you didn’t get your “Morning Links” today, and because I have browser tabs that need closing . . .

  • Rep. Dan Lipinski sez, “There oughtta be a law!”
  • Federal appeals court overturns stock option backdating conviction due to gross prosecutorial misconduct. So the federal prosecutors are going to be punished, right? Right?
  • My colleague Shikha Dalmia rightly calls out the American Medical Association.
  • Looking back at Katrina: “Ordinary people mostly behaved well. Those in power panicked, spread fear and fiction, and showed eagerness to kill.”
  • Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.
  • KFC’s fried-chicken-instead-of-bread sandwich has nothing on Pizza Hut Japan’s bacon-wrapped-sausages-instead-of-crust.
  • Pennsylvania authorities raid responsible, well-regarded basset hound breeder because she had more dogs in her kennel than state law allows. They’ll apparently now turn the excess dogs over to crowded shelters. In the logic of a petty state bureaucracy, this apparently makes perfect sense.
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  • 41 Responses to “Evening Links”

    1. #1 |  max | 

      Just curious about the last one, when did the PSPCA or any SPCA become a government agency? Or does Pennsylvania allow private groups to use the power of the law?

    2. #2 |  Dave | 

      The Katrina article was interesting, but why would an article about Katrina open with the “birther” issue and the charges of racism attendant thereto?

    3. #3 |  Dave | 

      The CEO of the Richmond, Virginia SPCA left her dog in her car and it died from the heat.
      http://www.wtvr.com/wtvr-spca-ceo-kills-dog,0,1809525.story
      This should make an interesting story, what do you suppose she would have said about someone who did this before it happened to her?

    4. #4 |  Aresen | 

      “Rep. Dan Lipinski sez, “There oughtta be a law!” ”

      I’m surprized there isn’t already.

      TBS, I do get pissed off at people cluttering the plane with large baggage items, even though I know it is a predictable response to the airlines charging their &%$%&^^$ baggage check fees. If I have to get out in an emergency, I don’t want to stumble over their wardrobe.

    5. #5 |  Henry | 

      Out of curiosity, do you think regulations on how many dogs can be kept in a kennel are legitimate in general (when they’re administered more sensibly)?

    6. #6 |  K. Wilson | 

      That pizza looks like something out of a 1960’s cookbook. lol

    7. #7 |  Oatwhore | 

      Pennsylvania authorities raid responsible, well-regarded basset hound breeder because she had more dogs in her kennel than state law allows. They’ll apparently now turn the excess dogs over to crowded shelters. In the logic of a petty state bureaucracy, this apparently makes perfect sense.

      I guess you didn’t RTFA.

      PSPCA, in the case of pedigreed dogs like the Murder Hollow Bassets, channels them into a breed-oriented rescue system, which houses them in private foster homes, and then distributes the basset hounds to new owners in exchange for a $200 adoption fee.

      See? Not too much to worry about.

      O wait.

      Less desirable animals, “rescued” by PSPCA after a 72 hour hold time are simply euthanized.

    8. #8 |  Eric | 

      Of course there shouldn’t be a law, but “carry on” bags have become absurdly oversized in the last few years, to the point that the airplane can be full by the time half of the passengers board. To their credit, on my last couple of United Express flights they have required customers to gate check every mega-sized carry-on, which has left room for people bringing sensibly-sized bags.

      It is like the guys who carry gigantic golf umbrellas to and from the Metra train during rush hour in Chicago winters. No it shouldn’t be illegal but it does show little regard for everyone around you.

    9. #9 |  God's Own Drunk | 

      “Representatives of the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, who screen passengers, would enforce the size limit”

      True story- I was going through TSA after the stupid limit on liquids went into effect. I had a clear, marked 4 oz. bottle (3.4 oz. allowed) less than half full of shampoo. TSA guy wants me to throw it out. I point out to him it’s a 4 oz. bottle less than half full, assuming he’d realize that there are now less than 2 oz. in the bottle. His response was “How am I supposed to know how much liquid is in there?” When I again showed him the labeled 4oz. and where the level of shampoo was, he again asserted that there was no way to tell how much liquid was in the bottle.

      I’m sure they’ll be much better at judging the size of bags though.

    10. #10 |  Mattocracy | 

      There should also be a law that prevents TSA agents from treating the public like shit. But that congresscritter only has to deal with the carry on baggage of other people, not the security at the airport. No suprise what gets his attention.

    11. #11 |  Sam | 

      I’ve got to say, being an engineer and all, that comparison of my salary to a doctor’s leaves me thinking the doc’s salary is about right. I really don’t mind the ones getting paid $400k after the hell they went through to get that degree (which is why I didn’t do it, engineering was bad enough) and medicine is one of those issues I really don’t see the free market being a boon to. Yes, procedures would cost less if you had every idiot that could get a chemistry degree practicing medicine (I did the chemistry degree too, nothing special about any undergrad degree) but the cost of health services wasn’t my primary concern even when I was making minimum wage, the effectiveness was.

    12. #12 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

      #2 Dave: “The Katrina article was interesting, but why would an article about Katrina open with the “birther” issue and the charges of racism attendant thereto”

      I think the author’s intent was to give a current example of the way hysteria rules and reason suffers during periods of great change or tumult in the U.S. (and probably most countries). I believe this reactionary impulse is what libertarians and their allies have to fight against on a regular basis in order to promote their ideas.

    13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      A law?! No, the US government should take over the airlines! Airline travel is a right. Cash4Tickets (encourage travel).

      Who wants to bet (even money/odds) that the US bails out a major airline inside 6 years? Anyone?

      No end to the madness.

    14. #14 |  Mary | 

      I am glad your demise was just a rumor, as you got a slight mention in the HuffPo piece today about Whole Foods.

      “Not everyone is so taken aback by Mackey’s suggestions. In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker declared, “Now is the time for all good capitalists to shop at Whole Foods.” Parker’s sentiments are echoed by several conservative bloggers and journalists. Doug Bandow wrote in the American Conservative that “it is good to see at least one company stand on principle.” Blogger Radley Balko of The Agitator blog strongly concurred: “I plan to do a lot more shopping at Whole Foods in the coming weeks.”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/26/unions-join-whole-foods-b_n_269895.html

      A little closer to mainstream recognition of you anyway.

    15. #15 |  Steve Verdon | 

      Out of curiosity, do you think regulations on how many dogs can be kept in a kennel are legitimate in general (when they’re administered more sensibly)?

      No, they are an abritrary number that is made up by people who have little or nothing to do with raising dogs. Case in point the woman in the story. Sounds like she runs a top notch kennel where the dogs are well taken care of, but is over the limit.

    16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

      The very fact that the AMA isn’t raising an absolute shit storm over the so-called health care reform (aka health insurance reform) proposals is proof positive that reform isn’t really going to bring costs down and it most certainly isn’t going to bring competition to the industry or cost sensitivity to the consumer. The AMA would be opposed to anything that lessens their future income.

      This is so blindingly obvious that it’s stunning that it gets so little attention.

    17. #17 |  supercat | 

      //bacon-wrapped-sausages-instead-of-crust.//

      One of the local pizza places has for years served a “low carb” pizza with sausage instead of crust. Not something to eat every day, but probably no worse than some other places’ pizzas which are packed full of sausage in addition to the crust.

    18. #18 |  Mattocracy | 

      The doctors salaries are not “about right.” The whole point of the articles was showing what happens when government artificially lowers supply. This has nothing to do with allowing every idiot with a chemistry degree to practice medicine. How could you read that article and interpret its contents into that layman’s comment? The point is that a lot of more than qualified people (who are not idiots) are kept out of the medical profession because of the AMA’s lobbying effort to keep the wages of doctors higher than the market would normally demand.

      Did you and I not read the same article here?

    19. #19 |  Marty | 

      thankfully, no hounds were shot in the raid.

    20. #20 |  Cynical In CA | 

      “Who wants to bet (even money/odds) that the US bails out a major airline inside 6 years? Anyone?”

      Already happened after 9-11. Bailed ‘em all out.

      Way I see it, in a few years there will be a single-payer system for everything.

    21. #21 |  Aresen | 

      “Who wants to bet (even money/odds) that the US bails out a major airline inside 6 years months?”

      Edited to bring it closer to a 50/50 proposition.

    22. #22 |  Aresen | 

      Argh.

      Meant to strike “years.”

    23. #23 |  shecky | 

      “The point is that a lot of more than qualified people (who are not idiots) are kept out of the medical profession because of the AMA’s lobbying effort to keep the wages of doctors higher than the market would normally demand.”

      Rigid standards do indeed keep people out of the profession. Especially when one sees the potential earnings doctors make. They simply don’t make enough to attract many potential candidates.

      Shortages of doctors also seems to be regional. Here in West L.A., if you throw a rock, you’ll hit a doctor. If anything, there’s a bit of a strange dynamic going on with health care. The more that’s available, the more people want. Which seems to be the real reason health care costs are so high. More doctors leads to more research, more treatments, more subspecialization, and ultimately more costs. Even if your family practice doc never gets a raise at all, he can now treat your weak boner, thinning hair and refer you to a wider variety of specialists for more serious afflictions that you simply had to live with 30 years ago.

      But sure, doctors make too much damn money. And chiropractors are a viable alternative. Let class warfare and flaky science lead the way.

    24. #24 |  Stephen | 

      I wonder how many people got scared off from helping in Katrina. I was actually thinking of loading up my truck and small boat until I started hearing all the scary stuff from the media. It would have been fun to be part of the “cajun navy”.

    25. #25 |  mark r | 

      “I really don’t mind the ones getting paid $400k after the hell they went through to get that degree”

      What we mind and don’t mind as salary’s doesn’t really matter, what matters is what the market determines the appropriate salary to be. While I’ll disagree with a lot of folks on here by saying that the government does need to get involved when things get ridiculously out of whack, the AMA’s stranglehold on washington is a major cause for a lot that’s wrong with health care.

      High salaries aren’t the problem, the way they’re generated is the problem. If a doctor ears his 400k a year by administering 40mln in services when 4mln are needed and 10 more on the margins of responsibility, there’s a big problem.

    26. #26 |  Leah | 

      I’m glad someone on the free market side noticed the midwifery issue. It’s a prime example of government collusion with industry. ~90% of women can safely deliver with a midwife, no surgeon needed. But with the supply of midwives cut short by licenses on practicing medicine, women have to go to OBs which is a surgical specialty. Then we wonder why the c-section rate is over 30%, why costs of health care are super high, why our infant/maternal mortality rate is higher than comparably advanced countries, etc.

      I’d love to have access to a midwife without having to drive an hour each way. As it is, I just had to spend a lot of time in Chicago traffic to get to a place that wasn’t a c-section factory.

    27. #27 |  tim | 

      TSA already enforced baggage size rules. If it doesn’t fit in the damn machine then it doesn’t get allowed passed. Good lord where do you people fly in which “trunks” would fit through the xray machine?

      I learned one lesson quickly when carriers started charging fees for checked in luggage. Don’t check in your luggage and when you get to the plane and there is no space – you luggage gets checked. Free.

      Or do a little thing called planning. You don’t need to carry your wardrobe with you. Hell my last four day trip to vegas I walked on with the clothes I had on and a credit card. Spent the first four hours shopping and than FedEx’d the clothes back at the end (actually I had the hotel do it – they even provided the box).

    28. #28 |  Frank N | 

      Doctor’s pay? Sheet Radley…my libertarian viewpoint aside, the whole gubmint into healthcare argument is about the most stupid idea I’ve heard out of DC…if Medicare which supports 40 million people and there is 80 billion lost to fraud per year….let’s see 80 Bil is to X as 40 Mil is to 300 Mil…. I say X times three years equals China is not financing our debt anymore when they realize they aint gots a snow balls chance in hell…

    29. #29 |  freedomfan | 

      Regarding the government theft of kennel dogs in Pennsylvania, I think this is a good lesson about how the good intentions of lawmakers are irrelevant to how laws will ultimately be abused during enforcement. I am a dog lover and when I hear stories of their mistreatment like the Vick case of a couple years ago, it sickens me. But, everyone needs to understand that we can’t have laws intended to protect dogs from mistreatment and not also have laws that allow the sort of abuse by law enforcers and inane results that we see in the Willard case. Law enforcement lying about where the seized dogs would be placed and intimidation about what other legal injury would be visited on the owner if she didn’t cooperate are both abuses inherent in having laws placing cops and bureaucrats above owners in determining animal welfare. We can’t have the laws without having the abuse. I would much rather not have those laws.

      BTW, the fact that there even is a Pennsylvania “Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement” should be enough to give people pause. Specialized “law enforcement” divisions like this will have a tendency to over-enforce laws to justify their existences. Does anyone think that department would willingly go away even if all Pennsylvanians were responsible pet owners? Or, would they start finding violations where none existed? Exactly.

    30. #30 |  Judi | 

      MEOW! I mean, my deepest condolences to Radley…the cat.

    31. #31 |  cApitalist | 

      Quite a few docs, myself included, want no part of the AMA because of this sort of statist bullshit. But its not the AMA itself that’s the problem. The problem is the AMA plus the omnipresent state. Cartels are unstable on a free market due to incentives to cheat and free entry of non-cartel members (see Rothbard). A cartel can only stand when given legal standing by the state, and this is exactly what has happened. The fix here is to handcuff or outright eliminate the state. As long as licensing requirements and restrictions are tolerated by the public, there will always be rationally self interested electricians, beauticians, and physicians looking to increase their salaries beyond market determined levels by restricting supply.

      As an aside, I agree that physician salaries would fall on an unencumbered market. However, they could enjoy an exponential increase in their productivity. A great deal of time is wasted working within and around bureaucratic restrictions. The best examples are documentation requirements and controlled substance restrictions. With these hurdles removed docs could see more patients in less time compensating for the fall to market billing levels. This income would be justly earned, and the most efficient/effective producers would still be well compensated. Sadly, this point is often overlooked by my colleagues, especially those in bed with the AMA.

    32. #32 |  Alan | 

      I still think that prosecutorial misconduct in cases where the death penalty is being sought should be followed with charges of conspiracy to commit murder. After all, they’re conspiring to have someone killed by a third party.

    33. #33 |  Michael | 

      Whenever I read misrepresentations as to the actual salaries of physicians, it makes my blood boil Never, during my short career, as a surgeon did my earnings approach $400,000! It never got over $130,000, but that was in a rural setting. My last years of practice were more like $70,000/yr. Yet, the CEO’s of HMO’s made millions, during the same time period. The $100 million CEO “bonuses” I read about, here on the Internet last week, added a few degrees to my blood temperature, as well!

      I heard of heart surgeons now becoming millionaires, but those are very specialized practices. General surgeons are actually being phased out. Their payment of $350 for appendectomies and hernias, do not provide the $400,000 income, stated in the article. Why should a person spend years on an education, then be denied fair compensation?! The people that think doctors make too much will get the care they paid for, in the end! I think I am witnessing that in the number of foreign names I see on shingles and in the yellow pages, now-a-days!

      I am no supporter of organized medicine and the AMA because they had been of any help to me! More of a hindrance. What I do recollect is the interference that all of these political groups had on a practice and the little assistance ever provided! Medical politics are just as much a cause of the problem, as anything else, so the AMA likely deserves some calling out! I just wonder how many competent doctors are not practicing in our country now, because of the heavy handed politics practiced in medicine and condoned by the AMA?

      The cost in many cases are just pure greed. I remember while working for an ER company that I was asked not to be re-scheduled for work at a particular hospital because I had a difference of opinion in their tactics to collect more for each ER visit. Just fill in the check boxes for the ROS (review of systems) and a few other things and the charge could be increased by $135 to each patient! It did not matter if the review was performed, only that the check marks were filled in! It did not matter that the kid only had a 3 stitch laceration! Charge them for a complete H&P, as well! But, his could be covered up by claiming it was “standard of care”? The crooks are everywhere! And, if you speak too loudly, you find yourself unemployed!

      The problems in the cost of medicine are very complex, partly because the hospitals want it that way! Nothing like my grandfather getting a hospital bill for my grandmother’s hospitalization, dated for when she was already laying in her grave! Fraud, I guess it was just an honest mistake! But, medicare paid it!

      Ask yourself, should a CEO for a medical company make millions of dollars a year? Should oil company CEO’s?

      PS the comments were very informative in the article, as well.

    34. #34 |  HB | 

      I’m surprised you haven’t covered this yet:

      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gtME6rwpVYyyaIuEi2CtxhMj9B7wD9AAOMA80

      Considering your interests, I’d assume there was a reason for this decision?

    35. #35 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

      #11 | Sam |

      As I understand it, the worst of the hell medical students go through is unnecessary and counter-productive. Other countries don’t demand massive sleep deprivation from interns, and get doctors that are about as good.

      Exhausted people are a danger to themselves (car accidents) and others.

    36. #36 |  Sam | 

      I read that article and came to those conclusions because I am precisely one of the people you’re talking about when you discuss the free market impact of the economic value of education. I had every intention of becoming a doctor but when I looked at the requirements halfway through college (yes, the sleep deprivation is idiotic, and that doesn’t make it *not* something I’d have had to go through) and the compensation (as mentioned above, most docs don’t make much more than I do as an engineer and I don’t have to pay malpractice) I made a personal decision to back off of my drive to get an MD. The AMA’s political impact was not something I intended to comment on nor do I think I did. I was discussing the idea, focused very tightly on in that article, that doctors are paid too much money. My answer is “the hell they are”. The shitty compensation for the effort input (not to mention the possibility of failing after 8 years) drove me to veer away from a career in medicine and I’m damned sure not the only one in my group of pre-med students that made the same decision for the same reasons.

      Oh, and many of those pre-med students start out with a chemistry or biology degree. Lots of schools don’t have an official premed course, which is how I ended up in chemistry, which is how I ended up in chemical engineering, which is how I know a gal that went to med school with a chemistry degree that couldn’t do basic math with scientific notation. She really really wanted to be a doctor and I’m really really glad she didn’t make it through her second year in med school…but she sure was accepted.
      A doctor makes damned decent money, it’s not worth it, it’s obviously not worth it, we have a shortage of docs and have for a long time, and there’s your free market. Too bad the gov’t helps keep it that way.

    37. #37 |  Sam | 

      I’d also disagree about doctors in all other countries (maybe you didn’t mean ALL, but you didn’t specify one for us to chat about) being about as good. Some are, some aren’t, and the more the method of selection looks like the US method the better they generally turn out…no, that’s not based on a study I can link, but I have been involved in life flighting people out of east european countries to KU med because the doctors there would do fun things like stop IV medication at night when they went home. Just because good people still become doctors in a bad system doesn’t mean it’s a good system. The US system isn’t superb but it at least keeps out anyone without serious motivation.

    38. #38 |  omar | 

      Rigid standards do indeed keep people out of the profession.

      Standards. ha!

      I dated a girl who took her med school in the bahamas. She spent most of her time working on her alsoholism and addiction to pills. When she returned to the US and became an intern (pre-resident, i’m not sure, she was wasted and could never explain it fully), her med student friends were all fucked up all the time. And they were all becoming doctors.

      I don’t have a free-market vs. single payer system argument to make here. I’m just saying – don’t put your doctor on a pedestal… most intelligent people with a degree in English are one standardized test and trip to the loan office from med school, no matter how crazy and messed up they are.

    39. #39 |  Big Chief | 

      Michael #33,
      Where were you when my wife got an appendectomy? The $350 you charged didn’t even cover the cost of the 10 mile ambulance ride from the urgent care facility we went to to the hospital!! Her surgery and one day stay in the hospital was billed out at thousands. Our out-of-pocket cost was close to a thousand.

      #23 – There may be a glut of doctors in West L.A., but it’s not true across the country. There are lots of places where there are a lot of places, especially in rural areas, where doctors are hard to find.

      It’s clear that the medical system needs to be reformed. It’s a damn shame the only reform being considered will be to make it worse, not better.

    40. #40 |  Michael | 

      Big Chief,

      That was the “usual and customary” for a rural surgeon, in the 90’s! OR what medicare said you were allowed to charge. I was told, by the “good old boys” on the state medical board, that at $70,000 a year, I had a really good income! I was in a rural area in one of the southern states!

      I, too was charged $5,000 for an outpatient hernia surgery during that time! Fact was, with a large opiate dose on board, I was given IV anti-inflammatory (Toradol) that killed my pain completely! Then, I was not breathing because I was over-medicated on the opiates! I had an apnea monitor for six hours after the operation and paid out the butt for the “service”, when I could have died from the inability of the anesthesiologist to see what he had done! A little Narcan would have stopped it all and my pain would still have been relieved by the Toradol. Obviously, we, doctors, don’t know it all!

    41. #41 |  David Chesler | 

      For a white woman, that Solnit is sure hung up about race :-)

      “[The birthers] evidence is non-existent” — not true. Maybe not convincing, but there is evidence.

      Like Sam, I did pre-med through my sophomore year in college. I wanted to do medicine, and I’d gotten through organic chemistry, but I didn’t want it enough to go through medical school and internship. My roommate did. He makes 4 times what I make, hasn’t been unemployed, and lives in a much more expensive house than I do. He’s a pathologist now (no live patients, just slides) but he’s under a lot more pressure every day than I am, and still works more hours. If I had it to do again I wouldn’t go into medicine. (If I’d had time to think about it I’d have gone for law when I was still living like a student, not a single parent.) Most medical professionals are well aware that the internship hardships are barriers to entry to keep the salaries as high as they are. But on the front lines, there is a free market to an approximation — people rationally turn down the chance to be doctors.
      I tell kids software is nice work if you can get it, but with outsourcing and non-immigrant visas don’t count on getting it. Plenty of doctors I know tell kids it’s not worth it, and likely to be less worth it in coming years.

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