Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Reason’s editor-in-chief on the superiority of the French health care system. He makes many good points, but I was especially struck by this:

What’s more, none of these anecdotes scratches the surface of France’s chief advantage, and the main reason socialized medicine remains a perennial temptation in this country: In France, you are covered, period. It doesn’t depend on your job, it doesn’t depend on a health maintenance organization, and it doesn’t depend on whether you filled out the paperwork right.

Assuming the US enacts health care reform, Americans still won’t be “covered, period”.  All this effort and expense, and they still won’t have that assurance.

Oddly enough, as I argued in the summer, the French system has many structural features in common with America’s: they are not as far apart as you might think. Not that this makes the French model easy for the US to copy.

The success of the French system does not establish the superiority of public insurance. It establishes the superiority of a system that, as much by historical accident as by design, has kept doctors’ pay very low. This, in turn, requires a medical-liability regime that minimizes litigation (so much for patients’ rights in that sense) and guarantees essentially free training for medical professionals.

The idea that France’s system could be grafted onto the American setup is most misleading. To be sure, in organizational terms, it could be. Structurally, the two countries’ systems are not that different. The French scheme is like Medicare on a much larger scale — with all the virtues and drawbacks of that system. But plug American rates of pay into that design and the impressive cost advantage vanishes.

The case for optimism on the economy. Alan Blinder, WSJ

The case for high-frequency trading. Burton Malkiel, FT

Krugman v Eggertsson. Scott Sumner, The Money Illusion (via Greg Mankiw)

The battle to redefine humanity. George Monbiot, Guardian. The stress of Copenhagen begins to tell. Or else George needs to adjust his medication.

I lead a mostly peaceful life, but my dreams are haunted by giant aurochs. All those of us whose blood still races are forced to sublimate, to fantasise. In daydreams and video games we find the lives that ecological limits and other people’s interests forbid us to live.

Speak for yourself, George. Still, your piece is spot on about one thing. You rightly draw attention to the “vicious battle” between “road safety campaigners and speed freaks”, regarding it as emblematic of the larger crisis of our civilisation. Yes indeed. This world-historical conflict has received too little attention.

We must include better compliance with all traffic laws in our new definition of humanity. This I believe.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

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