Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It
by Michael F. Cannon and Michael D. Tanner
Healthy Competition was published in 2005, but I pulled it off my shelf and reread it in early 2017, in the midst of the discourse about how to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare). Both the ACA and the proposed replacement focus on insurance, ignoring the exorbitant cost of health care in the United States. In this book, Cato Institute scholars Michael Cannon and Michael Tanner examine how the basic economic principles of price transparency, competition, and consumer choice could lower costs, reduce waste, and increase quality of care. Continue reading
The Art of Relevance
by Nina Simon
This book explains how museums and other nonprofit organizations can expand audiences and build stronger connections with targeted communities. The author is executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH).
“I believe relevance unlocks new ways to build deep connections with people who don’t immediately self-identify with our work. I believe relevance is the key to a locked room where meaning lives… Behind the door is a room that holds something powerful—information, emotion, experience, value… Relevance is the key to that door.”
“Instead of talking about ‘traditional’ approaches and ‘new’ ones, I find it more productive to talk about insiders and outsiders…” Continue reading
Urgent Care: 10 Cures for America’s Ailing Healthcare System
by Minda Wilson, J.D.
As I write this in early 2017, there is much chatter about the potential repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) commonly known as Obamacare. I was motivated to read this book to get beyond the myopic hysteria and gain a deeper understanding of the problems and possible solutions presented by healthcare attorney Minda Wilson.
“The United States has the world’s highest [per-capita] healthcare cost, double that of Canada… The number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is due to overbearing healthcare costs… A devastating illness means that, beyond your deductible, you could be responsible for a minimum of 30 percent of the medical bills incurred if you stay in-network. If you go outside of your network, then you could be responsible for between 50 percent and 100 percent of every bill.”
Wilson asks, “Why did the [ACA] focus on providing insurance and not healthcare?” I think this is the fundamental issue. The cost of insurance is a function of the cost of claims. So if the main focus is on subsidizing premiums, the law simply masked the underlying problem rather than solving it. “To be clear, deductibles, copays, and/or the costs of excluded care or limits on care were not included in this measure of affordability.” Continue reading
The Truth About Art: Reclaiming Quality
by Patrick Doorly
“A bad work of art is an oxymoron, like bad skill,” writes Patrick Doorly, art history professor at Oxford University. “Art is high-quality endeavor.”
“Quality is not a thing but an event. When the subject [viewer] becomes aware of the object [art], quality describes the relationship that binds them… Beauty does not lie in the eye of the beholder, but that eye and the mind behind it form one half of the dynamic relationship we experience as beauty.”
The quality experience is preverbal. “It operates prior to intellectualization.”
The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson
This book explores the enjoyment of viewing art within the framework of flow, the psychology of optimal experience. Flow is an intrinsically rewarding feeling of total involvement in an activity. To be fully engaged in a state of flow, one must be skilled and challenged. The author studied museum professionals as a proxy for the more general art viewing population.
“The experience is one of an initial perceptual hook followed by a more detached, intellectual appreciation that returns the viewer to the work with a deeper understanding.”
“The best examples of objects containing such challenges are works whose meaning appears to be inexhaustible.” As one respondent put it, “‘A good painting will never be used up.’”
Four dimensions of aesthetic experience are explored: cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and communicative.
by Harry G. Frankfurt
“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” Bullshit can refer to a number of things, including pointless tasks or requirements, but the main topic of this book is the widespread disregard for truth in speech and writing. Continue reading
Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School
Compiled and Edited by Carl Japikse
Benjamin Franklin is well known as an important figure in American history. He was a printer, publisher, postmaster, inventor, and ambassador. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But he also had a sense of humor. This book contains a collection of his humorous writing, including hoaxes and political satire. Much of these works were written anonymously or under pseudonyms, such as a Richard Saunders, publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack.
Here are some excerpts.
A Letter to the Royal Academy, 1781. The Royal Academy of Brusselles held a contest in which scientists submitted solutions to a given theoretical problem. Franklin submitted this suggestion for a contest theme with more practical value: “My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the Natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.”