Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities
by George L. Kelling and Catherine M. Coles
The origin of broken windows theory was an article in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson about the link between disorder and serious crime. The term comes from an analogy: “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones… One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares.” Continue reading →
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters
by Tom Nichols
This book is about the erosion of respect for facts, logical analysis, and critical thinking. Uninformed opinions carry the same weight as expert opinions. There is no vetting of dubious sources from credible sources. Beliefs are conflated with facts. It is in this climate that hoaxes, conspiracy theories, fake news, propaganda, and all manner of bullshit thrive. Tom Nichols, professor of national security at US Naval War College, examines this phenomenon and some of the causes, including higher education, technology, and the news media. Continue reading →
Affordable Excellence: The Singapore Healthcare Story
by William A. Haseltine
The Singapore healthcare system produces world-class outcomes at half the cost of Western European countries and less than one-fourth the cost of the United States: Singapore spends 4% of GDP on healthcare; the United States spends 18%. The World Health Organization ranked Singapore 6th in overall performance; the United States ranked 37th. (See page 200, The World Health Report 2000.)
Looking at costs of specific procedures, ”an angioplasty in the United States is almost $83,000, while in Singapore the cost is about $13,000. A gastric bypass in the United States is almost $70,000, while in Singapore the cost is $15,000. (These figures are in US dollars and include at least one day of hospitalization).”
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 →
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 3rd Way: Building Inclusive Capitalism through Employee Ownership
by Upendra Chivukula and Veny W. Musum
The subject of The 3rd Way sounds intriguing: addressing income inequality by expanding incentives for Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and reforming the corporate tax code. While I think the authors have good intentions, their thesis is flawed. Continue reading →
Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource
by David Sedlak
David Sedlak is a professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In this book he explains the history, science, engineering, and political aspects of water and sewer systems. First, it may be helpful to decode the title:
Water 1.0—a system of importing and distributing water.
Water 2.0—drinking water treatment including filtration and chlorination.