Friday, December 12, 2014

JAMA Network | JAMA | Reshaping US Health Care: From Competition and Confiscation to Cooperation and Mobilization


In this issue of JAMA, 3 Viewpoints, by Powers et al,1 Fuchs,2 and Fisher and Corrigan,3 address problems, possibilities, and mechanisms for reshaping the US health care enterprise to better meet community needs at an affordable cost.

In their Viewpoint, Powers et al1 grapple with a question as old as democracy: How can productive collective action, which is required for a state to succeed, emerge from the factional divisions for which protection is required for democratic principles to succeed?

The founding fathers of the United States debated this vigorously. In the most famous Federalist Paper,4 Madison favored a large republic in the hands of a meritocracy to counterbalance the passions of a majority “faction” that might overwhelm legitimate minority interests. Others wanted to protect states’ powers, arguing that smaller political units could be more responsive to local groups.

Madison defined a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”4

Health care is ground zero for this problem, and the stakes are immense. Health care is a behemoth “faction” that controls one-sixth of the US economy and distorts the nation’s economic and political future. I recently ran as a candidate for governor of Massachusetts, and, in the course of an 18-month campaign, I saw vividly the effect of this dominating industry on the opportunities for the total well-being of a population of nearly 7 million people.

JAMA Network | JAMA | Reshaping US Health Care:  From Competition and Confiscation to Cooperation and Mobilization

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Robert Nozick, father of libertarianism: Even he gave up on the movement he inspired.

Thought I’d blogged this before, but this is from an excellent piece on Libertarianism’s most famous proponent and his own change in perspective later in life.

How could a thinker as brilliant as Nozick stay a party to this? The answer is: He didn't. "The libertarian position I once propounded," Nozick wrote in an essay published in the late '80s, "now seems to me seriously inadequate." In Anarchy democracy was nowhere to be found; Nozick now believed that democratic institutions "express and symbolize … our equal human dignity, our autonomy and powers of self-direction." In Anarchy, the best government was the least government, a value-neutral enforcer of contracts; now, Nozick concluded, "There are some things we choose to do together through government in solemn marking of our human solidarity, served by the fact that we do them together in this official fashion ..."

We're faced then with two intriguing mysteries. Why did the Nozick of 1975 confuse capital with human capital? And why did Nozick by 1989 feel the need to disavow the Nozick of 1975? The key, I think, is recognizing the two mysteries as twin expressions of a single, primal, human fallibility: the need to attribute success to one's own moral substance, failure to sheer misfortune. The effectiveness of the Wilt Chamberlain example, after all, is best measured by how readily you identify with Wilt Chamberlain. Anarchy is nothing if not a tour-de-force, an advertisement not just for libertarianism but for the sinuous intelligence required to put over so peculiar a thought experiment. In the early '70s, Nozick—and this is audible in the writing—clearly identified with Wilt: He believed his talents could only be flattered by a free market in high value-add labor. By the late '80s, in a world gone gaga for Gordon Gekko and Esprit, he was no longer quite so sure.

Robert Nozick, father of libertarianism: Even he gave up on the movement he inspired.

Sphere: Related Content