Monday, December 29, 2008

Threads of an ongoing discussion

It is the following issue that rightfully has most students of our health care system upset

For what it is worth, I am not sure one can take away as much from this graph as it initially suggests. At least you cannot if your initial reaction is similar to mine- we now spend so much money on health care in the US that the spending is starting to crowd out other spending such as smaller primary school classroom sizes or better road safety, etc... all of which MIGHT have a larger effect on our median national longevity per dollar of money spent than spending another dollar on health care might have- clearly some types of health care spending have diminishing returns. For there are many other explanations that are just as plausible and which I will not address here today.

Anyway, what this data does strongly suggest to me is that it
was no accident Massachusetts was the first state in our union to pass universal health coverage. The uninsured have a bigger problem there than in other areas of the country. Further, human nature what it is, the citizens of Massachusetts followed the same old rule: spoil the commons before they actually need to make painful personal choices. For while it may not be completely clear from this data, a clever reader should immediately recognize that universal coverage in Massachusetts did nothing to address their TOTAL SPENDING issue (and indeed, as many of you may already be aware, spending has actually increased since universal coverage was passed).

Another suggestion from these charts is America MAY be in the midst of the granddaddy of all health care spending bubbles. And IF this is true, it is likely that states like Massachusetts (and regions like Long Island), where far more money is spent per person than in (say) Arizona or Georgia, are likely at the greatest risk for a severe contraction should the bubble pop. For even if all states in the union equally spend 16% of their GDP on health care, Massachusetts' 16% would be on a much higher dollar per person. And while one could argue this must reflect Massachusetts larger wealth per person, one forgets the chicken and egg nature of economic bubbles- more health spending begets a stronger local economy which in turn begets more health spending, etc... So if the 16% were held constant, but there was a more equitable redistribution of the money spent per person between (say) Georgia and Massachusetts, the net effect would cause a MUCH greater contraction in Massachusetts' economy than in Georgia.

Further, were the 16% national GDP devoted to health spending to contracts to (say) 11%, which is much closer in line with other OECD countries, Boston and Long Island would be in very BIG trouble as they would face a reduction on both an absolute and a % basis. Under such a scenario, Boston or Long Island could easily see an economic contraction on the order of 8 to 9% (which would be a very nasty recession indeed).

Living under the aegis of big government spending can be very risky, in fact every bit as risky as living under the aegis of free market private corporations, as the residents of any town that has been downsized under BRAC realignment can attest.

Risk is always conserved and bubbles are inevitable.


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Cottonbloggin said...

Hey Thai.

I figured I would answer you over here. I think I've clogged up Hell's comment section enough lately.

Anyway, we're both working towards the same end. I call it VALUE systems, you call it the tragedy of the commons, but however it's worded, the concepts underlaying each amount to the same thing.

I studied architecture. ALL classical architecture is based on the Greek system of proportion. That proportion (the golden mean) is almost identical to the fibonacci sequence (which is a fractal, and can be seen throughout the mandelbrot set)

I've spent years of my life studying "fractals" (though I didn't know it by that name until more recently). Not only academically, but also practically. feel free to check out my blog-repository:

What I learned by doing those sculptures (at least the white ones) is that fractals ARE evolution because they are based on a simple and recursive definition. L-systems are the best example of this. A very simple repeating structure can create a very complex thing in the end.

You know this.

And I learned this in my own way. All the white sculptures are built of garbage (rectilinear) which... thru very simple processes became (curvilinear) sculptures.


Those simple processes require TIME in order to build upon one another. But, what is TIME? This was the philosophical question I had to address in order to understand what I was doing. I may have a difficult time explaining it, but there are 2 components of Time

1-the system of measure of duration based on the SI unit of the second
2- that which is being measured

it is easy to define 1. it is a system of measurement much like the ruler. That ruler tool measures a concept called space. But what does the clock/ watch "tool" measure?

Now, I don't know about you, but when I boil water it never happens instantaneously. It is a process of transformation of energy which builds on itself (much like L-systems do) to desired effect.

And IF (i stress that), IF I can amend the first law of Thermodynamics to say that the process of transformation in energy is NON-instantaneous (meaning that it is a simple, recursive pattern of DEVOLUTION [because of entropy]) then I can show that Energy is FRACTAL (which makes it clear WHY we see fractals everywhere).


you (of all people) LOL-ing me when I asked Hell if I could amend the first law of thermodynamics... well... let's just say I felt betrayed-- and without ever having said anything. And besides, I didn't do any harm to the conservation of energy. I just added an element to it.

now, as for your question about my E=m(ds/dt)2 relativity "proof"... it is most certainly NOT contradicting relativity. It is adding to relativity, because it is saying that MY equation (without c) is nothing more than a simple, recursive equation, and is the FRACTAL (un)building block of the universe. (but only on one manifold)


there's a lot more. the heisenburg uncertainty principal in quantum mechanics... well, it fits in my head, but It is difficult for me to explain right now.

that and the end goal of all of this, believe it or not, is a moral and ethical system (based on wisdom) that helps to solve the tragedy of the commons... But that would take a lot longer to explain, and that's why I'm writing the book.

Thai said...

CB, I completely agree with you regarding values=commons= a myriad of other terms one could use. I especially agree with the 'difficulty holding it in my head'... fractals do that

Please let me think about your idea for a while, I don't tend to see fractals from quite the vantage you clearly see them so I need to think on this a little.

But I will add that from my perspective, energy is WAY fractal. Just think of the experiment where a single electron was fired thru the double slit. A single electron still yields an interference pattern. The electron has to be from iterations of yet smaller building blocks, that is how waves are formed.

I remember reading this article on new scientist last year suggesting other physicists think the very universe might be fractal.

If you have come up with a 'values system', I would be interested to hear it, though my gut tells me that it is unlikely to be 'useful' in the sense that fractals themselves suggest to me the zero sum nature of everything. Fractals are simply different ways to "build a bread box".

Thai said...

And again, please accept my apology for any insult you took at my LOL. I was thinking about debts and budgets and how people always seem to bust them.

Debra said...

Well, well, what a small world...
I'm coming to this discussion a little...late, and with nothing to add on the fractals side of things, Thai. (I have no background whatsoever in physics or mathematics, and at this late stage, no desire to amend this state of affairs...)
From what I understand of Hell's view, which I totally agree with, the "system" has now pinned its permagrowth hopes on the medical INDUSTRY (yuccky...).
I, for one, have not been to see the doctor since last September. And I am more and more refractory to swallowing anything that resembles a pill in any form. The therapeutic bent of our current civilization which is soddenly determined to take most of the pleasure and joy out of our INDIVIDUAL existences by transforming our pasttimes into "therapeutic" activities has disgusted me.
It is a form of disguised Puritanism.
And I have sabotaged the word "therapeutic" to make it read "teratopeutic". And am quite pleased by this little transformation, while we're at it.

I got all choked up watching Susan Boyle's performance on British television. It was great.
And your link confirms my impression that you are a SECRET sentimental, Thai.
It is time to come out of the closet and join the feeling people of the human species who are PROUD to affirm that WE are sentimental romantics at heart. And we still watch "The Sound of Music" from time to time...
And you really should put aside your prejudices and check Emile out of the library, because you would be incredibly surprised at it. How can you go wrong with a book that was burned on publication, its author hounded out of the country ? Remember Fahrenheit 451 ?

Thai said...

Debra said "I, for one, have not been to see the doctor since last September. And I am more and more refractory to swallowing anything that resembles a pill in any form."

My response: Please don't do anything silly. Like everything in life, medicine is about balance/proportion. Not knowing your personal medical history, I can't say if avoiding pills is a good idea or not. But I can definitely say that always avoiding pills is a really bad idea if you want to live longer and/or have a good quality of life during that (potentially) longer lifespan.

Debra said "with nothing to add on the fractals side of things..."

My response: you don't need any math!

Please watch this video and you will see how truly beautiful fractals are and why Cottonbloggin (an artist) sees them intuitively (as many many artists like him do).

Much of the video link is actually about fractals in art and architecture- most Islamic design is entirely based on fractals.

It truly is your loss if you don't watch the video to understand what we are talking about.

... And Debra, why would you think I don't have any passion/am not sentimental? Why do you think seeing all this pointless suffering and waste of resources gets to me? Why do you think I am annoyed at how we waste resources that could be used for other (and in my opinion "better") purposes?

Do you think it is because I don't care????


PS- watch the video. It isn't too long and it is really really good.

Thai said...

And Debra, I forgot to add a response to your comment "It is a form of disguised Puritanism".

My response: please be kind to us puritans. I am a strong believer than it puritanism has always been one of the seeds of American exceptionalism.

Like many many ideas, puritanism has been widely misunderstood which is sad as it is actually easily convertible into today's modern value/thought systems.

Puritanism had 5 main elements:

1. Depravity (notice my focus on conservation)
2. Covenant (notice my focus on personal integrity and personal responsibility)
3. Election (puritans thought only a few would enter heaven, in my view of things, not all ideas are equal)
4. Grace (meaning and intimacy with the devine. Notice your own views on this subject???)
5. Love (this last point is most often forgotten about those "evil" puritans, or those of us who kind of see of ourselves as their modern descendants)

Puritans ancestors of mine who crossed on the Mayflower most definitely changed the world for the better imho.