Misleading World Health Rankings

(Sorry to disappoint the far Left that perversely revels in decrying our superior health system. But, Obamacare could well make their wishes come true) jsk

By Sally C. Pipes
Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2013

Misleading World Health Rankings

The federally chartered Institute of Medicine issued a comprehensive report last month on the state of American health. Saying that, “Other high-income countries outrank the United States on most measures of health,” the report concluded that the US “is among the wealthiest nations in the world, but it is far from the healthiest.”

To fix this state of affairs, the authors called on America’s leaders to consider “policies that countries with superior health status have found useful and that might be adapted for the United States.” But the institute’s report doesn’t tell the whole story. Its key measurements aren’t directly related to the quality of American health care.

In truth, health care in the US continues to be the envy of the world. The study looked at 13 developed countries in Europe, along with Australia, Japan, Canada and the US. It found that Americans suffer from higher rates of several diseases—including HIV/AIDS, heart disease and diabetes and rank near the bottom in some common measurements of public health. Consider life expectancy. The US was ranked last for men with an average 75.64 years compared with 79.33 in top-ranked Switzerland and second-to-last for women at 80.68 years, compared with 85.98 in top-ranked Japan.

Lower life expectancy is less than ideal but, its also not a good measure of a country’s health care. In fact, the study’s lead author, Virginia Commonwealth University Family Medicine Professor Steven Woolf, recently told reporters that fife expectancy and other noted health outcomes are determined “by much more than health care.” He added: “Much of our health disadvantage comes from factors outside of the medical system and outside of what doctors and hospitals can do.”

For instance, a comparatively high rate of fatal car accidents and murders in the U.S. diminishes overall life expectancy. Another major gauge of health is infant mortality. As the report’s authors point out, the U.S. has the highest infant-mortality rate among high income countries. Again, this isn’t a good indicator of the quality of the American health care system. The elevated US rate is a function of both the technological advancement of American hospitals and discrepancies in how different countries defines live birth.

Doctors in the US are much more aggressive than foreign counterparts about trying to save premature babies. Thousands of babies that would have been declared stillborn in other countries and never given a chance at life are saved in the US. As a result, the percentage of pre-term births in America is exceptionally high – 65% higher than in Britain, and about double the rates in Finland and Greece.

Unfortunately, some of the pre-mature babies that American hospitals try to save don’t make it. Their community deaths inflate the overall infant mortality rate. But most premature babies are saved, largely because America’s, medical research community is exceptionally innovative.

There’s a laundry list of modem medical advancements used to treat a premature baby: suction devices to clear the baby’s mouth and lungs of amniotic fluid, miniature catheters to deliver vital fluids and medications, and emergency incubators equipped with sophisticated temperature regulation technologies. Thanks to such technologies, the US neo-natal mortality rate has dropped to just 5% today from 95% in the 1960s.

The Institute of Medicine report ignores one of America’s chief health care assets: the country’s superiority in medical innovation. American researchers are responsible for a disproportionate number of break through medicines and procedures. Scientific research conducted in the US contributed to at least 20 of the top 27 diagnostic and therapeutic advances of the last 40 years, according to a 2009 study for the Cato Institute economist Glen Whitman and physician Haymond Raad. The European Union and Switzerland contributed to just 14 of those breakthroughs.

This American strength may soon be diminished by ObamaCare. The law saddles the pharmaceutical industry with $28 billion in new taxes through 2019. As of Jan. 1, medical-device firms must pay a 2.3% tax on sales. The tax is projected to extract as much as $29 billion over 10 years. That is money that can’t go to research and development. Several top device firms, including Stryker, Zimmer, Welch-Allen and Covidian have already announced cutbacks in research investments.

Make no mistake—there is plenty of work to be done in improving American health. But the statistics in the Institute of Medicine report don’t reflect flaws in the US health-care system. Sustaining a superior level of medical innovation will do far more to improve Americans’ health than adopting the health care policies from overseas.

Ms. Pipes is president, CEO and fellow in health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is “The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle and Replace Obamacare”
(Regnery, 2012).

How come we are so far in the red? Where’s all our money going?

Taxation Without Cessation

How come we are so far in the red? Where’s all our money going?

Redacted from an editorial by Jeffrey H. Anderson

The Weekly Standard Editorial
January 21, 2013

While the press was distracted by the misnamed “fiscal cliff” we began the New Year with a 13-figure deficit and a 14-figure national debt-the result of today’s Americans borrowing vast sums of money and putting it on future Americans tab. The two parties offer rather different explanations for the cause of this unsustainable transfer of wealth from the young and the unborn to the old, which the “fiscal cliff deal — at least on paper— only made worse.

President Obama and the Democrats suggest that federal tax revenues have fallen, while federal spending has generally proceeded at reasonable levels. Republicans suggest that tax revenues have more or less flatlined, while spending has skyrocketed. Neither explanation is fully accurate. In truth, taxes have risen substantially. Yet these substantial increases in federal taxation have been dwarfed by an explosion in federal spending.

According to White House, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and U.S. Census tallies, when John F. Kennedy was in the White House in 1962, federal tax revenues were $534 per capita or $4,178 in today’s dollars. Last year, according to those same sources, federal tax revenues were $7793 per capita. So, from 1962 to 2012, taxes rose 87 percent even after accounting for inflation and population growth. In other words, across the past 50 years, real (inflation-adiusted) per-capita taxes have nearly doubled.

Of course, this 87 percent increase in per-capita taxation hasn’t remotely kept the federal government from racking up higher deficit spending. With JFK in the White House in 1962, the federal government spent 7 percent more than it had available to spend-$1.07 going out for every $1 coming in. With Obama in the White House, it has spent $1.56 for every $1 available.

…What are we spending such colossal sums of borrowed money on? Well, we’re clearly not spending them on defense. According to official White House and CBO tallies, from 1962 to 2012, the share of total federal spending that went to national defense fell from nearly half (49 percent) to less than a fifth (19 percent). Where, then, is all of the borrowed money going? Here’s a hint: Medicare and Medicaid—and now Obamacare—didn’t exist in 1962.

… Over the past 50 years, defense spending has essentially flatlined, taxation has nearly doubled, total federal spending has far more than doubled, and nondefense spending has quadrupled. In that light, only the most stubborn ideologue could blame our mind-boggling deficits on insufficient taxation or excessive defense spending.

… Just days after the 40th-anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as private extravagance.” He warned that “public debt” is the “fore horse” of the “frightful team” of public mismanagement that leads to the “misery,” “suffering,” “wretchedness,” and “oppression” of private citizens.

As we begin 2013, we would do well to start heeding Jefferson’s warning. The only way to escape our worsening fiscal calamity is by substantially reforming Medicare and Medicaid to make them affordable, replacing Obamacare (which will require having a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who can persuasively advance a replacement), enacting pro-growth policies, and—most simply—cutting federal spending almost across the board. A half-century during which we’ve nearly doubled our taxes and quadrupled our non defense spending is a sufficiently lengthy experiment in gross fiscal mismanagement. It’s time for overdue leadership and meaningful reform.

Media deliberately buries Victor Davis Hanson’s thorough devastating article explaining the Obama/US Economy.

Please forward to everyone you know. I could not find it on the Internet

Media deliberately buries Victor Davis Hanson’s thorough devastating article explaining the Obama/US Economy.

The Jewish Press May 18, 2012

Most economists since 2009 have been completely wrong in their forecasts, reminding us that their supposedly data-driven discipline is more an art than a science. After all, a great deal of money is invested and spent – or not — based largely on perceptions, hunches, and emotions rather than a 100 percent certainty of profit or loss.

And the message Americans are getting is that the Obama administration is hostile to investment and business, and thus should be waited out. Despite the stimulus of borrowing over $5 trillion in less than four years, near-zero interest rates, and chronic deficits, the U.S. economy is in the weakest recovery since the Great Depression and mired in the longest streak of continuous unemployment of 8 percent or higher – 38 months since the 1930s. The Mexican economy is growing more rapidly than ours.

Why did the massive annual $1 trillion-plus deficits fail to spark a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as new public works projects were heralded by the administration? Much of the answer is found in the collective psyche of those Americans who traditionally hire, purchase or invest capital. An economy is simply the aggregate of millions of private agendas, of people sensing and reacting to a commonly perceived landscape. Yet since January 2009, that landscape has been bleak and foreboding.

Take the debt. The problem is not just that Obama has borrowed $5 trillion in less than four years, but also that he has offered few plans to reduce the ongoing borrowing and none at all to pay down the debt. Instead, he has demonized as heartless anyone who opposes his serial $1 trillion annual deficits. That demoralizes the public, who privately know that they cannot buy everything they might wish, and who expect that government will not, either. In the business community, there is the unspoken assumption that, at some point very soon, either taxes will have to rise, the currency will have to inflate radically, or debts will have to be renounced – all equally foreboding for those with capital.

Take energy. We are reminded that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) oil fields in Alaska, and others far greater there, are still off limits. So too are over 25 million barrels off the California coast. Federal leases have been vastly curtailed in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Eastern Seaboard, and in the American West. The cancellation of the Keystone pipeline, which would have kept billions of U.S. petrodollars inside North America, coupled with Solyndra-like federally subsidized solar and wind boondoggles, sent the message that the government would oppose energy that was profitable and subsidize sources that were not.

Worse still, in less than four years we have now an entire corpus of Obama-administration quotations blasting fossil-fuel energy. The president himself promised skyrocketed energy prices with his now-stalled cap-and-trade proposals. He mused that new regulations might bankrupt coal-burning companies. He ridiculed the idea of increasing oil and gas supplies by more drilling and instead pointed to the importance of proper tire pressure and regular tune-ups and spoke of tapping Americas vast algae resources. (Huh?)

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who as a senator had claimed that even $10-a-gallon gas would not prompt him to open up federal lands for oil and gas leases, shrugged that there is no way of knowing whether $9-a-gallon gas is on the horizon. More recently, it was disclosed that an EPA regional administrator had bragged of trying to “crucify” and “make examples” of gas and oil companies in the manner that the Romans did to conquered peoples.

The current renaissance in American oil and gas production is primarily a private effort to drill on private land, despite rather than because of the Obama administration. Obama’s taking credit for private companies* finding new sources of low-priced oil and gas only heightens the sense of private-sector cynicism and pessimism. The result is that “speculators” do not believe oil companies will be given access to enormous energy reserves on public lands — and that, to the degree they drill new wells on private lands, a horde of apparatchiks (government flunkies) will make life difficult for them.

Take also new mandates. The problem with Obamacare is not just that it represents a vast new entitlement at a time of record annual deficits, but that no one knows how much it will cost employers to enroll their employees. Potential hirers instead suspect only that their healthcare expenses will spike, and those who are politically connected, for that very reason, have sought and obtained exemptions from the Obama administration.
The public likewise suspects Obamacare will come to resemble the hated Transportation Security Administration (TSA) they see at airports – lots of employees milling around, little guarantee that the job at hand is done well, and an evident resentment of federal employees toward the public they serve.

Take wealth. Obama has ridiculed those who have done well as fat cats, corporate-jet owners, people who don*t pay their fair share or don*t know when to stop making money. But the problem with this boilerplate populism is that it does not emanate from the muscular classes and is not aimed uniformly at the proverbial rich. The first family vacations in Martha’s*s Vineyard, Costa del Sol, Vail, and Aspen, not at Camp David; and the lieutenants in this class warfare are themselves one-percenters – Al Gore, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, etc.

The only thing more discouraging to investors than class warfare generally is a certain type of class warfare: a hypocritical crusade that emanates from the upper classes and selectively targets enemies on the basis not of wealth, but of the degree to which they have failed to buy exemptions with their wealth. If one were to dream up a perfect way to destroy incentives on both the top and bottom ends, one could do no better than what we have seen since 2009.

The net result is that those with capital, even if they are small businesses, do not believe the Obama administration likes them. They feel regulations will increase, taxes will increase, energy costs will increase, and that as they pay more to government and keep less, government will nevertheless become even more arrogant and inefficient and they will become even more demonized.

When people pay over 50 percent in payroll, federal, state, and local taxes and are still caricatured as “not paying their fair share,” a sort of collective shrug follows and bodes ill for the economy at large. One need not be liked to make money, but the constant presidential harangues finally take their toll in insidious ways.

I don’t know whether Mitt Romney’s economic package will bring instant prosperity. But, I suspect the fact alone that it is not what we have seen and heard for the last four years will unleash a pent-up energy of the sort we have not seen in a long time.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and the author of numerous books on military history. He blogs at Pajamas Media (http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson)