Best of the Week: July 25-31, 2010

10. Baby Baiting — Robin Templeton
9. An Honest Question for Wehner Fallacy Advocates — Jonathan Chait
8. Anatomy of Lehman’s Failure and the Importance of Liquidity Requirements — Economics of Contempt
7. Hospice Medical Care for Dying Patients — Atul Gawande
6. Report: “Correlation” Between U.S. Aid and Colombian Army Killings — Helda Martínez and Plan Colombia and Mexico — Greg Weeks
5. BP Oil Spill Questions — Jacob Davies
4. Five Myths About Unemployment — Heidi Shierholz and Senate Cutting Food Stamps to Pay for Medicaid and Teacher Funding — Ezra Klein
3. Five Myths About the Bush Tax Cuts — William G. Gale, Are We a Nation of Property Owners? — Uwe E. Reinhardt, and The Taxman Cometh — James Downie
2. The Roberts Court vs. Free Speech — David Cole
1. Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the U.S. Criminal Justice System — Bill Quigley, White Privilege Alive and Well — Matthew Yglesiasand Voting Behind Bars — Linda Greenhouse
BONUS: What Do You Lack? Probably Vitamin D — Jane E. Brody

Why It Is a Rising and Not a Setting Sun

“But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.” — Benjamin Franklin

It is a good morning. We haven’t had enough of those in this country in the past decade.

hat tip: Kevin Drum
hat tip: Kevin Drum

Last night, Congress approved the health care bill.

University of Rome Tor Vergata economist Robert Waldmann cried tears of joy. George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux wanted to vomit.

Okay, not everybody is happy this morning. For my less-enthused readers, I thought I’d post a special edition in our “What to Read” series. Herewith, I reproduce the best articles, columns, essays, and posts that I’ve read on the health care debate since I started this blog. But first, I want to second Steve Coll’s motion to celebrate one journalist in particular:

If you, like me, are uplifted by the historical potential of Sunday’s vote, then the best way to sit still inside what has happened is to scroll back through Ezra Klein’s blog. If you haven’t been reading Klein throughout the health care reform debate, you’ve missed one of the inspiring examples of how new forms of journalism in the hands of a new generation of journalists (who don’t always admire, but don’t always disrespect, the example of the generation before them) can produce vital new work. Klein is an example of a policy wonk in possession of both passionate opinion and scientific method who put himself into position to cover the dull-but-important story of a lifetime.

Coll has inspired me to create a new tradition for this blog: a “Journalist of the Year” award. With a little backdating, we are proud to honor Ezra Klein with the 2009 Trading 8s “Journalist of the Year” Award.

And now, everything you need to know about the health care bill, including many fine posts by our first annual Journalist of the Year:   Continue reading “Why It Is a Rising and Not a Setting Sun”

Best of the Month: December 2009

10. Listening to Afghanistan — Ann Friedman
9. Why Federal Regulators Closed Washington Mutual — Kirsten Grind
8. Somalia Is Greatest Victim of President Bush’s War on Terror — Martin Fletcher
7. The Silent Cleric Who Holds the Key to Iran’s Future — Robert Fisk
6. Myth vs. Reality on the Copenhagen Climate Summit — Andrew Light, Rebecca Lefton, & Daniel J. Weiss
5. Health-Reform Legislation Would Accomplish More Than Critics Admit — Henry J. Aaron and The Congressional Budget Office Scores the Amended Senate Bill — Ezra Klein and The 150,000-Life Health-Care Plan — Ezra Klein
4. Coverage and Costs — Paul Krugman and The Senate Bill Saves Families Money — Jonathan Cohn and Improve the Bill, Yes. Kill the Bill, No. — Jonathan Cohn
3. How the Senate Bill Would Contain the Cost of Health Care — Atul Gawande
2. Lessons Learned But Not Applied — Simon Johnson and Avoiding a Japanese Decade — New York Times
1. Something from Nothing — Nir Rosen and Pentagon’s War Pitch Belied by Taliban-Qaeda Conflict — Gareth Porter and A Plan in Need of Clarity — Sen. Jim Webb and Obama’s Surge: Has the President Been Misled by the Iraq Analogy? — Juan Cole
BONUS: Banks Too Big? Government Has Failed To Do Its Job — Anthony W. Orlando and Nuclear Armament: Iran Acting Like a Cornered Animal — Anthony W. Orlando

Best of the Week: December 6-12, 2009

Less Is More: The Ugly Truth about American Health Care

I have been promising this post for a month. I’m sorry for the delay. I hope it was worth the wait.

A Health Care Crisis, More or Less

Last month, Atul Gawande—surgeon, professor, and journalist—published an essay in The New Yorker on the disparity and inefficiency of American health care spending, highlighting in particular the poor performance of McAllen, Texas. Gawande’s article rocked the policy world. The real news, though, is not the sad facts that Gawande brought to light, but rather the fact that it is considered news at all, for health economists have spent many years trying to wake up the media and the public to this state of affairs.

Gawande took a commonly accepted premise, “Americans like to believe that, with most things, more is better.” And then he shattered our happy little world, “But research suggests that where medicine is concerned it may actually be worse.”

Okay, it’s not that shocking. More has been the watchword of the last thirty years in more than just health care, and most of us recognize we haven’t exactly been well served by it. More, roughly speaking, is responsible for a housing bubble, a financial crisis, an unsustainably warming climate, and now a health care system that is making us sicker and poorer than most other industrialized nations.

But more isn’t all bad. Any economist will tell you that more is responsible for the unprecedented economic growth of the last century—and hence, the way of life we hold so dear. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of more that we fear the most. Open any newspaper these days, and you’re bound to find the word “rationing” at least once. Maybe we can accept that more is not always better, but in exchange, are we willing to accept…less?

Continue reading “Less Is More: The Ugly Truth about American Health Care”