Smart Picks -- 219 Yes 212 No, Getting Old, Rex's Riposte, Krugman's Folly, America's Doom, Hooked On Debt, Epigentics

The United States passes game changing health care legislation. Yes they could.

The price of getting old, why Chris Hitchens is a bad guy, why Paul Krugman is dangerous, why passing health care reform in the United States will doom America, the problem with debt, and the science of Epigentics.

It took about a century but the United States has changed the face of the country.

Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and remake the nation’s health care system along the lines proposed by President Obamahttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22health.html?ref=global-home

People are living longer and need to be cared for. Who should pay for it? The taxpayer, families, the elderly? Some thoughts from the United Kingdom.

A character created by the American writer Ring Lardner has a single response to difficult questions: '“Shut up!”, he explained.’ I was reminded of Lardner’s creation last week, because “Shut up!” is the answer given by the major political parties to anyone who asks how we will fund care for the elderly over the next 20 years. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7488515/Care-for-the-eldely-One-question-that-all-our-politicians-are-agreed-on.html

Special tax help for children helping their parents?

Why do parents get special perks in the workplace? They skive off for sports' days, get first dibs at Christmas and bag all the August holiday slots for up to five years in advance. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/comment/5842522/Comment-a-parent-in-a-care-home-costs-more-than-a-child-at-Eton.html

Rex Murphy lets Christopher Hitchens have it. I just wonder if Murphy would have been better off thinking through what the consistent inability of the Catholic Church to identify, remove and see prosecuted their employees who commit crimes means to their moral authority.

A long rambling piece making the case that whatever Paul Krugman thinks can be achieved by starting a trade war with China the consequences will be awful for everyone. You have to scroll down a little to the piece entitled, The Threat to Muddle Through.
I have pretty well laid out over the past decade that I think the US will Muddle Through what promises to be a period of below-trend growth and a long-term secular bear market. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/the-threat-to-muddle-through/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29
As the vote on health care reform comes to a climax the voices of impending doom for the United States gains pace. Strangely, every OECD country has survived universal health care. Not passing some reform to extend coverage to all citizens, rein in insurance companies, and begin to control costs would be the mistake. The status quo is indefensible.
With the House's climactic vote on ObamaCare tomorrow, Democrats are on the cusp of a profound and historic mistake, comparable in our view to the Smoot-Hawley tariff and FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act. Everyone is preoccupied now with the politics, but ultimately at stake on Sunday is the kind of country America will be. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704207504575130321235660474.html?mod=rss_opinion_main
Doug Noland of the Prudent Bear on Greenspan's monetary legacy and the new debt problem. You will need to scroll down to the part entitled, Greenspan on the Crisis.
“The house price bubble, the most prominent global bubble in generations, was engendered by lower interest rates, but it was long term mortgage rates that galvanized prices, not the overnight rates of central banks, as has become the seeming conventional wisdom.”  Alan Greenspan, March 19, 2010 http://www.prudentbear.com/index.php/creditbubblebulletinview?art_id=10356
150 years ago Charles Darwin after a lifetime of careful research shattered how the world thought about itself. Origin of Species argued that all living things on earth had not been created in one go remaining unchanged forever. His work demonstrated that our earth was constantly changing by a long process of adaption, emphasis on the word long.
 
The science of epigenetics dramatically shortens the time frame by an analysis of how genes work.
The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong
In the case of chickens, one generation of eggs. Survival in Sweden.
The remote, snow-swept expanses of northern Sweden are an unlikely place to begin a story about cutting-edge genetic science. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1951968,00.html

Epigenetics 101.
Why do the physical characteristics of identical twins diverge as they age? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV8FM_d1Leo&feature=related
A McGill University Professor's Epigenetic insights.
While Moshe Szyf has been in the spotlight with his most recent paper (published in Nature Neuroscience) on how early negative life experiences affect people’s genes, his is hardly an overnight success story. http://publications.mcgill.ca/reporter/2009/04/moshe-szyf-james-mcgill-professor-of-pharmacology-and-therapeutics/.
 
The rise of the individual.
An exploration of the birth of the individual in modern society. http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid?68446015001
 
 
 

 

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.