Mass Stupidity

One of the stranger things about the modern age, is watching people in the media discuss topics, as if they are experts, despite the fact they know very little about the subject. The recent “hacking” stories are a great example. Day after day, people who struggle to remember their ATM PIN, went on at length about the details of computer trespass. Of course, these nitwits know nothing about technology, but they were sure super villains from the FSB were secretly gaining access to the computers of the Democrats.

The people “reporting” on this story are not just ignorant about the topic. They think they know lots of things that are hilariously wrong because they get all of their information from television. They keep using the word “hacking”, for example, because they see it used on TV crime shows, along with the scruffy looking slackers, sitting in front of multiple monitors as they gain access to top secret computers. It is the Dunning-Kruger effect or perhaps the Charles Bukowski effect, if that’s your inclination.

The pseudo-intellectual poser has become a feature of our mass media culture. David Brooks, at the New York Times, is a good example of the type. According to his biography he has no math or science, not even a familiarity with economics, but he writes stuff like this anyway.

Believe it or not, we’re not really going to have to spend the next four years wading through wonky drudgery of Russian spy dossiers and hotel sex cameras. At some point we’re going to have a thrilling debate over the most scintillating question in health care policy.

The Republicans are going to try to replace Obamacare. They’re probably going to agree to cover everybody Obama covered, thus essentially granting the Democratic point that health care is a right. But they are going to try to do it using more market-friendly mechanisms.

As you know, the American health care system is not like a normal market. When you make most health care decisions you don’t get much information on comparative cost and quality; the personal bill you get is only vaguely related to the services; the expense is often determined by how many procedures are done, not whether the problem is fixed.

You wouldn’t buy a phone this way.

The Republicans are going to try to introduce more normal market incentives into the process. They are probably going to rely on refundable tax credits and health savings accounts so everybody can afford to shop for their own insurance and care.

As soon as the phrase “market incentives” comes up, you know that there is no existing market. This is phrase cooked up by managerial class types so they can engage in central planning, but pretend they have respect for free markets. Incentives are synthetic creations to get people to do things they otherwise would not do. If you want a market, you don’t want central planners dreaming up incentives to warp the market. What would be the point? You want the buyers and sellers to sort things out among themselves.

Pseudo-intellectual posers like Brooks don’t understand this because he does not have the slightest idea how any of it works, but he is willing to expound on just about everything as if he is an expert. That’s a problem we have in the mass media age. The alleged experts that citizens rely on for opinions, spend all their time filling the air with laughable nonsense. In health care, for example, most Americans not only think it is a right, they think it is a product that should never be rationed. This is compete lunacy, but you can’t blame people for thinking it. All the “smart” people say it on television.

All goods and services are rationed. The question with health care is how is it to be rationed. Will it be by price or by a monopoly of supply? Progressives want the latter so that their coreligionists on the health care boards can murder enemies of the faith by denying them health care. The alternative should be arguments in favor of free markets, but instead we get magical thinking from guys passed off to us a conservatives by the mass media. The result is an increasingly misinformed public.

The assumption at the dawn of the communication age was that the free flow of information, and the explosion of new media, would make for better informed citizens. The result seems to be the opposite. Middle-brow intellectuals, who used to serve the middle-class, are now just pseudo-intellectual dufuses. Their game is not to inform, but to strike the appropriate pose so their readers can have their beliefs validated. One sure way to get rich in this age is to be a media guy who is wrong all the time.

Idiotizing the general public is not necessarily a society killing act, but the people who rule over us appear to be getting drunk off the fumes. Paul Ryan is allegedly the smartest policy wonk in Washington. Yet, he is running around with his own ten thousand page bill he says will make health care free for everyone. We have our spy agencies pretending to investigate Russian hacking because President Camacho is demanding it. There is a limit to how much nonsense a society can believe. We seem to be bumping against that limit.

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Member

You answered the question of rationing very nicely. The question of health care as right you did not directly answer. I assume that you think it isn’t a right. This assumption, if true, would be wrong. Health care is a right and a responsibility. Failure to take care of yourself is an immensely immoral act, it is unnatural. We have the Natural Right to all the health care we want. What we don’t have a right to do, is to make somebody else pay for it.

Doug
Guest
Doug

I think the right that matters is to be able to choose what is right for ourselves, individually, certainly unfettered by government, or anybody. That is primal and the first thing. The basic idea behind obama care is almost scripture in cultural marxism, in fact it’s more marxist, but it is to create a system of total control over the most essential aspects of peoples lives, of every facet in the sphere of their lives, the advantages of corrupt economic total control of one third of the economy, is secondary, and icing on the cake of totalitarianism. Not unlike total… Read more »

Member

I agree. Power and money. Always has been.

Doug
Guest
Doug

The great question is why is it only a few end up with the money and the power to rule over everyone else? This obamacare is allegory for everything that went wrong when the US Constitution of Administrative Tyranny was ratified. To me it is the epitome what the Declaration of Independence stated in it’s grievance against a tory statist King: “…He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance…” We almost had it once, we are going to have to try again or we ain’t… Read more »

fodderwing
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fodderwing

Last time I checked, the only right I have to “health care” is the right to seek health insurance, as much or as little of it as I want, entirely outside of Obamacare’s pronouncements. The Marxist idea that I have a right to the labor and expertise of those in the medical profession as well as demanding that someone else pay for it is just plain un-American and wrong. My compatriots are getting on my nerves.

Doug
Guest
Doug

The marxists double think is you don’t even have the choice of not choosing, like how you are fined for not buying something. If that isn’t the definition of Mass Stupidity right there.

Member

That’s not true. Millions of Americans pay cash for services rendered.

NunyaBusiness
Guest
NunyaBusiness

Try doing that in a hospital. I had to recently. Wanted to pay cash for services properly rendered. Asked for an up front quote, they said, “$5k, all-in, tops” Had the surgery. They fucked it up and I was out of work for 16 weeks instead of 6 like they said. If I wasn’t self employed, I’d have been fired for sure. As it was, I only almost starved to death. In the mail came the invoice. Billed amount? $22,500 for the hospital + $1,750 for the surgeon + $975 for the anesthesiologist == $25,225 Offered me a $9k discount… Read more »

Member

ZMan already addressed, this case government forced, rationing which causes price. I’m merely stating that one may buy health care services and most places openly welcome or even prefer cash.

King George III
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King George III

Hospitals are predatory institutions which stick hard-working Americans like NunyaBusiness with massive scam-fraud-bills in order to pay for the bums, thugs, single mothers, and other assorted Third World refuse who don’t pay. It isn’t the government that makes your healthcare so expensive; they take a large slice, but most of your tax money is being redistributed to Mexicans and Africans and to a lesser extent white trash.

Member

I Don’t disagree.

King George III
Guest
King George III

You didn’t pay, did you? Please say you didn’t pay.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Fodder, you are on the right track. I also see PE Trump on the right track in attacking medical insurance plans and Big Pharma, in addition to revamping the way Americans can obtain medical care (ObamaCare) and pay for it. Right now, many doctors have their incomes dictated by insurance companies and considering the amount of education and expense they go through, and for the general quality of first rate minds in the field, that is shameful. What we have in place is plans that are simplified for the Deplorables, made inexplicable on purpose (thank you Zeke Emanuel and others… Read more »

Zivvy
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Zivvy

Good write up. You deserve more comments here. Yeah, health care… I hate this topic because in one way it’s so simple to see why costs have skyrocketed, yet so difficult to get anyone to pay attention if you can’t get in under 140 characters. A major contributor to warped market was FDR’s wage controls leading to employers offering healthcare as a way around it while still being able to attract talent. Anyone with a high school freshman level of economics would immediately recognize this, and yet I get glazed blank stares from people who have a Master’s Degree…. We’re… Read more »

Zivvy
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Zivvy

Also I know healthcare wasn’t the main point of this blog post. To your point, it does feel very much like we’re LARP’ing Idiocracy. These sarcastic New York liberals are almost too much to take, particularly if you can see through their shtick.

Member

No one should discuss this issue without reading Capter Nine of Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. It is his chapter on occupational licensing and in it he takes on the monopoly generated by licensing and accreditation in medicine. There will be no actual market in medicine unless licensing and accreditation are abolished. Health care existed before government began interfering in it and doctors, nurses and hospitals are not going to go “poof” if they don’t have a piece of paper from the government.

Lorenzo
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Lorenzo

Speaking as someone who doesn’t want to end up getting dead by mistakenly entrusting my life to a quack, I like the concept of certification that Friedman mentions in chapter 9. The certifying body need not be the government, but I want some assurance that I can pick from practitioners who have demonstrated competence to a trustworthy professional group.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson

If there were no government interference or input in health care (admittedly a state that does not exist even in a pipe dream) you ought to be certain that numerous private organizations would spring into being that the public would have reason to trust–some more than others, and all more than the government. Competent to excellent doctors and hospitals have an equal interest in seeing to that. This is an arrangement that has never been so easy due to the digital age. And customer reviews are as or more powerful an incentive to do well as lawsuits. I already shop… Read more »

Member

That shouldn’t be much of a problem with the communications we have available today. When making an appointment you could verify the credentials of your doctor online. In the absence of a licensing regime that actually encourages obscurity, there would arise apps that would facilitate such investigations by potential patients, and physicians recently out of residency would likely join up with more experienced hands and gain cred like they did in the days of apprenticeships. This is already going on now to a certain extent. The fear that people have of an unlicensed medical world is unfounded. We don’t have… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Thanks for adding to my understanding of how these licensing agencies work and the problems they cause. While I think the idea of a “clearing house” sounds good, I think it is best to just let doctors work as small businesses, or partnerships, etc. in competition with each other. The problem as I see it is one of accountability. These licensing groups don’t seem to protect “the public” in my estimation. Groups like the AMA provide a lobbying front and a legal foundation to “protect” their members. But to what extent do they really “police” their ranks and get rid… Read more »

james wilson
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james wilson

You have illustrated how it is that we evolved to embrace our bad habits, to assume that certain things are essential when they are in fact those things which are leading us down the rabbit hole. Then at each turn, to improve the poor quality of that thing we add more of what caused it to fail in the first place. This is government health care. Stating that there should be no licencing bar and no official credentialism of health care professionals is heard as a shockingly irrespondible statement to nine of ten people. In other words, we don’t have… Read more »

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

Doc; With all respect to St Milton, I think he is wrong in this instance. The customer side obviously needs to be functioning largely on economic factors such as price, availability and quality for there to be an ‘efficient market’ (the Libertarians’ holy grail) in medical services. But from the individual customer point of view, medical service transactions are few*, hard to judge for quality, hard to compare to others’ experiences and the transaction risks are (or appear to be) very high. This is the opposite situation from hairdressing, the go-to example of service markets that ought not need licensing.… Read more »

Doug
Guest
Doug

I just witnessed that monopoly in isolation in action. My wife was “diagnosed” with intestinal cancer. What transpired from our request for strict diagnosis of why my wife had certain physical problems, and only diagnoses was immediately a shell game and medical sleight of hand. From the start I contended knowing my wife so intimately as only a loving husband can, I was adamant from the start my wife did not have cancer. My wife was brutally specific. She stated upfront, she only wanted to know if she had cancer or other life ending ailment, that she was not going… Read more »

Aggie
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Aggie

The thing that has really surprises me about the Health Care / Insurance industry over the past few years has been the durability of its opaqueness to the end user, the Consumer, and how the Consumer is kept at absolute disadvantage every stage of the way. Impermeable bureaucracy. It is very, very difficult to navigate the system to one’s advantage, unlike almost any other service industry sector that interacts with the Consumer. It has become quite a simple matter in the age of the internet to become an Effective Shopper. But not with Health Care or Insurance. It’s still the… Read more »

Doug
Guest
Doug

It isn’t run on the law of supply and demand, it is run on a price fixing scheme, i.e. as high a price as is possible. In fact these days, seems there is very little price fixed by colusion, monopoly, gov regulation, or taxing scheme?
Sole proprietor and mom & pop business’s, the guy down the road who has a truck garden and sells his produce out of a road side stall, and the ladies at your church bake sale are probably the only exceptions.

Guest
Guest
Guest

>> There is a limit to how much nonsense a society can believe. We seem to be bumping against that limit.

Judging from the articles and associated comments in the NY Times and the WaPo we’re nowhere close to that limit. Lefties believe fervently that Obama saved the world, Putin stole the election for Trump, and that we can open our borders to unlimited immigration and provide them with free food, clothing, shelter, and health care.

Member
James LePore

Don’t forget, it’s a religion.

Doug
Guest
Doug

>>Judging from the articles and associated comments in the NY Times and the WaPo we’re nowhere close to that limit.

Unlike the fake media like Zman’s blog, NYT’s and WaPo has employs psychophants whose job is to delete comments that contradict and defy the narrative. Never mind The Media is solely controlled by a few actors of the Deep state as their public echo chambers, never mind the revelations of the CIA’s involvement in setting the tone and direction of the approved narrative.

guest
Guest
guest

Speaking of healthcare, any comments on Karl Denningers math of doom?
Market-Ticker The CERTAIN Destruction Of Our Nation

Guest
Guest
Guest

Like Zerohedge, Denninger has been writing “The End is Near” articles on MarketTicker for about a decade now. Anyone who followed his advice has lost their shirt and is probably living in a bunker in the woods somewhere. Japan’s national debt is about 230% of GDP and they are still issuing government bonds at near-zero interest rates. US national debt is about 100% of GDP. If Japan is any guide the US still has a long way to go before we hit some sort of currency collapse scenario. Until then we’ll just keep issuing debt. The day of reckoning will… Read more »

Dan Kurt
Member

@ Guest: 1) re: “US national debt is about 100% of GDP” No, the 20 trillion currently mentioned is one tenth of the accrued Debt of the USA which is circa 200 TRILLION. I don’t think that debt load will be politically or in reality solved by a soft landing. 2) re: “We live in an era of medical miracles and medical miracles cost money–lots of it.” True. The cost of finding new drugs is hampered by two signal problems: First, FDA regulation (clinical trials) is insane as there is no cost benefit rationality to it, and Second, the patent… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

With all respect, your 200 Trillion figure references unfunded liabilities, which are not debts in the legal sense of the term. You have no legal recourse if Congress alters or cancels your Social Security benefits. It doesn’t diminish your point–the unfunded liabilities won’t be paid.

Aggie
Guest
Aggie

“That’s a problem we have in the mass media age. The alleged experts that citizens rely on for opinions, spend all their time filling the air with laughable nonsense….” Yes, the British have a saying for this: “Often wrong, but never uncertain.” Or as one British officer put it, in his evaluation of a junior officer: “His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.” Health Care is not a Right, by the way, since (unlike freedom and slavery) our Maker grants us both health and sickness in roughly equal measures, with death as a reward for both.

Doug
Guest
Doug

Isn’t the reward Heaven or Purgatory, that which we choose befitting our grace before him we go?

thor47
Guest
thor47

Hotel sex cameras? What for? Doesn’t everyone record their entire life on their cell phone these days? As for ” We seem to be bumping against that limit. ” , oh my, no. Too many people of my acquaintance, people I know to be reasonably intelligent deplorables, will not take the time to sort basic sense from feels good on taxes and health care. We can still go a long way, zman. But that is only because the United States has a depth to draw from.

michael
Guest
michael

Z man, what do you think of having nurses take on apprentices rather than relying on nursing schools to supply the country with nurses? There is a supply problem we need to address there.

Donzie
Guest
Donzie

One of the most interesting issues uncovered by Wikileaks was the utter technological incompetence of the Clintonistas. Almost every aspect of their cyber operation was inattentive to security and common sense. All of that because not one of these cronies ever considered technology to be anything other than a method of control by them of the rubes. We see that a lot on the left. The “Smart Grid” would open your house to cyber intrusion. The grid could be fooled into thinking a heavy, industrial-type peak load, was coming from a residential neighborhood, taking the local distribution system with it.… Read more »

Member

We are all of still very primitive people able to be persuaded to folly by well spoken, clever tribal chiefs, witches and witch doctors who convince us they can save us from our fears, even foolish fears like climate change, if only we give them authority and money.

What else could politicians, journalists, priests, ministers, mullahs and public scientists be?

Our vanity is that we are modern technocrats when we are fearful, ignorant villagers and will be for a long time, maybe forever.

Doug
Guest
Doug

The media isn’t about freedom of everyones speech, it is about it’s singular supremacy to revise history. In fact Brooks job is not so much to revise “history”, his job is as gatekeeper, to revise possible future history in order to pre-empt any truth that critically threatens an ideology before it happens through a strategy to continuously setting narrative offensive. A cascade of lies designed to inundate the truth before it outs, clouding it with confusion and doubt.

Member

In another life, another career we used to call that FUD.

Doug
Guest
Doug

Heh.
FUBAR?
BOHICA?
Bitchez!

donzie
Guest
donzie

And doesn’t blivet belong here? (and I meant blivet, not billet, you stupid autocomplete). This type of container is used to transfer fuel to various sites. Naturally, they wanted to cram as much oil as possible on board, perhaps more than the ship was designed to hold. Hence the ready appropriation for 20 lb. of sh!t in a 10 lb. bag. It is now called a “fuel bladder” to escape from the earlier connotation.

Member

My favorite remains F’ed Up Like a Soup Sandwich. I always picture the Intellectual yet Idiot class ladling Cambells Chicken Noodle onto Wonderbread, then congratuling themselves as they try to pick up the mess and get it in their mouths.

Solomon Honeypickle IV
Guest
Solomon Honeypickle IV

you forgot SNAFU

CaptDMO
Guest
CaptDMO

“So it’s resolved. It would be in EVERYBODY’S best interest if the cat had a bell around it’s neck.”

Marina
Guest
Marina

So the problem with healthcare is that you can spend essentially endless money chasing the most minor of improvements. Particularly without physical STUFF piling up, like when you’re shopping for consumer goods, there’s no obvious visual signal that you are just buying too much. My toddler has failed to develop an essential physical skill. And this needs fixed or she’s going to have serious limitations down the road. But there’s nothing wrong with her that really requires surgery or similar. What we’re finding is that with a really motivated parent who is willing to stick to a very rigid and… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Ha ha ha ha! I think this is your funniest post yet Zman! Quite honestly, I don’t know who the f**k David Brooks is because I don’t read the Slimes. Note: I do read certain NYT authors like Malcolm Gladwell. You are quite right that the people who “work” out of the offices in the ivory towers of the media always preach the truth, regardless of whether it is correct or not. “They” are the purveyors of “The Way.” They are infallible. Take for example, my favorite economist-not, Paul Krugman. He is like Al Gore “Seas will rise in ten… Read more »

Member

Wasn’t David Brooks the “exotic” columnist who spent the 2008 election studying Barky Obama’s trouser leg and decided he would be a great president?

Solomon Honeypickle IV
Guest
Solomon Honeypickle IV

Brooks is known as the “dean of inseam”

ChiefIlliniCake
Guest
ChiefIlliniCake

Did I miss the part about killing all of the lawyers? Because that’s gotta be in any new healthcare plan if it stands a snowball’s chance in Hell of working.

Okay, call it “tort reform”. But we all know what we REALLY need to do.

Member

Another crucial factor is the entire EEO, Affirmative Action charade which has ensconced itself at every step of the entire Healthcare structure, from hiring the janitors, to keeping the medical records, staffing the labs, and professional staff, and of course the entire administrative superstructure.

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Fuel Filter
Guest
Fuel Filter

This entire ClusterFuck of ObamaCare could have been avoided by two simple things:

a) Tort reform, and

b) allowing insurance to have been sold across state lines.

But then, I’m not a lawayer or a politician.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

You should bless your lucky stars for that my friend. Both bottom dwellers especially the breed in D.C.

Member

I was kind of between things in the mid-2000’s and found that you could find some pretty cheap health insurance with decent deductibles at Costco. The Urgent Care storefront medicine joints were also affordable without insurance. The more conspiratorial part of my brain sometimes wonders that if left to develop according to market forces, whether those things and things like them would have undermined Medicine, Inc and whether Obamacare was really the last ditch effort of Medicine, Inc to forestall something that was as affordable as veterinary care from coming to America. Because let’s face it, once a new market… Read more »

Marina
Guest
Marina

My husband need to see a psychiatrist. Anybody who took our insurance was booked into the next century and not a native English speaker, which seemed problematic for mental health. Private pay in the city was $400 a session and only available during his working hours, which meant he couldn’t go. We ended up going with Doctor on Demand, where you can see a psychiatrist via webcam for $200 for the initial consult and $95 for subsequent appointments, charged to your credit card on file. Given that the first drug tried worked, he only needs quarterly medication checks. It’s costing… Read more »

Dorf
Guest
Dorf

Where pray tell do you find … affordable as veterinary care… . $100 bux to feel up my dog, pronounce her fit, and Sell flea killer for a lot more is not affordable.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Baboso, one thing I found out was that Costco has No requirement for membership for the public to use their Pharmacy. Anyone can walk in off the street and buy at reduced prices. Also, to your point of Crony Capitalism, that is the true crime here … blocking new competition and eliminating existing competition via government regulation. This is where recent info from the Trump camp looks so promising. Being a businessman, Trump knows the best way to fix any market is to introduce competition. Which is what he is doing in the MIC, Big Pharma, Medical Insurance, etc. Man,… Read more »

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

One apparent bad assumption seems to be there should be A market in medical services. In point of fact there are layers/tiers everywhere. Here in the US there is a much lamented unregulated bottom tier found in health food stores, naturopathic web sites, faith healers, etc., a relatively lightly regulated slightly higher tier such as acupuncture and yoga studios, etc., then a yet-more regulated tier above this, namely chiropractors, etc., THEN we come to the national most basic regulated medical tier (ER,s – the modern charity ward, with added entitlement attitude). Then above this is what we narrowly think of… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

Once, just once, I want to see a conservative politician or talking head stand up to the leftists and tell them buck up, get a *$&#( job, and pay for their own damn health insurance. Wishful thinking, I know. Barring this, with some luck Republicans will replace Obamacare medicaid expansion with block grants to the states that match the 50% reimbursement for the cost of medicaid coverage per patient. This would push the costs of medicaid expansion back onto the blue (and traitorous red) states that adopted the Obamacare medicaid expansion. They adopted it; their taxpayers should cover it. Colorado… Read more »

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William O. Witt, MD
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William O. Witt, MD

“Healthcare is not and cannot ever be a right7. We talk about “healthcare” like Mom’s legendary mac’n’chees! Best quality, free, available to aliens (in their language) and without limit.

It has to be delivered by highly-trained people! No one has a right to anything. The 14th amendment says as much.