"Desperate Pension Funds Mull Buyouts"

"Some of the nation’s most overburdened state and local governments are considering an unprecedented strategy for defusing their public sector pension time bombs: Offering workers lump-sum payments worth somewhat less than their pension guarantees in the hopes that enough will accept to meaningfully reduce long-term costs."

I wish 'em luck, but I'm pessimistic.


"Make America Small Again"

Review of Yuval Levin's recent book. I certainly like this:

In Levin’s view, the best politics for a decentralized society is one based in subsidiarity, a concept which holds that because society is a complex web of institutions, with the whole structured like concentric rings, political challenges should be tackled as close to the local level as possible.


"Is there a dietary treatment for multiple sclerosis?"

Ignore the gratuitous slam of pharmaceutical companies near the end and enjoy both a mom's fierce struggle to help her daughter combined with an interesting meditation on what should qualify as scientific truth.

(I note that while the author makes a fine case for loosening the standard in the case at hand, there is a good reason why scientists have that standard: loosening it would force consideration of a whole lot more nonsense. We need to compare the benefits and costs of changing the standard and there are formidable obstacles to that. Life is difficult sometimes.)


"A President Felled by an Assassin and 1880’s Medical Care"

Yesterday was the 135th anniversary of President James Garfield's death. You probably know he was assassinated. You might not know that it wasn't the assassin's bullet that killed him, it was his awful 19th century medical care.

Dr. Ira Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a medical historian, said: “Garfield had such a nonlethal wound. In today’s world, he would have gone home in a matter or two or three days.”


A distinguished Berkeley sociologist goes to Lake Charles, LA

. . . to try to figure out what the heck is wrong with those people. Big business has destroyed their health and crushed their dreams, and the federal government just wants to help, but they are Tea Partiers and don't support expanded government. What the hell?!

Here are two reviews of the book she has recently published. 

A friendly review: "What a liberal sociologist learned from spending five years in Trump's America".

A critical review (in the Washington Post): "A Berkeley sociologist made some tea party friends — and wrote a condescending book about them".

I haven't read the book, but the review in the Post sounds right.


"The Facts about Medicaid Fraud"

Here's another one for the government-is-the-name-we-give-to-the-things-we-do-together baloney file:

In September, the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a warning that improper payments under Medicaid have become so common that they will account this year for almost 12 percent of total Medicaid spending — just shy of $140 billion. 

Nearly $140 billion. And that's just what the government admits to.