Colin Rule's blog

Happiness and healthiness are contagious

One of the more interesting results of the Framingham Heart Study: happiness and healthiness are contagious:

"two years ago, a pair of social scientists named Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler used the information collected over the years about Joseph and Eileen and several thousand of their neighbors to make an entirely different kind of discovery. By analyzing the Framingham data, Christakis and Fowler say, they have for the first time found some solid basis for a potentially powerful theory in epidemiology: that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses..." Read more » about Happiness and healthiness are contagious

The interests of nations and peoples are shared

Our President, to the world (I tried to summarize but couldn't do it, so the emphasis is mine): "I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad. Read more » about The interests of nations and peoples are shared

red/blue dialogue on health care part n+1

Don's latest post is here. Sorry for the delay in response -- I've been on the road, and I'm only now catching up.

I agree with you, Don, that this has been a very good dialogue. I've come to understand not only the perspective of those who oppose the President's plan, but also what the ZOPA (zone of possible agreement) is for this area. While I may be personally comfortable with some of the ideas proposed, such as a public option, it's clearer to me why others are not, and that has helped to moderate some of my ambitions for what could be achieved with health care reform. Read more » about red/blue dialogue on health care part n+1

A crisis of legitimacy

I had an interesting back-and-forth with my friend Conor Sen in email this morning. I'm usually the one who sends him links to David Brooks columns in the NYT, but this one he sent my way. My favorite part:

“What we’re seeing is the latest iteration of that populist tendency and the militant progressive reaction to it. We now have a populist news media that exaggerates the importance of the Van Jones and Acorn stories to prove the elites are decadent and un-American, and we have a progressive news media that exaggerates stories like the Joe Wilson shout and the opposition to the Obama schools speech to show that small-town folks are dumb wackos.

“One could argue that this country is on the verge of a crisis of legitimacy,” the economic blogger Arnold Kling writes. “The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate, and vice versa.”

It’s not race. It’s another type of conflict, equally deep and old.”

My argument is that all of this is more about class than race. But this cleft represents a major threat to our democracy. It also resonates with me based on my current back and forth with Don on this blog... Read more » about A crisis of legitimacy

The narcissism of minor differences

Cohen in the NYT today: "Some of my summer in France was spent listening to indignant outbursts about U.S. health care reform. The tone: “You must be kidding! What’s there to debate if 46.3 million Americans have no health insurance?”

I think the French are right. I don’t think there’s much to debate when France spends 11 percent of its gross domestic product on health care and insures everyone and the United States spends 16.5 percent of G.D.P. and leaves 20 percent of adults under 65 uninsured. The numbers don’t lie: The U.S. system is wasteful and unjust. Read more » about The narcissism of minor differences

red/blue dialogue on health care part 5

This is a great dialogue. See Don's latest post here. I feel like my understanding of the issues we're discussing is improving, and I think I've got a much better handle on Don's perspective. I'll follow the numbering system we've been using to keep the points ordered.

1. Government is getting involved because the current system has become so inefficient and ineffective in addressing society's need for broad based health care. The creation of HMOs in the 80s was an attempt to turn everything over to the private sector, and it has created many of the problems we're now encountering. You can't optimize the benefit of social expenditures on health through a largely unregulated private process, which is based on profit maximization. This reform preserves the private system we currently have but increases the role of government in regulating and managing it. There's nothing in that design that violates the laws of economics -- government is constantly changing rules and incentives in the marketplace, and the market adjusts in response. The only thing that will generate bad outcomes is if the government fundamentally disrupts the incentives for private companies to provide coverage and care, and I haven't seen anything that indicates this reform will do that. Read more » about red/blue dialogue on health care part 5

red/blue dialogue on health care, part 3

Don posted his response to my blog entry here, and I encourage you all to check it out. Many thanks to him for all the quality thought!

I was inspired by the President's address tonight, and I feel it touched on many of the points we've been discussing. But I don't want his points to drive this conversation. So let me follow Don's lead and use the structure of his blog post to order my thoughts... Read more » about red/blue dialogue on health care, part 3

The bully kicking sand in your face

Dowd today: "...President Obama is so wrapped up in his desire to be a different, more conciliatory, beer-summit kind of leader, he ignores some verities.

Sometimes, when you’ve got the mojo, you have to keep your foot on your opponent’s neck. When you’re trying to get a Sisyphean agenda passed, it’s good if people in the way — including rebellious elements in your own party — fear you. Read more » about The bully kicking sand in your face

A red/blue dialogue on health care

Don Dodson and I went to high school together. And like all high schoolers, we pretty much resembled each other during the years we shared wandering the halls at our alma mater, the Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas. Much like the rest of the world, thanks to facebook we've recently reconnected. Interestingly enough we've chosen different paths for our lives in the intervening 20 (!) years. I am a secular humanist Democrat, living in the Bay area, working at an internet company resolving disputes -- and Don describes himself (on his blog) as "a follower of Christ first, a husband and dad second, a software engineer who designs algorithms for the new F-35 fighter, and of course a proud Reagan conservative."

As some of you may know, last week many thousands of people chose to make the following statement their Facebook status: "No one should die because they can't afford health care, or go broke because they get sick. If you agree, post this as your status today." I saw the statuses going up on many of my friends' accounts and decided to put it up as my status as well. Don saw my status and responded, pushing for further clarification. Read more » about A red/blue dialogue on health care

A change of heart on heath care

Kristof in the NYT today: "Opponents suggest that a “government takeover” of health care will be a milestone on the road to “socialized medicine,” and when he hears those terms, Wendell Potter cringes. He’s embarrassed that opponents are using a playbook that he helped devise.

“Over the years I helped craft this messaging and deliver it,” he noted.

Mr. Potter was an executive in the health insurance industry for nearly 20 years before his conscience got the better of him. He served as head of corporate communications for Humana and then for Cigna.

He flew in corporate jets to industry meetings to plan how to block health reform, he says. He rode in limousines to confabs to concoct messaging to scare the public about reform. But in his heart, he began to have doubts as the business model for insurance evolved in recent years from spreading risk to dumping the risky.

Then in 2007 Mr. Potter attended a premiere of “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s excoriating film about the American health care system. Mr. Potter was taking notes so that he could prepare a propaganda counterblast — but he found himself agreeing with a great deal of the film.

A month later, Mr. Potter was back home in Tennessee, visiting his parents, and dropped in on a three-day charity program at a county fairgrounds to provide medical care for patients who could not afford doctors. Long lines of people were waiting in the rain, and patients were being examined and treated in public in stalls intended for livestock.

“It was a life-changing event to witness that,” he remembered. Increasingly, he found himself despising himself for helping block health reforms. “It sounds hokey, but I would look in the mirror and think, how did I get into this?”

Mr. Potter loved his office, his executive salary, his bonus, his stock options. “How can I walk away from a job that pays me so well?” he wondered. But at the age of 56, he announced his retirement and left Cigna last year.

This year, he went public with his concerns, testifying before a Senate committee investigating the insurance industry.

“I knew that once I did that my life would be different,” he said. “I wouldn’t be getting any more calls from recruiters for the health industry. It was the scariest thing I have done in my life. But it was the right thing to do.” Read more » about A change of heart on heath care

Tips for addressing angry health care crowds

From Larry Susskind's great blog post offering advice to Congresspeople facing angry crowds at health care Town Halls around the country:

"Here are five suggestions that grow out of what we have learned about facilitating public dialogue in politically charged situations:

1. Begin by saying that you want to hear what the audience has to say. Ask 5 volunteers to come up on the stage to ask whatever questions or make whatever statements they think are important. Invite them up. Make it clear that you don't know any of these people and you are just trying to find out what people who bothered to come to the town hall meeting have to say. Pick five who raise their hands and appear to represent different age or other groups. Let them speak. Tell them that the ground rule is that each person has the mike for no more than five minutes. Invite them to sit on the stage with you. (Make sure someone is controlling the mike and make it clear that it will be shut off after five minutes.) Don't try to respond to each statement. Just listen. Read more » about Tips for addressing angry health care crowds

Tips for addressing angry health care crowds

From Larry Susskind's great blog post offering advice to Congresspeople facing angry crowds at health care Town Halls around the country:

"Here are five suggestions that grow out of what we have learned about facilitating public dialogue in politically charged situations:

1. Begin by saying that you want to hear what the audience has to say. Ask 5 volunteers to come up on the stage to ask whatever questions or make whatever statements they think are important. Invite them up. Make it clear that you don't know any of these people and you are just trying to find out what people who bothered to come to the town hall meeting have to say. Pick five who raise their hands and appear to represent different age or other groups. Let them speak. Tell them that the ground rule is that each person has the mike for no more than five minutes. Invite them to sit on the stage with you. (Make sure someone is controlling the mike and make it clear that it will be shut off after five minutes.) Don't try to respond to each statement. Just listen. Read more » about Tips for addressing angry health care crowds

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