Category Archives: Politics vs. math

The first layers of hidden healthcare costs

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In a recent debate, Joe Biden said that 160 million people like their private insurance. PolitiFact rated this statement as “half true.” This is the number of people who are insured through their employers, and most of these people generally rate this insurance as satisfactory. They shouldn’t. That benefit is much more shaky than most of them think. Even more… Read more »

William Barr and the binary God

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Binary God

Besides wandering the globe apparently looking for the “real killer” in the O.J. Simpson case, Attorney General William Barr made two recent high-profile speeches that are disturbing on several levels. His November 15 speech was to the right-wing, highly political Federalist Society (from which have come all recent Republican Supreme Court nominees), where he complained about aggressive oversight from Congressional… Read more »

This is disturbing; therefore, it is not true

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Trinity College Library

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”  (T. S. Eliot, The Rock, 1934) The question “What is truth?” has vexed theologians and philosophers for many centuries. According to the Biblical story, even Jesus did not have a spoken answer to… Read more »

Revisiting the “political restaurants”

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Markov Defections

A recent state legislature election in Virginia piqued my interest because it featured a candidate rematch of a contest that I featured in the first post of this blog almost two years ago because of its interesting mathematical implications. That 2017 House of Delegates vote ended in a tie, and it was resolved months later literally by drawing lots. The… Read more »

The probability of “Deep State” and other conspiracies

The recent $450,000 defamation judgement against a conspiracy theorist who targeted the parent of a Sandy Hook massacre victim reminded me that crazy conspiratorial thinking is often not a harmless exercise. Instead, the social media memes that spread unfounded rumors and plots can cause real damage. The grieving Sandy Hook parents, for instance, have received a steady flood of hate… Read more »

Bending the odds with social policy

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Anisela-and-Roberto

I became familiar with the work of two of the most recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics about seven years ago when I started volunteering with Outreach International, a non-profit organization that works in ten countries around the world to help communities find sustainable solutions to end extreme poverty. Nobel awardees Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo wrote an… Read more »

The bottom-up capitalism of Elizabeth Warren

I have lived and worked in Europe in past years, and we still visit regularly. Contrary to the views of Americans who never have traveled there, “classic capitalism” is alive and well in small communities across supposedly “socialist” northern Europe, and they are often far healthier than many U.S. communities of similar size. Small-business entrepreneurship is commonly evident and the… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 2

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In a prior post I introduced my view that we are not paying enough attention in the healthcare discussion to the top-line “giant cash suck” that causes U.S. healthcare costs to be over twice the per-capita level of many countries that achieve true universal coverage while delivering equal or better outcomes. In this second part, I will explore where much… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 1

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Michigan

What do the great cathedrals of Europe, the Las Vegas “Strip” and an impressive new hospital in economically-challenged northern Michigan have in common? They all answer the question, “Who controls the big cashflow here?” I have been struck in awe visiting many Old Europe cathedrals, but I also have been troubled by the “real history” of the stark contrast between… Read more »