Happy 40th birthday to my car

Happy birthday! 40 years ago this Grand Prix SJ rolled off the assembly line in Detroit. The last car that my grandfather Earl Case ever owned. And — having launched a successful Pontiac and Buick dealership in rural Illinois — Grandpa loved his cars. I bought it from my grandmother 10 years ago (she cut me a deal), and it’s still running beautifully with only 63k miles. Grandpa’s dealership – once known as Case Motor Sales – exists to this day as Route 1 Chevy Buick in Momence.Grandma, Tim, Grand Prix - November 2007

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Should health care operate more like public schools?

In the New Yorker, Atul Gawande implies that the problem with our health care system is that it isn’t like our K-12 education system:

During the next two centuries, we relied on government to establish a system of compulsory public education, infrastructure for everything from running water to the electric grid, and old-age pensions, along with tax systems to pay for it all. As in other countries, these programs were designed to be universal. For the most part, we didn’t divide families between those who qualified and those who didn’t, between participants and patrons. This inclusiveness is likely a major reason that these policies have garnered such enduring support.

So let’s imagine a world in which the health care system is like our system of public education:

(1) There are local “health care districts” administered by elected politicians.

(2) The HC districts establishes a “local clinic” in each neighborhood.  You’re asssigned to your local clinic and required by law to submit to care.

(3) You’re allowed to “apply” for access to clinics outside your neighborhood, if those clinics “have space.”

(4) Most of the best doctors choose to work at the clinics in the wealthier, whiter neighborhoods.

(5) Therefore, the clinics in the wealthier, whiter neighborhoods provide better care.  They are also full-up with wealthy, white patients.  They’re required by law to turn away the poor, brown folks from other neighborhoods who try to gain access to their doctors.

(6) Each clinic is given an “allocation” of doctor positions, so that the ratio of doctors-to-patients is the same across all clinics.  Salaries, however, are determined by seniority.  The doctors in the upscale clinics make more money, because they typically stick around longer, because the upscale clinics are quite nice places to work.  So the upscale clinics actually have larger budgets for doctor salaries, despite the fact that their patient base is healthier.  It’s redistribution in reverse!

(7) It’s virtually impossible to fire a doctor.  Because they’re doctors!  You can’t fire someone who is a doctor.  He/she needs to be protected.

To his credit, Gawande identifies the root of all our health-care problems: the moment when the federal government made employer-provided health insurance tax deductible.  This whole mess springs from that decision.

But please don’t use K12 education as the model for reforming health care.

 

What’s wrong with America? College rankings

My alma mater Pomona just got named by Forbes as the #1 “liberal arts university” in the country, ahead of Harvard, Stanford, and everyone else. I think I’m supposed to be feeling pride, but what I’m really feeling is COLLEGE RANKINGS ARE THE DUMBEST F’ING THING IN THE WORLD, NO MATTER WHO GETS FIRST PLACE.

And, yes, I loved Pomona. But I’d love it even more if they asked to be taken off this stupid-ass list.

No link!

The Ballad of Huck and Miguel is now available on Amazon

Four years of work, and my book is finally available!  This is a modern-day retelling of Huck Finn set in modern-day Los Angeles.  Huck Finn escapes down the LA River with his friend Miguel, an illegal immigrant who’s been accused of murder.  If you loved the original, you’ll love this book.

Includes 40+ gorgeous linocut illustrations by #printgonzalez.

The Ballad of Huck & Miguel - Cover