Global health

July 4th, 2008 by De Onion

Here’s a neat interactive side by side comparison of healthcare systems internationally. Just something I stumbled across.

As I’ve said before – the only conclusion that an honest economist can make about healthcare is that one that is for fully private and for-profit is the worst possible solution and Japan, which from an economic perspective is one of the best healthcare providers is also the worst for the doctors. This is not a coincidence, and it looks remarkably like the Bermudian system.

The next level.

July 1st, 2008 by De Onion

I think the most recent posts on the political parties web sites says a lot about the state of Bermuda’s two main parties.

The closest thing the UBP has to a blog has an opinion piece by Opposition Leader Kim Swan where he expresses the following:

Today, our state of mind is anything but tranquil. Tensions are running high. More and more I see people frustrated, people irritated, people confused. More than a few are getting angry.
As a politician, it is incumbent on me to try to understand why things are happening, to connect the dots and draw conclusions that might help our society work better.

As I see things today, the tensions are growing out of a variety of developments that can be traced to one common source – PLP Government policies and actions.

Let’s look at a list of incidents, decisions and events over the past few months to see if this observation makes sense:

He takes a while to get into the meat – which loses most people because let’s face it, it’s boring. But by the middle he has moved to a wholly factual and specific list of items which I suspect will get a nod from most of us as they focus on the real quality of life issues that are facing our island and our government. Then he closes with:

Each of the items I’ve listed above emanate from the decisions and actions of Government ministers under the direction of the Premier.

People more and more are seeing this government as out of touch and arrogant, and not really interested in their views. That labour unions are feeling the brunt of this callous style of government speaks volumes about the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party Government today.

It is time this government learned how to work with people. It is time this government started treating people with more respect. It is time the government started governing for the people.

…meanwhile over at the PLP Blog there is a post by Premier Dr. Ewart Brown about medical tourism. If you look at the line in italics, you’ll note that he has either written the article on medical tourism or plagiarized from it.

So, you see, I am a busy guy – with a lot of interests in a lot of areas. Today, I want to focus on two of my converged interests – medicine and tourism. I want to spend a few minutes talking about this fairly new term – Medical Tourism.

What is Medical Tourism? It is simply a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. So, while it is a new term, it is an old art. All of the pilgrimages we have heard about from biblical times when people traveled hundreds of miles for the lame to be made to walk and the blind to be made to see are grounded on the same premise – people will travel to be healed. Wouldn’t we all?

What strikes me is – who benefits from Dr. Brown’s vision? Not most Bermudians. My life is no better if we become a medical tourism destination, and neither is yours. We don’t have lots of doctors and nurses living in poverty. In fact, to support medical tourism we’ll have to import lots of doctors because we don’t have enough, which squeezes the rest of us out of our limited space. The one person who benefits from medical tourism in Bermuda is Dr. Brown with his clinic. How typical.

I get the impression that people are starting to wake up that they thought they were getting fillet mignon when they voted PLP but are waking up to table scraps.

Scandal list draft

December 12th, 2007 by De Onion

Recently there have been a number of people in letters to the editor and on blogs saying that the current government can “run on their record”… their web page of their accomplishments is here.

I asked the posters on the forum (yes, I deeply dislike the name and always will) for some help in creating a government scandal list for the past few years… Here’s what they came up with:

BHC – The big kahuna.
Premier sues the media to keep them quiet.
Limo Importation – Law changed to allow government insider to start a Limo business.
Hummer H3 commercial vehicle
Cedarbrige Mould
Education Statistics
Firing of Hotel Chef
Work Permit of Curtis Mcleod (construction boss v. George Scott)
Southlands Tunnel
Southlands planning approval
Hospital location
Discrimination against non-Bermudian spouses
Equality act
Col. Burch “House ****” comment
Long-line fishing
Berkley over-budget
“we had to deceive you”
Robert Jensen
RC’s profane e-mail
Mount Saint Monica (dump fire)
Calling squatters “criminals”
Faith Based Tourism
Tracking Chips for Vehicles
Emission Testing.. Buildings
Emission Testing… Contract
“settlement” with Pro-Active Construction
Club Med 1
Club Med 2
Club Med 3
Rebecca Middleton handling
Indigent Clinic and firing of Doctor for writing a letter to the press.
Stem Cell Clinic
Cedar Beams
Removal of Stuart Hayward and Bermuda’s #1 Eco Farmer from the round table.
Voting from the bathroom (applies to both parties’ MPs). (Gay Rights Issue)
Independence (most notably the BIC report)
After closing the Clinic, the Brown one, signed up as an “approved Dr” then refused to take any patients.
Forcing GPS upon the taxis
Brown’s Relationship with Tina Poitevien , Mark Lay and MDL Investments.
Free Bus & Ferry Transportation (that never was!)
The $11 million spent on cricket
The amount spent on football
The police contracts never being settled
No cruise ships for Hamilton
Building a pier over an historic wreck
The “deal” they cut with the US government re the cost of cleaning up the Baselands [$11 mill towards the bridge when the estimated cleanup costs were $65 mill]
The apparent about face re moving the Southlands project to Morgans Point (and the bill that will stick the taxpayer with)
Pay to Pray
Pay to Play
US Passport
$ 1 million per month spent on PLP travel junkets abroad.
$25,000 to $30,000 to fly entertainers to Bermuda on a private jet for Brown’s love fest
$1 million to set up Govt TV channel
Abdallah Ahad
Racist dog attack on Gibbons
non-Charity (THE)
Alex Scott’s email to Tony Brannon
$82,000 spent on security for Brown’s private residence.
$1,500,000+ for renovations at Clifton, and then overcharging for rent so it remains unoccupied.
“Political eunuch”
China tourist office
Plantation questions
Refusing to answer cost questions
Donation to a US congressman even though EB shouldn’t be an American anymore.
Gay cruise saga
Reducing funding for the Salvation Army.
Firing developers who were ready to go on Club Med.
Health Minister’s notes on need to obfuscate “embarrassing” report.
Bermuda Cement
BHC 2.0

Readers – please help me remove the inaccurate ones and add any others – I have done some of this on my own.

If I had more time I’d like to go through and add up the cost of these various mistakes to the taxpayer – it would probably run into the thousands of dollars per person in Bermuda.

Double down.

September 2nd, 2007 by De Onion

Dennis Pitcher asks

…what impact do zero-down mortgages have on the overall market…?

They raise prices by make it possible for people who have high incomes but less savings able to buy. This increases the number of buyers at any given price because there are a decent number of people who are highly salaried, young, or who have not saved much. More buyers with a fixed (in the short-run) supply of housing leads prices to rise until the buyers at a given price = sellers at a given price.

have local banks been part of the cause of the boom?

Absolutely. However, they’ve done it by making housing easier to buy and large payments easier to handle which is a good thing. In addition, because the banks here write their own loans and carry them on their own balance sheets they do not face the massive conflicts of interest that caused the US housing bubble and subsequent crash (that will probably push the USA into recession).

I’m not sure how interest rates work in Bermuda (there is a base rate set by the BMA, but I’m not sure if they just use Fed rates), but if interest rates fall in Bermuda as they are going to do in the USA, and if construction resources are all diverted to building hotels and then the resulting importation of thousands of people into a fixed supply of housing then the inevitable result will be another surge in house price increase. Combine that with continuing failure of the government to manage the Department of Planning efficiently and in accordance with its mandate and the stage could be set for continuing mindblowing price increases, resulting in a complete gravy train for anyone with a construction company or access to speedy planning decisions while the workers who compete with cheap foreign labour find themselves unable to afford event the tiniest slice of Bermuda.

Choose life.

April 26th, 2007 by De Onion

The down side of eliminating walking as a daily necessity… (among other things)

There is real power in Urban Villages (in the suburb that is the entire island of Bermuda) and the widespread use of public transport… because the above photo is what happens if we let humans move toward their evolutionary tendency to seek high-calorie food and to avoid activity… which comes at the cost of social time and the ability of some people to develop social capital because they’re too busy spending their time with easy substitutes... which in turn affects social mobility. As a species we seem to be at a real risk of replacing our ancestral diets and social lives with cheap, easy alternatives. The cost of this is intergenerational and is potentially the largest market failure in history.

No, this post is not intended for the average Bermudian, but if the research is right then potentially if a few of the right people understand it we will be able to make Bermuda healthier and happier.

Healthcare – American Style (with extra cheese)

March 14th, 2007 by De Onion

So, Dr. Brown thinks that the American model of private medical care is a good one?

Sadly, he’s dead wrong and hopefully has never heard of adverse selection, moral hazard, or dead weight loss. If he has heard of and understands them then that implies that he intends to make himself even richer by privatizing healthcare at the expense of everyone else.

This is to say nothing of the fact that the American free market he cited has produced the worst healthcare system in the First World… and that it is logically inconsistent to feel that free market healthcare is a good idea while wildly mismanaging government funded adventures in sports, fishing, housing, senior care, education, social mobility, and just about everything else.

Edit: I suppose I should make it clear that from the way it appears, this implies that either Dr. Brown is well intentioned and believes his own rhetoric, or he knows full well the implications of what he appears to be doing and doesn’t care. I’ll leave it to the reader and the way events play out to make it clear which is the case.