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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press David Brooks Mendaciously Refuses to Look at Evidence on the Relative Efficiency of Private and Public Sector Health Care Costs

David Brooks Mendaciously Refuses to Look at Evidence on the Relative Efficiency of Private and Public Sector Health Care Costs

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 04:08

David Brooks is very angry that Democrats are relying on the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Medicare privatization plan put forward by Representative Paul Ryan and approved by the Republican House. This analysis shows that the Ryan plan would increase the cost of buying Medicare-equivalent policies by $34 trillion over the program's 75-year planning period. This increased cost is almost 7 times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall.

Brooks wants Democrats to ignore the evidence that shifting from a public Medicare program to private insurers will increase costs and instead accept his claims that Ryan's plan will save money. He describes their refusal to follow his faith-based policy as "mendacity."

Interestingly, Brooks discusses the increasing number of prime age men who are not employed without ever once mentioning the criminal justice system. A hugely disproportionate share of non-employed prime age men have spent time in jail or prison. The enormous growth in incarceration rates over the last three decades (the number of prisoners has more than quadrupled since 1980) is almost certainly an important factor in declining employment rates.

Comments (6)Add Comment
Excess Criminals are Structually Unemployed
written by izzatzo, May 10, 2011 6:21
A hugely disproportionate share of non-employed prime age men have spent time in jail or prison.


It's not disproportionate now. It corrected a prior disproportionate shortage condition of too few criminals in prison who couldn't find work on the street due to mismatched skills.

After prisons were privatized the superior efficiency over government prisons allowed more to be imprisoned with increased prison pay combined with lower cost per prisoner housing.

Releasing prisoners is the cause of the problem. It creates a surplus of criminals outside the prison and a shortage inside the prison due to structually mismatched skills.

One would think Baker could grasp this obvious premise by Brooks since it's based on economic efficiency. Unjailed criminals are obviously not cyclically unemployed so Brooks is actually in agreement with Baker.
what kind of society do we want to live in
written by frankenduf, May 10, 2011 8:05
saw a segment on pbs last nite about a small ca town with a large population of (illegal) immigrants that was suffering from large unemployment- close by, a federal prison is being built, but ironically, many townspeople can't get jobs there because the fed employees need some higher education- so, the other option for new employment that is being built is... another prison!- this one will be privately owned, but by a company that is associated with administering illegal immigration sweeps, so the townspeople will refuse to work there!- it was then i realized that tis story can't possibly be true- it is merely farce for what our enlightened free soociety would look like if it was instead modeled after some stalinist/statist/capitalist hybrid
"The Economic Consequences of David Brooks"
written by JHM, May 10, 2011 8:12
Were we on the air?
written by diesel, May 10, 2011 6:14
This is David's finest hour. Reaching out--nay, embracing the unfortunate bottom-dwellering 20%, who, through no fault of their own are structurally unemployed. Make no mistake, these idle are not to be regarded as the victims of a robust free market's cyclical fluctuations--rather, they are literally misfits, castoffs from a society that has no further use for their outdated skills--altogether a sad, terrible waste (as well as being a drag on those of us who are, through foresight, industry, moral virtue and pious conscientiousness, well prepared for the challenges of this accelerating technological era).

What to do? What to do? What are we to do with them? Slavery has, unfortunately, been outlawed. The prisons are bursting. Education costs money. The elderly refuse to die off fast enough, perversely clinging to their worthless lives through the intervention of expensive healthcare. And modern wars just don't turn guys into hamburger at the rate good old-fashioned wars did (whatever became of the glorious frontal assault on entrenched machine gun nests?)

But above all, these damn ingrates won't work for the same wages as those exemplary Chinese! Would they but realize that this is their only historically conditioned destiny, then the way would be clear before us. Face it losers, you're worth no more than the "Chicoms" (so beloved of your talk radio hero)! Get used to it cause you're going down--way down.

Oh yes. Sorry, I lost my train of thought for a moment. As I was saying, better education, optimal resource allocation, utilization of talent...forward leaning...
brooks as kang or krang?
written by frankenduf, May 11, 2011 8:10
yo deez- lol- that is some quality material- reminded me of some of the old simpsons spoofs on political rhetoric
Why hasn't someone...
written by scottindallas, May 11, 2011 8:46
Why hasn't someone actually reported on what it would cost to get health insurance from private providers for someone in reasonably good health aged 70, 80 and 90? What does it cost/yr to get private coverage if they aren't in reasonably good health? And, how does this /yr cost compare to the $8000 offered by Ryan's plan.

We need to encourage hospice care, limit some of what we will do for aging people. We need to have various DNR positions on our Driver's licenses right along with organ donation. I would include everything from "do nothing" to "move heaven and earth" and finally, "look for DNR elsewhere" This should give some guidance to families and providers and hopefully limit unneeded waste.

Finally, we have more people in jail than China, that means we incarcerate at 5 times the rate of the Chinese! Land of Liberty indeed. As a landscaping business owner, I have some sympathy for those with felonies. These people are forced to pay regular fees to the state while they are forced to work despite a discriminatory record. Felons aren't despised by employers, rather employers know that they are required to work and don't have many prospects. This makes them ideal slaves, I mean workers, who won't lightly leave. I don't know why they don't go berserk more than they do. Such despair inflicted on people regularly results in terrorism, whether domestic or international.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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