• Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post Newt Gingrich the Spoiler

    2012-03-14 11:38:20View | Delete

    What I find more interesting is that liberal media outlets have been gunning for Newt as much as the Republican establishment has in this race, from day one, despite disparate interests. Is it now because they don’t want Romney to be either the nominee or anything but a hobbled nominee? Or is this just the media picking favorites like usual (i.e. Gore bad, Bush good, Obama good, Hillary bad).

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the diary post Nuclear “Renaissance” Meets Economic Reality, But Who Gets the Bill? by Gregg Levine.

    2012-02-24 16:54:53View | Delete

    If environmentalism was coherent, you would expect the movement to be able to prioritize. We all make priorities in life; among disparate problems some are more important than others. To wit: is global warming (or more fashionably, climate change) the paramount environmental issue of our time or is the odd nuclear accident the main issue? [...]

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post Rick Santorum’s Fantasy About Stewards of the Earth

    2012-02-20 08:08:57View | Delete

    Scarecrow you say: “If God put the earth here for our needs, and we are righteous, it’s inconceivable in Santorum’s philosophy that man could have abused his stewardship to a degree that abuse has become a threat to humans.”

    The problem with this line of argument is that if it were the case that the abuse of the environment was the fundamental threat to humanity that some argue, then it would seem incongruous to say the least that in a period of continued industrialization and globalization that the living indicators of the vast bulk of mankind continues to improve, including: life expectancy,
    quality of life years, child and infant mortality, and maternal mortality.

    The implication of the continued upward trend of human health and well being is that, however important the environmental impact of mankind is, that it’s more than compensated by economic development, the improvement of health care, the expansion of basic hygiene and potable water, etc. In other words, that between improving the environment and improving the economic condition and health care of the masses, we should typically choose the later.

  • No, those don’t count. Drone attacks in Pakistan have been done with the complicity and agreement of their government.

    And frankly, expatriates and dissidents always exaggerated the villainy of the country they oppose. Saying Iran wants to use nukes on its own people is laughable. No country has ever done such a thing, including Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s People Republic.

  • Like a nuclear North Korea was a disaster? What’s changed since North Korea set off a nuclear test in 2006? Nothing of consequence. The balance of power wasn’t tipped in any appreciable way.

    At most it confirmed the status quo and ensures against the possibility of war in the Korean peninsula. Good. If a nuclear Iran means the U.S. is forced to withdraw the military option against the Islamic Republic, then again – good.

  • There are worse things than having a nuke. Like invading a country in an aggressive war. It’s been 2/3rds of a century and no country has used a nuclear weapon since the end of World War II. At some point, we have to conclude that the odds of using these weapons is extremely low.

    On the other hand, when we tally all the deaths from Iraq alone, that were caused in no small part due to a fear of them developing nuclear weapons, we have to conclude that the quest to deter development of these weapons has led to more premature deaths than the weapons have in their entire history (more than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined).

    So, yes, I say frankly that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is not such a bad thing. The behavior of the Islamic Republic is of a risk-adverse state actor that does not invade neighboring country, and in fact, doesn’t even get involved in border skirmishes or limited military actions against neighboring states.

  • Climate change has been a disastrous detour for the left. It’s devoured so much time and energy, and the careers of so many talented people, it’s a shame. Meanwhile, millions die quietly from particulate pollution and many fewer people devote themselves to the issue because it’s less sexy than climate change. 30,000 die every year from car accidents, yet the left isn’t demanding that the government fund the development of self-driving cars that are virtually already road ready today.

    Any issue can be boiled down to what are its effects on human welfare. A global warming equivalent to say 3.0 Celsius over the next century, which is well in line with middle range IPCC estimates, would undoubtedly impinge upon living standards. But in reality, mass mortality as a result of climate is only going to occur in the very poorest nations. Which only emphasizes that the more basic issue, which solving would go a long way to addressing the effects of global warming and almost any issue you can name, is the fact that there are very poor nations and peoples to begin with.

    Millions will not die prematurely in industrialized nations as a result of climate change. This is simply because, if food prices increase or if water resources are under stress, more of the abundant resources of these societies will be devoted towards these priorities, which will just mean less money spent on consumer goods, big houses, travel, and entertainment. Thousands died in Europe from a heat wave only because they did not have air conditioning. With increased living standards, people do enjoy air conditioning and clean potable water and a plentiful supply of food, and will not die en masse from climate changes within the ranges predicted by the IPCC for the 21st century.

  • Americans are too quick to presume that Russia is under perpetual authoritarian rule due to decades of indoctrination concerning the Soviet Union.

    When you look at this legislative election, you see a governing party (United Russia) that got roughly 50% of the vote. The biggest opposition (at almost 20%) party continues to be the Communist Party, 20 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union by Boris Yeltsin and other leaders of the dominant Russian republic. This fact should remind Westerners that it is not the case that Russian people in their majority are groaning for Western-style cookie-cutter liberal and conservative parties.

    In addition, you see an array of medium-sized to small opposition parties that are not unified enough to provide a serious rival in Russia’s electoral system. But in all honesty – big deal. Japan for most of it’s post war history had a so-called one and a half party system in which the ruling Liberal Democratic Party held power almost continuously. Nobody called Japan a dictatorship on that account, or almost nobody. This was because the elections were still ostensibly free or largely so, to the extent that elections are free in any capitalist society.

  • This whole story is absurd. Putin’s party won 64% four years ago and just over 50% this time. That sounds like a reasonable decline in support over a four year span. There may or may not have been voter fraud, but this is very remote from an entirely fraudulent election.

    The reason why there are protests is because Putin’s still very broad-based popularity is no longer unanimous, full stop.

  • While both liberals and conservatives continue their robot-like fixation with health care costs, the real crisis in medicine goes ignored.

    The number of new antibiotics approved by the FDA is now less than one third what it was in the 1980′s. The number of new drugs in general approved has been a downward trend since the mid 90′s and is less than half what it was, and is less than 20 per year. The troubling trend continues – the number of new medical devices is down also by 50% over the last decade. And most recently, venture capital has been fleeing biotechnology in favor of Silicon Valley.

    Any liberal program to control costs through squeezing drug companies and hospitals needs to be coupled with massively increased federal investments in R&D, breakthrough biotechnology, medical device, and drug development. Yet, when health care is discussed by both left and right, there is a near complete lack of interest in promoting technological innovation in medicine so that we can continue the decades long decline in mortality rates from cardiac disease, and develop cures and treatments for diseases as effectively as we have done so recently for HIV/AIDS.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post Morning Swim

    2011-11-24 08:28:34View | Delete

    Peter Orszag is, if anything, to the right of President Obama. His interest in health care has always been cost-control and Medicare “reform”, and not granting access to the uninsured per se. When Obama wasted a year on health care reform without clearly enunciating the moral basis for his plan, he was speaking in Orszag’s language.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post GOP Goons Force Health Expert Don Berwick to Withdraw

    2011-11-23 18:44:47View | Delete

    Just because Republicans are hypocrites, doesn’t mean they don’t have a point. It’s like when defenders of slavery such as John C. Calhoun pointed to exploitation of factory workers in the North. They were right – but they were hypocrites to criticize it while committing far graver acts of injustice.

    The same is true with health care. Insurers are responsible for killing people as part of their normal business operations. But, some of the health care plans being promoted by Democrats are also going to lead to people’s unnecessarily premature deaths. We should be opposed to both.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post GOP Goons Force Health Expert Don Berwick to Withdraw

    2011-11-23 17:30:52View | Delete

    We’re not even remotely near that point. I suggest we be willing to spend less on the military and on tax cuts for the rich to save a life. Let’s start there.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post GOP Goons Force Health Expert Don Berwick to Withdraw

    2011-11-23 16:37:55View | Delete

    “The AP notes that the GOP accused Berwick of advocating “rationing,” an absurdly false distortion of the totally sensible notion that a medical peer review group would examine which treatments work and which don’t and let doctors/hospitals know.”

    When you decide not to use certain drugs or treatments because they’re both expensive and say, marginally but only marginally more effective than cheaper treatments, what is that but rationing?

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Medical peer review groups will be under political pressure to cut costs on spending on the elderly and sick. And when fewer expensive drugs or treatments are approved, who’s going to bother developing them?

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post Morning Hot Links

    2011-11-23 09:32:31View | Delete

    “Major news about HIV/AIDS trends worldwide. AIDS deaths are now down 21% since the peak in 2005, and new HIV infections are down 21% since that peak in 1997. Unprecedented access to treatment is responsible.”

    That’s true – but first those treatments had to be created. The grueling development of highly active retroviral therapy (HAART) which has reduced HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic disease is perhaps the greatest medical achievement of our time. It may be the greatest human achievement of our time, full stop. And it took less than a generation of massive investment in research and development.

    When these drugs first came out, they were extraordinarily expensive. Now they’re cheap. They’re cheap enough that millions of people in Africa are receiving them as foreign aid or even from their own governments. South Africa is now providing them to their own people, Brazil has been for years.

    But, again, before we can provide access, we need to develop cures. Let’s pressure our Congressmen to increase the budget for the NIH and pressure the FDA to fast-track the approval of life-saving new therapies.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the blog post Mini-Roundup for Thanksgiving Travel, 11/22/11

    2011-11-23 08:32:04View | Delete

    Joe Nocera is terrible on Avastin. We can have a legitimate debate about the effectiveness of Avastin, which is definitely in dispute, but let’s not kid ourselves. The FDA is being influenced by the cost-cutters in Washington, and is not making these decisions based only upon comparative effectiveness.

    The mainstream media, the Washington establishment, and deficit hawks are all obsessed with the idea of depriving Americans of expensive drugs and medical treatments. Their single-minded obsession with cutting health care costs has led them to argue for cutting treatment for the aged and sick, for encouraging patients to talk to their doctor about how to die with dignity… in other words it has led them to promote the idea that old people should die sooner. This dovetails with their incessant whining about the aging of the population and Social Security costs, as if the fact that Americans are staying healthy and living longer than ever before wasn’t a good thing.

  • I still hear nothing about how the left wants to encourage and foster medical progress. Yes, the pharmaceutical industry is guilty of “me too” drugs and of investing in blockbuster lifestyle drugs. Sure, there are ethical issues with the patenting of genes and biological products. But, how is the left going to promote the advance of fundamental and applied research, create new cures, and improve the health of citizens beyond the abilities of modern-day science? I argue that we should be agitating for a massive public investment program in medical research, simultaneous with the adoption of universal single-payer, on a greater scale than is currently conducted through the NIH.

    Or should I understand that the goal is a steady-state medicine stuck in circa 2011? Or worse, that we should retreat to the use of home remedies, homeopathy, and wild roots to cure disease?

  • Yes, but left out of your proposal is an expansion of publicly supported pharmaceutical and medical development. I have to say, this is a major flaw with most progressive visions of health care. It’s not enough to ensure universal access. Universal access to what? We want medical care to continue to advance. In fact, we want it to advance much more than it does under the current system.

    We need a much larger National Institutes of Health (increase the budget by a factor of 10 and it’ll still be half of Defense Department spending). We need a biotech DARPA. We need a myriad of federally funded bio-medical and drug development centers across the country. Otherwise, we’ll encourage the stagnation of health care. The most important barometer of a nation’s progress is health – longevity, maternal and infant mortality, mortality from cancer, and from the diseases of aging. I don’t see enough urgency on the left on the research and development side of health care.

  • Ranjit Suresh commented on the diary post Apple Hoards Cash Offshore; Makes Products Abroad in Abusive Conditions by Adele M. Stan.

    2011-11-02 12:47:02View | Delete

    That’s certainly true, but Apple is particular vulnerable here because they enjoy profit levels above the norm for the industry. Apple could be a highly profitable corporation and pay and treat its workers better. The same is true for other multinationals, but Apple is an especially egregious case. When you combine this fact with the [...]

  • Hillary Clinton’s reaction to Gadhafi’s brutal rape, torture, and murder is emblematic of our entire ruling class. Our society is presided over by a gang of thugs that just happens to have more guns, aircraft carriers, and robot bombers than our supposed enemies.

    The Libya rebels have repeatedly revealed their true character. They have committed pogroms against Black Africans on account of false rumors and unconcealed racism, demanded ever increasing numbers of NATO bombs rain upon their own country, destroyed the city of Sirte, and have tortured and summarily executed prisoners of war.

    In little more than half a year the Libyan war has recapitulated the horrors of Iraq despite all the apologetics for military intervention made by American ex-liberals. Libya was supposed to be different. It wasn’t.

    There can be no support for any major American leader, whether in Washington, Wall Street, or in our corporate boardrooms until this nation’s crimes have ended and the perpetrators brought to justice.

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