Writings

Why Fiscal Conservatives Should Be Happy Today

What the supreme court upheld today was that the “individual mandate” is, legally speaking, a tax.  In fact, it is exactly equivalent to the type of tax that fiscal conservatives want the social security and medicare taxes to become.  (Think about it, it’s a tax where you pay into a public system, but you can opt out by paying your money into a private system instead – this is exactly the privatization of social security that Cato and Heritage have been pushing for!)

This is why the whole idea of an individual mandate for health insurance was invented by the Heritage Foundation in 1989 (it was originally created as an alternative to Clinton’s Single-Payer system) and not by the democrats.  If Obama had any balls, he would have rammed through a public option, but instead, he decided to take a Republican plan and call it his own thinking (foolishly) that the Republicans couldn’t possibly slam him for promoting their own idea!

Personally, it doesn’t matter to me whether there is an individual mandate or not – I’m going to have health insurance either way – but I definitely approve of the idea of making taxes (in general, not just this one) more transparent (having tax money specifically ear-marked for particular purposes and not “dumped into the general pot”) and in having the ability to opt out of taxes if you can meet the same requirement through the private sector (think private school vouchers).  If either Clinton or Obama had pushed through a single-payer system, there would be a huge republican movement to privatize it in exactly the way that the individual mandate does (think social security privatization).  The only difference here is that we’re going directly to the Republican’s plan from the 1990’s without having to pass through the democrat’s plan from the 1990’s first…

Miscellany

What is “Informatics”?

Informatics is a field that is primarily concerned with making sense of large amounts of data. In particular, informatics researchers strive to develop software for finding patterns in data that allow it to be organized, modeled, visualized, understood and manipulated in a comprehensible way.

The goal of an informatics system is to present the end-user, whether that is a researcher, a physician, or a member of the public, the information that is most relevant and useful to them. To accomplish this, informatics draws from a number of different fields including artificial intelligencecognitive sciencedatabase systemslibrary and information sciencestatistics, and software engineering.

The term “informatics” was coined in the 1960s to mean “applied information science.” During the decades since, informatics has grown and evolved; making its biggest impact in medicine and biology. Medical informatics is primarily concerned with the information processing and communication tasks of medical practice, education and research. Bioinformatics, on the other hand, focuses on the interpretation and management of biological data (including human genome data).

Today, informatics is being used to deal with an ever increasing variety of data. The ability to discover knowledge from sources as unstructured as the world wide web will drive research in many different areas.

From “Biomedical and Health Informatics: Improving Health, Healthcare, and Biomedical Research with Information Technology” presented by William Hersh, MD at Portland State University on July 16, 2010.
Quotes

For years there has been a theory that millions of monkeys typing at random on millions of typewriters would reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. The Internet has proven this theory to be untrue.

Anonymous
Quotes

The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.

Woodrow Wilson