Prius, The Silent Killer--Update: If the government requires that Toyota Priuses and other quiet electric vehicles make a noise to warn pedestrians to get out of the way, won't that create a lucrative market for Prius ringtones?And what kind of noise would be a) distinctive enough to identify the presence of a car, yet b) quiet enough to make a crowd of Priuses tolerable--yet c) not drive Prius owners insane? Get Brian Eno on the case right now. ... P.S.: Maybe some sort of long whale-call tone? ... P.P.S.: Alert reader L.A. suggests "windchimes on the antennaes." Might fail (c). ... 6:17 P.M.
Here's an anguished NPR report on a victim of the highly-touted "E-Verify" system for checking the immigration status of employees. It seems Fernando Tinoco,** an American citizen, "thought he was living the American dream." But at a new job he got a "tentative non-confirmation" for his Social Security number. Two hours after being hired he was fired. And then ... he "cleared up the problem" ... and then he got his job back. ... So what's the big difficulty? He was ... humiliated! Yes, that's the ticket. Though he doesn't sound very humiliated in this report--despite the egging-on of the NPR reporter ("They thought you were illegal. ... Criminal! But you're an American." ..."Yes. We're in America, yes.") ... Remember: This is the best case NPR and the legal rights groups that feed it could come up with. ... P.S.: Aren't honest, law-abiding people humiliated by data base errors all the time--like when credit cards are wrongly turned down, etc.? Is that a reason for blocking what even comprehensivists tout as the most important immigration enforcement tool around? It is if you want to block immigration enforcement, I guess. ... P.P.S.: Illinois has attempted to stop "E-verify" with a law whose "bipartisan" backing NPR pretends to be impressed by. Why, it was supported by "immigrant rights groups and and by mainstream business groups like the Illinois Chamber of Commerce." I mean, who else could there be in the immigration debate? ...
More: 1) Reader T.C. emails, "[W]hat I found equally astonishing was the spokesperson for the State of Illinois insisting that the E-verify system be 99% accurate before it be relied upon. I wonder what degree of accuracy one might find in the various databases employed in their state government. Let's start with the voter registration system in Chicago. ..." 2) Reader J.R. notes that "employers routinely subject menial job applicants to credit
checking, online criminal background checks and drug tests." Whats the database-error rate for those pre-employment checks? ... 3)The Corner'sMark Krikorian points out that making Mr. Tinoco to iron out the problems with his Social Security number actually helped him in one respect--because it presumably means he will now get his Social Security benefits without a bureaucratic hassle. ...
**--Not sure this is the correct spelling of his name. Update: Spelling corrected. Tinoco was also featured in this May WaPo story. 5:37 P.M.
Boomers Against Medical Cost Control: Hillary Clinton's latest health care plan has been applauded, in part, because by focusing on universal coverage as opposed to cost control it avoids some of the most controversial and complicated regulatory aspects of her 1993 plan.** But in her latest interview with Jonathan Cohn she still seems itching to control costs--indeed, she's apparently relying on "efficiency gains" to both provide the money to finance her plan and to produce the savings that will control the cost of existing medical entitlements and balance the federal budget.
Good luck on that.*** Purely politically, you would think the ground has shifted since 1993--and that it's shifted against attempts at cost control, at least through government regulation. Why? Boomers! They're the demographic bulge in the voter rolls, right? Well, they're 15 years older now than they were when Hillary first tried health care reform. They naturally spend more time with their doctors, they typically like their doctors, and are naturally more likely in their older age to value the services their doctors provide. This means, I think, they will be more resistant than ever to regulatory cost controls--fee schedules, bureaucratic impediments, restrictions on ability to practice outside the government-subsidized system, etc.--that might be opposed by the medical professionals who are, after all, saving their lives. The doctors will certainly have expanded opportunities to lobby their aging boomer patients on these points. ... More fundamentally, fifteen-year-older boomers will feel more intensely the need for unimpeded access to expensive new life-enhancing technologies (and the doctors who can employ them) as soon as they read about them in the papers--which, in turn, are more likely to report them to their boomer readers.
**Sorry, her husband's plan! Hillary had practically nothing to do with it! It was all Bill's fault, Paul Starr now tells us, in one of the most informative and least convincing articles I've read recently.
***--I'm intuitively skeptical of the ability to wring vast efficiency gains from the health care sector a) because when I go to the doctor or a hospital it doesn't seem like a wasteful sector; b) because I assume technology will continue to provide more complex and expensive cures that people will rightfully want, and c) because I don't understand why it's so terrible if health care expenses keep rising, as a percent of GDP, as our society gets richer--and I assume others will come to the same conclusion rather than sacrifice what they regard as services that could improve and prolong their lives. 4:13 P.M.