Characteristics Of An Ideal Health Care System

In our society, people who choose not to pay for insurance know that they are likely to get health care anyway – even if they can't pay for it. The reason is that there is a tacit, widely shared agreement that no one will be allowed to go without care. As a result, the willfully uninsured impose external costs on others – through the higher taxes or higher prices which subsidize the cost of their care.

Financial Privacy: The Choice Is in the Mail

In one of the largest financial-customer notifications ever, banks and other financial institutions are mailing information to every customer of record to clarify how they collect and use people's financial information and what options customers have with regard to the sharing of this information. Many bank customers have already received notices. The mail campaign is a result of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

Personal Privacy in a Transparent Society

A torrent of personal information about each of us is available now and experts agree that it will increasingly become available to others who want to use it. Society has become much more transparent due to the advent of inexpensive computer technology, storage devices and the Internet. This development has led to concerns about how this information might be used by employers, marketers, health insurers and others. Carefully crafted laws that promote clear disclosure (and enforcement) of privacy agreements can help people protect themselves without sacrificing freedom of speech.

The Evolving Technologies Of Internet Privacy

Two dynamic Internet software industries are emerging. One is the data-mining industry, producing software tools that firms use to analyze consumer behavior and preferences on the Internet. The other is the privacy software industry, whose products are designed to stop some or all of this individual information from being collected and analyzed.

Focus Point – A Broken IRS

Gosh, it pains me to say it, but these are tough times at the IRS, according to Larry Levitan, head of the service's oversight board. He actually used the word "broken" to describe the service. Seems it can't manage adequate enforcement, leading people to assume they can cheat. Since 1992 the agency's staff has been cut, and audits are way down.

Focus Point – Broadcasting Executions

I've never done much here on capital punishment because i'm not likely to change anyone's mind on it. That said, i concur with attorney general ashcroft's decision to make timothy mcveigh's execution available on closed circuit tv to the victims' relatives and survivors.

Focus Point – Affirmative Action

The supreme court has been striking down racial preferences since the Bakke decision in 1978. Yet intellectuals and academics insist promoting diversity is more important to society than considering an individual's merit.

The Marriage Penalty: A Tax On Working Couples

The most significant change in the U.S. labor force in the last 60 years has been the increasing participation of women. Women now account for 46 percent of the total U.S. workforce, and nearly half of married women with children (47 percent last year) work.

Focus Point – Bush And China

Last week I chastised the Weekly Standard for predicting the end of the world over the Bush administration's handling of the surveillance plane incident. Now, I'd like to say "I told you so."

Focus Point – Bush So Far

Less than 100 days into his term, George W. Bush has managed to change the nature of the presidency, surprising conservatives, liberals and the press alike.

MSAs for Everyone, Part III

The idea behind Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) is that individuals are able to own and control some of their own health care dollars. Instead of turning all the money over to an employer or insurance company, part of the funds are placed in an account from which patients pay directly for medical services. Further, individuals ultimately get to keep any MSA funds they do not spend

A Better Patients' Bill of Rights

Congress is poised to pass a law specifically designed to encourage litigation against health plans. Advocates of the so-called Patients' Bill of Rights are selling this legislation as necessary to permit members of health maintenance organizations to sue their plans. However, this is not an accurate description of the bill:

Focus Point – SUVs Save

I know this will shock hard core environmentalists and so-called consumer activists — but a study of light truck and SUV accidents from 1994 to 1997 found that larger, heavier vehicles are safer for occupants in car accidents.

Bureaucrats First, Kids Second

The National Assessment of Educational Progress reading scores for American fourth-graders came out last week, and the news is abysmal. For eight years reading skills have been virtually static; they are the same as they were in 1992 and 1998 (they were slightly worse in 1994). Indeed, reading scores haven't improved in 20 years, so the overall data are nothing new. But the details are devastating.

Questions and Answers About Personal Social Security Retirement Accounts

Between now and 2015 Social Security will accumulate large surpluses. Social Security reform proposals before Congress would utilize these surpluses by allowing workers to invest 2 percentage points of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts (PRAs). The PRA balances, with their accumulated interest and dividends, would replace an increasing portion of retirees' Social Security benefits and reduce the government's obligation to pay retirement benefits.