The NY Times is such a funny bunny. In the opinion section I read "The Free Market: A False Idol After All?", where I am informed by Jared Bernstein that "Untethered Market Forces lead to bad things. You simply can't run an economy as complicated as ours on ideology alone".
Now we could have a lot of fun with that on its own, no? Being the richest country on earth is a bad thing?? Someone is "running" or supposed to be "running" the economy? Mr. Bernstein is bringing something beyond "ideology" to the table?
But, what I want to do here is to point out yet again, or in this case let the Times itself point out yet again, the simple fact that in the real world where we live, actual government regulation often makes things worse instead of better. To wit, two pages later, in the very same section of the Times, Atul Gawande unpacks a great example.
He describes a John Hopkins program that institutes a five step anti-infection checklist in hospitals. The program has been a big success, "Over 18 months, the program saved more than 1,500 lives and nearly $200 million", by among other things, reminding doctors to wash their hands before running IV lines into patients!
And then, the government acted: "Yet this past month, the Office for Human Research Protections shut the program down. The agency issued notice to the researchers and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association that, by introducing a checklist and tracking the results without written, informed consent from each patient and health-care provider, they had violated scientific ethics regulations. Johns Hopkins had to halt not only the program in Michigan but also its plans to extend it to hospitals in New Jersey and Rhode Island."
Ah yes. The sweet logic of the "small kings". A poster telling doctors to wash their hands is basically the same thing as an experimental drug and every patient that enters the hospital with the posters would have to provide written consent to having them there, just like you'd have to give written consent to being experimented on with a new drug therapy.
I can't wait for these guys to fix the financial services industry! How about y'all??
Maybe we could put a poster up all over the country saying "Remember: just because things could be better doesn't mean new government actions will actually make things better"
I wonder how long it'd be before the small kings would make us take it down?