Drama Doll

September 30, 2009

If you’re a female under the age of about thirty-five, you probably know about American Girl dolls; they each come with their own historical setting, a six-book series, multiple outfits and accessories, and the sound of about fifty million small and not-so-small girls pleading with their parents to buy them one. I was one of them, once; my mother, who was extremely pleased to see a doll with brown hair and eyes, had planned to surprise me with Samantha for Christmas, but I found the catalogue and, steeped to the brim with Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, begged for Kirsten because she was a pioneer and wore a sunbonnet. I got her that Christmas, twenty-one years ago, and still have her, along with quite a few accessory sets – bought one at a time, twice a year (birthday and Christmas). She was by far the longest-lasting and best toy I can remember having.

Mattel bought out the company about ten years ago and in addition to expanding their stable of dolls they now have modern dolls and “best friend” dolls, some of them being pushed harder than others (poor Kirsten – since her best friend Marta dies of cholera in Book 1, I don’t think she’ll be getting a shroud-wrapped companion doll any time soon). I hadn’t thought much about them for a while, but that all changed last February when, two months to the day after my daughter was born, one of their catalogues arrived in the mail. Coincidence? I like to think so. Anyway, a quick review brought me up to date – the “Girl of the Year” was named Chrissa (um … OK) and had two friend dolls named Gwen and Sonali. All of them, of course, retailing for $95 apiece. I got another catalogue a few weeks ago, which introduced their new WWI-era Jewish doll. So imagine my surprise, when noodling around on the Huffington Post instead of doing something more productive (like, say, bouncing a rubber ball off my living room for three hours) there was a piece describing the “controversial new homeless doll.” Another doll? What the hell?

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Our Health Care System Needs Immediate Reform – The View from the Inside

September 9, 2009

This is the second of three posts on health care reform in the United States. The first post was about which type of experts to trust. The third post will be published on the so-called “public option” after the author has had a chance to review the legislation.

Tonight, Wednesday, September 9, 2009, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to argue for health care reform. But you might not realize why health care reform is so desperately needed in the United States, since your only experience of health care in the US might have been good visits with an excellent physician. The need for health care system reform isn’t about the quality of our doctors and other health care providers: for the most part, they’re highly qualified and good at their jobs. Instead, there are three basic symptoms of ill health in our health care system, and I will investigate the causes of those symptoms in this essay, partly from the view of an insider who worked in health care for six years, partly from the view of someone especially knowledgeable about the health care system from careful study. I argue that because the health of this system has been bad for so long, we must take action as soon as we can to reform it.

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Health Care Reform: Doctors Can’t Be Expert Witnesses

September 8, 2009

This is part one of a three part series on health care reform in the United States. The second part is a primer on how the health care system works and why it’s broken; the third will be about why I think we need a public option as part of any health care reform package. The third part will be published after I’ve had a chance to review legislation relevant to the speech and some of the broader reform efforts.

With President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress this Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, on the subject, health care reform is again a focus of national attention. We’re being asked again to evaluate the president’s claims on the subject in light of the testimony of a great many expert witnesses. Since health care reform became a subject of serious discussion in the 2008 election cycle, we’ve had the occasional opinion from some doctor, for instance, on what he or she thinks should be the way we do health care in the future. Even the American Medical Association, allegedly the body the represents all the doctors in the United States, has made its opinion known on the matter, supporting reform but not a public option. But I don’t think we should treat doctors as our expert witnesses on the subject of large-scale institutional reform in the health care system. Instead, economists are the most suitable expert witnesses when it comes to the health of our health care system and the institutional reform that we should be implementing. After the jump, I’ll try to explain why I think economists* are suitable and medical doctors are not suitable as our experts on the subject of health care reform.

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