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Month: October 2008

No such thing as a free lunch

by David Veksler David Veksler 1 Comment

When arguing against the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act last year, I wrote

If discrimination based on comprehensive genetic screening is legal, we can expect health providers to tailor plans according to our individual risk factors. That might be to the disadvantage of a minority of high-risk individuals, but greater information about risk factors will lower uncertainty, and thus lower rates overall. Furthermore, insurers will offer incentives to people who take proactive steps to discover health risks and take steps to alleviate them. Expensive procedures such as frequent biopsies or preemptive removal of organs might be fully covered for individuals whose genetic profiles uncover a high cancer risk.

Unfortunately, Congress did not heed my arguments, and banned genetic discrimination anyway.  It is now illegal for health insurers to take genetic factors into consideration when setting premiums.  What effect do you think the law had on the incentive of insurance companies to pay for their customer’s genetic screening?

If the goal of the law was to encourage genetic screening, it clearly had the opposite effect.  In response, celebrities are now “fighting for women to have access to MRIs and genetic testing.”  Having forced insurance companies to ignore the results of genetic testing, people now want to force them to pay for it.

Do you think that people who find out that they have a higher probability of having an illness with genetic factors would be more likely to purchase more health insurance than individuals with a low probability of genetic illness?  As I wrote last year,

It does not take an economist to predict that rates would immediately rise, as healthy people, refusing to pay for their neighbor’s health risks, stopped using insurance altogether. As the young and healthy jump ship, insurance companies would have to increase rates, accelerating the trend. Without further government interference, the health insurance business would disappear completely, shortly after millionaires on their deathbeds became the only people able to afford policies.

Are you still wondering why healthcare is so expensive in the U.S.?

Ban on short selling hurt investors

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

What is the difference between the U.S. and the Russian economy? Answer: In Russia, they do not pretend to be capitalists. Seriously though, it appears that we are getting closer to nationalizing many of the broken industries that still remain in the U.S. such as automobiles, airlines, financials and who knows what else.

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Swiss government supports granting plants rights

by David Veksler David Veksler 4 Comments

If you thought the animal rights movement could not get any more insane after the Spanish government granted apes rights, here is a new low:

The Federal Ethics Committee of the Swiss government has unanimously concluded that the right of plants should be recognized. Their conclusions (PDF) of their statement on the “moral consideration of plants for their own sake” includes the following:

 

  • “Harm caused to plants”, including the “decapitation of wild flowers” is “morally impermissible”
  • Plants should be “excluded for moral reasons from absolute ownership”
  • Genetic engineering is acceptable only as long as their “reproductive ability and adaptive ability are ensured” and “always involve[s] consideration of conserving and safeguarding the natural, i.e. not man-made, network of relationships”
  • The “patenting of plants as such is morally impermissible and contradicts the dignity of living beings” [minority opinion]
  • “the complete instrumentalisation [i.e. domestrication] of plants – as a collective, as a species, or as individuals – requires moral justification”

 

You can laugh now, but not so long ago, the vast majority of people of people would have laughed at the idea of “animal rights.” To the extent that governments recognize the rights of any animals, plants, or rocks to exist for their own sake, they equally restrict the rights of human beings, since human civilization is only possible by the manipulation, exploitation, and appropriation of nature to suit the selfish interests of human beings. The call to recognize animal or plant rights is ultimately nothing less than a call for the xenocide of the entire human race.  For more see the ARI mini-site Environmentalism and Animal Rights