Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good News

For folks who are tired of seeing dismal headlines, Andrea has created a page of News mocked up to look like Google News, but hers is full of happy-sounding (but fictional) headlines.

But are they better than the real headlines? Today, Google offers links that enable seekers of facts to learn how two teams, fighting to advance in the highest profile sports competition on the planet, were both cheered so loudly one could not tell from the sound which was the home team.

The fans were so enthralled by basketball that they appreciated everything that went right, and only booed a foul called on Yao Ming. Yao, a Chinese national famous all over his homeland for outstanding performance that makes a mint playing ball in the United States, led his team into the venue to cheers, and was cheered even as he retired from the game. The whole story -- from every outlet I've seen -- was that good sportsmanship and love of the game carried the day.

Politics be damned!

By contrast, Andrea's well-intended fake news site offers fairly terrifying ideas, like single-payor health care, in which a government monopsony would dictate the standard of care nationally by establishing a single payment policy. (And you thought hospitals and physicians hated dealing with Medicaid!)

Universal coverage in auto insurance, achieved in the United States years ago at the state level (people actually work to avoid carrying the legal minimum of auto insurance), allows states to experiment with savings initiatives without dooming the entire nation to bad choices like the semi-no-fault system that makes Dade County, Florida the most expensive place to be an insured driver in the nation.

Andrea apparently doesn't realize that the barrier to universal health insurance isn't the absence of federal law, but its existence: overbroad application of federal employee benefits law has barred universal health care in the United States for years. Hawaii has universal care -- which was threatened by federal courts' interpretation of federal employee benefits laws, but obtained a statutory exception protecting its plan as it existed in 1974 -- but can't update its universal care program lest it lose the grandfather clause that protects the program from obliteration by federal law. The nation never got to see what the innovative Oregon Plan would have done on a statewide-population level, because the same misguided principles of federal law were used to keep Oregon from establishing true statewide minimum coverage as it attempted in the '90s. Without the data points of experimenting states, we'll have little basis for understanding what does and does not work in the area of universal care in the U.S.

The statute the federal government needs to sign is one butting out of health policy, not purporting to "fix" it with a program that will entrap Americans in a hopeless system sure to stifle innovation, or else run amok with spending as special interests buy their way into good coverage conditions.

Another example shows Andrea's "good news" is vacuous:

Neither Visa nor Mastercard set interest rates. Neither hold nor can forgive consumer debt. These card branding companies merely license their brands and access to their payment networks to banks who, in turn, make credit card contracts with customers in keeping with local law and credit conditions.

If I want to get a good laugh from fake news, I go to The Onion.

Here is some news who's humor depends not on suspending reality, but by exposing it. Those wishing actual content can read the bogus news, and on The Onion's radio and video areas can hear and see it, too. Clicking Andrea's links gives you a page explaining that she's just trying to make herself feel good by building a home page that's full of cheery bubble gum.

I think Andrea is entitled to whatever therapy won't hurt others, and I love fiction, I prefer the sophistication of fiction that doesn't require one to simplify the world into a child's story about the Easter Bunny.

The Onion's content is definitely a step in that direction.

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