Free Prostitutes in Copenhagen For Climate Conference

Responding to climate change might impact some businesses, but there’s no reason that it should harm the business of prostitutes. Copenhagen has tried to shut down prostitution during the conference, but the prostitutes have responded with offers of free sex:

Copenhagen’s city council in conjunction with Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards out to 160 Copenhagen hotels urging COP15 guests and delegates to ‘Be sustainable – don’t buy sex’.

“Dear hotel owner, we would like to urge you not to arrange contacts between hotel guests and prostitutes,” the approach to hotels says.

Now, Copenhagen prostitutes are up in arms, saying that the council has no business meddling in their affairs. They have now offered free sex to anyone who can produce one of the offending postcards and their COP15 identity card, according to the Web site

Fighting The Terrorists in Afghanistan

Listening to Obama’s reasons for staying in Afghanistan I remained skeptical as to whether it was worthwhile. I have very little confidence that we can achieve a stable and clean democratic government there in this time frame. If there is any reason to stay it would be to actually do what we set out to do in the first place–fight al Qaeda.While George Bush’s argument to fight the terrorists in Iraq so we didn’t have to fight them here made no sense, there would be some logic to fighting them in Afghanistan if al Qaeda was still based there.

Trying to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, I found it difficult to judge if this is really worthwhile. After all, we do not have the same intelligence regarding al Qaeda in the region, and we did not spend the amount of time Obama did considering the Afghanistan strategy. Another question I had was how much of al Qaeda has remained in Afghanistan as opposed to slipping across into Pakistan, or perhaps moving elsewhere.

ABC News has reviewed some of the intelligence on this matter and it doesn’t resolve my skepticism as to current policy. From various sources they estimate the number of members of al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan at around one hundred.

Somehow it sounds like an excessive cost, both in terms of American lives and dollars, to remain in Afghanistan to try to kill one hundred members of al Qaeda.This means using 1,000 troops and $300 million a year for every member of al Qaeda left there.

Of course this isn’t the entire story.

“A hundred ‘no foolin’ al Qaeda operatives operating in a safe haven can do a hell of a lot of damage,” said one former intelligence official with significant past experience in the region.

Maybe, but I remain skeptical as to whether this is worthwhile.

Sarah Palin Backs Away From Being a Birther

Sarah Palin sounded like a Birther in an interview with Rusty Humphries. Ben Smith reports:

The conservative talker Rusty Humphries today, Sarah Palin left the door open to speculation about President Obama’s birth certificate.

“Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?” she was asked (around 9 minutes into the video above).

“I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers,” she replied.

“Do you think it’s a fair question to be looking at?” Humphries persisted.

“I think it’s a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records — all of that is fair game,” Palin said. “The McCain-Palin campaign didn’t do a good enough job in that area.”

McCain’s campaign counsel has said the campaign did look into the birth certificate question and, like every other serious examination, dismissed it.

She did back away from this a little on Facebook:

Stupid Conspiracies

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask… which they have repeatedly. But at no point – not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews – have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

She does seem to want to avoid being lumped with the Birthers but she would maintain more credibility if she also pointed out that there is no substance to this conspiracy theory. Maybe that is what she means by using the title Stupid Conspiracies.

The comparison to Trig is a poor response. Palin has protested many times about questions of this nature. The politics of personal destruction was one of the reasons she gave for resigning as governor of Alaska. She would be far more consistent if she had taken a stronger line against both the Trig questions and the Birther questions, dismissing both lines of questioning as she typically dismisses the questions about Trig.

Incidentally, it was conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, not “many on the left,” who were badgering people for answers about Trig. I would also note that, while I am personally not terribly concerned if Palin might have taken a daughter’s child to avoid a personal family scandal, documentation of Obama’s birth in the United States has been released in contrast to the documentation about Trig.

Ezra Klein’s Absurd Explanation For American Health Care Problems

The complexity of health care shows the problem of people becoming “experts” on topics in the blogosphere by reading and writing about a topic without actual first hand experience. Ezra Klein has written many excellent posts analyzing health care legislation but sometimes, such as yesterday, he posts total nonsense. (He does admit in another post that “I’m a policy guy, arguably to the point of myopia.”) He presents some misleading data in a chart which falsely suggests that health care costs in the United States are so difficult to control because physician office call charges are apparently around five times those in other countries.

The cost amounts he provides are simply not representative of actual real world numbers. The numbers he provides come from an association of health plans. Since when does he show such trust in data from health insurance companies? The numbers he presents are not representative of the real world range.

Even if he had more accurate numbers for office call charges, any analysis based purely upon charges would be misleading. Under our flawed system it is typical for charges to be well above what insurance companies actually pay. Charges are not an accurate reflection of actual payment and health care costs.  Office call charges can also range tremendously based upon the time involved and complexity of the problem. Charges also vary tremendously depending upon whether you are referring to a GP or a subspecialist. Pulling out a single number for office call charges is meaningless.

Looking at charges also must take into account the differences in overhead expenses. It is not as if the doctor pockets these amounts as profit. Among other differences, overhead is much higher in the United States due to the need to hire additional office staff to handle a variety of insurance plans. In this case, any real differences in office call charges are a consequence of doctors also being a victim of our flawed system, not the cause.

Payment to physicians accounts for about twenty percent of health care costs, with around half of this going to overhead. Cutting payment to physicians will hardly bring health care costs in the United States in line with other countries. Blaming overall health care costs on physician office call charges is around as nonsensical as the conservatives who place most of the blame on malpractice expenses. Physician income has also been pretty flat in recent years while overall health care costs have been rising, further showing how it makes no sense to place the blame for problems in the United States on physician office calls.

Klein also believes that eliminating payment based upon fee for service is the solution. We already have tried capitation in the United States and it was a miserable failure. Other countries such as France provide high quality care at a lower cost while paying fee for service.

There are many problems with the health care system in the United States. Pointing to virtually meaningless numbers on office call charges does not provide the answer.