Archive for March, 2010

What can be done? Upgrade the slideshow!

While the slideshow in its current form has been highly effective, it needs to be developed into an engaging video with animation and music.  I can handle the music (electronic music production is a side hobby of mine) and verbiage, but I am not a graphics person!  The Shift Happens video is an excellent model.  I’m thinking a Flash animation that can be posted  in full original quality here on matt.com, and then also posted to YouTube for greater exposure, would make the message much clearer to people.

A well produced video could go a long long way toward grabbing people’s attention long enough to teach them what is happening with money and economics in our world.  For example, the Cannot Print Wealth slide, without any detail or elaboration, simply states that doubling the supply of dollars makes every dollar worth half as much.  Most people can see this after a moment of reflection, although if you asked them to explain why they would struggle.  However, with visual representations of goods, services, consumers, and dollars we could show the number of consumers and the supply of goods held constant, with the supply of dollars being the only thing that changes.  By seeing what is happening it would be painfully obvious that the same number of people chasing the same supply of goods and services cannot possibly obtain twice the supply of goods and services.  Doubling the supply of dollars doesn’t double the supply of goods and services.  Explaining this textually in detail would require a lot for reading, and if we lose the interest of the viewer, we lose the battle.

Many principles in the slideshow that are stated very simply and matter-of-factly could be visually explained very quickly.  This way we can help people digest a lot of concepts, and really comprehend them, very quickly.

I’m not thinking of anything terribly sophisticated.  I really like the clean simply line-drawing animation in the Shift Happens video.  It seems clean and effective to me.  (Although I’m not committed to any particular approach; if you have a better idea, let me know.)  If you or someone you know is good at Flash and would be interested in working with me to develop something along these lines, please get with me!

mattwalt@gmail.com

Health Care Reform

Hello, everyone.

I’m Aaron, and I will be making occasional posts to matt.com.

The political issue that is dearest to me is the current state of health care in the United States.

While much (MUCH!) has been said about health care, and various suggestions for improving it have been put forward by both the right and left, no one, it seems to me, is addressing the real reason for escalating health care costs in the US.  The chief cause of any price increase is an imbalance between supply and demand.  In this case, the demand for physicians far outstrips the supply, and so the price of a even a simple visit to the doctor’s office is becoming prohibitively expensive to a growing number of people.

The reason for the imbalance in supply and demand is the mechanism we use to mint new physicians.  In order to practice medicine in the US, one must attend an accredited medical school, generally after earning a bachelors degree.  This is fine and well.  The trouble arises out of the fact that the only body currently authorized to accredit medical schools is the Liaison Committee On Medical Education (LCME), which is intimately affiliated with the AMA.  If one were to somehow attend a medical school accredited by some other agency, one would be ineligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and therefore unable to practice medicine in the US.

As the sole body accrediting medical schools, the LCME dictates the number of medical schools in the country and the size of each class.  For an already accredited medical school, increasing the size of their classes requires approval from the LCME.  So the AMA exerts tremendous influence on how many new physicians are created per year.

The LCME asserts that they seek to insure that only the best educated people can practice medicine.  They insure this, they would say, by only allowing the most qualified educational institutions to educate only the number of people they can do so optimally.   And there is probably truth in this.  What should be clear, though, to even the most casual observer, is that the AMA can in no way be objective about how many physicians the country needs.  For every “extra” physician created, the supply is increased, and so health care costs and physician salaries could decrease.  This fact can not be lost on the AMA.

Whatever their intentions, it seems unavoidably clear that as long as people already in a profession are allowed to control how many new people can join that profession, the costs of receiving professional services will remain high and even climb.  No serious health care reform can take place until the issue of physician supply is corrected.

All the information about the LCME for this post was gathered from their website (lcme.org)’s FAQ.