* “Hospitals Have Started Posting Their Prices Online. Here’s What They Reveal.” That headline isn’t great, and a lot of hospitals aren’t yet posting prices, because they’ve not been forced to. Still, price transparency should aid in lowering healthcare costs. See also “Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why,” which is outrageous, but also fascinating. While most people who haven’t had to deal with a mammoth, unexpected healthcare bill, preliminary data show that “hospitals are charging patients wildly different amounts for the same basic services: procedures as simple as an X-ray or a pregnancy test.”
* “A City’s Only Hospital Cut Services. How Locals Fought Back. Apollo-owned LifePoint is embroiled in a dispute in central Wyoming that now stretches to Washington.” Why are the healthcare prices too damn high? Healthcare is the field with real monopoly problems: at least federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) offer alternatives for primary care.
* “ The Housing Market Is Crazier Than It’s Been Since 2006: Limited inventory, low interest rates and bidding wars are driving prices sky-high. ‘It’s just taken a little bit of the joy out of the process.’” We need to build a lot more housing and liberalize zoning laws, so that we’re not stuck in a negative, single-family-only equilibrium—which is where the vast majority of the country is right now.
* “College Enrollment Slid This Fall, With First-Year Populations Down 16%.” One wonders if this will lead to lower tuition costs, but likely not as colleges seem to ignore supply and demand issues.
* “Large variation in earnings returns among postgraduate degrees, with returns of more than 15% for masters in business and law, but negative returns for many arts and humanities courses.” Getting most kinds of masters degrees is a bad choice.
* “The ‘Target Husk’ in Hollywood Opens at Last, 12 Years After Work Began.” We don’t want to collect too many stories about California’s dysfunctions, but this one is impressive: “While the project was supported by then-Councilman Eric Garcetti and a number of community members who turned out at planning meetings, some residents weren’t impressed with the plans. Just weeks after the council’s approval, two lawsuits were filed. While independent, both complaints made similar accusations: that the city had violated rules in granting Target several variances, that the structure was too tall, and that the proposal failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.” If you are wondering why California can’t build transit and lacks affordable housing, this story is a microcosm for those larger issues. Snake Plisken knew this decades ago in Escape from Los Angeles, one of Isaac’s favorite b-movies.
* Phoenix, the Capital of Sprawl, Gets a Radically Car-Free Neighborhood. The story concerns Culdesac’s development, which sounds incredibly charming.
* “Is This the End of College as We Know It? For millions of Americans, getting a four-year degree no longer makes sense. Here’s what could replace it.”
* “Intellectual Freedom and the Culture Wars.” Compatible with my experiences.
* The NSF has an RFP out called “Smart and Connected Communities:” I find the implication that most communities are, by apparent contrast, dumb and disconnected to be notable.
* “Reinventing Racism—A Review.” Something is likely to replace the college system as we know it.
* Jesse Singal’s book The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills is coming out soon: you’ll see many social and human service programs implicitly mentioned in it.
* “Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan End Health-Care Venture Haven: Company had targeted innovations in primary care, insurance coverage, prescription drug costs.” In other words, healthcare reform is so hard that even Amazon doesn’t think it can do it.
* “WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app.” Time to switch to Signal?
* “The People the Suburbs Were Built for Are Gone:” on efforts to build places that are good for humans to live.
* “I helped build ByteDance’s censorship machine.” ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok.
* “Oregon Is Blazing a Psychedelic Trail: A very promising mental health experiment is taking shape in the West.”
* “Telemedicine Will Be Great After Covid, Too: Pandemic-fueled innovations like remote consultation and licensing reform are good for doctors, patients and public health.” That would be nice.