* What makes our healthcare so expensive? Hint: the answer is not simple or obvious. If you hear people say, “It’s x, and chiefly x,” where x might be greedy insurance companies, clueless consumers, the market, regulation, government, greedy doctors, or any noun preceded by the word “greedy,”
* The dangers of Groupon and of discounts in general: “We’ve also learned that the customers you attract only with a discount will disregard what you love about your own business, and won’t treat you with respect; both sides usually regret the transaction.”
* Global aging: the problem the world faces, it turns out, is not overpopulation, but underpopulation.
* Your government at work!: When sales of Domino’s Pizza were lagging, a government agency stepped in with advice: more cheese. This is the same government that, for health reasons, is advising less cheese.
* Guess who is lobbying against marijuana legalization? Yup, beer distributors and the police. Call this another example of people whose job involve fighting a social problem fighting to maintain that social “problem.”
* This “obscure provision” in the health care bill is completely vital to our business and yet isn’t particularly well-known among people in general. It should be. See this story on the coming 1099 mess.
* Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project for gay teenagers already has 200,000 hits for a very good reason: it’s quite moving because it’s unexpectedly earnest, which feels unexpected honest in a media age filled with bullshit. Consider it recommended; see the impetus for it in this column.
* One of the funniest sentences I’ve read in a while: “Sarah Palin on the Federal Reserve is one of those immortal phrases, like Lindsay Lohan stars in Anna Karenina, or La Boheme featuring Justin Bieber, a magical, irresistible blend of high and low that might just make mainstream Americans care about monetary policy.”
* The Native American CDFI Assistance Program is out, with $12M and a deadline of Dec. 22.
* Marriage in crisis, or what the recession is doing to marriage, with data stratified by education.
* Dear 22 Year Old: Concerning your Future. And there’s probably no way to stop it, save voting en masse for a political party that doesn’t exist and can’t exist given electoral realities.
Among the many things wrong with talking-head gab shows, which have proliferated/ metastasized in the past generation — they’re cheap to produce, they fill air time, they make journalists into celebrities, they suit the increasing political niche-ization of cable networks — is that they reward an affect of breezy confidence on all topics and penalize admissions of complexity, of ignorance on a specific topic, or of the need for time to think.