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Want to be part of a medical experiment ..without your consent? May 29, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Commentary, Ethics, Health Care.
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The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting the patients’ permission.

This research is targeted towards trauma patients who come in unconscious and where every minute counts, making it not practical to get the appropriate consent from their family. While informed consent is never a bad thing.. (just ask those folks who took part in the Tuskegee Syphilis study), perhaps there are times where consent is negotiable. Studies such as these certainly have to undergo the most rigorous of screenings for approval, but without the ability to confirm trauma protocols, how will we ever improve our treatment in the future? These experiments are testing physiologically sound concepts and aren’t as ‘experimental’ as one would think (ie: unlike the ice pick lobotomies for treatment of various mental illnesses).

Medical BraceletI guess an option is to offer some kind of ID bracelet that says ‘Only treatments proven with a prospective randomized double blind placebo controlled experiments please’.

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Blind Faith: Americans believe in religion — but know little about it May 27, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Christianity, Commentary, Culture, Politics, Religion, Society.

I’ve always wondered about the religious nature of Americans. While I have several close friends who are devout and intelligent Christians, being in the NY metro area and living a fairly secular life, it is hard for me to understand that there are so many Christians in this country (especially enough to give Bush the win in 2000). Its also ironic to think that if there are so many who profess to be Christians (and I assume to subscribe to the teachings of Christ against idolatry) that people like Paris Hilton can attain the status of social idols.

This article (actually a book review) begins with some startling facts, ie: that fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible (he does go on to point out that fewer than 1/3 of Americans can name one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, so perhaps our ignorance isn’t limited strictly to religion). The author makes several other points along the same vein, but the main point is merely a call to improve the religious awareness of our country.

Assuming Americans are really this unaware, doesn’t it make you wonder about the democratic process when Americans use (their questionable knowledge of) religious values to decide certain policies that will govern our lives?

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‘Wiped off the Map’ – The Rumor of the Century May 27, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Politics.
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An interesting look at the origin of Ahmedinijad’s alleged claim that ‘Isreal will be wiped out’. I’m not sure if this is more media spin, but the author of the article certainly builds a compelling case for media manipulation.

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Google: nurturing its downfall May 27, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Business, Technology.
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Back in the 1990s Bill Gates said the company that would eventually beat Microsoft probably had yet to be founded – some people believe that company is Google. But what about Google itself, who will kill Google? An interesting analysis of who is most likely to form “the next big thing”.

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Gas Prices.. Not high enough? May 26, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Commentary, Economics, Politics.
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gas.jpgIts interesting how even with gas prices at the levels they are, people haven’t really cut down on driving. For example, AAA says that this holiday weekend, the average traveler is going to drive 1.7% further than they did last year. Even though an AP poll shows that more than half respondents say that gas prices is a ‘serious hardship’, fewer people are reducing their driving, trimming their expenses, or curtailing vacation plans <source: AP News>. This brings up some questions about about just how inelastic the pricing is in gasoline markets, at least with our society. Just how much consumption are we willing to forgo (well, with Americans perhaps how much more debt we are willing to incur is more appropriate) in order to keep our SUVs on the road and to keep taking those All American road trips?

Maybe we should raise gas taxes, increase them until demand starts to decrease and use that money to attack Iran and Saudi Arabia (bring freedom to these poor repressed people, i say!). Then surreptitiously install a puppet democracy guaranteeing that we have enough oil to use for the next 20 years. Ok, I’m kidding. Perhaps we can put that money into a rolling jackpot for the inventor of the next scalable renewable alternative fuel. Imagine, in 2004 the US used 140 billion gallons of gasoline <Source: US Dept of Energy>, put the tax at a conservative $0.10 a gallon (IMHO not nearly enough to move demand), at $0.10 tax/gallon thats 14 billion dollars per year until a solution is found! Boy, i bet that’ll get us a new energy source within a decade!

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