Issuu on Google+

The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:50 PM

Dashboard Blogwith Stats Both Edit Post Hands Grasping Reality

The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J. Bradford DeLong: Fair, Balanced, Reality-Based, and Even-Handed Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720-3880; 925 708 0467; delong@econ.berkeley.edu.

Economics 210a Weblog Archives DeLong Hot on Google DeLong Hot on Google Blogsearch September 22, 2010

The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture What is the most likely outcome for the U.S. budget come 2060? 1. We will have raised taxes to pay for government health spending. 2. We will have cut doctors' wages and enslaved them by drafting them into a socialist national health service. 3. We will have abandoned our commitment to providing state-of-the-art health care to the sick and not just the wealthy. 4. The health care fairy will have figured out a way for us all to have all the medically-appropriate care we need for a surprisingly low private and public budgetary cost. 5. The federal government as we know it will have collapsed, and those of us still alive will be starring involuntarily in a remake of “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”. Brad DeLong on September 22, 2010 at 01:28 PM in Economics, Economics: Fiscal Policy, Politics | Permalink Favorite

Reblog (0) |

| Digg This | Save to del.icio.us | Tweet This!

TrackBack TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e551f0800388340133f4767961970b Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture:

Comments dilbert dogbert said... I vote for “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” Your readers would be entertained by the actual responses of the students. Reply September 22, 2010 at 02:00 PM Ken Houghton said... Can I pick a combination of (1) and (2)? An old buddy who worked for Heritage one summer notes that U.S. GPs make about twice what doctors in any other country do. When the conservatives have identified that as an issue now, certainly they will address it over the next 50 years. [Aside: (3) is, of course, not possible since that commitment _per se_ does not exist. Denying that we ration health care by price would be disingenuous of your students, though they might be justified in noting that expanding that rationing through deliberate policy (not just through growing income inequality) would be possible.] Reply September 22, 2010 at 02:31 PM Neal said... I suggest that you download "Where There Is No Doctor", a medical guide I used during my years in the Peace Corps. http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download_wtnd.php By 2025 this will be your primary health resource. Regular health insurance and predictable, quality health care will be the exclusive right of plutocrats and their politicians. Reply September 22, 2010 at 02:43 PM John said... Bring on the Thunderdome! Reply September 22, 2010 at 02:48 PM Left Outside said... 2. socialist healthcare, it is the end of history after all. Or alternatively, option 5 by way of number 3. Reply September 22, 2010 at 03:30 PM Michael said...

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

Page 1 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:50 PM

Option 3B -- maybe there's no committment now, but there will be even less of one by 2060. The non-wealthy sick will be cited as examples of parasitic behavior. Reply September 22, 2010 at 04:04 PM Lee A. Arnold said... The correct answer is number 4. Everything is going to be fine. We finally have the correct mix of tools for medicine, and the price is going to come down. Medicine has been haphazard for millennia, but not any longer. Now we are combining biotech, nanotech, computation and genomics. Of course, we shall soon have to revisit the extended patent protections in this brew , because continued innovation is going to be held back by the undeserved rents to the patent holders. But clearly the rate of discovery and innovation in medicine has begun to accelerate at the rate of Moore's Law, i.e. doubling around once every 18 months. If you have followed any science news at all for the past few years, you already know this. And from all other industries we also know that, where the technology is apt, the prices of goods and services come down. Medicine will continue to be a growth industry and employ lots more people for three or four more decades, but the service and price will be more like fast food. By 2060 you are going to live forever, and you won't want to retire. You will have the body of a 20-year old. You will even like hip hop! You will start to build spaceships. Reply September 22, 2010 at 04:34 PM Mayson Lancaster said... We will be somewhere in Bruce Sterling country. Whether it will be Heavy Weather, Holy Fire, Distraction, or The Caryatids, or some mixture of the lot, I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure that strong elements of some of those futures will be with us, and it won't be pretty. (Of course assuming no nuclear holocaust, gray goo, or Vingian singularity[or at least none with any visible-tothe-masses effects].) But it should be interesting. Reply September 22, 2010 at 05:18 PM The Pale Scot said... Sliding toward Mad Max by 2025. water will become painfully scarce before oil does, and stuff like copper, phosphates etc soon after. Once the Arctic Sea becomes ice free during the summer climate change will really accelerate. Because of the oil prices rising a large part of the global population will be unable to run the water pumps and the field tractors to feed themselves. What happens when the Jordan river dries up or is diverted? Desalinization requires a lot of energy. Since the USA still has a small supply of oil we'll last a little longer, but I think hard times will lead to fanatical politicians of a religious bent getting control of the USA, Israel, India and Pakistan. Really, 50% of the American population expects the rapture to come by 2050, what better way to speed it up than by launching some nukes? India is a stable land mass surrounded by harsh, heavily populated territory on three sides. religious nuts have much higher birthrates than the sane in Israel and Pakistan. China will see Siberia as an empty territory with a moderating climate at the same time the Euro-Russia is in a permanent drought. So the best bet is someplace in the southern hemisphere to avoid the bulk of the fallout. Future so bright..I gotta wear shades.. Reply September 22, 2010 at 05:44 PM Lee A. Arnold said... If there is a sudden acceleration of global warming to make the methane burp out of the melted tundra, then agriculture worldwide will STOP DEAD for two or three years, with an enormous human die-off. The clown denialists had better get with the program pretty soon, or else the rest of us will have to gather them into a spaceship, and launch it to Mars. Which ain't no kind of place to raise your kid. The only recalcitrant problems I see are: the proliferation of low-cost, high-tech killing, and the disappearance of wildlife ecosystems by habitat fragmentation, with that disappearance now accelerated by climate change. It remains to be seen whether intelligence extension will make people more or less evil, more or less greedy, find ways to make things better, even quicker. Only two ways it can go: Either smart technologies solve this emotional disease of fear of self, and its need for power over others, or else our need to guard against it will become the predominating social question, with policies ranging from changes in the redistribution of income to technological security firewalls. Because the increasing ability of individuals, and small groups, to wreak nearly unfathomable havoc is going to force the formation of a global police state. Reply September 22, 2010 at 06:04 PM ChacoKevy said... Neal! I hear that! I still have my copy of "Donde no Hay Doctor". I'm curious, when did you serve. I was '03-'05 Reply September 22, 2010 at 06:19 PM Omega Centauri said... Brad, I hope you were pulling our legs. It might be a great question for a philosophical debating class, but for beginning econ. Boy, would the answers be hard to grade fairly. Although the mad max world as depicted in the movie is impossible, "everything has collaspsed, but they seem to have infinite fuel, and no visible means of food production" collapse is one distinct possibility. Reply September 22, 2010 at 07:29 PM Greg said... The correct answer is both 1 and 3. People in 2060 will be paying more, in all sorts of direct and indirect ways, to support a system that benefits fewer and fewer. This is because of rent-seeking by everyone in the health system. But Brad's students haven't been exposed to that concept yet -those are the breaks when you do macro before micro. Reply September 22, 2010 at 08:03 PM nopretensehere@gmail.com said... The Cretins will have their opportunity at some point over the next 30 years to establish a one party system of conservatives defended by a largely southern evangelist Christian military:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

Page 2 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:50 PM

"Wartime recruits come more from rural areas, particularly from the South. However, many states outside of the South, such as Alaska and Montana [my comment - RED STATES OF COURSE], continue to have strong proportional representation. Areas classified as entirely urban are strongly underrepresented compared to areas with increased rural concentrations, all of which were overrepresented." (Heritage Foundation - 2006 Who are the Troops) They will gain office as a backlash against change and US shrinking economic clout but will narrowly loose a major election as the middle class continues to shrink and the ignorant old who make up the Cretinous tea party dimwits die off. Instead of ceding they will come up with some outlandish lie to invalidate the election and will simply stay in office with the backing pf the military. There will be an oppressive crackdown on personal liberties and a level of monitoring that George Orwell could NEVER have imagined will be directed at the population. Health care will be for the wealthy, politically connected and "valuable" of society. Military service should be required. Reply September 22, 2010 at 08:21 PM Gene O'Grady said... Isn't the answer to the question that no one knows? I mean, we're supposed to change a lot faster nowadays, and imagine an Athenian in 463 BC asking that question about 413. I'm not sure I quite buy the comment on the military, and suspect that (a) the Heritage Foundation is a little self-indulgent in what they claim, and (b) things have changed. Rural Oregon also supplies a lot of troops, and a lot of casualties, for Bush's little war, and the returned soldiers I've met don't sound a bit like the previous poster's dystopia would require. Plus, the backbone of the career military, not the dim bulbs that Cheney promoted, is a lot smarter than people think, and their experiences and the changes those experiences produce, also point in a different direction. Reply September 22, 2010 at 08:30 PM nopretensehere@gmail.com said in reply to Gene O'Grady... I hear you on the Heritage foundation but I could not find any icy government stats on regional and religion composition of the military. I suspect though that it's largely conservative and southern. If "The Military" were a state I think it would be fairly red. Can anyone answer that with authority? Reply September 22, 2010 at 08:36 PM Anon said... Mad Max here we come, climate change is going to make life worse in a way that crazy demagogues will take advantage of. Reply September 22, 2010 at 08:48 PM charles said... 3, because for the most part healthcare is not an insurable interest Reply September 22, 2010 at 09:24 PM CaitlinO said... I really did have it figured out, but the dog ate my answer. Reply September 22, 2010 at 11:30 PM albrt said... Definitely Mad Max. With Michelle Obama's head in a jar starring as Aunty Entity. But only after the current Obama administration succeeds in installing a thirty year Wall Street oligarchy, under which we are consistently told year after year that we will receive health care coverage in the fifth year of a five year plan. Reply September 23, 2010 at 12:38 AM Vacslav said... The "commitment to providing state-of-the-art health care to the sick and not just the wealthy" will clash with the reality of finite resources: provided infinite resources we already can extend one's life way beyond what was considered "natural" just one or two generations ago. Those demanding "state of the art health care at somebody else's expense" will have to make hard moral choices - or abandon the concept altogether. Reply September 23, 2010 at 01:13 AM Neal said... ChacoKevy British Honduras/Belize, 1979-1982, right when they were pushed into independence by the British. It was one of the few instances where there were riots AGAINST independence. This was well before the development of the current tourist economy. George Price, the then Prime Minister, fulminated many times against becoming a "nation of maids and waiters". I was stationed in Belmopan, but I remember going out to Ambergris Caye, staying in a hotel on the beach for $3 per night. I worked as an engineer, designing and inspecting projects such as schools, hurricane shelters, bridges, community centers. Reply September 23, 2010 at 05:16 AM cervantes said... 2. We will have cut doctors' wages and enslaved them by drafting them into a socialist national health service. This is a rather tendentious formulation, don't you think? British doctors do not consider themselves to be "enslaved," not in the least. And yes, we do need to cut the pay of many specialists because their high pay simply cannot be justified. Primary care docs can make a little more and the total amount of physician salaries will be less -- which indeed it should be. Btw, the same economic ends could be achieved with a single payer system, without making docs employees of a "socialist" NHS. You left that one out. I'm surprised you know so little about health care policy. All that said, I doubt it will happen. Reply September 23, 2010 at 05:50 AM SARose said... Too bad there is no choice #6, "Nothing will change , although the country will have accumulated tens of trillions of new debt and the Fed will have burned up three Crays attempting to transfer enough money to banks to keep up with inflation in the

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

Page 3 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:50 PM

health care sector." Easy A. Reply September 23, 2010 at 08:11 AM Eorr said... This is obviously a trick question akin to asking what is more likely to destroy the earth a comet, astroid, or supernova nearby. If someone asked that question in 1950 it would involve flying cars and else else that is anywhere close to the truth. Development is an exponential process and to figure out what the world will look like on my death bead is fantasy and not science fiction. Reply September 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM Gazbo said... I work as a civilian on a military base, and while there are plenty of "red state" G.I.s, there are lots of blue state folks around too ; I just checked out two guys from the Hamptons e.g. What has been impressive to me is the really intense commitment to civilian control in the jr officer corps. Question the next corporal or lieutenant you meet on this subject, and you may be surprised at the passion you'll hear; it's clearly part of the training. Very reassuring, and the same from righties and lefties - and there's plenty of both on this base (navy and marine).I really doubt that a military coup could get much traction in the US. As to the larger question, I expect that the death panels will make the issue moot. Reply September 23, 2010 at 04:28 PM Maynard Handley said... 2010 to 2060... Well 1910 to 1960 gave us 2 world wars, plus the cold war, and atomic weapons. Personally I think history like that (another world war, plus, for good measure, a new super-weapon, most likely engineered targeted biological weapons) is the most likely outcome. Too many people, not enough oil and other resources to go round, and our political institutions have made it remarkably clear that, just like in 1910, their allegiance is to the plutocracy and nothing else. So of the choices that are available, I'd go for 5. But I do like the measured neutral tone in which you described option 2. Reply September 24, 2010 at 07:45 PM Nathanael said... I vote for (5). Though really Mad Max is hopelessly unrealistic; something like a combination of Hitler's Germany and modern Somalia, perhaps. Or maybe a nice rerun of World War One. Or maybe it will be On the Beach. We have problems far beyond health care, and global climate change is going to blow the status quo out of the water; while the corrupt plutocracy will largely waste its time trying to fight against the proletariat rather than trying to deal with the problems. So yeah, the post-apocalyptic is by *far* the most likely. What did the students vote for? Reply September 25, 2010 at 10:30 PM Comment below or sign in with TypePad

Post

Facebook

Twitter and more...

Preview

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

Page 4 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:50 PM

Procrustean Economics (Wonkish)

economics DeLong

Me:

New York Times (blog) - Sep 30, 2010 Brad DeLong manfully takes on the efforts of various commentators to define away the paradox of thrift and redefine our current problems as somehow wholly ... Related Articles » « Previous Next »

Economists: Paul Krugman Mark Thoma Cowen and Tabarrok Chinn and Hamilton Brad Setser

Juicebox Mafia: Moral Ezra Klein Philosophers: Matthew Yglesias Hilzoy and Friends Spencer Ackerman Crooked Timber of Dana Goldstein Humanity Dan Froomkin Mark Kleiman and Friends Eric Rauchway and Friends John Holbo and Friends

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

Page 5 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/the-final-question-i-asked-in-todays-econ-1-lecture.html

10/21/10 7:50 PM

Page 6 of 6


The Final Question I Asked in Today's Econ 1 Lecture - Grasping Reality with Both Hands