What Should We Want from Trade Policy?

By Mike Koetting          July 25, 2018

My last post suggested that, while very few of us will be experts on trade policy, as long as this is a major issue, citizens probably have some obligation to have ideas beyond vague catch-words. This post makes some suggestions, borrowing heavily from people who really do know a lot about this issue–specifically Robert Kuttner in various articles and, particularly, a Foreign Affairs article by Timothy Meyer and Ganesh Sitharaman. Continue reading “What Should We Want from Trade Policy?”

A Non-Expert Considers Trade Policy

By Mike Koetting          July 16, 2018

Needless to say, I’m not expert on trade policy. But with the issue at the front of every media report, it is hard to avoid. And equally hard to determine what one’s own position should be. Both political parties find adherents of every view within their party. So even with a souvenir program, it’s pretty hard to guess where someone is going to come down on these issues—let alone whether that position makes sense.

Not knowing much, it seems to me that the logical place to start thinking about trade policy is to ask what a country wants from its trade policy. But even with a simple answer to that question, to help the country obtain maximum benefit from its trade, it doesn’t take long to throw to up one’s hands at the complexity of the thing. It’s more than the obvious fact that in a $20 trillion economy there are millions of moving parts. The whole conceptual base is swampy. Continue reading “A Non-Expert Considers Trade Policy”

My Identity and America

                                           By Mike Koetting          July 3, 2018

In preparation for the Fourth of July, the Washington Post recently asked its readers to describe how they identified themselves and what did that mean about being an American. Those seemed like good questions for a Fourth of July post.


I believe the most fundamental thing about how I identify myself is an idea: All men are created equal. (And, just so there isn’t any question, that means all humans, not just males.) Continue reading “My Identity and America”

Science and Defining Life

By Mike Koetting      June 12, 2018

The February 5th issue of this year’s New Yorker included a long article by Rachel Aviv on the question of what constitutes death. The article was organized around the saga of a 13-year old California girl, the victim of a profoundly tragic surgical mishap. She was subsequently declared “brain dead” but her parents refused to accept that verdict and moved her to New Jersey, one of the two states that have laws allowing families to reject the concept of brain death. She remains there, her breathing supported by a ventilator. Continue reading “Science and Defining Life”

Healthcare & End of Life: Modest Proposals

By Mike Koetting               June 4, 2018

As I noted in the last blog, I am skeptical that we can save a lot of money at the end of life. If that is our primary goal, I think we are likely to be disappointed—and might well wind up further reducing quality of life. I believe the goal should be improved quality at the end of life without spending more. That may be attainable. Not that I have neat solutions that would readily translate into a compelling legislative program. Rather what I am seeing is two, kind of fuzzy thought clouds, in which various approaches reside. These can be summarized as encouraging different attitudes and more aggressive palliative care. Continue reading “Healthcare & End of Life: Modest Proposals”

Healthcare and the End of Life

By Mike Koetting       May 27, 2018

In virtually every conversation I have about health costs, someone says:  “But isn’t the real problem all the money we spend in the last year of people’s lives?”

Well…sort of…but not exactly.

First, end of life costs do not explain America’s uniquely high healthcare costs. The distribution of American costs by proximity to end of life is no different from other developed countries, if anything lower as a percent of costs. America’s costs are high for other reasons. Continue reading “Healthcare and the End of Life”