Please note that my opinions are my own, and the opinions of the anyone or any institution quoted are theirs. The opinions expressed herein do not reflect the opinion of North Carolina State University, its board of directors, the College of Management or any other college, Student Media Authority, or WKNC Raleigh.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why Gun Control via the Insurance Vehicle Isn't So Easy

This morning, I submitted my thoughts below to the author of this article. Please read over his proposal that increased personal liability insurance coverage could serve as a better gun "control."

I enjoyed a good idea as much as the next person. this article on insuring firearm owners strikes me as a method of controlling both the number of citizens owning guns and the number of "accidents," or at the least "accidents" without compensation that occur each year.

I wonder though, how such a policy would prevent violent crime in the nations most notorious crime areas (New York, Atlanta, and Chicago). I feel that any kind of gun control policy will always fall short of reducing violent crime outside the deterrent effect that widespread proliferation insures. If you don't know who has a gun on the subway, you are less likely to pull yours out in the commission of a violent crime. Unfortunately, forcing insurance coverage seems more likely to increase the cost of owning (and operating) a weapon and decrease the numbers of gun owners in particularly high-risk areas. This all but eliminates the deterrent effect.

For my thoughts on gun control, a game theory analysis that affects my reasoning for widespread proliferation, and opinion of forced insurance coverage, see these posts:

Game Theory and VT Shootings

Healthcare is Messier Than You Think

Comments are welcome and encouraged.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quote for the Day, and my Political Affiliation

According to Political Compass I am truly a fence straddler.

But first, a pause for my quote of the day:
"Evolution explains changes in life, creation explains its origin." -- Some lackluster presidential "candidate," himself straddling the fence.

Not only am I reassuringly only slightly right (as an economist should be) but I'm nestled snugly between libertarianism and fascism. Now that's what I call rational!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Health Care is Messier than You Think

I was reading this article, from today's New York Times, wondering why the heck skyrocketing health care costs are blamed on insurance. Is it the lack of insurance? Is it the overhead? Is there some kind of incentive problem I'm missing?

The article suggests that rising health care costs are caused by an expansion of insurance coverage, not the usually cited lack of coverage. It seems to me that the costs of treating those without insurance (and those that will not pay) is more palatable to the public, but less of a problem than expanded insurance coverage.

Why? Increasing insurance coverage increases incentives for hospitals to do risky, costly (but highly profitable) procedures. The lumbar fusion cited in this story is an excellent example. The problem is, I think, that we've hit some kind of inelasticity... that is, as coverage becomes (slowly) more available, costs increase disproportianately so that those still without insurance "can't afford treatment," and hence our current dilemma.