T Nation

How to Squelch Innovation in America

You’re right – I did miss a few. A friend emailed me the article, and as I read through it seemed to end there because they put a big graph in – however, there was a link to the next page. My bad. Ben Stein is the man.

Actually, James’ were his own additions – here are Ben Stein’s others that I inadvertently left out:

8) Mock and belittle the family. Provide financial incentives to people willing to live an isolated existence, vulnerable and frightened. This guarantees that men and women of sufficient character to bring about innovation will be psychologically stifled from an early age.

9) Develop a suicidal immigration policy that keeps out educated, hardworking men and women from friendly nations and, instead, takes in vast numbers of angry, uneducated immigrants from nations that hate us. This, too, leads to the shrinking of our knowledge base and the eventual disappearance of social cohesion.

10) Enact a tax system that encourages class antagonism and punishes saving, while rewarding indebtedness, frivolity and consumption. Tax the fruits of labor many times:

First tax it as income. Then tax it as real or personal property. Then tax it as capital gains. Then tax it again, at a staggeringly high level, at death. This way, Americans are taught that only fools save, and that it is entirely proper for us to have the lowest savings rate in the developed world. This will deprive us of much-needed capital for new investment, for innovation and our own personal aspirations. It will compel us to ask foreigners for ever more capital and allow them to own more of America. It will also promote an attitude of carelessness about the future and, once again, encourage disrespect for law.

11) Have a socialized medical system that scrimps on badly needed drugs and procedures, resorts to only the cheapest practices and discourages drug companies from developing new drugs by not paying them enough to cover their costs of experimentation, trial and error.

12) Elevate mysticism, tribalism, shamanism and fundamentalism--and be sure to exclude educated, hardworking men and women--to an equal status with technology in the public mind. Make sure that, in order to pay proper (and politically correct) respect to all different ethnic groups in America, you act as if science were on an equal footing with voodoo and history with ethnic fable.

My list need not end here. But I stopped at a dozen because I realized that this is already, in large measure, the program of so many of our elected representatives. The debauchery of our tort system is already in place, and the rest of the agenda is under way.

Benjamin J. Stein is a lawyer, economist, writer and actor, and host of the game show Win Ben Stein's Money.

Isn’t it true that in Japan, doctors don’t get paid unless the patient gets cured? That would keep doctors from messing up on purpose to keep the patient coming back.

No, that’s not true, here or anywhere else that I know of.

A policy like that would be impossible. Think about it this way: when you take your car in to a mechanic, you’re not actually paying him to fix your car. You’re paying him to take his best guess at what’s wrong and fix THAT, and trusting that his best guess will be better than yours.

Of course, a good mechanic will guess right many more times than he’ll guess wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s still guessing.

Doctors are the same way. They don’t have absolute knowledge. What they have is (hopefully) a large body of experience in dealing with sickness that they will share with you for a fee. If they’re right, great. If they’re not, then you have to go back in for more tests.

This is one (maybe the best) reason to take your own health care into your own hands insofar as possible. In many cases, my best guess (at least about my own body) has proven to be better than whatever doctor I went to. So I now only go in cases where I (a) have no idea what’s wrong (very infrequent at this point) or (b) know what’s wrong but need a prescription to get a particular type of medicine to fight it. And when I go, I frequent the same clinic/hospital as much as possible. It’s one where, over the years, I’ve had various doctors make notes into my medical record with comments like: “This patient knows a bit more than average about what’s going on in his body, and should be listened to.” This helps the doctor to help me, which is the whole point of going in the first place.