Category Archives: politics

Henry Ford of Heart Surgery — from WSJ

This is a fantastic article. At a time when Congress is debating a bloated $850 billion health care bill, doctors in India have come up with ways to make heart surgery cheaper, with potentially better recovery rates.

According to the piece, like Henry Ford before him, Indian Doctor Devi Shetty has “used high volumes to improve quality” and “some studies show quality rises at hospitals that perform more surgeries for the simple reason that doctors are getting more experience.” Apparently, “in smaller U.S. and Indian hospitals, there aren’t enough patients for one surgeon to focus exclusively on one type of heart procedure.” It’s also notable that “by next year, six million Americans are expected to travel to other countries in search of affordable medical care.”

Congress Should Say ‘No’ to Internet Tax Hike

Voters are still reeling from tax day in a tough recession, and taking to the streets in protest, but state governments and their allies aren’t listening. In fact, they are gearing up to squeeze more money out of the nation’s workers. Their target is online shopping, and if the pro-tax coalition gets its way, embattled Americans will soon be shouldering higher tax burdens.

Read more here.

Can the Obama Administration Spare Some Real Change?

The Obama administration is ushering in a new era of big government, higher taxes and more spending, to an extent that even supporters are worried. The tech-savvy president should consider recent suggestions from the technology and science sector, such as the idea that not all problems can be solved by simply throwing money at them.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is poised to receive a windfall of cash from the US$10 billion being directed to the National Institutes of Health. Most people don’t mind such spending priorities since health, and in particular cancer, is a serious problem in need of better solutions. But spending money does not automatically create solutions and, in fact, can exacerbate problems already in place.

One of the biggest problems in the area of cancer research, according to Mark Thornton, president of the Sarcoma Foundation of America, is the “inability to quickly perform the clinical trials necessary to determine whether cures that work in test tubes will also work in humans.” The reason is that current trials wait to see whether someone’s life is saved verses whether or not a drug is helping to change key indicators of whether someone is getting better or worse. The first way involves waiting years to see if someone improved and the second method involves using other “surrogate indicators” to measure progress more quickly.

This problem is holding back quality care for millions, but to fix it does not take mountains of money. What it requires instead is an innovative change in thinking — something everyone had expected from the Obama administration but are still waiting patiently to see in action. Looking at the problem in terms of how government can help improve the way the system works, rather than drowning a failing system in more money, can help bring about the positive change the entire country wants.

A second suggestion from the worried science and tech sector came from Reid Hoffman, founder and chief executive of business social networking site LinkedIn.


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Who Deserves the Tech Vote?

Nine months after Barack Obama, John McCain has unveiled his own technology plan for America. At last, both candidates can be graded for their long-term friendliness to the tech sector. You can read my analysis here, but the upshot is that Obama has multiple weaknesses, particularly when it comes to taxes, property rights, labor and government waste that harms America’s tech sector. McCain’s weakness is the transparency issue, but overall he looks better positioned than Obama on issues that matter most to innovators in the tech community.

Who deserves the tech vote: Obama or McCain?

Internet Habits and the Presidency

When it comes to the Internet, Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently said that he’s “an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get.” In an era where the Internet is playing an ever greater role, does such an admission matter, and does it say anything important about the age gap between McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama?

This is not the first time a politician has come under fire for sweeping claims about the Internet. Recall, for instance, Al Gore’s comment that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Everyone knows that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) drove the creation of the Net, not the former vice president, but his comment made for many jokes on late-night shows.

McCain, of course, made quite the opposite assertion, but is he really the “illiterate” he mentioned or is something else going on? His campaign aides say he’s fully capable of browsing the Web and that he has a Mac and uses it several times a week. Senator McCain will get “hip points” for using a Mac; nevertheless, he clearly doesn’t think being Internet savvy is an important branding strategy. This may bother some, but many politically active technology entrepreneurs don’t seem to be upset.


Read more here.

When Web 2.0 Meets Politics

Hillary Clinton is my friend. On MySpace, that is. If I were going to vote for the first candidate that responded to my social networking “friend” request, it would be her. Of course, that’s a silly idea, but with all the hoopla over politicians using new technologies, one might ask: How has Web 2.0 changed the political process?

Web 2.0 generally refers to the explosion of services like social networking sites, wikis, blogs, podcasts, RSS (really simple syndication) feeds and so on. These are the technologies that have helped make the Internet even more interactive and content-rich than it was in the first place and, in this election cycle, these technologies are key.

Social news site, Digg, just announced a partnership with CBS for political coverage and also hosts its own candidates pages. MySpace held its own presidential primary the day before the Iowa caucuses (Barack Obama and Ron Paul won). Facebook cosponsored the Republican and Democratic debates with ABC and also publishes its own polling data. The candidates are embracing these technologies as well.

Sen. Barack Obama used professional networking site LinkedIn to ask “How can the next president better help small business and entrepreneurs thrive?” and at a recent speech, Hillary Clinton suggested that America “have a government blogging team.” On the Republican side, Ron Paul has raised millions by harnessing the open nature of the Net, and Rudy Giuliani’s strange behavior when he interrupted his NRA speech to answer a cell phone call from his wife was viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube.

Clearly, American citizens no longer need to rely on mainstream media for their political data. They can now get it from numerous services all over the Web and respond just as quickly so others can see their opinion. Interactive politics is here, but is more data making things better?


Read more here.