Economics blog roundup: healthcare, Sahara and rationality

Tyler at Marginal Revolution has an excellently succinct summary of how politics works in healthcare: needs to signal a more extreme symbolic affirmation with the proper "showing that you care" values than what the other side is doing...
This statement is so perfectly borne out by the UK experience since 1997 that there is a kind of beauty to how true it is.

Talking of healthcare, the US plan should become a lot cheaper if this trend continues: placebos are becoming more effective. On current trends placebo should be more effective than all current drugs by 2011; by 2013 sugar pills will overtake some common forms of surgery and in 2016, it should no longer be necessary to use Band-Aids or brush your teeth. Fortunately the US does still have some indirect price supports on sugar, or else the pharmaceutical companies would have no way to make profits at all.

Derek Thompson asks whether the Sahara could power Europe. It's even better than that: I estimated this week that 0.1% of the Sahara's surface would satisfy the whole world's 2 TW demand for electricity (at current photovoltaic efficiency rates).

From Stumbling and Mumbling: a bit more on the eternal debate about "what irrationality means". And while I mention it, I've just started Stuart Sutherland's Irrationality, kindly donated by my stepdad. Looks like a good summary of cognitive biases without as much interpretation as Nudge or Predictably Irrational.


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