Normal Limits

"Chance is the very guide of life"

"In practical medicine the facts are far too few for them to enter into the calculus of probabilities... in applied medicine we are always concerned with the individual" -- S. D. Poisson

November 27, 2005

Paul Krugman - "Age of Anxiety"

NYT's Paul Krugman,
Mr. [Peter] Drucker wrote "The Age of Discontinuity" in the late 1960's, a time when most people assumed that the big corporations of the day, companies like General Motors and U.S. Steel, would dominate the economy for the foreseeable future.

New technologies would usher in an era of "turbulence"... corporations can't provide their workers with economic security if the companies' own future is highly insecure.

This, according to Prof Krugman, is an Age of Anxiety. He goes on to relate this to the burden of health insurance on companies and the need for a single-payer national health insurance in the U.S. By framing the financial difficulties of old-time American corporations this way, perhaps Prof Krugman can make the idea of national health insurance palatable to economic conservatives.

The individual in the Age of Anxiety

These are really interesting times. As Thomas Friedman puts it,
When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, "Tom, finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." Today I tell my girls, "Finish your homework. People in China and India are starving for your jobs."

In The World Is Flat, Friedman proposes that there are 4 kinds of "untouchables" in this new flat world.

  • Special, e.g. Michael Jordan, Bill Gates

  • Specialized, e.g. vascular surgeons

  • Anchored, e.g. the local barber

  • Adaptable

Adaptability refers to the ability to learn how to learn.
As parts of your work becomes commoditized and fungible, or turned into vanilla [ice cream], adaptable people will always learn how to make some other part of the sundae... "because job churn will come faster, because innovation will come faster"

I don't think we in health care will be immune to this era of global transformation. We do live in interesting times.

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