Tagline for the American Health Care System

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I don’t think any system of economics – communism, socialism, national socialism, nor capitalism – can provide the solutions we need to make a remarkable health care system.

It’s nice to think that a Big Government solution is the answer, but such a system brings the risk of nightmarish bureaucracy. Not necessarily, but likely.

It’s also nice to think that a Free Market health care economy would eventually bring balance to the force.

Both extremes bring with them considerable ethical drawbacks. Big government tends to impose politically-generated policies. Free markets tend to generate externalities and are often unable to address conflicts of interest and natural oligopolies and monopolies.


A new kind of economic thinking will be required if we are to solve the health care problems facing our country. I wish there were simple solutions.

Currently our system seems to exhibit the worst aspects of both socialism and capitalism.

What I think we need is an economic system that encourages incentive-based innovation and marketing while preserving the integrity needed for ethical solutions to social disparities.

In light of the Trillions of dollars we are spending to bailout industries run by fiduciary sociopaths, it’s heartbreaking to think what we could have done with those funds for health care. A re-haul of infrastructure; incentives for nurses and primary physicians; investments in remarkable and innovative technologies. Socialist or Capitalist, Liberal or Conservative: how cheated do you feel right now?

Perhaps we will need to seek out more localized, collaborative efforts to protect our health. Perhaps there are Long Tail solutions to some of the Short Head problems. Health care is America’s Achilles heal. Time is running out. Are you enraged? Do you know the time value of your health? That might be a start for you. You have more power than you know.


So I offer, for simplicity, a tagline for our current system. Remember this meme the next time you’re hospitalized and dealing with both the inanity of government regulations and free market mediocrity:

Screw the poor and disappoint the rich.

– Tagline of the American Health Care System

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Time Value of Health

Traditional Polish pączki
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Let’s introduce a simple term to an old problem in health care. As health problems increase, and their costs rise, we need to start thinking about ways to make it easier for the public to improve the lifestyle choices they make.

What you do today influences what happens tomorrow. Eat a deep fried donut today, have a heart attack later in life. Your health has a time value. Let me explain.


The concept is simple and it borrows from finance the concept of the time value of money:

A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

This is important because the opportunity cost of taking a dollar tomorrow is the investment that you could make with that dollar today. In terms of health, exercising today is an investment of effort that pays of in the future. Another way to look at it is the future value of a donut:

The future value of eating a donut today is a heart attack years later.


It’s a simple concept. One of the reasons Americans are so unhealthy these days is because we don’t consider the consequences of our lifestyle choices in ecnomic costs. Invesment always involves effort, sacrifice and consideration of options. Long-term investors almost always enjoy prosperity over the course of their lives. The essence of (good) capitalism is discipline and self-restraint. So my definition of the Time Value of Health is this:

The time value of health is the interest you accrue from delaying the cost of an acute or chronic disease later in life.

If you don’t think that the time value of money is a matter of health, just look at the primary cause of our current economic health. Do you think that if all of the people involved in the biggest ponzi scheme in history exercised discipline, that we’d all be in better financial health?

Weight-management is harder for some people than others. So is daily exercise. Our culture isn’t helping: as we move more online, it’s easier to forego healthier choices that enhance our cardiovascular systems.


The Time Value of Health doesn’t require complex calculations. It doesn’t need a number. It just requires a little imagination. Don’t make too much of this concept I’m offering you.The next time you’re tempted to go nuts on foods that you don’t need, ask yourself a simple question: is it worth the pleasure of eating this eclair to endure a stroke in 20 years?

Consumers If your a consumer, consider incorporating the idea into your lifestyle. Don’t be a nazi about it. Maybe just use it to save the goodies as a treat once in a while, or for your weekend. Create zones of healthy living. We all need indulgences (there’s health in feeling good about a nice dish). Investing some effort and discipline how you live earns a healthy return over time. What’s more, often the returns pay sooner: being fit and active produces a sharper, happier mind.

Providers If you’re a healthcare professional, consider ways of introducing the Time Value of Health into your practice. You probably don’t have much time anymore to give long speeches with tons of advice (too bad). A simple meme can often travel far. What’s to lose?

Readers Does this intuition pump help? Is it frivilous or does it offer a meaningful practical way to help improve the lives of good people who have a hard time with making healthy choices? The next time you grab those wings, or all that sugar in your coffee, could you imagine yourself on the floor panting in agony for breath in front of your children or granchildren?

What is the time value of your whole life?

(Sorry for tempting you with those donuts above. It’s OK, one won’t hurt you, will it?)

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Twitter Game Theory

If you’re interested in using Twitter as a tool for business or activism or other enterprises, Guy Kawasaki offers a straightforward algorithm to use Twitter. Guy’s term for Twitter as business tool is Twool. The Twool has passed around the web enough, but I’m throwing this down because the slide show below is worth a scan.

You can read Guy’s post or you can save time by viewing the visual below.

Twitter will likely go mainstream and its Search feature will introduce us to a new kind of search to supplement traditional search: real-time human pooling.

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Will Twitter Fly in a Walled Garden?

Twitter could be so much better than it is. I have many brilliant ideas on how to improve Twitter’s interface, usability and performance. So do you. So do Chris Brogan and pretty boy Pete Cashmore. I agree with them, and it’s likely that you do too. A question though: would these brilliant features enhance Twitter or destroy the very thing that makes it a remarkable permission-based engagement tool?

Last night @hidama expressed it best:

I don’t know about you, but what I appreciate most about Twitter is that I can follow a wide spectrum of people. I can follow geeks, vloggers, lawyers, google geniuses, cancer survivors, an assortment of medical professionals and other good people from all over the world. I can also follow feed-bots that provide interesting content. Twitter is social RSS.

When you follow hundreds or thousands of people and feeds, it’s understandable that you want to have some volume control: sometimes you want noise; other times you want music.

The fact is: the web is moving away from the web, meaning that our productivity and collaborative interfaces are no longer tied to the traditional web platform. APIs are developed all of the time.

Desktop, laptop and mobile applications are making it easier to consume and produce your daily needs in your own unique way. This means that if you want a tool to fit your particular needs, chances are someone has (or could) build it.

Even without changes to Twitter, there are thousands of tools to tweek your experience. Here are six:

  1. Twitter Groups – create your own groups for your peeps
  2. Yahoo Pipes – create your own aggregator or tweek templates
  3. Search.Twitter – create feeds for your monitoring needs
  4. PeopleBrowsr – drive yourself insane
  5. TweetDeck – manage your tweeting experience efficiently
  6. Hashtags – learn how to use them (did you know there more commands than just #?)
The list of tools is almost endless. Still, the bread-and-butter of Twitter is the democratic openness and ambient intimacy. Twitter’s success rests in its simplicity.  

It may be coincidental that Twitter is a bird. Birds are pretty in gardens. It’s human nature to box Nature. Ultimately, though, (most) birds are born to fly. I’m sorry about the cheesy metaphors, but it’s important that Twitter isn’t caged in a wall for our convenience.

I’m not saying that certain features necessarily create a walled-in garden. But that’s what we aught to consider before satisfying our comfort cravings.

Something else to consider: not everybody wants the same thing. My brilliant (or hair-brained) ideas might be great for me but terrible for you. What works for Chris Brogan might not work for Seth Godin or Shaq.

Let’s face it: the paradox of technology is with us forever. The easier we make our lives with technology, our use of the technology becomes a need. That need, in turn, spurs the desire for more technology of convenience. It’s a never ending braid.

I’m sure that whatever new features that the boys and girls at Twitter decide to add will be built to dovetail with their revenue model (whatever it will be). Until then, think about your needs and what mashups work for you.

So, what do you think? What features would you like to see in Twitter? What matters most to you when it comes to tweeting?

Update: @hidama kindly pointed out that my title was off. “Gardened Wall” must be the influence of my Hungarian parents. It’s now proper English: Walled Garden. 

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