Friday, November 15, 2013

Obamacare Death Spiral Blog

Called the "ACA Death Spiral blog," I just came across it via the Faculty Lounge blog. It is run by Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center. It seems like a real good resource to understand some of the complicated issues that are arising as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act. Here's how Professor Chandler introduced his blog in his first post (13 November 2013):
This blog is going to chronicle what I believe will be the implosion of the Affordable Care Act.  I do not believe the Exchange based system of providing health insurance without medical underwriting is likely to work or that, if it does, it will not need far more massive propping up from federal taxes than is conventionally recognized. We’ll be looking at current events, the history of the Act, important court cases, and regulatory developments. Our tools will be a careful review of primary documents, some graphical and mathematical analyses, and references to important and insightful articles written by others.

Also, there is more to the Affordable Care Act than the Exchanges.  There is more than the individual mandate. There is the employer mandate, the complex systems of federal reinsurance needed to backstop the Act, the reintroduction of medical underwriting under the “wellness label” and so much more.  We’ll try as time permits to take a look at developments in these important areas too.

I recognize that many are writing on this topic and that it will be hard to stay a pace of such a fast moving target.  But I do feel that there is a need for some hard and at least somewhat scientific look at what is going on.  It will be my goal and burden to try to provide that in the months ahead.

Oh, and who am I?  I’m Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.  I’ve taught insurance law, including life and health insurance law, for many years, been a co-director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, and done considerable work on the economics of insurance and its regulation.  I’ve been very active using Mathematica, a system for doing mathematics by computer, and have shown how this tool can be used to analyze legal systems and many issues in insurance law such as adverse selection, moral hazard, correlated risk and a variety of issues in life, health, property and casualty insurance.

I should also add that the views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Houston.

The blog can be found here.


My new article in Ratio Juris: "Justificatory Liberalism and Same-Sex Marriage"

Earlier this week I was informed that my article, "Justificatory Liberalism and Same-Sex Marriage," has just been published in the journal Ratio Juris: An International Journal of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law 26.4 (December 2013): 487-509. Here is the abstract of the article:
Supporters of Justificatory Liberalism (JL)—such as John Rawls and Gerard Gaus—typically maintain that the state may not coerce its citizens on matters of constitutional essentials unless it can provide public justification that the coerced citizens would be irrational in rejecting. The state, in other words, may not coerce citizens whose rejection of the coercion is based on their reasonable comprehensive doctrines (i.e., worldviews). Proponents of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage (SSM) usually offer some version of JL as the most fundmental reason why laws that recognize marriage only if it is a union between one man and one woman are unjust. In this article I argue that the application of JL in support of legal recognition of SSM does not succeed because the issue under scrutiny—the nature of marriage—is deeply embedded in, and in most cases integral to, many (if not most) citizens’ reasonable comprehensive doctrines. Thus, I argue that because of the effects and consequences of the legal recognition of SSM, it results (or will result) in a violation of JL against dissenting citizens.

The article is accessible online here, though you will need a subscription to read it. If you are a university student or faculty member your institution's library may have a subscription. (The Ratio Juris issue in which my article appears also includes an "In Memoriam" in honor of the late Ronald Dworkin, who for years served on the journal's editorial board).

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 9 - My Late Grandmother's 100th Birthday

Tomorrow, November 9, would have been the 100th birthday of my maternal grandmother, Frances Guido, who died in 2002. (To the right is a picture of her in the 1930s when she served as her niece's sponsor for Confirmation. Below is a picture of my Grandmother and my sister, Lizzie, from the early 1980s, standing on the stoop of my Grandma's Brooklyn home). In Return to Rome, I write about my Grandmother and the years I lived with her (1984-1987) while I was studying for my PhD at Fordham University. Here is an excerpt from that portion of the book:
So in late August 1984 I moved to New York City to attend Fordham, located in the Bronx. I lived in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn with my maternal grandmother, Frances Guido, an Italian-American and devout Catholic whose parents emigrated from Sicily at the turn of the century. Born in 1913 (d. 2002), my grandmother was an amazing woman. She lost her husband (my grandfather) to stomach cancer in 1952. Widowed at the age of thirty-eight, she worked as a seamstress and provided each of her four children with twelve years of Catholic-school education.

I once asked my grandmother why she never remarried. Her answer initially seemed stunning to me, though, given her beliefs and convictions, it made perfect sense. She said, “How can I bring a strange man into a home with two young daughters?” What an amazing (and politically incorrect) answer. Her first thought was not of herself and what she should have wanted. It was about what advanced the common good, and in this case, the good of her family and her young children. What my grandmother’s understanding manifested was the incarnational faith of which Jesus spoke when he told his disciples that “whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

Living with my grandmother was an incredible experience. She exhibited the love of Christ in everything she did, even when she was angry with me for having a messy bedroom. One time, for instance, while cleaning the house, she said, “You know, Lincoln freed the slaves.” I answered, “But not the Italian ones,” at which she laughed and said that just because I was funny didn’t mean she wasn’t mad.

My grandmother’s charity seemed boundless. For example, in 1974, while my younger brother James and I were spending a month of that summer at my grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn, our mother called and told us that one of my eighth grade classmates was in a hospital in Manhattan receiving treatment for a cancerous tumor that was found in his upper leg. We had tickets to a New York Mets game for the next day. My grandmother suggested that after the game we go visit him in the hospital and bring a baseball to him as a gift. So, we did. During the visit my grandmother met his mother, Louise. They quickly became friends. Within weeks my grandmother had convinced Louise that she should stay at my grandmother’s apartment whenever her son had to be in New York for treatments. For the next several years, my grandmother opened her home and her heart to my classmate’s family as they suffered through his cancer and his death, as well as those of his father and two sisters. My grandmother, who had been widowed in 1952, knew the heartache of an untimely death and the trials that accompany it. Her compassion, her willingness to “suffer with” others, truly revealed the spirit of Christ that worked in her heart. I must confess, however, that it is only in retrospect that I have come to appreciate how her example left an indelible mark on so many of those with whom she came in contact, including me, her eldest grandchild.

She went to Mass every morning and was involved with many works of mercy at her parish. Whenever there was sickness, death, or heartache among her friends or family, she was there, prepared to cook, clean, say the rosary, or just listen. We were always hosting dinners or lunches with family and friends, or else traveling via subway, bus, or automobile to visit aunts, uncles, cousins, or other relatives whose genetic connection to me I’m still not sure about.

My grandmother kept her mind alert by reading, doing crossword puzzles every night, and arguing with me about politics. She was a Franklin Roosevelt Democrat,and I was a Ronald Reagan Republican. Our bantering was always friendly, but mischievous. Whenever there was a negative story in the newspaper or on television, no matter how distant or obscure, for which she could blame President Reagan, she made sure I knew about it. On the November night that President Reagan was re-elected in 1984, with a 49-state landslide, my grandma graciously conceded defeat and congratulated Reagan for his triumph, though she did go on to say that Reagan was a better actor than a president and he wasn’t even a good actor. I respectfully did not take the bait.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

C. S. Lewis 50th Memorial Conference Week at Baylor: Nov. 18, 22-23

This is the very first conference sponsored by Baylor's Program in Philosophical Studies of Religion (PPSR), a newly formed academic unit in Baylor's Institute for Studies in Religion. My esteemed colleague, Trent Dougherty, and I serve as PPSR's co-directors.

Here's the conference itinerary from its web page:
C.S. Lewis may be best known for his literary works, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity but the Irish-Born philosopher, English professor and prolific writer, held a deep and powerful belief in God that permeated his life’s work.

Join noted scholars and researchers as they discuss aspects of Lewis’ work that reflect the many seasons of his life and bring light to the soul at the center of his work.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18: Alexander Reading Room

3- 5:30 pm (reception to follow)
Dr. Stephen Evans (University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University):
On Lewis’ Moral Argument for God’s Existence  – This event will be followed by a reception

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22: Alexander Reading Room

7 – 8:30 pm (reception to follow)
Panel Discussion between Erik Wielenberg (Associate Professor of Philosophy, DePauw University)
 and Trent Dougherty (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University): On Wielenberg’s book God and the Reach of Reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23: 5th Floor, Cashion Academic Center

9:30am Gather (on 5th floor Cashion Academic Center) (coffee and pastries)

10-10:45 a.m. –Session 1
Ralph Wood (University Professor of Theology and Literature, Baylor University):
The Baptized Imagination: C. S. Lewis’s Fictional Apologetics

11-11:45 a.m. –Session 2
Trent Dougherty (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University):
Lewis on the Problem of Animal Suffering

12-1 p.m. — Lunch with Talk by Francis Beckwith (Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University)   (lunch included for all)

1- 1:45 p.m. — Session 3
Erik Wielenberg (Associate Professor of Philosophy, DePauw University) Divine Deception

2-2:45 p.m. — Session 4
Alan Jacobs (Distinguished Professor of Literature, Baylor University)
 and response by David L. Jeffrey (Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, Baylor University) “On Learning in Wartime”

3-3:45 p.m. –Session 5
Panel Discussion with William Weaver (Associate Professor of Literature, Baylor University), Scott Moore (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Great Texts, Baylor University), and Douglas Henry (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University)

4-4:45 p.m — Session 6
Todd Buras (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University):
Lewis’ Argument from Desire

- See more here