The New Behemoths of the Healthcare Industry ; Can Crops' Wild Relatives Save Troubled Agriculture? ; and More Picks 12/11

The New Behemoths of the Healthcare Bureaucracy (Chris)

From the New Republic: “Nobody should be shocked to learn that the health care industry is enormously profitable and generates mountains of paperwork for middlemen to process. Americans know that intuitively from experience. The amazing thing is the sheer size of the middleman industry and the commanding position these firms now hold in our economy. UnitedHealth is just a hair smaller than Amazon; McKesson is bigger than Wells Fargo and Boeing combined.”

Wealthy Seattleites ‘Flock’ Together to Create Digitally Gated Communities (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “AI cameras such as Flock Safety that detect objects and automatically read license plates eliminate the time-consuming need for human analysis.”

Ex–Ethics Chief Walter Shaub Warns William Barr Will Try to Interfere in 2020 Election (Russ)

From HuffPost: “In a lengthy Twitter thread, Shaub accused Barr of misleading the public.”

Against Economics (Chris)

The author writes, “Economic theory as it exists increasingly resembles a shed full of broken tools. This is not to say there are no useful insights here, but fundamentally the existing discipline is designed to solve another century’s problems. The problem of how to determine the optimal distribution of work and resources to create high levels of economic growth is simply not the same problem we are now facing: i.e., how to deal with increasing technological productivity, decreasing real demand for labor, and the effective management of care work, without also destroying the Earth. This demands a different science.”

Can Crops’ Wild Relatives Save Troubled Agriculture? (Mili)

The author writes, “Cultivating a limited number of crops reduced the genetic diversity of plants, endangering harvests. Seed collectors hope to fix it by finding the plants’ wild cousins.”