Friday, June 14, 2013

Hear it Here First!

Drawing conclusions using the behavioral model is not difficult.  With a little practice most people can see the behavioral errors of Americans, as reflected in the news or their personal observations, and predict the obvious consequences.  Here are a few examples of past posts confirmed by current news items.

Last November I wrote about how drug companies encourage us to put our doctors on the spot by asking for specific drugs.  They are faced with acceding to the patient's request or risking an argument (and possible lawsuit).  This dynamic leads to higher drug sales, more stress on the healthcare budget and some patients receiving unnecessary treatment.  Now we encounter this article explaining how more advertising has led to an increase in sales of low-testosterone treatments, in some cases with no evidence of a medical condition.  In addition, the article states that we "don’t know all the possible long-term side effects that could be linked to hormone treatment for men."

Almost a year ago the subject was “Caution on Dietary Supplements."  From Consumer Reports we read of the dangers of Viagra-like supplements.  They contain some of the active ingredients of the prescription medicine "or other risky chemicals" without the same oversight, warnings or safety testing of prescription drugs.

Then, early last month my “Death of Retirement” posting anticipated this recent warning from NPR that “retirement as we know it may be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Finally, I passed along important information in April about myths being spread about the supposed dangers of vaccinating children, how parents ignore scientific evidence while relying on erroneous information from friends, relatives and social networks.   This is confirmed by a story of New Zealand parents who “thought they had made an informed choice not to vaccinate their children, but after their son ended up in intensive care with a tetanus infection they realised they had made a terrible mistake.”

The behavioral model is not complex and it usually leads to the right conclusions.  Too few people pay attention to it, relying on gut instinct, or expecting politicians to solve the problems we create for ourselves.  Just the other day I overheard a young adult make the statement, “I hate hangovers,” as he complained of a headache.  Of course we all know that this person does not really hate hangovers.  If he did, he would do something about it, change his behavior.  It’s the simple behavior–consequence link, but many people just don’t get it.  They make spending, voting and other decisions that keep our country heading in the wrong direction while the rest of us sit by helplessly watching as we must all live with the consequences.

Added June 17, 2013:  I made the point back in July 2011 and again in March 2012 that bankers are smarter than the government when it comes to business and finance.  They react to new regulations with new policies or fees, forcing the government to come back later with more regulations.  It’s a vicious cycle.  So a few days ago another large bank restricted free checking.  The article states:  “New regulations limiting overdraft and interchange fees have led many banks to eliminate free checking or raise their fees.”

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