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Daily Rounds: Romney's Takers; A Common Sense Robot; The Obesity Paradox; Steward's Hiring Spree

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Romney's Theory Of The 'Taker Class And Why It Matters (Ezra Klein/The Washington Post) — '"My job is not to worry about those people,” Mitt Romney said of the 47 percent of Americans who are likely to vote for Barack Obama. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” There will be plenty said about the politics of Romney’s remarks. But I want to take a moment and talk about the larger argument that they’re part of, because this vision of a society divided between “makers” and “takers” is really core to the Republican nominee’s policy agenda. In his comments, Romney says that “these are people who pay no income tax,” but they are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” In other words, Romney is arguing that about 47 percent of the country is a “taker class” that pays little or nothing into the federal government but wants to tax the productive classes for free health care, food, housing, etc. Romney is not alone in this concern. “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said when he began his presidential campaign. “We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society,” Rep. Paul Ryan said at the Heritage Foundation. “People who pay nothing can easily forget the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch,” warned Rep. Michelle Bachmann. For what it’s worth, this argument isn’t true.'

A Robot With A Reassuring Touch (The New York Times) — "The $22,000 robot that Rethink will begin selling in October is the clearest evidence yet that robotics is more than a laboratory curiosity or a tool only for large companies with vast amounts of capital. The company is betting it can broaden the market for robots by selling an inexpensive machine that can collaborate with human workers, the way the computer industry took off in the 1980s when the prices of PCs fell sharply and people without programming experience could start using them right out of the box. “It feels like a true Macintosh moment for the robot world,” said Tony Fadell, the former Apple executive who oversaw the development of the iPod and the iPhone. Baxter will come equipped with a library of simple tasks, or behaviors — for example, a “common sense” capability to recognize it must have an object in its hand before it can move and release it."

In Obesity Paradox Thinner May Mean Sicker (The New York Times) — "In study after study, overweight and moderately obese patients with certain chronic diseases often live longer and fare better than normal-weight patients with the same ailments. The accumulation of evidence is inspiring some experts to re-examine long-held assumptions about the association between body fat and disease. Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, was one of the first researchers to document the obesity paradox, among patients with heart failure in 2002. He spent more than a year trying to get a journal to publish his findings. “People thought there was something wrong with the data,” he recalled. “They said, ‘If obesity is bad for heart disease, how could this possibly be true?’ ” But there were hints everywhere. One study found that heavier dialysis patients had a lower chance of dying than those whose were of normal weight or underweight. Overweight patients with coronary disease fared better than those who were thinner in another study; mild to severe obesity posed no additional mortality risks."

Steward Health Care Hires Top Heart Surgeon From Mass. General (The Boston Globe) — "Dr. Arvind Agnihotri was director of minimally invasive and robotic heart surgery at Mass. General. He will lead cardiac surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton. Kowalczyk writes: Agnihotri’s hiring may allow St. Elizabeth’s, which performs about 280 heart operations annually, a relatively small number, to double that caseload, said Dr. Frank Pomposelli, chairman of surgery at St. Elizabeth’s. “A lot of patients are going to our competitors,’’ he said. “If we put the talent in place, we can legitimately say [to referring doctors], ‘Why are you sending patients there?’ You have to give physicians and patients a choice that is comparable.’’ Preventing primary care patients from leaving Steward for routine surgery is crucial to its strategy of providing high quality care more cheaply than competitors. Steward is signing a growing number of contracts with health insurers that pay it a budgeted amount to care for groups of patients; when those patients get care elsewhere, Steward may have to reimburse a competitor at its rates."

This program aired on September 18, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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