Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Did No One Else Spot This?

I wrote this a while ago, but recently I have seen this study cited again and again. Someone please explain to me if I'm wrong.

"I was recently directed to the study published in January '09 and the web page titled "New Study: U.S. Ranks Last Among Other Industrialized Nations on Preventable Deaths."

I have looked over the study and have some questions.

Not in the study is the fact that 7.8% of Americans have diabetes,
while only 3% of the French population. So these numbers (109 deaths
per 100,000 for the us, 67 per 100k for Frenchies), leave me with a

First, I believe it is important to notice that this is per 100,000 people, not per 100,000 people with these diseases, correct?

a higher percentage of Americans suffer from these diseases (
assuming all the other diseases mentioned follow the pattern of
diabetes, but maybe not to the same degree), then it follows rationally
that a higher number of people should die from them, correct?

Ok, if all the numbers follow suite with Diabetes, and 7800 people out of
every 100k have one of these conditions, thent only 109 a year from
that 7800 die,(for ease I'm just using diabetic numbers to represent all sufferers of amenable diseases).

Now, in France, they've got 3000 people out of every 100k that have diabetes, with 67 out of that 300 dying (same rules as above).

correct me if I'm wrong please, about 1.4% of people with diabetes
(again using the diabetes figure for ease) in the US die compared to
2.2% of the French. Right?

shouldn't the conclusion be drawn that it's better to have diabetes in
the US than in France? Or rather that the causes of these diseases
should be addressed, and not that the US needs to adopt European
health care
systems? Shouldn't the French want to adopt our system? I mean,
wouldn't our system save another 25 people per 100k per year in France? (If the pattern holds for all mentioned diseases.)

this addressed in the study, and not published in these conclusions?
Can you explain any errors I have made. I realize all of this is
predicated on the assumption that the US has higher rates of all of
these illnesses than the other countries, and that could in fact not be
true, but shouldn't that at least be addressed?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is it worth the money?

I just had a long online chat with my brother concerning my choice to fly to my grandmother's funeral instead of driving. He said it seemed like an unnecessary expense. Ok, this type of thinking something that's been eating at me for a while now. I have a theory that time is money- or more specifically, that the time I'm not being paid for at work is still valuable. Even though this is something I have to do (well, I don't have to, but that's another discussion about must vs. should), I still have to place a value on my time in order to make the best decision, as objectively as I can, for these type of time vs. money problems.

To this end, I have established this equation:
a is the value that you establish for your "leisure" time.
b is the number of hours saved by the time saving activity (flying in this example).
C is the cost of the time saving activity (the cost of airplane tickets, parking, etc. in this example).
d is the cost of the original activity.

This equation is to specify the point at which the time saving activty is a better choice than the traditional activity. As you will notice, the other conveniences of the time saving activity- such as no grumpy toddler in the car for several hours, etc.- are not calculated in any way other than time savings.

Now, let's work this example shall we, with math that's simply made for ease.

Let's say I value my leisure time 25% more than my work time- which I get paid $80/hour for (don't worry, it's only for ease of math, not any type of reality here... now I'm sad :( ). That would put my value of my non-work time at $100/hour.
Driving, it would take me 6 hours each way to get to the funeral. Flying, including time at the airport, travel to the airport, etc. will take 6 hours total (generous estimate for ease of calculations). So, I'm saving 6 hours of time valued at $100 each. (100*6)-(C-d)=0

The cost of flying round trip and associated costs is $300. (100*6)-(300-d)=0.

The cost of driving is calculated like this. It's a 700 mile round trip in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon. That means that I will use approximately 35 gallons of gas just on the trip, at an estimated $2.50/gallon. That gives d a value of 87.5. (100*6)-(300-87.5)>0

Is this true? (600)-(212.5)>0 or 387.5>0 TRUE. Flying is the better choice at this value.

Now, what if I was to value my time at $30/hour? well, that would be (180)-212.5>0 FALSE.

Someone who values their time at $30/hour- all other things being equal- should NOT fly in this scenario.

Does this make sense to everyone?