Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• Three Miles and $400 Apart: Hospital Prices Vary Wildly Even in the Same City The cost of an ER visit in Boston reveals the wide range of prices at U.S. hospitals (Wall Street Journal)
• The Paperwork Coup A much more dangerous insurrection was under way in the inboxes of Trump’s inner circle in the weeks before January 6. (The Atlantic) see also Meadows Was Deeply Involved in Fighting Election Outcome, Jan. 6 Panel Says The House committee laid out its case for a contempt of Congress charge against Mark Meadows, the chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump. (New York Times)
• A Sunny Place for a Shady Online Business: Malta, home to hundreds of betting sites and dubious oversight, is a target of an international money laundering crackdown. (Businessweek)
• This block used to be for first-time homebuyers. Then global investors bought in. Progress Residential acquires as many as 2,000 houses a month through the use of a computerized property-search algorithm and swift all-cash offers. Efficient management practices have been a boon to their tenants who cannot afford to buy one of the “entry level” homes. But Progress Residential has been ringing up substantial profits for wealthy investors around the world while outbidding middle-class home buyers and subjecting tenants to what they allege are unfair rent hikes, shoddy maintenance and excessive fees. (Washington Post)
• The Biggest Deepfake Abuse Site Is Growing in Disturbing Ways A referral program and partner sites have spurred the spread of invasive, AI-generated “nude” images. (Wired)
• Unvaccinated Covid Patients Push Hospital Systems Past the Brink Those states will not be the only ones. A worrying new variant is spreading, hospitals are filling, and millions remain unvaccinated. If America keeps stress-testing its hospitals and their staff, some of them will break. (Bloomberg) see also Colleges go back to drawing board — again — to fight COVID Facing rising infections and a new COVID-19 variant, colleges across the U.S. have once again been thwarted in seeking a move to normalcy and are starting to require booster shots, extend mask mandates, limit social gatherings and, in some cases, revert to online classes. (AP News)
• Documents link Huawei to China’s surveillance programs A review of more than 100 Huawei PowerPoint presentations, many marked “confidential,” suggests that the company has had a broader role in tracking China’s populace than it has acknowledged. (Washington Post)
• The U.S. Has A Lot Of Guns Involved In Crimes But Very Little Data On Where They Came From the ways guns were trafficked made it hard to answer basic questions like how many might be stolen each year. Often, he said, police found trafficked guns only after they were used in a crime. Experts who spoke with FiveThirtyEight said there was no clear, national data on how crime guns go from manufacturers and dealers to the black market, how trafficking differed from state to state or even the street price of trafficked firearms in different markets. The most recent federal report on gun trafficking dates from 2000, and it used data from 1996 to 1998. (FiveThirtyEight) see also Sons of Anarchy How an F.B.I. informant stopped the gun-crazed, conspiracy-theorizing group behind the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. There might be no better state in which to play army than Michigan. Summers are verdant and the wetlands come alive with animals. The man-made world feels very distant. But it’s a poor state, and when the high green corn is cut and trees turn leafless under the months-long Midwestern winter, the poverty shows: idled auto-parts factories, tractor trailers waiting out the black ice, dinged S.U.V.’s spilling children at Dollar Generals. (Air Mail)
• The Quiet Scandal of College Teaching “College professors have become so involved in outside research that their commitment to teaching is compromised…students are herded into enormous classes taught by disengaged faculty members or inexperienced graduate students.” (Liberties)
• Donald Trump’s Megaphone: Fox News news hosts knew that Trump’s lies were lies—and they amplified them anyhow I didn’t want to be complicit in so many lies. I know that a huge share of the people you saw on TV praising Trump were being dishonest. I know it, because they would say one thing to my face or in my presence and another thing when the cameras and microphones were flipped on. Punditry and politics is a very small world—especially on the right—and if you add-up all the congressmen, senators, columnists, producers, editors, etc. you’ll probably end up with fewer people than the student population of a decent-sized liberal arts college. (The Dispatch)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Michael Mauboussin, who runs consilient research at Morgan Stanley’s buyside firm, Counterpoint Global. Mauboussin (and his co-author, Alfred Rappaport ) revise and update their book Expectations Investing: Reading Stock Prices for Better Returns.
New pandemic wave strikes hardest at people with pre-existing conditions
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.