Time Capsule #64
2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2
Welcome to the Time Capsule — a weekly newsletter that discusses the practicalities of life and explores the wisdom, ideas, and events of the past to help you build a better future.
💭 Quote of the Week
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
✏️ On Utilitarianism in the Healthcare System
Utilitarianism, a philosophical school of thought that began with Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century, considers the utility of an act as the metric from which you can calculate its virtue. In other words, an action or trait is morally good, right, or virtuous in proportion to the consequences it generates. A ‘good’ act provides the most benefit to the most amount of people.
One realm in which we see the utilitarian philosophy at work is in public health. When a government, operating in a finite resource system, is deciding which drugs, devices, and healthcare programs to fund, it often chooses to fund certain technologies at the expense of others. Governments perform health technology assessments to make a holistic assessment of the clinical, economic, and social consequences of funding an intervention, using various standardized measures (i.e. quality-adjusted life years) to compare interventions amongst each other. In many cases, an intervention that is found to be clinically effective may not receive public funding because there is another intervention that either offers superior or similar clinical efficacy at a fraction of the cost. In general, governments try to fund the most cost-effective option that will provide the most benefit/improvement to the most amount of people. The problem with this utilitarian approach is that drugs for rare diseases, for example, may be less likely to receive the same level of research & development by the private sector because, with a small target population and such unestablished therapeutic pathways, the cost on the payer would be astronomical in order to break even.
I wonder whether an alternative approach is feasible in a capitalist system. Generally, innovation and progression can be fueled by the prospect of earnings down the line, yet there are always going to be cases where certain needs in the community are not prioritized because of a lack of economic incentive.
📸 Photo of the Week
📖 Book of the Week — The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
Written under the heteronym Bernardo Soares and published posthumously, the Book of Disquiet is a collection of fragments: it’s simultaneously a diary, a work of poetry, an autobiography, and descriptive narration. His use of words is masterful, and there is a flavour to Pessoa’s works that I rarely find.
I found this book as part of a 3 book recommendation by Will Mannon, Course Director at Write of Passage. I enjoyed the other 2 works (Letters to A Young Poet by Rilke & Self-Reliance by Emerson) very much and I figured I would like this one too.
💡 Food for Thought
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
🔭 Sunday Best
Saving the Bridge — Don Robbie and Expressions take to the streets.
Hugging the X-Axis — on the power of commitment. An essay by David Perell.
The Three Sides of Risk — one of the best reads of the year for me thus far. By Morgan Housel.