3.03.2010

Prophecy & Rant

You probably heard that President Obama got the high-end "virtual colonoscopy" recently during his annual physical. Chances are, most of us schleps will have to get the old fashioned colonoscopy, depending on what Kathleen Sibelius decides.

But if you're one of those mentally challenged people who believes that government intervention tends to make things better, I'd like to hear from you. I'm convinced--completely convinced--that I'm an almost unique freak of history because I can walk into a room full of people watching MSNBC or a room full of people listening to Rush Limbaugh, and in either case give everybody in the room a sympathetic listen. So I'm convinced that 100% of people, including even my smart friends, the ones whom I respect and who read my blog occasionally, are reading only one side of this discourse regarding healthcare. I just don't believe that any of you are listening to three hours of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or my personal favorite, local personality Tara Servatius (listen live from 3-6pm to WBT-Charlotte 1110 am) to offset your ingestion of the pills that the New York Times is doling out.

Why am I convinced? Because I don't believe that an intelligent person listening to both sides of this public debate can really believe that the common good is best served by introducing a public option embedded in a 2,079 page bill. I'm convinced that most of you have heard the emotional appeals, but not made the effort to think about the rational objections. It's like being on a sinking ship and wanting to save everybody, despite the fact that there is only one rescue boat. It is precisely like that. Because resources are limited. There is only one best cardiologist in the country, so there will obviously be rationing of that cardiologist, and of every other best specialist in the country.

So how should we ration? The market rations by giving those with the most money the best access to the best care. Who gets the best care under a government program? Kathleen Sibelius decides, we know that. Based on what? Nobody knows right now. Did you think the ridiculous order of things as we see them now were produced by markets?--impossible. HMOs alone, which account for a huge chunk of the current problem (ask anyone how they feel about their HMO) were created by Teddy Kennedy and his pals. But what's the solution for bad government intervention? A little bit more, a little bit more...

But, lest you cling to your superstition and give up on me, I offer the bright side: I forsee one very positive and (in the government's view, "unforseeable," I'm sure) side-effect of centralizing healthcare, and that is that there will arise an increasingly reputable kind of alternative medicine for which individuals may voluntarily pay at their own discretion. So look for your local Ayurvedic "healer" to grow in the public's esteem over the next few decades. When you're 77 and Kathleen Sibelius decides that the taxpayers can't afford to cover the cost of your palliative care, it'll be to the local medicine man you go... but if I'm right, you'll be better off there than you would at (G-d save me from this fate!) a government hospice.

Anyway, leaving the positive side for one more moment, I'm dead serious: I want to hear a theoretical defense of the kind of government we're now living with. I want to hear someone use the word "Justice" while describing the declared right of the IRS to seize money that I earn in my job to give it to the woman I saw in line in front of me at the local gas station who was buying a case of beer with her cash and groceries with her food stamps. And please: try to tell me that this is just anecdotal evidence. Try that.

My gloves are off. I believe I've made the case that there are multiple cultures in this country, and I do not feel an ethical responsibility to support a culture of irresponsibility, poor lawn-care, and grocery-laziness. And I'll go further and say I'm willing to defend this not as a manic tirade, but as a reasonable position within a discourse on political economics. Give this shit a rest, Brother Von Mises:
The plight of Western civilization consists precisely in the fact that serious people can resort to such syllogistic artifices without encountering sharp rebuke. There are only two explanations open. Either these self-styled welfare economists are themselves not aware of the logical inadmissibility of their reasoning; or they have chosen this mode of arguing purposely in order to find shelter for their fallacies behind a work which is intended beforehand to disarm all opponents. In each case their own acts condemn them.

4 comments:

fenhopper said...

hm. i don't think you're all that unique in your sympathetic abilities.

i was going to write a parody of this rant on my own blog. but i kinda think you nailed it.

Casey said...

If I understand your jab, Fen, I disagree even more sharply. If everyone around you is arguing that grammar is stable and fixed, you aren't carving out a "more sympathetic" or moderate position if you argue a halfway position. Instead, you tell them they've got it wrong. That has nothing to do with sympathy, as you know.

The problem with the progressive view, as I see it, is that it leaves no room for the kind counterintuitive thinking that is needed to understand that sympathizing with poor people does not necessarily translate 1:1 into a political philosophy.

But I'm tired of revisiting the starting line... aren't you?

So I'll go silent unless anyone asks me my position on all of this in the future, but you're free to take my silence as cordial disagreement.

And as usual, I'm happy to read yours (or others') affirmative position in defense of progressive political/economic philosophy.

fenhopper said...

if someone argues that grammar is stable and fixed, i'd have to ask about their view of stability and the relevant timelines. because remember that linguists are constantly telling the idiots out there a couple seemingly opposed things:

1) hey, all languages change, don't worry about the little things you see happening around you. change isn't a new feature or a sign of degredation!

2) english is in no way threatened. you're all idiots to think it is!

in fact, i'm very sympathetic to what they think they're observing. and i try address their fears in a way that doesn't change their fundamental beliefs, but provides insights about language that they have no reason to reject. unless they simply don't want to believe something because of the consequences of belief.

"it leaves no room for the kind counterintuitive thinking that is needed to understand that sympathizing with poor people does not necessarily translate 1:1 into a political philosophy"

i disagree. there are some who don't allow this. sure. but that's because of intellectual simplicity and an uninvestigated philosophy. but a "progressive" view is just as capable of supporting policies because of an honest and capable analysis of economic forces.

you may think keynes and krugman are idiots, but we don't all have to. krugman is hard to appreciate at times, but do you really think that your dismissal of him is based on a full understanding of his arguments?

Casey said...

No, I guess I'm not fair to Krugman. That's true.