…we seem to have hit an impasse in the last post about how all the issues regarding health care reform relate. I personally am using two separate practical arguments – “we can’t afford this thing” and “I don’t trust the other side because they’re pretty much cooking up numbers for an agenda I don’t even like.” Now both those arguments, as you notice, don’t cohere at all: they’re two separate arguments, united only by the fact I have to explain myself.
There’s something about what the health care “bill” implies – there really isn’t one yet, and a lot of us look at that as something shady, esp. when people want to push this thing through without having read crucial specifics over what’s being debated – that is so problematic that it actually manages to unite the argument for me. Megan McArdle (h/t Instapundit) has the argument, and I encourage you to read it all. Excerpt:
…no one I know who is interested in national health care views these bills as the final iteration of American Healthcare 3.0. Everyone agrees that these bills are very bad, fix few-to-none of the underlying problems with the American healthcare system (cost inflation, the tax break for employer-provided insurance, etc.) But we have to do this because we can’t just do nothing, now. So we’ll do this now, add a whacking great new line-item to the budget, and then fix it later. The implied fix is things like cost controls on pharmaceuticals, comparative effectiveness treatment to decide which treatments “work” (and by extension, which ones shouldn’t be provided), and an ever-expanding role for government treatment mandates. The goal of everyone, to a first approximation, on the “pro” side of these health care reforms is a European-style system where the government basically runs the whole show. Maybe they contract out the billing services to insurance companies, which you may choose between (though you can’t choose covered services, etc). Maybe there’s a safety valve in the form of a private system that the very affluent can buy into. But for 95% of the population, the government dictates what treatments are covered, and usually, how much should be paid for them.
One thing I want to draw to your attention is how economic matters nowadays become matters of value almost immediately. McArdle brings up “abortion,” and absolutely for those of us concerned that this country has a 50% divorce rate while barely anyone gets married anyway, and more children are born out of wedlock than belong to (perhaps) more stable families (my concern is the lack of many having a father, not whether the arrangement is traditional or not), it becomes really clear that the issue of “health” is the issue of personal security in modernity (cf. Descartes’ insistence that to think well, one must eat well). How much do we want to be taken care of, and again, how much are we going to take from each other and the future in order to achieve that? The deficits this thing would generate alone are not some small thing: someone has to pay the interest on the debt we generate, as people are already paying hugely for what we have now.