A Bit More on Madness
I actually thought Will Wilkinson's takedown of me was going to be a bit more pointed than it was, given that I misspoke significantly this morning. Instead he spins off to promote an old paper he wrote on Social Security privatization. For all that, Will, and many of my commenters, were right that it's silly to say "there is no evidence for [the] claim" that the government is capable of madness. Iraq, the World War II internment camps and much else provide plenty of evidence for occasional bouts of madness.
But as I said in the next sentence, and meant more broadly, there's no evidence for madness in government health-care systems. Medicare does not have death panels. Medicaid does not promote euthanasia. Dozens of other countries have universal health-care systems, and none of them approaches the health of its citizenry with a tenth the cruelty and capriciousness on exhibit in our system.
Indeed, if any of them made a conscious decision to let 20,000 of their citizens die because the government judged them too poor to deserve health-care insurance and then made a further decisions to force millions of families into bankruptcy because a loved one got sick and cost the state money, that would be an excellent example that nations can indeed lose their minds and do terrible things. But that describes a single year in our system, not in theirs. And we escape judgment because we haven't made a decision to kill those people or rip through their savings. We have simply made a decision not to stop it from happening.
As for the question of democracy, here's my point, stated more clearly: Whether you believe our government capable of staffing death panels, only a loon would survey members of this Congress and think that they were actually building such things into the legislation. This is a bunch that's scared to create a public option, or tax health benefits worth more than $15,000. But they're going to vote for death panels?
Members of Congress are elected -- and, every two years, judged -- by the voters. Those voters may agree with you on the public plan or disagree with you on the public plan, but when we begin to imagine them capable of sanctioning a committee that will execute your child, we're hitting a pitch of polarization, and an absence of faith in your fellow citizens, that's decidedly scary.
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