“I’m Blogwarring in the heat…” (Sung to the tune of Singin’ in the Rain)

And with pit stains.  In the key of G.  Or wherever you’re comfortable.

Discursor apparently had nothing better to do this afternoon, and so he responded to my earlier continuation of the blogwar.  Fortunately, my girlfriend and her friend are making dinner tonight, so I can sit here and respond to him whilst they prepare food to feed me with.

Nonetheless:  Damn you, Discursor!

I think, as you rightly point out, that Chicago schoolers were most certainly “delegitim[ized] in the face of the events of the last year.”  I think, too, that for many Keynesians, deligitimizing Friedman et al has been, if not the focus of their careers, at least a powerful subtext.  And I think for Krugman, he explicitly says as much, on his blog at least, repeatedly.

You say this:  “I also still think that he under-justifies why improving health care via increasing the public presence is a better option than improving health care through a free market approach.”  I think that in the article we were discussing (too hot to link), much of his argument rested on a basic form of argumentation, one that we human beings learn in the playground.  It goes something like this:

“Look!  He or she is doing X, Y, and Z.  Why can’t I do that?”

It’s a valid tactic.  In its slightly more wonkish form, it goes like this:  “Look!  Every other industrialized economy in the world has a healthcare system that’s formally universal, that the government is more involved in than ours, and that produces better or equal health outcomes while costing a fraction of what ours does (while leaving nearly 50 million people uninsured altogether).  Why can’t we do that?”

That’s basically the first part of Krugman’s argument in the article that I refuse to go looking for because I’m literally dripping sweat and don’t feel like it.

I mean, there might be some magical free-market way to provide universal health insurance, but why re-invent the wheel?  Why not just copy what some other country is doing and be done with it?  At any rate, I’m still skeptical of a free-market approach for a number of reasons.  The most salient, and one that’s stuck with me since I originally read the article a couple of years ago, is this:  There’s a systemic disincentive in a free-market approach to healthcare for focussing on preventitive care.  Since most Americans have, like, four or five different healthcare providers in the course of their lives, for an HMO to focus its energy on preventitive care would actually hurt its bottom line, since the odds are that the same person they’d be motivating to live a healthier lifestyle or whatever would end up with a different HMO in the future.  In other words, they’d be saving their competitors money. I think that’s a point that’s worth thinking about.  In the United States, part of the reason that our system costs so much, and the results are so poor, is our focus on doing costly fixes, rather than inexpensive maintenance.  There’s a structural disincentive to focus on inexpensive maintenance if people are jumping from HMO to HMO all their lives.  That’s why getting the government in the game is the right idea.  It can provide the incentives for preventitive care that the free-market’s logic simply does not compute.

None of this, I suppose, is anything you’d disagree with.  But it just seems to me that it’s one more reason not to worry too much about conservative naysayers–and not to take arguments that at all defend the status quo seriously.  There are fifty million people without health insurance.  This is a problem.  Private-sector fetishists have had fifty years to think about ways to address the obvious market failure, but they’ve failed.  Time to give something else a try.  And since the obvious (for the empirically minded) path is to look to other countries’ experiences for guidance, let’s try to get a more robust government presence for starters, and see where we can go from there.

In conclusion.  You:

I guess I don’t begrudge Krugman for playing rhetorical games, but since my original argument (if I remember) was something along the lines of that all public intellectuals play rhetorical games, I’m going to pretend that I just proved that you’re both wrong and stupid. Booya.

I think that I acknowledged that some elision over finer points takes place for any public intellectual.  I just said that Krugman didn’t elide as much as Paglia, and that he, in fact, made a conscious effort to be as straightforward as possible.  Which Paglia doesn’t do.  Ergo, I too am “going to pretend that I just proved that you’re both wrong and stupid.”

Suck it!


One response to ““I’m Blogwarring in the heat…” (Sung to the tune of Singin’ in the Rain)

  1. Pingback: Blog war: escalation « Tied to the mast

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