If Uncle George Had Ovaries, She’d Be Aunt Megan

That’s George Will and Megan McArdle. While not a conservative, she is Will-like in her logic and arguments. Some recent examples:

Ms McArdle on the Democrat’s abortion of a health care bill:

What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot box and rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate. I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent–I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama’s opponent says. But because politicians shouldn’t feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them.

We’re not a parliamentary democracy, and we don’t have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians. The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think. If that slips away, America’s already quite toxic politics will become poisonous.

Read as Ms McArdle takes on the supposed claims of the benefits to be derived from the health care legislation, as the proponents are already running away from any measurable effects which can be attributed to the new federal entitlement:

Americans were not told that American households would be 1% less worried about bankruptcy, or that we’d save a hundred thousand lives over thirty years. They were regaled with eye-popping statistics on deaths from lack of health insurance–I certainly was, by many of the very same commentators who are now suddenly wary of prediction making. If you quoted those statistics, you were committing to a pretty strong position on the benefits of this bill.

I mean, maybe we say that there are a bunch of combo benefits: we reduce bankruptcies by a third, save five thousand lives a year, get some harder-to-measure morbidity benefits, and so on. But there have to be some measurable benefits. If this helps families stave off financial ruin, we should see a meaningful and sustained reduction in the number of bankruptcies. If it improves health, that should show up in life expectancy. If it doesn’t, then the bill doesn’t do what you said you expected it to do. That’s valuable information! Not so much about you, as about health care bills.

If you don’t think that any of the effects of this bill will be large enough to measure and hopefully, large enough to justify the price tag of this bill, then I have to ask two questions:

1) Why the hell are we spending $200 billion a year, plus the mandated spending by individuals and employers on premiums, plus the new money the states will have to spend on Medicaid?

2) Why on earth did you bring up all these apparently irrelevant statistics?

I’m all for accountability for beliefs. That’s how you make your beliefs better. That’s why I want to see all the people who threw around all sorts of theatrical arguments commit to what they are actually reasonably willing to predict will happen. Then explain why the outcomes that they are actually confident enough to predict justify spending about $2000 for every household in the country.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I sure wish people had done it before the bill passed–it would keep us more honest in our debates. But post-facto accountability is still a lot better than nothing. Otherwise the bill’s supporters, and opponents, will be too tempted to move the goalposts.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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