September 16, 2009

Ignorance, Arrogance, and Deceit

Justin Katz

I suppose I lack the grounds to object to Robert Whitcomb's protestations in yesterday's Providence Journal (not online) that his experience living in France doesn't jibe with the warnings that he hears fellow Americans giving against socialized medicine:

The ignorance and dishonesty in the U.S. health-care debate are beyond belief. ...

Then there are the idiotic observations about other developed nations' health-care systems. ... In fact, there is far more red tape and bureaucracy in the American health-care "system" than in countries with universal coverage, as there is in our tax "code."

Inasmuch as Whitcomb doesn't cite any idiots in particular, one cannot address the relevance of his French experience or specific claims about red tape. (And I'll resist the temptation to make populist appeals to my fellow gauche Americans qui n'est pas comme il faut. But a logical fallacy has the same repercussions no matter the language or airplane hours logged:

Consider how some people loudly worry that their taxes will go up if the government covers more people, while never noting how much their premiums for for-profit insurance go up 7 to 10 percent a year. Would they rather pay 7 to 10 percent a year to, say, United Healthcare or 3 percent annual increases to pay for Medicare for all? Test scores often show how badly Americans do in math, b ut this innumeracy is amazing.

Whitcomb conveniently sidesteps the reality that the debate is over how to reform healthcare, not whether to do so. The dilemma is false. Obviously so. Amazingly so. And it raises questions about how much readers should consider Whitcomb's other points persuasive, lacking, as I've said, any particulars that one could address beyond Robert's own personal experiences at some unidentified time in the past with an unspecified segment of the French healthcare system.