TINA Still Means “There Is No Alternative”…

Megan McArdle notes a syllogism:

So I took a keen interest when, at the fervid climax of the health-care debate in mid-December, a Washington Post blogger, Ezra Klein, declared that Senator Joseph Lieberman, by refusing to vote for a bill with a public option, was apparently “willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands” of uninsured people in order to punish the progressives who had opposed his reelection in 2006. In the ensuing blogstorm, conservatives condemned Klein’s “venomous smear,” while liberals solemnly debated the circumstances under which one may properly accuse one’s opponents of mass murder.


Perhaps few people were asking, because the question sounds so stupid. Health insurance buys you health care. Health care is supposed to save your life. So if you don’t have someone buying you health care well, you can complete the syllogism.

Robin Hanson comments:

Forgot?! This is no random memory failure. For many decades health economists have known that the best available evidence shows little or no relation at the margin between med and health. The health economists advising all the major sides have long known this. When the data is this noisy, there will always be exceptional studies, and as Megan says, the left prefers to cite exceptions find more med tied to more health; the right prefers to avoid the issue.

Few things in life will cause otherwise reasonable people like Klein and Yglesias (maybe Krugman) to make blind (and dumb) ideological arguments. Health care is one of them. But perhaps most ironically, “insurance” (or rather, prepaid healthcare) enables people to purchase more medical care; the more generous, the more consumption…but Klein and Yglesias look down upon overconsumption of medical care as being wasteful at best — irresponsible at worst. I wonder, what do you guys do with piles of extra money earmarked for consumption? I know they’re fun to watch TV on, but…


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