Paid Pundits Should Be the First Off The Lifeboat
Back in College one of the popular metaphors a Professor of mine was fond of using was the lifeboat analogy, which postulates the world is like a lifeboat that can only hold so many people before capsizing. If you let additional people onto the lifeboat it will capsize and doom everyone. The lifeboat analogy is pretty much a catch all for asserting that compassion to humanity is irrational and wrongheaded.
And while my professor felt pretty comfortable throwing around this harsh logic in the classroom while discussing aid to Africa, it was rarely applied in a domestic context by columnists, etc. Nobody says America can’t provide for Americans. Well until CBO started scoring the cost Health care reform. Suddenly every Sunday morning show is full of people complaining about the cost of insuring more Americans.
In the past it had always been that we shouldn’t intervene to insure American that can’t afford insurance, not we couldn’t. But today the heart of moderation is a commitment to balancing the budget which, since cutting the military budget or raising taxes is somehow always not an option, means cutting social programs. So the height of political of wisdom is go on Meet The Press and channel Malthus.
This is frustrating on a number of levels, 1) The existing health insurance system is a huge drain of American resources, 2) Unlike the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war health care isn’t being paid for by borrowing more money, 3) Americans clearly want health care reform.
A more rational, if also wrong, critique would be that they should be doing it all in one bill. You have some things they are doing as part of a long term strategy to reduce health care spending and other things which would increase short term costs. However, the problems with passing reform would only multiply as you increased the vehicles to address those problems.
The basic issue that’s being denied is that failure to pass reform to contain costs, bring people into the system, and fundamentally alter the legal structure of insurance is a greater threat then passing a bad bill or increasing the deficit. The American health insurance system is economically inefficient and at it’s core destructive to basic human needs. The need for reform couldn’t be more stark.