Thursday, August 09, 2007

Desperately Seeking a Worthy Opponent

Should The Oracle, either out of a fit of shameless sophistry or in order to prove a point, set out to write an essay making the case for universal health care coverage, he believes that he could do a credible job. Unfortunately, the editorial writer for The Tennessean, advocating the same with seemingly heartfelt sincerity, is not up to the task.

Today's editorial is so ridden with errors and poor thought that one hardly knows where to begin. What is truly shocking about the piece is the extent to which the author argues against a ghost, contradicting arguments that no one has made or believed. Thus, the editorial claims the following:

"Candidates and office holders are recognizing — and seemingly surprised — that not all Americans have health insurance...." Really? Which candidates and office holders are surprised? The number of uninsureds has been a widespread topic of political conversation for the last quarter of a century or more. Perhaps Rip van Winkle is surprised, but hardly anyone who has been awake could be. Was the editorial writer surprised?

"It is astounding that it has taken so long for everyone to agree that everyone ought to be covered." Astounding, huh? Leaving aside the point that it is not a good idea to make arguments saying "everyone," who in a responsible position has thought that it was not a good idea for someone to have health coverage? Saying that people "ought" to have it is not the same thing as agreeing that some centralized mechanism should be provided to give it to them.

"But some of the proposals being offered show ... a remarkable fear in some camps that government might be part of the solution." I'm not sure how any proposals show fear, much less remarkable fear, but who has a "remarkable fear that government might be part of the solution." Evidently, the writer confuses skepticism with fear. Or, perhaps, he or she just makes things up.

"...[O]ne of the objections to proposals to provide the care was the expressed worry that it could lead to 'government-run health care' — as though that phrase alone said it all." Of course, no one that I am aware of suggests this. Those who express concerns about "government-run health care" have a steady supply of examples of government programs that run amok. There is no vague resort to arguments against government here: there are real world concerns.

"Government-run health care is somehow assumed by some to be inherently awful and that no one would want such a terrible thing." Leaving aside the syntactical travesties of that sentence, who exactly thinks that such a thing is "inherently awful." Any names here? No. In fact, the argument of a specific opponent is never mentioned anywhere in the piece. The only named individual is Phil Bredeson, who is said to have "probably hit the nail on the head." The word "probably" is problematic here, as it leaves the reader uncertain as to whether Gov. Bredeson possibly hit the nail somewhere other than on the head or whether he possibly missed entirely.

"...[I]in its current form the health-care system has no private market." Really? None at all? The editorial proceeds to make the rather obvious point that the current system has an inadequate private market, but somehow concludes that an inadequate market means not that the market should be improved, but that it should be done away with.

"Providers are as guilty as anyone, because they don't seem interested in a system where they might actually have to hold the line on what they charge." Of course. All health care providers are tarred with the charge of not caring at all what their services will cost their patients.

"But the fact that policy-makers are beginning to recognize the fact that universal care is an honorable goal, not a vulgar term, is a small but important advancement." A vulgar term?

Other than these statements, the editorial is still poorly written. With them, it is a complete embarrassment.

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