9-25-10 Hodgepodge

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Even He Knows

Jonathan Chait, in exposing a tactical flaw with the GOP's foolish "repeal and replace" pledge that I hadn't thought of, simultaneously makes an interesting confession.

Remember, unlike 1994, Republicans could not afford to defend the health care status quo in 2010. The public demanded health care reform, and Republicans took the position that they favored some superior alternative proposal that would do all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. Actually formulating a plan that satisfies those requirements is impossible. [bold added]
Unless such a plan is opposed on a moral level, the playing field of this debate will be tilted by the assumption that such "bad stuff" is a necessary, but unavoidable side-effect of the "treatment."

Bleeding with leeches, once a common medical treatment, can have the "side-effect" of causing the patient to pass out, but that doesn't make the fainting a necessary evil, either. Chait's moral premises are about as up-to-date and sound as bloodletting.

Weekend Reading

"[W]hile you may have received financial rewards, satisfaction, and the respect of your peers, the one thing you haven't gotten for your achievement is moral credit." -- Don Watkins and Yaron Brook in "The Guilt Pledge," at Forbes.com

"An official policy of redistribution to autoworkers, bankers and 'struggling homeowners' reinforces the administration's faulty fixed-pie belief that there's a limited amount of wealth for the government to allocate in the 'right' way." -- Jonathan Hoenig in "There's Nothing Good About the 'Common Good'," at SmartMoney (HT: Amit Ghate)

From the Vault

Today in 2006, I played, "complete the thought." I still both chuckle and kick myself over answer 5 -- and I now own the album I mentioned in answer 23.

The Flip Side of "Get Rich Quick"

The Software Nerd warns against the "stoicism" of what I see as a modern variant of asceticism.
Many are rightly wary of "effortless-success" schemes, but it's also important to be wary of "high-effort success" schemes. Through experience, [people] often develop a heuristic that puts an extra sheen of value around high-effort schemes, even while they might reject them for their "cost".
Very interesting.

A Fairy Tale

I haven't posted a good email forward from my Mom in quite a while...
I met a fairy today who said she would grant me one wish.

"I want to live forever," I said.

"Sorry," said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!"

"Fine," I said. "I want to die after the Democrats get their heads out of their asses!"

"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.
Who needs the Brothers Grimm?

-- CAV


mo said...

if they were to oppose it on moral grounds what do you think they would or should say ?

would they just say: "before we discuss the needs of the uninsured and those who need health insurance we must first talk about the rights of the healthcare providers. The providers are free to offer or deny their services to whomever they wish. Furthermore we must ask the important question: should some have to pay or provide for the healthcare needs of others ?"

I Imagine that the uproar will be quite loud and they will be painted as mean

Gus Van Horn said...

They (meaning the GOP) are unlikely to, but intellectual activists will have to put forth that type of argument (be it to politicians at appropriate opportunities or to voters in editorials or to other people in conversations).

For an excellent example of what has to be done, in terms of arguments, see the various writings of Paul Hsieh and other FIRM contributors on that issue. For the overall strategy, consider the historical example of the abolitionists.

The GOP are probably thinking only in the sort term and will probably get nowhere, but that doesn't mean we have to.

Richard said...

In regards to the idea of overworking a task, a good case in point would be multilevel marketing schemes (Amway, ManCave, health juice nonsense, etc). A recent episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit laid this out really well. Such schemes *rely upon* the employee's sense of genuinely trying to work hard to advance. But all they do is exploit this earnestness in order to perpetuate their pyramid schemes. They speak to a number of good, hard working employees who simply don't know any better, and then when things don't go well they blame *themselves*. It's truly infuriating to see the entire scam.

Gus Van Horn said...

It sounds like those schemes combine the worst of "get rich quick" AND "high effort success." Sad and infuriating, both.

This reminds me of a couple of vignettes from my time when in the submarine force, believe it or not.

Once, a fellow JO was getting ready to take leave for what he vaguely said was a "meeting." I cracked wise and asked whether it was "an Amway convention," not imagining in a million years that was possible.

"As a matter of fact, yes," was his reply. I didn't know what to say to that.

Another JO I knew from nuke school fell for it, too. I liked him then, and once we were both stationed in Norfolk, he came over to visit me and my wife at the time, which sounded great to me -- until the "visit" morphed into an Amway sales pitch.

Both gentlemen were college educated and I know that at least one of them progressed fairly far through the submarine officer career path.