The Debacle Distraction

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cass Sunstein writes an interesting article on confirmation bias among certain detractors of ObamaCare. (Interestingly, Sunstein (or at least his editor) feels the need to call such detractors "haters".)

Noting the chorus of "I told you so" roused by the recent decision by the Obama administration to delay implementation of part of the measure by a year, Sunstein likens the chorus to the work of Edwin During-Lawrence, whose work, Bacon is Shakespeare, he cites as an example of confirmation bias. He continues:

To the critics of the health-care law, however, the real lesson of the announcement is clear: OBAMACARE IS A DEBACLE. And to those critics, that is the real lesson of essentially every development in health-care reform.

If governors decline to establish state exchanges, leaving that task to the federal government, then Obamacare is a debacle. If the administration releases a complex application form for the coming exchanges, then Obamacare is a debacle (even if the application is just a draft). If states opt out of the Medicaid expansion, then Obamacare is a debacle. [link dropped]
It is tempting to liken Sunstein's serial dismissals of the difficulties in implementing ObamaCare to his holding the preordained conclusion that OBAMACARE IS JUST ANOTHER LAW. However, I think it is more important to concede that he has raised a good point.

Perhaps the recent delay really is just because reporting requirements are in dire need of revision. I haven't studied the matter enough to know whether Sunsteins's position is correct or the decision really is a symptom of the law being so badly written that it is, beyond being improper, also a comedy of bungling. It doesn't matter which is the case, because a principled opponent of ObamaCare will see the latter case as merely a symptom of a greater problem. Even were the law flawlessly executed, it would remain immoral (and an improper use of government) to dictate to physicians and patients alike the terms by which they are to do business. (Oh, and it would, as such, be a debacle on those merits alone.) Any opponent who can't see this -- who feels the need to grasp at straws -- is going to lose the fight to repeal it, if he sees the need for such a fight at all. ("'Repeal and replace' Republicans, I'm talking to you.)

Maybe this decision deserves ridicule, maybe not. Just don't hang your hat on it. To do so is to concede a bigger issue: whether we should have such a law at all.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I'm all on board with pointing out that the basis of Obamacare is immoral, but I think you do Sunstein a disservice regarding his serial dismissals. Sunstein is fulfilling his role as the Obama regime's primary obfuscating apologist aka purveyor of red herrings extraordinaire!

Look at all of the exemptions that have been provided to cronies of the administration to shore up their support by exempting them from the onerous realities of Obamacare. I think that the regime realized that they were facing another 2010 election outcome unless they temporarily mitigate the hardship that is part and parcel of Obamacare, given that another IRS intervention in the election would be so breath-takingly brass-faced as to be beyond the ability of this administration to carry off successfully. (I may be wrong on this point.) Thus, I think that while you and I can look at the concepts underlying Obamacare and recognize the oncoming freight train, most Americans have had that capacity educated out of them. Therefore, absent a huge and obvious concrete manifestation of this gov't horror, most Americans are going to dismiss such talk of the negative impact of Obamacare by pointing out that "nothing has happened yet." Absent implementation that will impact their employer provided health insurance, most Americans won't see the inevitable and thus will not lay the inevitable at the feet of Obama and his supporters. This is a regime ploy to get through the next election without losing the Senate.

I fully expect that the other Obamacare shoe will drop shortly after the mid-term elections. At that point a realization by the electorate that this is the first shoe of winter and that a veritable blizzard of footwear (boots, stiletto heels, cement overshoes) is falling toward their heads will be far too late to change the outcome. The electorate will experiencing the same angst as Wiley E. Coyote staving off a falling anvil with a pina colada umbrella.

Sunstein's job is to insure that exactly that level of ignorance prevails amongst the great unwashed so that, after the elections, they can receive their much needed ablutions at the hands of the their betters. Like Cass Sunstein.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

You raise a good point.

His smearing of people who collect evidence such as what you have assembled as having confirmation bias is a deliberate attempt on his part to keep them from putting two and two together.

Given the state of the electorate, the best thing to do is to provide the moral argument against ObamaCare AND assemble such evidence. The two kinds of argument would reinforce each other.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Something about Sunstein's approach here rang some "cognitive" bells (more on that later) and set me to searching my archives. Although it is not exactly the modus operandi that Sunstein advocates here I believe that is fundamentally the same Alinskyite approach.

Thus, I don't think that we can credit Sunstein with any intellectual honesty given his actions while in government, the content of his published work (including "Nudge") and his continued Obama obfuscation apologetics after "leaving" government service - see the numbered items in the quote below.

What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what shoud it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is the government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4), and (5).

Glenn Greenwald expands on Sunstein's corruption here.

All in all, I think that Sunstein is as close to a real-life Ellsworth Toohey as we're likely to get, albeit operating on a much larger scale.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree that Sunstein is thoroughly corrupt.