Part of What We Need to Do Is Dismiss "Tweaks"

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A recent piece on health care reform by Megan McArdle has been making the rounds lately, and for very good reason. McArdle notes a rhetorical tactic that people have been getting away with too easily and for too long. It's an attempt to minimize a problem and head off debate, and often starts out with something like, "All we need to do..." I'm inclined to call it something like minimalizing. After citing several examples, all from the left, McArdle makes the following astute observation:

[T]his is true of every idea that starts with "All we need to do." If "All we need to do" to fix some substantial problem were cheap and politically popular, it would already have been done, and we wouldn't be talking about it. The stuff we argue about is, almost by definition, the stuff that's hard.
This reminds me a little of a connection I once made, after hearing something touted as "insider knowledge" from an acquaintance who is often either wrong or not even wrong: If this were true, I wouldn't need to hear it from you because I probably would have already heard about it by now.

It is about as unusual for something "simple" not to get done as it is for a simple, yet clever idea to languish in obscurity.

This is not to say that there aren't elegant solutions to many of our problems, or that they ought to be better known. But if leftists shouldn't be getting away with pretending their schemes can be fixed with mere "tweaks," then those of us who favor limited government should also never bow to the temptation to present something as obvious or easy. It may seem obvious to someone who has thought about it for a long time, and we may understand why, in principle, freedom will lead to prosperity. But it is hardly obvious to most people, and our economy is so distorted by central planning that it can be hard to imagine how it could work without intervention, and it will be hard to disentangle it from the government.

So, let's do call this bluff on the part of our opponents (who aren't just on the left), but let's not make ourselves look like we're doing the same thing when it's our turn to speak.

-- CAV

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