Libtertarian Medical Experiments

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here's a real jewel by Arnold Kling, who last week wrote of his migration from the far left to the Libertarian movement. After reading it, I have come to conclude that Kling hasn't really travelled so far after all!

There is currently a bunch of guff going on in the Libertarian blogosphere, some of it instigated by Markos "Kos" Moulitsos, about whether Libertarians might cast their lot with the Democrats in the November elections.

Kling regards this as an overture that he is willing to entertain, provided that there is some give-and-take with the Democrats. And what give-and-take would this be?


What I propose is that Democrats promise to support one major libertarian experiment. In exchange for Democrats agreeing to support this experiment, libertarians would agree to vote for Democrats.

The experiment that I have in mind is school choice. If Democrats would instead prefer an experiment with voluntary investment accounts substituting for Social Security, that is an acceptable alternative. But for now, let us work with school choice.

The experiment that I propose is that in four or five diverse states, all tax revenues that ordinarily would go to schools would for a period of 15 years go to parents as school vouchers. Proponents of school choice will propose specific indicators that will be measured to assess whether the experiment achieves desired goals, such as improved school quality, lower cost, and greater parent satisfaction. Opponents of school choice also will propose specific indicators that will be measured to assess whether the experiment leads to greater inequality in schooling or other adverse results. After fifteen years, voters will have useful information to determine whether the experiment with school choice should be expanded or ended.
This sounds fair enough on its face -- except for the small detail that we have already, for decades, been conducting a disastrous "experiment" in all 50 states with publicly-funded education.

What makes Kling think that the Democrats are going to be persuaded that school choice "works" from any evidence provided by such an experiment when there is already overwhelming evidence that public education is a miserable failure? And then there's the matter of school choice opponents selecting "indicators". I can think of lots of political indoctrination that the private school kids will miss out on and so be found "deficient". Come time to vote on whether to expand or terminate the experiment, the Democrats will have, with a big assist from the media, made it sound like the private schools were Hitler Youth Camps or worse. The experiment would end.

And I haven't even gotten around to complaining that Kling said nothing about privatizing the schools. But that would require a Libertarian to worry about individual rights, and I have not only demonstrated here that Libertarians are unconcerned with such principles, I even once got one to explicitly tell me that a political point he advocated was "not about individual rights".

And if you think Kling is any different, get a load of what he's willing to do -- sell the right to decent medical care of the residents of four or five states down the river! -- in return for a half-assed "experiment" in not-even-privatization of education:
Traditional Democrats may say, "If we are willing to give libertarians an experiment, what do we get in return? Do we get a chance to experiment with our policies?"

I would welcome experiments with socialist policies, provided that they are only experiments. That is, the policies must be evaluated, and if they are found to have failed, they must be abandoned.

For example, I would welcome an experiment in which four or five diverse states adopt single-payer health care. My guess is that if people were to experience single-payer health care for ten or fifteen years, that would provide powerful evidence that it is a bad idea for the United States.
"Powerful evidence", eh? Like what? Higher morbidity and death among the residents of the single-payer states? You can bet your sweet ass the evidence would be pretty powerful! But then, as with education, we already have plenty of that kind of "evidence" already. So again, why need we conduct further experiments? When does it become safe to consider the idea that perhaps the Democrats still advocate what they do because they place any number of other things at a higher priority than promoting the general welfare -- which, by the way, can only be done by protecting individual rights.

Worse still: This is exactly the opposite of what the government should be doing: forcing people to act against their better judgement. In this case the government would be enslaving the physicians and preventing the patients from seeking decent medical care!

In Arnold Kling, we see a self-professed champion of "liberty" discussing with a socialist the use of the general public as guinea pigs -- in violation of their individual rights -- in two "experiments" which need not be performed anyway due to mountains of accumulated evidence on their subjects already in our possession -- and all for the sake of sharing power with someone who ignores this evidence while acting as if this person will change his mind if exposed to the proper evidence!

As I said before, ".... Kling, simply g[a]ve up on ideas as such." All we're seeing here are the consequences: playing cynical games with the public for the sake of acquiring political power.

Some journey you made there, Mr. Kling, from far left to Libertarian!

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

God save us from the pragmatists. There is so little difference between them, left--right--or center--all that is left is this vying for which gang will get what corner to rule.

At least most Democrats have some kind of ideology you can wrap your mind around; the libertarians can't even manage any kind of ephemera.

Gus Van Horn said...

Worse still, the Libertarians give the lefties the one thing they can't do on their own: The ability to say, after "experiments" like this or other failed, quasi-capitalist schemes, that "Capitalism has been tried and has failed."