Health Care and Hyper-Active Imaginations

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After reading Megan McArdle's thoughtful (as in, founded in thought) post on why a public option is wrong-headed, Ezra Klein's empassioned (as in, founded in the part of the brain outside the jurisdiction of thought) post made clear an important point about the ancillary quality of factual and intellectual rigor on the part of public option advocates:

Rather, what has kept health-care reform at the forefront of liberal politics for decades is moral outrage that 47 million of our friends and neighbors are uninsured. That medical costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. That an unemployed machinist gets screwed by fly-by-night insurance schemes while a comfortably employed banker need never worry. That the working class ends up in emergency rooms with crushing chest pains because they didn't have health insurance and didn't get prescribed cheap blood pressure medications five years before.

Could all that really be true? Surely, medical costs result in some bankruptcies. But a "leading cause"? And where are all these unemployed machinists? My grandfather and uncles were machinists. Owned a machining shop. Until it went out of business because, well, machining's not much of a viable vocation anymore. In other words, there are probably not many "unemployed machinists," rather, former machinists looking for a new line of work.

But that's not the point. If you're flailing about for a universal public option, facts and ideas aren't going to take that excess blood out of your face. The problem is an over-active imagination. The problem is the unfounded notion that private health care not only results in some flaws in our health care system, but in every flaw now or ever observed in the Western world.

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