Monday, January 23, 2012

MORAL SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. Megan McArdle, talking about a drug that prolongs melanoma sufferers lives but (possibly) only for a matter of months, suddenly grabs the banged-up doll with  STOOPID LIBRUL written on its chest and denounces its terrible attitude:
I think the central difference between me, and the people who think that IPAB's reimbursement-rate powers will be a big help in controlling health care costs, is that the latter group tends to think that a lot of expensive health care problems are like back surgery--something that doesn't do any good, but gets done anyway, because of desperate patients and arrogant/ignorant/greedy surgeons.
It's a good thing doctors aren't unionized or McArdle would be calling for a federal investigation.
I tend to think that more of the questions are like this one. Is spending $50,000 to give a pancreatic cancer patient an extra 5-9 months of life a wasted expenditure, or a medical advance? On the one hand, 5-9 months isn't very long. On the other hand, for a typical pancreatic cancer patient, you've doubled their lifespan, which seems like a very long time indeed.

If we get better cancer treatments--
[Here she rolls her eyes at the doll]
which is what everyone says they want--
[Cap'n Happy and Mr. & Mrs. Bear look at each other and nod]
we're probably going to be asking those questions a lot. And either way, we aren't going to like the answer.
Oh, won't we?  Once the Right Sort return to power and America gets its own austerity program, I expect the proper solution --  getting Big Gummint out of the healthcare business and letting those patients who can't afford the treatment die, as nature intended -- will become obvious. But unlike the liberals, who pretend they want better cancer treatments but really just want death panels, the Responsible People will not be to blame, because poor people getting the shaft is just economics, which is nobody's fault.

UPDATE. Commenter Mr. Wonderful gets to the point better than I do:
Megan's "let's face it"s invoke what she assumes we all grant are universal facts about human nature. She'll say, in effect, "let's face it, liberal parents want their kids to be able to get into good private schools, no matter what they say about public education."

But even when there is a grain (or more) of truth to what she says, once you invoke similar common knowledge (e.g., "let's face it: capitalism selects for the greedy, and human greed is a pan-historical and universal vice, so it should be controlled via rules and legislation"), she gets all libertarian...
It's a reliable theme in her writing. Liberals have all kinds of cuh-razy ideas, so let's forget it and go back to the  reliable old-world wisdom of the American Enterprise Institute.

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