One of the really disappointing, even truly disheartening things about the national discussion over the President's proposals for health care reform, is the acrimonious tone of its conduct.
Demonization of political adversaries has become a general practice.
This is more than simply unfortunate; it is dangerous for several reasons, among which are the following:
- It tends to erode the presumption of good faith, upon which the giving and taking of public counsels in free socity must necessarily be based;
- It encourages intellectual laziness: if I do not need to engage the merits of an opponent's position, then I will not engage them. I will, however, be more than content to dribble my critical energies through the gimlet holes of peanut gallery invention;
- It erodes awareness of and thereby destroys the ability to pursue the common good, to determine and pursue successfully, common purpose in society.
The President, himself, has been one of the worst offenders among the proponents and champions of his reforms, insofar as he has quickly and easily dismissed everyone who has any scruple about his proposals, either paining them as ideologically committed, or cabbalistically interested.
Absolutely none of this matters.
Suppose for a moment that the President is a monster
Now entertain for an instant the idea that the President's reform proposals are likely to reduce the cost of health insurance and improve the quality of health care, while placing both in reach of a significant number of people who, until now, have not been been able to have either.
Would the President's monstrosity be an argument against implementing his reform proposals then?
Suppose for a moment the President is possessed of a soul as stainless as starlight, and motives as pure as the driven snow
Now consider the possibility that the President's reform proposals appear to prudent judges as likely to lead to the creation of a massive federal health insurance bureaucracy that will swallow the whole industry, severely reduce the quality of care, and act as a massive drain on the economy, making it more difficult for the poor to lift themselves out of poverty and creating a permanent class of citizens who are essentially clients of the federal government.
Would the President's pristine purposes be an argument in favor of implementing his proposals, then?
I am reminded of the following:
Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth. - From The Federalist #1As it stands, I would like for someone to explain to me how the "public option" is not going to destroy cometition, as employers abandon their private carriers in favor of it, before their current carriers develop packages to compete with the public one.