Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Socialism all over again

But consider the following common arguments:
  • National health care will be cheaper because we will reduce administrative overhead
  • National health care will reduce wasteful competition in the form of me-too drugs
  • National health care will reduce wasteful competition in the form of advertising and other marketing expenses
  • National health care will allow us to rationally distribute care to where it does the most good rather than the current messy, wasteful hodge-podge
  • National health care will use resources for production instead of profits
  • National health care will achieve economies of scale in purchasing and record-keeping
  • People will not overuse free goods because there are hard limits to desired consumption
These were all arguments advanced in favor of socialism. ... Economists who would be ashamed to make these sorts of arguments about Proctor and Gamble or the used car market suddenly start parroting these things as if they hadn't been thoroughly discredited by the last seventy years. ...

My critics will want me to explain why, then, Europe can do it cheaper. ... We're still driving quite a bit of product innovation. Our messy, organic, wasteful, unfair, irrational system allows experimentation, and they cherry pick the best results. If we stopped doing this, their system would stop looking so good.
--Megan McArdle, Atlantic Monthly, on political arguments in the thrall of the ideas of some long-dead economies

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