By Arnold Kling
I attended this Cato forum on health care reform options. Speakers were Sally Pipes, John Goodman, Jeff Lemieux, and Robert Kuttner. A few notes:
Best one-liner belonged to Kuttner: “The hardest job for a liberal is to defend the D.C. public school system. The hardest job for a conservative is to defend free-market health care.”
Most important point belonged to Goodman. He pointed out that “equal access” to health care is a chimera. Government health care systems play favorites. Moreover, the poor are just as lacking in political clout as they are in economic resources.
Best overall presentation was by Lemeiux. He argued persuasively that the Right (represented by Pipes and Goodman) and the Left (represented by Kuttner, tend to talk past one another. The Right does not address the left’s fears that market-oriented health care will leave the poor without access to health care or that the insurance market will break down. The Left does not address the Right’s fears that national health insurance will lead to bureaucracy and the stifling of creativity and innovation.
I was very disappointed overall in that the other panelists demonstrated that Lemeiux, of centrists.org, is correct. The other panelists attacked each other with sound bites, rather than reasoning with one another.
UPDATE: See Tyler Cowen’s post:
If we don’t understand why private health insurance functions so badly in our mixed system, we won’t understand how to fix things.
That is the sort of question that Sally Pipes and John Goodman failed to answer at the panel discussion, which is why I was disappointed.
For Discussion. Try taking one side and answering the fears of the other side.