Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Universality of Universality

I've set forth my views on healthcare and health insurance reform in multiple posts over several years. Last week, I posted what amounted to a summary of the underlying data on the number of uninsured in America. In comments, Thai generously praised the piece. I'm not impugning Thai's sincerity -- he works in the field, is keenly interested in healthcare policy, has been copious in his regard for my reasoning even when the reverse of his results, and supplies some useful insights.

Instead, this post is about the nature of and reasons for policy disagreements. Thai is a self-described liberal. And his comment a week ago included this hypothesis about our debate:
We may disagree around some of the issues inherent in a system of universal coverage, yet I truly see your point and see our differences as an an outcome of our slightly different moral matrices more than I do as any specific criticism with your particular value system.
Is Thai right?

Partly. I agree that distinct "moral matrices" and priorities are crucial the difference between liberal and conservative platforms. And I welcome Thai's characterization of our differences as "slight" and his ability to appreciate a contrary perspective. But at least for those actually debating, I presume that left and right share the same public policy goals.

In the context of health reform, I'm saying that I, too, favor extending healthcare as universally as possible. And that most Republicans would agree. At the same time, we don't think health utopia is achievable, distrust mere "cost cutting", coverage mandates and compelled universality. Not because we oppose increased insurance coverage; rather, because our experience informs us that rewarding education and merit, aligning incentives with objectives and allowing competition are the surest and swiftest path to achieving such anti-poverty policy goals such as affordably expanding healthcare. Put differently, righties say market-based solutions out-perform typical European-style top-down bureaucracies. (Thai cites a contrary article which I have not purchased or read.)

I understand that lefties prefer a different mechanism. (I also understand that they've probably got the votes.) Still, I think our values and desires -- Thai's and mine -- are more alike than not. Including striving for universal coverage.

Am I right? Or over-thinking? Comment please.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thai's claim may be true, and if so, he is a treasure - and soon an independent instead of a liberal, I'll warrant.

I confess I remain suspicious of the moral reasoning of liberals, however. Having been one.

OBloodyHell said...

> Thai's claim may be true, and if so, he is a treasure - and soon an independent instead of a liberal, I'll warrant.

Given the total lack of devotion to truth Thai's shown in the past, Thai's most probably lying through his teeth.

I also would not trust claims regarding the content of any article you don't have access to. THAT is certainly the sort of arena he's been seen to prevaricate on before, assuming some random link he's attached won't actually be read and hence easily refuted. What better way than to cite something one has to pay to read while having no reason to pay for it except to refute Thai's BS?

Not going to prove that, I'm sick of his BS -- I've called him on it way too many times in the past to take ANY of his comments seriously, or to respect him as a commenter or "debate opponent" -- he thinks if he makes up something and the opponent doesn't call him on it, then he's "won" the argument -- it's a legal tactic in the rules of debate, but it's hardly fair in an honest intellectual argument, which is what this OUGHT to be a forum for.

Thai said...

Nice post.

I keep forgetting a conversation with you also brings your peanut gallery along- funny how the internet works. Some in the peanut gallery are obviously more pleasant than others.

I am sorry about the link I shared not working for you. I do keep forgetting you/others do not have my pass codes and I would share them with your but I do not think I am not allowed without violating the terms of purchase... the basic jist of the last link I shared was that public hospitals are actually more efficient on an RVU basis than private hospitals.

FWIW I am not sure whether it is true or not but I do not think the authors idiots either.

... I am not sure I agree with AVI's comments either re: independents but I will take them into consideration and it is perhaps fair to say I am a "conservative" liberal.

Anyway, be well

OBloodyHell said...

> I keep forgetting a conversation with you also brings your peanut gallery along

Funny how Thai can never actually do anything that isn't in some fashion or another an ad hominem attack.

Note the distinction, there -- I attacked Thai's techniques and motivations. Thai called me names.

> I do keep forgetting you/others do not have my pass codes...

Really? How hard is this to remember for you? It's hardly a new issue.

I seem to be able to remember it every time I'm quoting a subscription site or anything one might not gain ready access to for free.

I think we've already had a conversation about your being intellectually-challenged vs prevarication-enhanced. Which of those is your forte, again? Or was it both? I don't think you answered last time. I'd remember that...

> and I would share them with your but I do not think I am not allowed without violating the terms of purchase

And of course, he could not possibly at least quote some things from it with a link that one might actually check, in support.

No, no, no, *sigh*... you poor, befuddled plebes can't access anything he is privy to in support of his points. After all, if you had access, you wouldn't be mere plebes.

Sorta convenient, innit?

Thai said...

Carl, if you have a direct email address I will email you the abstract as was presented at this year's ACEP conference in Boston.

Carl said...


The abstract is free, and I read it before writing this post. Unfortunately, albeit unsurprisingly, it does not reveal methodology.

My email address is listed on my sidebar; I'd be happy to supply a mailing address so you can send me a copy of the paper you legally acquired. That would not violate copyright law.

Geoffrey Britain said...

"In the context of health reform, I'm saying that I, too, favor extending healthcare as universally as possible. And that most Republicans would agree."

With the sole exception of a pre-existing condition, universal health care is already available. Any relatively healthy American citizen can obtain a health care policy.

The only impediment is cost.

That impediment is unavoidable because health care is a commodity. It costs money for goods and services to be provided to the consumer. No less than does the cost of a car consist of its materials and the skill and labor necessary to its production.

Cars cannot be given away for free without the cost being subsidized.

Neither can health care be obtained for those unable or unwilling to acquire it without its cost being 'subsidized' by others.

Calling it a 'right' is an attempt to disingenuously justify stealing the funds necessary to provide 'free' health care.

This is the true difference between liberals and conservatives.

Conservatives believe people should provide just compensation for what others produce.

Liberals wail at the essential unjustness of life and seek to artificially 'level the playing field' of life's outcomes.

It is an effort doomed to failure because they are in active opposition to the operative laws of the very reality within which they exist.

All because liberals lack the wisdom to recognize that life's essential unfairness is necessary to everything from evolution to 'progress'.

Without it life would never have progressed beyond the amoeba stage, nor civilization have arisen from tribal life.

Thai said...

And Carl, I guess I forgot to say in my last comments but I do agree with this post, which is why I come back to your blog. We are interested in similar outomces.

Carl said...

GB: I agree.

Thai: Glad to hear. I remain interested in arguments on how/why your methodology would better achieve such outcomes.

Thai said...

Well, you have an infinite number of choices bounded by 2 outcomes: you can cooperate with the other side or you can refuse to cooperate.

But in either instance, understanding the nature of the person/group you are going to either cooperate or not cooperate with is probably a good idea.

Liberal societies do function quite fine. That they may not look exactly the way you want your society to look does not change this fact, but they do function and to an alien from another planet, getting worked up over the differences between a liberal and conservative society (say Athens vs. Sparta) would appear to be as silly as getting worked up over the difference between a donky and an elephant. There is a difference, it is real, but it would not get the aliens emotionally worked up. To them they have their pluses and minuses and operate better or worse in different environments.

This blog imo gets emotionally caught up in "the elephant is better", "the donky is an idiot", etc... debate that is a little silly at times.

Further, your persistent tendency to view "liberal" as one view/viewpoint (it seems better to describe it as a cloud) is as silly as the idea that conservativism is one view/viewpoint.

Use my example of the tennis ball with a blue dot on it with two different but correct views that are of the same ball, yet still different.

No one person speaks for all liberals, no one person speaks for all conservatives. The idea is silly.

In science we call this applying linear logic to a non-linear system and it is epistemologically wrong in every imaginable way, and it definitely arrives at incorrect conclusions/results, etc...

Do you speak for all conservatives?


Where this may be a little harder for you as a conservative to understand is because conservatives do value solidarity/loyalty/tradition/precedent more than liberals do. It is simply part of the differences in our moral make up moral make up. If you watched the Haidt video, it is the difference between a 3 and 5 channel moral matrix.

No foul. Liberals simply build their breadbox a different way and have different consequences as a result.

You have come to understand in your own mind the way conservatives tend to want to construct the world (the restraints on choice that you mention, like the classic engineer's dilemma where the conservation of energy exists, how one will build the breadbox.

I simply ask you do the same thinking about how other moral system might build their breadbox (there are many). You don't have to agree/accept these, but I would understand how they would work. Even if you do not like the consequences.

All systems have their pros and cons. Even you see this with your own preferred view of the world. You might want it a different way, but to you A is not possible because of B.

Someone else might say B is not possible because of A and literally prefer A over B.

PS- I think it absolutely fair to consider issues of trust and faith when you do this. Whether that trust/faith is in your fellow man, god, etc...

I am not religious but I do understand the religious mindset and respect it greatly.

Thai said...

re: "I remain interested in arguments on how/why your methodology would better achieve such outcomes."

Perhaps it is more succinctly said as follows:

Would you cooperate with me if I told you that you were an idiot? (whether you are or not is irrelevant?)