Tuesday, November 24, 2009

False Choice.

According to Brooks, "we face a brutal choice. Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we’ve already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one. We all have to decide what we want at this moment in history, vitality or security."

It is strange to conclude that reforming health care is a simple trade off between vitality or security from the fact that the current bills do not bend the cost curve (and never could, by Brooks' logic), when the principal reason why this is so is because Republicans, the great conservative minds, did everything in their power to strip serious cost containment out of every version of the bill (eg, independent Medicare payment commission, "death panels", strong public option etc.).

Yes, Brooks is right to point out that the current bills would do little do contain costs, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we should ask ourselves if we want to give up growth for security. The question we should be asking ourselves is if we are willing to give up what he calls "a more decent society" only because the current system is phenomenally resistant to change without even asking ourselves why that is so and what can be done about it.

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