Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll of the Incidental Economist Highlight the Difference Between Conservative Thinkers and the Rest of Us

Conservatives Just Don’t Play by the Same Rules as Everyone Else Does

The health/economics Forum The Incidental Economist has some of the top writing on health care, health care economics and the socio-economic aspects of health care policy.  Two of its best authors are Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt.  Both are a little bit upset.

Here is Austin expressing frustration over the fact that those who oppose progressive health care policy do not do so by utilizing facts and logic.

Thought of the day: The most disappointing loss of innocence

  July 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm
  Austin Frakt
Perhaps the most disappointing loss of innocence I have experienced in my life is the realization that even very smart people, including and especially those in positions of power, apply faulty logic and a exhibit a willful disregard for evidence. This is painful to see every time it happens. Even though I now expect it and have seen it thousands of times it is, each time, like a fresh wound. It hurts me in a fundamental way like nothing else. I detest it. Were it possible, I’d probably give my life to end such things. In truth, I know it is integral to the human condition, though there is considerable variation. Likely nobody can achieve complete scientific purity — if there is such a thing — but some get very close or, in any case, closer than others. I am not claiming I am among them, but it is not for lack of trying.

And here is Aaron on the same theme, with the same amount of frustration.  His concern is about a column as rather eminent economist, Tyler Cowen wrote on Medicaid and health care for the New York Times.

Look, I get that people may not like the political implications of those systems. They may not like the governments that produce them. They may not like the lack of choice inherent in such systems. They may not like the potential  limitations within them for making money, and therefore for innovation. But we need to stop making stuff up about them.


The frustration of both of these writers, and many others stems from the fact that they do not fully comprehend how ideologues think (if that is the right word).  Those whose positions are formed by ideological faith rather than logic and data are so convinced that they are right that they do not see the need to constrain themselves with supporting their positions using facts and logic.  If it requires fraudulent analysis to make a point, so be it, because to them the triumph of their position trumps everything else.

This is the main reason why public policy is breaking down in America.  Those rigid ideologues believe that suffering, anarchy, chaos and economic calamity is preferable to compromising their positions.  When your faith is strong enough it morally justifies burning people at the stake, or the economic policy equivalent.

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