Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Glamour profession

Cargo cultists believed that goodies will fall from the sky if only the correct ritual is performed. Democrats believe that health care will be better, more affordable, and better managed when the federal government massively increases its control over the system. The difference, of course, is that the cargo cultists actually had some empirical evidence to back up their strange belief. All the same, we have in both cases a kind of magical thinking, though as Virginia Postrel points out, in the case of Obama the magic is called “glamour.” Fortunately for the country the sheen has been steadily wearing off this particular idol and The One seems poised for defeat. But the election is over two years away, and cargo cults are resilient phenomena. So, not being a magical thinker myself, I’ll believe it when I see it. Time for some Steely Dan:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Cargo cultists believed that goodies will fall from the sky if only the correct ritual is performed. Democrats believe that health care will be better, more affordable, and better managed when the federal government massively increases its control over the system. The difference, of course, is that the cargo cultists actually had some empirical evidence to back up their strange belief."

Too funny.

james said...

Those who support universal health care do have some empirical evidence for their belief: certain European countries with UHC have arguably better outcomes than than US (for eg infant mortality), talk about stuff like "wait times" notwithstanding.

The evidence is really not clear either way, to be honest; you'll find economists on either side of the debate, although most of them will agree that a completely free market in health care is not a good idea. But we *can* say that at least everyone has coverage in, say, France---the same cannot be said for the US.

Anonymous said...

But we *can* say that at least everyone has coverage in, say, France---the same cannot be said for the US.

Giving everyone coverage is tremendously easy: Just pass a law giving it. Costs nothing to do either, aside from the lawmaker's salaries.

Following through? Dealing with the costs? The system stress? The social stress? That's another ordeal.

Have a look at Greece. UHC there. Whole lot of nice safety nets as well.

mpresley said...

Once this all comes about (and I suspect it will, eventually, but who can say?), expect many unintended consequences. First, traditional physicians will go looking elsewhere; i.e., they will "follow the money." Expect off-shore clinics to spring up in resort areas. Here, those that can pay, and those that want first class treatment will vacation, staying in four and five star accomadations while being seen by the doctor of their choice.

Those who cannot, or will not pay out of pocket will be treated by salaried Third World physicians arriving on special work visas in order to staff the government clinics. These immigrant physicians will welcome the opportunity to live in the U.S., but will bring with them some rather questionable personal interaction skills, if not professional abilities. I know this may not be to many people's liking, but it can't be helped, probably.

Anonymous said...

But isnt our entire consumer "culture" a massive cargo cult/religio/fantasy, with the huge shopping malls as the temples or cathedrals of the cult.

Every body dutifully goes there, having been summoned/seduced by TV advertising. On entering the temple there are thousands of bright shiny things to buy and take home.

Hardly any body bothers to ask or investigate where all of these shiny colourful things come from. Of the real cost of all these items. The human blood sweat and tears, the environmental destruction and pollution. And of course hardly anybody stops to consider if there is any link between this cornucopia and the invasion of Iraq, or the existence of over 700 USA military bases all over the world.

The situation pointed to above was essentially described by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. And by Neil Postman in Amusing Our Selves To Death.

As George Schulz said: the American (cargo cult) way of life is not negotiable.

Every body just expects all of these bright shiny things to be magically there.

And they WILL be very angry if some day the entire fantasy implodes.

Lydia McGrew said...

I loved this post. I know, a comment that brief sounds like spam. (Anybody noticed the new spam: Something like "great post" with a URL associated with the person's name that leads you to something like, "Low-cost Rolex watches.") But honestly, without even listening to the music, I loved the post.

I'm reminded of Margaret Thatcher: "The honorable member would not mind if the poor were poorer, so long as the rich were less rich."

The Anointed always believe they can do better for us. Because they're "rational."

Mark H said...

"Democrats believe that health care will be better, more affordable, and better managed when the federal government massively increases its control over the system."

Professor Feser, you of all people should know... "only a fool would say that"