Harvard brilliance on economics

This week, Havard Professor of “applied economics” David Cutler gave The New Yorker an interview in which he expressed his support for socialized medicine. The overall gist of his argument went like this:  The medical industry is imperfect, and therefore the government should rule it. He never gave much explanation for how the government could fix the supposed problems, much less how the government could solve matters more efficiently than the free market. He just assumed that every problem in nature would be resolved once the Omniscient and Omnipotent Uncle Sam took over.

When asked how buying insurance for thirty million extra people could possibly bring down costs, Cutler simply stated that the American healthcare industry is “bloated” (a response which basically failed to answer the question). He then listed a few examples of “bloated” business practices, meaning procedures he disagreed with. He mentioned administrative salaries, for example, and how nurses spend a great deal of time documenting the progression of illnesses. Apparently, every American doctor is foolishly throwing away a great deal of money each year on these “bloated” practices, whereas Cutler knows best.

Strangely, even though Cutler is clearly smarter than every other human being — or at least smarter than everyone in the health industry — he has  so far made no effort to control his own hospital. That is, he has made no attempt whatsoever to capitalize on his own absolute brilliance.

Cutler also argued that doctors do not wash their hands enough. Presumably, socialized medicine will solve this problem.

He suggested that government-coerced information-sharing would improve hospitals. One proposal involved testing to measure hospital quality. After these tests,  the government could subsidize hospitals who performed well on these examinations (“No Child Left Behind”-style, I suppose). These tests and subsidies would enable the government to manipulate the industry in various, supposedly productive ways. For example, the government could coerce hospitals into creating electronic information systems — even when the market did not naturally yield those “innovations.”

Overall, this would-be economist made it his goal to poke as many rhetorical holes as possible in the free market. Evidently, he believes that showing imperfection in the natural world will itself prove that communism is the solution. Of course, leftists frequently utilize this tactic. They stir up dissatisfaction. After all, unhappiness with the present tends to make an illusory promise seem like a better bet. If you are already miserable, then even if the leftist plans fail and you wind up worse off, it will only make you slightly more miserable. Surprisingly often, leftists therefore make almost zero attempt to explain logically how their innovations can actually improve on nature. They are content simply to denigrate.

This tendency partially explains why leftists tend to poll as less happy than conservatives, regardless of who is in office. Their ideology causes them to hate life itself — rather than make the most of what they have.

Overall, though, this interview did make me happier than I was previously. Specifically, it made me extremely proud to have avoided Harvard University.


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