The lukewarmer

Heard an interview with Steve Hayward in this podcast, in which he summarizes the lukewarmer* position very succinctly:

  • It’s not a hoax… “like other environment problems we’ve had, they are phenomena, they’re not world-ending crises, and why should we suppose this is the first one that they’ve advertised for the last 50 years that also is not going to turn out to be a phony crisis?
  • If you double the amount of  CO2 in the atmosphere, which will take about a century to do from now, from its pre-industrial level, most of the models suggest you’d increase temperature by a little over 1 degree Celsius.  That’s not much to worry about; in fact it probably has net benefits.”
  • The alarmist argument comes from feedback (or knock-on) effects which are “theoretically plausible but the empirical basis is very thin.”  Even the official science (from the IPCC) reports that the uncertainty on all those feedback effects are very large.
  • The whole case for catastrophic warming, always weak and probably exaggerated for political purposes, is even weaker.  This turns advocates into fanatics.  (Familiar examples abound.)   And you’re not allowed to be a lukewarmer – you’re either with us or against us.

The answer to every environmental problem is always the same:  more political control over people and resources.  There’s never any discussion of what the alternatives might be, assuming the problem is as serious as they say it is, which it almost never is.                                                       – Steve Hayward

*A “lukewarmer” is someone who says we’ve warmed a little bit, might well warm a little bit more, it’s almost certainly not a crisis, it’s something that could be managed in a variety of sensible ways as time goes on since it’s a slow-moving problem, and it’s no reason to hand over more political control to governments at any level.

UPDATE:  Related piece from last Friday’s WSJ, in which the author wonders why world leaders see “climate change” as a greater danger than Islamic terrorism, especially since “the high end of the IPCC range is looking even more implausible in theory and practice.”

It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global-warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Niño-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was about 35 years ago. Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the past 10,000 years.

Nor can it be the consequences of this recent slight temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise—about a foot a century—with no sign of recent acceleration.

Perhaps it is the predictions that worry the world leaders. Here, we are often told by journalists that the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: They say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this uncertainty in their fifth and latest assessment for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by the latter part of the century—that is, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful

But the experience of the last three decades is that there is no energy technology remotely ready to take over from fossil fuels on the scale needed and at a price the public is willing to pay…

Technological breakthroughs in the production of gas and oil from shale have outpaced the development of low-carbon energy and made it even less competitive.

Meanwhile, there are a billion people with no grid electricity whose lives could be radically improved—and whose ability to cope with the effects of weather and climate change could be greatly enhanced—with the access to the concentrated power of coal, gas or oil that the rich world enjoys. Aid for such projects has already been constrained by Western institutions in the interest of not putting the climate at risk. So climate policy is hurting the poor.

To put it bluntly, climate change and its likely impact are proving slower and less harmful than we feared, while decarbonization of the economy is proving more painful and costly than we hoped. The mood in Paris will be one of furious pessimism among the well-funded NGOs that will attend the summit in large numbers: Decarbonization, on which they have set their hearts, is not happening, and they dare not mention the reassuring news from science lest it threaten their budgets.

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“If I am offended, I am correct.”

Thoughtful piece in the “Saturday Essay” from this weekend’s WSJ by John H. McWorter.  Dr. McWhorter teaches linguistics, American studies, philosophy and music at Columbia University. His latest book is “The Language Hoax.”

Long-ish excerpt from Closed Minds on Campus:

However, something is off about today’s student protests. The protesters may start with valuable observations, but then they drift into a mistaken idea of what a university—and even a society—should be…

The problem is that the university campus is already one of the most exquisitely racially sensitized contexts a human being will ever encounter in America—a place where, for example, comedians such as Chris Rock have stopped performing because audiences are so P.C. In what way exactly will further workshops, teach-ins and classes on “racial sensitivity” create real change? Many students have already gone through these types of programs (as I mentioned in a short piece I wrote for the European edition of Politico last week), but the call for more of them suggests their insufficiency in the eyes of the protesters.

Since the 1980s, anyone familiar with the college campus scene knows that in private moments, undergraduates of all colors tend to wryly dismiss the “diversity” workshops they had to attend at the start of freshman year as hollow exercises. No one on record has created a program or method on “racial sensitivity” that would do a better job and transform minds in a new way. “Racial awareness training”—the words resonate. But these programs are now eons old. More of these programs would be like thinking a car will run better with more gasoline.

For example, current ideological fashions call for telling whites to “acknowledge” their “privilege.” This paradigm has no place in a university environment: It assumes a truth at the outset and allows no room for genuine exploration. (“It’s Not About You!” is a common mantra.) Another central part of the New Indoctrination is the battle against “microaggressions.” An advanced society benefits from understanding that racism isn’t always blunt or overt and that “little things” can hurt. However, too often, the definition of microaggressions is so broad as to condemn almost anything a white person says or does. It is forbidden to associate someone’s color with any particular trait because it is stereotyping, but then it is also forbidden to say that one doesn’t see color at all—and to question a person of color’s claim of being discriminated against. What begins as a plea for compassion becomes a kind of bullying.

These protesters appear to miss how Orwellian their terms often sound; the enraged indoctrination sounds like something out of “1984,” not enlightenment. Then again, one can almost hear the protesters responding, “Well, yeah, but we really are right!” They assume that their perspective is a truth that brooks no morally conceivable objection.

The question for today’s campuses has become: What is considered unspeakable? Where do we draw the line? There are indeed some truths that civilized people would not dispute: that women should have the right to vote, that genocide is wrong. Critics who pretend university culture is open to “free speech” about all ideas are being disingenuous. These students aren’t so much trying to shut down free inquiry as they are assuming that, on this topic, it has already happened. “Racism is wrong,” they know—and we all agree. “Therefore, when it comes to that which I find offensive as a person of color, civility and discussion are beside the point.”

That second part is where these earnest students go wrong. The idea that only the naive or the immoral would question issues connected to something as broad and protean as race and racism is hasty at best and anti-intellectual at worst. What qualifies as discrimination? As cultural appropriation? As aggression? What is an ethnicity? What does racial courtesy consist of, and for what reasons? These are rich, difficult questions with no hard-and-fast answers.

Any insistence otherwise is religious. The term is unavoidable here. When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.

The impression that race-related positions are elementary tenets long resolved explains the “safe space” concept so often bandied about at universities today. Commentators harrumph that students who insist on this brand of safety are merely “whining,” but they miss the point; these students assume that any views on race and racism counter to theirs genuinely qualify as benighted and toxic. All of us seek “safety” from genuinely rancid views—how many of us would stay at a party where someone dominated the conversation with overtly racist bloviations? These students have merely overextended the bounds of the conclusively intolerable

There are useful points in the students’ demands: Historical figures as especially bigoted as Wilson and John C. Calhoun should not have their names on college buildings; student organizations displaying openly racist behavior should not be a part of a college campus experience.

But where the protesters’ proposition is “If I am offended, I am correct,” the proper response is, quite simply, “No.” This and only this constitutes true respect for these students’ dignity. It isn’t an easy answer. The naysayer will be called a racist (or self-hating) on social media and on campus for months. However, adults who know that their resistance to mob ideology is based on logic and compassion will survive emotionally. Of course, such people fear for their jobs. But a true university culture will resist sacrificing professors or administrators who are advocates of reason on the altar of convenient pieties.

Posted in Culture and Religion, Freedom | Leave a comment

The higher ed bubble

Among the jokes made at Yale’s expense I’ve heard over the last few days: “Yale is not an intellectual space” (heh heh) and “for $50K/yr we’ll make sure your kid never grows up.”

At some point the bubble has to burst?  Consumers won’t forever agree to load up on loans for a product that in many instances is no better than a MOOC?  What’s the advantage to a four-year program that leaves you indebted and unemployable (and emotionally fragile)?   Some will always be willing to pay for the credentialing but sooner or later the administrative bloat and complacency studies programs will have to disappear?  Right?

In The University Gone Feral, Victor Davis Hanson wonders why campuses should be exempt from the norms that the rest of the population must follow?

There is another common denominator to this epidemic of madness. Why are universities free from norms that apply to other American institutions? Is it the implied social contract that their educational mission is so sacred and so dutifully fulfilled that they simply cannot follow the rules or expectations that the rest of us do?

Free speech is guaranteed under the First Amendment, but not necessarily at universities. They assume that their own codes supersede the Bill of Rights and can limit any sort of expression that a minority of students arbitrarily defines as hurtful. Equal pay for equal work may be a national rallying cry. Yet for some reason, academia expects that it can pay a graduate-student teaching assistant or a PhD-holding part-time instructor a fraction of what it would pay a tenured full professor for teaching the identical class. The gulf between a full professor and a part-timer — in terms of money, power, and status — far exceeds that between the WalMart manager and his greeter at the door. And at least the latter pair have far different tasks. Is such disparity liberal?

Drug companies are sometimes rightly blasted as price-gougers. But rarely so colleges. Yet in lock-step fashion they consistently have raised their tuition charges at rates well above the annual rate of inflation. Strict rules govern how non-profit foundations spend their money; these rules usually include a set percentage of annual expenditure of total assets, which must be accompanied by reasonable overhead costs. Yet there are no commensurate rules for tax-free university endowments and budgets, which might explain why the numbers of non-teaching staff have soared, while administrative compensation has well outpaced faculty salaries.

Coal miners do not have tenure. Neither do carpenters. Wall Street CEOs have no guarantee of life-long employment. Nor do lawyers, doctors, or groundskeepers. Why do academics?

Does guaranteed job security ensure freedom of expression, diverse political views, and edgy theories? If so, why then do faculties donate overwhelmingly to the Democratic party, include few conservative voices, and conduct melodramatic witch-hunts against those who are skeptical of global warming? If tenure gave us all that, what might follow from no tenure — too much political diversity, too much free expression, too many divergent views?

Crony capitalism is a favorite charge against duplicitous corporations that use insider knowledge and friendships to leverage favors from government, both to profit inordinately and to stifle competition. But even the croniest of capitalists could not match the university Ponzi scheme of having the government guarantee student loans, which in turn guarantee that rising tuition will be paid in full without audit, even as the cost soars above the rate of inflation — all on the wink-and-nod expectation that millions of students will subsequently default and the government will cover the huge tab. How could a university admissions officer in good conscience extend a “package” of $100,000 to $200,000 in student loans over a four- or five-year stint on campus, with the full knowledge that it would be almost impossible for an unemployed or partly employed graduate to pay back what he had borrowed?

Consumer protection and truth in advertising are iconic in America. So how then do universities all but promise students well-paying jobs upon graduation, and instead turn out graduates who are neither educated nor — if employment statistics are accurate — especially employable? The Obama administration has a tendency to hunt down two-year for-profit tech schools that supposedly do not follow through on their big promises to find jobs for their federally indebted computer-technician or accounting graduates. But that is a small con compared to the gender-studies or environmental-studies major from Duke, Wellesley, or Swarthmore whose $250,000 college investment led to a low-paying internship or administrative-assistant billet — or a basement bedroom back home.

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The problem is economics, not Exxon.

Holman Jenkins, indispensable as ever, in Keystone is a Fake Green Victory.  “President Obama waited seven years to kill the pipeline, then did so when he no longer had to face voters and when gasoline prices are near an all-time low in real terms.  If abundant fossil fuels is what it takes to afford Mr. McKibben such victories, well, you can see the paradox.

Guess what? Environmentalists are also suspected of wanting higher gas prices. Maybe this is why setting themselves up as the enemy of oil companies hasn’t gelled into public support for their energy policies.

The obstacle isn’t Exxon, or even the uncertainties of climate science, which are interesting only to a handful of reporters who actually take climate science (as opposed to climate religion) seriously. Standing in the way has always and only been the politics of energy prices. Even Mr. Obama has shown no interest in risking his political career over climate, explaining, “Gas prices are one of those things that really bug people. . . . The gas tax hasn’t been increased in 20 years. There is a reason for that.”

Or consider America’s absurd, convoluted policy of regulating vehicle fuel mileage, which exists as a continuing, 40-year testament to the impossibility of enacting higher gas prices…

He also shares this eye-popping statistic:  “for every additional unit of solar the world consumed in 2014, it consumed 325 additional units of fossil energy.”

Making fossil fuels the villain is silly anyway. We need fossil fuels until and unless we find a technological substitute. …  This is not a counsel of despair for climate worriers, but a counsel to grow up. Given the rate of technological change, who really wants to bet that they know what systems of energy storage and distribution earthlings will be using 50 years on?

But likely the revolution won’t be happening in the U.S., as Microsoft founder Bill Gatesimplicitly testified when he brought his supersafe traveling wave reactor prototype to China because America wasn’t interested. China needs such technology because it likes to breathe, never mind any concerns about global warming.

The carbon dioxide problem, if carbon dioxide is a problem, isn’t going to be solved by banning fossil fuels or begging them to stay in the ground. The problem will be solved by coming up with alternative energy technology that improves on fossil fuels in a sizable share of applications not only for environmental reasons, but for cost and utility reasons.

If this happens or it doesn’t, Mr. McKibben’s moaning and histrionics will be seen in retrospect to have been magisterially irrelevant. Like lab rodents learning to push a lever for a cocaine injection, today’s climate activists operate on a very low kind of learning. They’ve learned how to attract attention and dramatize themselves but not how to enact policies that might actually be useful in the long run.

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One person’s safe space is another person’s oppressive cult

On the recent controversies at Yale and Missouri, from Jonah Goldberg weekly “G-file.”

One of my favorite scenes from Scarface is when Tony Montana shoots the Colombian assassin in the head before he can blow up some guy’s car. There are just way too many expletives for this family-oriented “news”letter to transcribe more of the dialogue than absolutely necessary. But you can find it here. Besides, the line I have in mind is pretty short: “You stupid f**k, look at you now.”

I’ve been saying words to that effect all week, watching higher ed go into full meltdown. Because this “crisis” is 100 percent liberalism’s fault. Sure, sure, you can divvy up the slices of blame in different ways, but those guys tailgating in the parking lot drinking beers and eating bratwurst? Those are the conservatives and libertarians enjoying a day off, because they don’t have to wait in line for even a morsel of blame.

I almost feel sorry for those decent, sincere career liberals standing there in the quad as the little Maoists scream in their faces and strip off the suede elbow patches on their tweedy jackets like a lieutenant being busted down to a private. As the kids fit lifelong members of the ACLU with their duncecaps, the poor souls can hear the conservatives hooting and laughing off beyond the fence, throwing nerf footballs and telling jokes at the liberals’ expense…

Outside of the actual headquarters of the Democratic party itself, no major institution in America today is more thoroughly run and controlled by the Left than academia.

For several years now, whenever I’ve visited a college campus, I’ve tried to make the following point. It basically goes like this:

You kids think it is somehow rebellious to be liberal. So let me see if I get this right. The administrators at this school are liberal. The professors are liberal. Your high-school teachers were probably liberal. Your textbooks are, for the most part, liberal. Hollywood is liberal. The music industry is liberal. The fashion industry is liberal. Publishing is liberal. The mainstream media are liberal. Silicon Valley is liberal. Believe it or not, most corporations and the overwhelming majority of charitable foundations are liberal.

And yet, you think you’re sticking it to the man by agreeing with them?

Moreover, it’s been like this for generations. It was true when most of these administrators and faculty were born — they have grown up inside a universe where this fact was simply taken for granted. With the Left given total control of these oases of tolerance and citadels of progressivism, what do we get?

We get pampered and coddled students screaming that these institutions are hotbeds of racism, homophobia, sexism, and the rest of the 31 Flavors of Oppression.

I’m sorry, but over here by the hibachi in the parking lot, that’s just frick’n hilarious.

And it is fitting. It is just. It’s almost frick’n Biblical in its justness. You see, there is precious little bigotry and prejudice on college campuses. But the bulk of what does exist is aimed almost entirely at the guys and gals chilling at the tailgate party. Pro-life Christians, Israel-supporting Jews, libertarian professors, conservative scholars, climate-change skeptics, traditionalists of every stripe including classical liberals, and, of course, people who can take a joke: These make up the bulk of the victims of campus bigotry and prejudice. I can’t tell you how many professors I’ve met who have to keep their conservatism secret, at least until tenure, if not forever. I’ve never met or heard of a faculty member who had to keep her Marxism on the down-low…

When I was in college, an administrator or professor who came out in defense of the kids’ ability to wear whacky or offensive costumes would be considered cool. But the prudish mob sees it differently. It’s not cool to let people do what they want. Everyone must be forced to care. If you can leave aside the threat to Western Civilization these little totalitarians pose, it’s a fascinating and glorious comeuppance these university staff are getting. For generations, liberals have cultivated the notion that college should be a safe space for political liberalism and, just as important, libertinism. And in response, like the ants set free from the ant farm, the kids cry out, “Freedom! Horrible freedom!” Instead, these frightened, failed libertines want to impose order from below. The administrators see themselves as Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, and the ungrateful brats respond by demanding subsidized all-organic sticks to shove up their own asses.

Oh, and having a stick up your ass is not voluntary. No, no. We all must have sticks up our asses. We all must not laugh at the jokes about lesbians screwing in a lightbulb. We must not chuckle at the linebacker’s Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume. And those who do laugh must be punished, reeducated — or banished to the really fun tailgate party in the parking lot.

That’s the most infuriating part about all of this “safe space” inanity. One person’s safe space is another person’s oppressive cult. As I argued earlier this week in my column, these kids are exactly the little Robespierres cultural Marxists have been waiting for. Just as the “free speech movement” was never actually for free speech, the safe spacers aren’t really for spaces that are safe. They are for little moving zones of political absolutism, where their worldview and, yes, their privilege, are unquestioned and celebrated.

One needn’t go full anarchist and say there should be no norms, no codes of conduct. By all means, if students are going around shouting the n-word at black students (and that is a big if), deal with them. But to the extent colleges are supposed to be safe spaces, they are supposed to be safe places to disagree with one another! And yet, when the William F. Buckley Program at Yale held a panel discussion, the privileged Huns responded by spitting on them.

Goldberg then points out the 131 (probably more) race/class/gender course and close to 100 similarly-oriented clubs, before adding:

And the response from the activists? A loaded-diaper tantrum about how Yale is a hotbed of bigotry against people of color and women. And what will placate the mob? Why more institutions, courses, and faculty trained in the fine art of cultivating grievances.

The students’ first demand: that “undergraduates be required to fulfill an ethnic-studies distributional requirement and that the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program be given departmental status immediately.” Another demand: a $2 million increase for every cultural center and a minimum of five full-time staffers. They want Calhoun College renamed and two colleges to be named after people of color. They want a monument on Cross Campus acknowledging that Yale was founded on “stolen indigenous land.” They want the lecturer and administrator who defended wearing fun costumes on Halloween booted from their positions and homes. Gone are the days when the activists wanted “honest conversations.” Honest conversations hurt the feelings of the little monarchs. Of course, they never wanted honest conversations. The mantra about “frank dialogue” and “honest conversations” was always a cynical ploy to bait dissenters into the open so they could be punished.

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Culturally egregious expression

Charles C.W. Cooke writes on free speech in the UK:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Or so we were told as children. Of late, alas, this maxim has come under sustained fire, as the conflation of physical violence and verbal criticism has become de rigueur. Hate-speech laws, which are now ten a penny outside of the United States, rely heavily on the preposterous presumption that opprobrium and disdain are equal in severity to battery and bloodshed, and that the state is capable of sensitively superintending their use. Once, it was accepted as a staple of the Enlightenment that any government that attempted to closely supervise speech was destined for disaster, if not for tyranny. Now, even the home of John Stuart Mill has slid backwards into the mire. In Britain each year, as across Europe, tens of thousands of people are investigated by the police for nothing more than being awful in public. And the voters applaud like seals…

Presgrave is without doubt a fool, and her views are morally repugnant. But that is the business neither of Her Majesty’s government nor of those under who operate beneath its carapace. There were no threats made here; there was no imminent danger or incitement to law-breaking; no conspiracies were uncovered. Instead, a person of below-average intellect and questionable ethical calibration issued an abstract opinion that both the majority and the chattering classes found abhorrent. In a country whose people are at liberty, this cannot be a crime. To the contrary: Toleration of precisely this sort of culturally egregious expression is what distinguishes free nations from tyrannies. By prosecuting Presgrave for what amounts to nothing more than thoughtcrime, Britain has erred badly…

When lambasting the state’s inexorable temptation toward suppression, it is typical to cast the censors as the villains and the people at large as their innocent victims. In a dictatorship or a monarchy or when the government is at a remove, this habit makes perfect sense. But in Britain, a representative democracy, it does not. As the Daily Mirror confirms, Presgrave’s arrest came after a number of her fellow citizens lodged formal complaints with the police. It is a regrettable fact that to read of a free-speech outrage in England in 2015 is invariably to read of a group of vexed civilians willfully “shopping” to the authorities somebody they dislike. Nobody, it seems, is safe from the informants: not celebrities, not journalists, not university administrators, not drunken social-media users, not faithful Muslims, not unfaithful atheists — nobody. If you step out of line, somebody, somewhere will call the cops. Is there nobody left in Britain who will hang up with a chuckle?


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Based on wishful thinking and very little else

Of Obamacare, Kevin D. Williamson writes, “It doesn’t work because it couldn’t work.”  Yes, *we* all knew that was coming…

Many of Obamacare’s failures came fast and early. Strike one: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Strike two: Obamacare will save “the average family $2,500 a year on their premiums.” Strike three: Obamacare will add “not one dime” to the deficit. We all knew that was coming, just as we knew that people would respond to the very strong incentives not to buy insurance by not buying insurance.

NRO_timeline-co-op_v2Other failures took longer to become manifest. The architects of Obamacare are deeply distrustful of the role of for-profit companies in the health-care business because, in their nearly pristine ignorance, they falsely believe profits to be net deductions from the sum of the public good rather than measures of the creation of real social value. So they created incentives to set up co-ops, nonprofit enterprises that would administer Obamacare plans in particular states and jurisdictions. It was obvious from the beginning that if Obamacare’s perverse incentives created insurance pools that were older and sicker rather than younger and healthier, these co-ops wouldn’t be economically viable: You need lots of young, healthy insurance subscribers to offset the costs associated with your older, sicker subscribers. Many of us — myself included — assumed that the federal government under President Obama would simply write these co-ops huge checks to keep them afloat. We were half right: The government is writing them huge checks, but they are failing anyway, so fundamental is their economic unsustainability.

Obamacare’s partisans were confronted with the economic facts long before the law was even passed, and their answer was: “Never mind the economics, we’re the good guys, and you want poor people to die.” Democrats argued that Republicans literally wanted to kill poor people, that their plan was for the poor to “die quickly.” This is a habitual mode of discourse among progressives: Reality doesn’t matter; only the purity of Democrats’ motives matters. Obamacare is what it is: Another damned five-year plan based on wishful thinking and very little else.

The author later outlines “the basic principles of meaningful health-care reform.”

Let insurance be insurance; understand that ordinary, regular medical procedures, such as physicals and prostate exams, are not insurable events, and account for that in your calculations; the only way to mitigate the effects of scarcity on health care is to make it less scarce by expanding the supply of medical practitioners and facilities; the only way to make insurance more competitive, and therefore more affordable and more responsive to consumers, is to increase the number of players in the markets; the best way to deal with people who are, for example, profoundly disabled, children, or otherwise unable to provide for their own care, is direct, clear-eyed subsidy of their medical expenses, rather than laundering those payments through the insurance market; so long as practicing medicine pays less than filing frivolous lawsuits against doctors, there’s going to be a lot of politically induced inefficiency in the system.

Of course markets work for most people, and of course there are exceptions to that. For 93 percent of the population, the solution to health-care reform is: Let markets do their thing. The only real argument is how big a check to write to those looking after the other 7 percent, and how to structure the payments. That’s a real fight, too, but it isn’t the one we’re having. Right now, the Republicans and the Democrats are two political coroners arguing over what time and cause of death to put on the paperwork; rigor mortis set in long ago.

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