Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scorched Earth

I have to go link crazy for you to understand why I'm putting this up, but via Tim F at Balloon Juice, here's an amusing excerpt from Thomas Levenson's takedown of Megan McArdle's explanation of why she is opposed to a public option for health care:

There’s a lot more wrong in McArdle’s screed. She has very little understanding of the actual daily life of biomedical research — this next paragraph is so full of false statements it wearies the critic, which may be a deliberate feature rather than a bug of McArdle’s prose. Think of it as a form of rhetorical pesticide, an analogue to the tactics of plants that generate so much poison that those that would munch its leaves recoil in horror at its bitterness.

This is extraordinarily harsh, but I completely understand what he means. This is because I can remember that the hardest part of writing this blog post refuting Megan McArdle's claim that debtors have some moral obligation to pay was untangling McArdle's arguments in the first place, so that I could attempt to refute each of her points in turn. The only reason I've ever bothered to read McArdle is because I think she's a handy point of reference for what conservative-ish libertarians are thinking, but like Levenson, I finally had to give up because I was tired of reading arguments that are intellectually inconsistent and not well-thought-out just because the person making the arguments at least tries to sound reasonable about it all. And that's the case with the post that Levenson is busy dissecting; as with many who oppose a public option for health care, a lot of fantastical assumptions are made without any direct reference to how such programs work in other countries, that is, other than to (usually) highlight horror stories of people not getting certain kinds of experimental treatments (without mentioning the millions here who get no treatment at all) or apocryphal reports of waiting times (without mentioning the wait times many American with health insurance endure.) And why should I waste my time reading McArdle's 5,000 word dressing up of these arguments, when I can just get it at lesser (right-wing) blogs in 500 words or less?


Tom Levenson said...

Extraordinarily harsh? I think it's pretty ordinary as far as snark goes, but that's just me.

In all seriousness -- thanks for the link. You're exactly right re the infuriating lack of any tether to reality on the right (that is to say, the wrong) side of the health care debate.

Xanthippas said...

Fair enough. By the standards of the blogosphere, this is run-of-the-mill snark.

And you're welcome.