Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

It builds character

Minstrels, singing an early version of “everything is awesome.”

 

I knew an alleged philosopher once who held some variation of the soul-making theodicy (suffering makes us group up morally, etc.).  I say, “alleged,” because, although he taught in a philosophy department, he didn’t know what a theodicy was, and that his stunningly original thesis was a 14-year-old’s variation of it.

Now comes this genius in the Wall Street Journal, to “just say” that blacks did better under Jim Crow (with all of its lynching and racial violence).  Talking Points Memo reports (sorry about the indirectness, but I don’t have a subscription to the WSJ):

“History shows that faster black progress was occurring at a time when whites were still lynching blacks, not merely singing about it,” Riley wrote, referring to a recent incident in which several white University of Oklahoma fraternity students were recorded on video singing a racist chant about lynching.

“Liberals want blacks to ignore the lessons of this pre-Civil Rights era, which threaten the current relevance of groups like the NAACP and call into question the Democratic Party’s belief that there is a federal solution to every black problem,” Riley wrote

He went on to blame the problems of “black America” on “post-Civil Rights era social pathology and misguided government interventions.”

“The problem isn’t the attitudes and behaviors of the boys on the bus so much as those of the boys in the ’hood,” he wrote.

I’m pretty sure, by the way, that the “federal solution” claim does not represent the view of the NAACP and the Democratic Party.

The more important claim is that a campaign of racial terror is an inspiration toward racial progress.  Some would define the “progress” in question as “eliminating the racial terror.”  So, yes, I guess it is an inspiration for that.

Not the Onion, part 342

Thighmaster General

While Scott and Rob argue their minds to the bone on the place of rationality in political discourse, the Wall Street Journal publishes an error-filled op-ed (in a section called “The Experts”) by Suzanne Somers, of Three’s Company and Thighmaster fame.  Here’s how it begins:

First of all, let’s call affordable health care what it really is: It’s socialized medicine.

I’ve had an opportunity to watch the Canadian version of affordable health care in action with all its limitations with my Canadian husband’s family. A few years ago, I was startled to see the cover of Maclean’s, a national Canadian magazine, showing a picture of a dog on an examining table with the headline, “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You.” It went on to say that young Canadian medical students have no incentive to become doctors to humans because they can’t make any money. Instead, there is a great surge of Canadian students becoming veterinarians. That’s where the money is. A Canadian animal can have timely MRIs, surgeries and any number of tests it needs to receive quality health care.

So the reason the Affordable Care Act, i.e., Obamacare, is a failure, is because the Canadian system, to which ACA is completely unrelated, is also a failure, according to the cover of a Canadian magazine (the original version of Somer’s op-ed said it was a horse, not a dog).

This would be hilarious if it were not the Wall Street Journal.

As always, the Onion already kind of called it.

Scarcity of arguments

Paul Krugman puzzles over a dazzling bit of dishonesty in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Oregon’s Medicaid program.  Here’s the basic issue:

Aaron Carroll reads the Wall Street Journal, which is outraged, outraged, at the prospect that Oregon’s Medicaid system might seek to limit spending on treatments with low effectiveness and/or patients who aren’t going to live much longer in any case. Death panels!

Carroll points us to the actual staff recommendation, which is far milder than the WSJ blast would have you believe. But as Carroll points out, the larger point is the absurdity of the Journal’s position. On one side, it’s fanatically opposed to Medicaid expansion — that is, it’s eager to make sure that millions have no health coverage at all. On the other side, it claims to be outraged at the notion of setting priorities in spending on those who do manage to qualify for Medicaid. It’s OK for people to die for lack of coverage; it’s an utter horror if taxpayers decline to pay for marginal care.

Krugman (and the Aaron Carroll, whom he is citing here) doesn’t quite put the matter this way, but it seems to me that you have a basic issue of scarcity here: in part on account of objections from conservatives, money for Medicaid is short.  So best to distribute what little there is to those who need it, not everything can be covered.  So the discussion ought perhaps to be about that.  That’s not, sadly, what the Wall Street Journal was interested in.  Their interest, rather, was in using such perennial problems as evidence that Big Government will put you to death.  That is a rather different issue.

So Krugman wonders:

So I understand what’s going on here. What I don’t understand is the mindset of the editorial writers. At some level they have to know that they’re engaged in an act of grotesque cynicism. Do they admit that to themselves? Do they rationalize it by saying that truth is a secondary consideration when you’re engaged in a crusade against the evils of big government? Have they mastered true Orwellian doublethink, managing to believe things they know aren’t true?

My vote is they are probably capable of knowing the difference, but have long ago confused success at selling an idea with the idea’s being true.  Or perhaps something else: they believe their are better arguments out there, and though the one they offer may be a stinker, you argue with the arguments you have, not the ones you’d like to have.  Someone, after all, will come along an iron man them out of this one.

Begrimed

Please enjoy the unhinged commentary of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz on New York City’s New Bike Share Program:

I’d feel bad for the person who interviews her, except she seems to revel in Rabinowitz’s insights.

Update:

This guy does a blow by blow (warning: appropriately mean) of Ms. Rabinowitz and her associate’s sorry reasoning.

Too stupid to notice

Here's a fun item in the Wall Street Journal.  It's fun because it's an intellectual disaster.  Here, just for entertainment, is one glaring and obvious problem:

"The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.

This is is not a contradiction, as the clueless author of this dismal piece suggests.  Besides, 45 million people lack health insurance (of any variety) but many more lack meaningful health insurance.  For the consequences of that, read this article in the New York Times.  Because it is printed in that paper, it is indisputably true.  Anyway, back to the point, people who lack health insurance, the good argument goes, still will seek life-saving medical care (after having put off routine care).  Someone will pay for that.  The cost will be much higher than it would have been had these people been insured like the rest of us. 

The rest of the piece reads like a series of examples from a textbook on informal fallacies.  More on that later, maybe.  But let me close with this tidbit from the Times' article mentioned above:

At St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, where he went for two separate heart procedures last year, the hospital’s admitting office looked at Mr. Yurdin’s coverage and talked to Aetna. St. David’s estimated that his share of the payments would be only a few thousand dollars per procedure.

He and the hospital say they were surprised to eventually learn that the $150,000 hospital coverage in the Aetna policy was mainly for room and board. Coverage was capped at $10,000 for “other hospital services,” which turned out to include nearly all routine hospital care — the expenses incurred in the operating room, for example, and the cost of any medication he received.

In other words, Aetna would have paid for Mr. Yurdin to stay in the hospital for more than five months — as long as he did not need an operation or any lab tests or drugs while he was there.

Aetna contends that it repeatedly informed Mr. Yurdin and the hospital of the restrictions in policy, which is known in the industry as a limited-benefit plan.

Hurray for private insurance!