Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the Healthcare Issue: What Issue?

This is, quite frankly, the first reasonable public discussion I've seen about the debate around nationalizing health care since... as long as I can remember. Hurray for Dean Kamen!

To summarize: the "healthcare crisis" is a manufactured issue. Health care is more expensive now because it is better. People who aren't willing to pay high prices for the breaking technology have the option of using the previous generation of technology, which becomes cheaper every time a new technology replaces it. And the pre-technology "treatment" (comfort you while you die) is still available to anyone who eschews advancement through technology.

Focusing on the fairness of distribution of current resources is counter-productive, and risks being destructive. Especially when fairness is given the Rawlsian "what kind of world would we choose if we could start from scratch and re-make everything" interpretation. Ethicists aught to focus on the world that we do live in, or else what they do can't be classified as science.

Now, that's not to say we should give up on creating a better world. Its to say that our efforts to improve the world should be guided by the same standards as science: hypothesize, test, and verify. Public actions that cannot be put in that framework should not be executed. Note that that includes most public actions.