Michael F. Cannon of the Cato Institute has responded to my post on the weak editorial he co-authored for the LA Times. But has he really? Let’s take a look.
“One Richard Eskow criticizes an op-ed that Mike Tanner and I wrote for the L.A. Times,” he begins. (Note the “one Richard Eskow” opener. Who is this person to question us? Michael, a friendly suggestion: Concentrate on the argument I’ve made, and read my bio if you’re obsessed with credentials.)
Noblesse oblige out of the way, Cannon then concentrates on the crux of my argument. Er, not. He continues: “Rather than fisk the whole thing” – (“Fisk”?? Is that blogspeak for read, absorb and respond substantively? he certainly didn’t do that) – “I’ll zero in on just this one claim (from my piece): [W]hile the authors observe that some people on waiting lists are in chronic pain, they fail to note that few if any universal coverage advocates believe that is anything other than a flaw that needs to be corrected.”
That’s from the short excerpt Ezra Klein quoted when he linked to me. Did Cannon read the rest of the piece before critiquing it? One wonders. (And by “one,” yes – I mean the “one Richard Eskow.”)
Cannon goes on to cite another Cato Institute “scholar,” John Goodman (apparently not the John Goodman of “Donny, you’re out of you’re element!” fame, although the quote would be apt in this case.) The Goodman “policy analysis” in question, however, contains far less than meets the eye. While Cato’s corporate dollars are in evidence in its lovely formatting, it’s a sloppy rehash of old studies and right wing cliches. Not only is the data in the study out of date, but it’s taken out of context … and none of it demonstrates that waiting lists are inevitable under universal coverage.
What other statements does Cannon fail to refute? Well, for starters there’s this (which was right there in Ezra’s piece where even Cannon could find it): “Waiting lists can be a form of rationing, but it’s far more humane than denial of treatment through systematic exclusion from most of the health system (which is what lack of coverage means).”
Then there’s my four-step analysis of what would actually happen – in the real world – if Cannon’s program were actually implemented. And this statement: “The authors fail to cite a single credible study to suggest that ‘deregulating insurance markets’ or any of their other proposed solutions will work.” Even Goodman’s paper doesn’t presume to address that question.
There are other points left unaddressed by Cannon’s post, of course. All he managed to convey was his personal belief – more of a faith-based initiative, really – that universal coverage and intolerable waiting times are inseparable. “Et si ma tante en avait, elle s’appellerait mon oncle,” he sniffs, helpfully linking to a translation program for those who he presumes to be less educated in foreign languages then himself.
Sadly, his weak response seems to have been sloppily dashed off with “la plume de ma tante.” ExxonMobil and the other big Cato funders didn’t get their money’s worth today. Surely the free market can help provide a better defense of libertarianism than this.