Michael Cannon’s (Non) Response to My Cato Post

July 6, 2007

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 Not only is the data in the study out of date, but it’s taken out of context … and none of it demonstrates that waiting lists are inevitable under universal coverage.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.


6 Responses to “Michael Cannon’s (Non) Response to My Cato Post”

  1. Paduda Says:

    Hey “One” – will that become your new nom de guerre? (sorry, could not resist my own attempt at looking intelligent by using furrin language…).

    I’ve been equally unimpressed by Cannon’s lack of intellectual rigor in his arguments for libertarian principles (whatever they are these days) and against providing people with health care.

    One of his particularly, well, dumb remarks was to the effect that “a lot of people don’t have insurance because they choose not to”. Right. What he actually means is a large number (say, 30 million) are uninsured because they ‘choose’ to eat and pay their electric bills rather than buy insurance.

    Unless by “people” Cannon meant those with gazillions in the bank, who have more cash then they can use so they choose to go self-insured. Methinks that is a rather small population, but perhaps one that he is most familiar with.

  2. reskow Says:

    Here’s my new slogan:

    “One. It’s not the ‘loneliest number’ anymore.”

    How do you like it?

  3. Zeno Says:

    The Army has abandoned its goofy “Army of One” campaign (perhaps because it was getting too close to the truth), so I presume it may become available to others at fire-sale prices. It might salve Cannon’s hurt feelings if he can claim he was trampled by an “army of one” rather than by merely “one.”

    How was he to know that his high school French would not protect him?

  4. suppose Says:

    How about they don’t buy insurance because they use the local charity hospital, funded in large part by taxes from hospital districts?Another argument that the socialist element and mainstream media ignore.


  5. Sandals Says:

    “Fisking”, “Omnislashing”, et. al., is the practice of taking a blog or forum post and seperating it out into many small pieces which you attack singly and sometimes in exaustive detail. While satisfying for the fisk-er, it tends to cause deathspirals in any kind of discussion, and as such is banned on some forums. Also, it tends to shift the argument to bitching back and forth about the most minor, irrelevant details. Often, the winner is the one with the most stamina for keyboarding.

  6. suppose Says:

    So, what it amounts to if you don’t agree with the other person, and say so, that is tantamount to fisking, omnislashing, and all those other journalistic buzzwords.

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