Ezra obliterates McMeghan

And to think they were making cooking videos together only a few years ago:

In my chat today, a reader asked me to respond to Megan McArdle’s lengthy case against national health insurance. The problem is that, well, there’s not a lot to specifically respond to. In 1,600 words, she doesn’t muster a single link to a study or argument, nor a single number that she didn’t make up (what numbers do exist come in the form of thought experiments and assumptions). Megan’s argument against national health insurance boils down to a visceral hatred of the government. Which is fine. Megan is a libertarian. That’s, like, her journey, man. But her attack on national health insurance seems a lot more about libertarianism than it is about national health insurance.

Megan has two primary concerns. The first is that national health insurance would succeed in reducing health-care costs, and that would limit the rewards available for medical innovation (drugs, devices, etc), which would in turn reduce medical innovation and prevent future generations from enjoying wonder drugs. “If you worry about global warming,” she writes, “you should worry at least as hard about medical innovation.”

Second, national health care gives elites license “to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life.” Her primary example is obesity. Megan believes that national health insurance will give the government license to decide that we can never really want a second chocolate eclair. She also believes that the real reason most every epidemiologist in the country is worried about obesity is because they hate, and are disgusted by, poor people.

McMeghan does not deserve to be taken seriously. What bothers me most about the whole MCMEGHAN IS A SERIOUS THINKER stuff is that it stems not only from the strange respect the Atlantic imprimatur inexplicably yields, but also from the soft sexism of lowered expectations. She’s a young woman, and she can long blog posts from a glibertarian persepctive! Whoop dee doo.






131 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    The “respect that the Atlantic imprimatur … yields” is neither strange nor inexplicable. The Atlantic online presence is, in marketing terms, a line extension from a very old and very well respected brand. Regardless of what you think about the online content, it is simply incontrovertible that the brand has legs. It has legs at least in part because the magazine is still a quality item.

  2. 2
    kid bitzer says:

    so ezra’s off her christmas-card list.

    and yggles hits her pretty hard today, too.

    good. about time.

    the other reason that she has been given a free ride–in addition to the soft bigotry etc.–is that she was personal pals with a lot of the best of the smart young bloggers. matt, ezra, and others gave her a pass, an undeserved benefit of the doubt, far too often. i hope that’s over.

    she is really a poisonous shill; an ann coulter who does a better job concealing the cackle. but underneath the easy-listening prose, it’s pure right-wing snow-job.

    she was never the progressive’s friend. she was never the friend of any progressive. i’m glad the progressives are starting to figure this out.

  3. 3
    Crashman06 says:

    This was an awesome smack down. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    Libertarians, and their selfish arrogance are really starting to make me sick. Also.

  4. 4
    NonyNony says:

    Ezra’s response gives Megan’s “argument” more credibility than it deserves. I’m glad of that, because when I hear another glibertarian argument against national health care (which, not shockingly, sound a lot like Megan’s), I’ll just send this link as the response and ask them to rebut Ezra.

    But he really only needed this bit to “rebut” Megan’s inane rambling:

    But I don’t believe Megan is unaware of France or Medicare. I don’t believe she is incapable of understanding why people care about chronic disease or think obesity is a problem. I haven’t seen any evidence that she’s interested in medical innovation for its own sake or has thought hard about how to maximize it. As such, I don’t really think Megan’s post is an argument against national health insurance. It’s not even really about national health insurance. It’s about the government as it appears to a libertarian, if not to the rest of us.

    Exactly.

  5. 5

    Megan’s argument against national health insurance boils down to a visceral hatred of the government. Which is fine. Megan is a libertarian. That’s, like, her journey, man.

    Oh, snap!

    Ezra is easily one of the finest young liberal political writers. Not only is he smart, but he is thorough. You can disagree with arguments all you want, but you better have your facts straight.

    The fact that McArdle began her blogging life as the pseudononymous Jane Galt is rather telling in this current poltical climate. She went Galt before going Galt was cool. So she’s way ahead of the curve when it comes to poltical hipness. She’s still wrong, vapid, and unserious, but hey, being a trendsetter ain’t no easy oar to pull throught the tumultuous poltical waters of the libertarian swimming pond.

  6. 6
    Comrade Dread says:

    Well, I don’t see a particular reason why some do-gooder in the bureaucracy wouldn’t do the latter. If the government is paying for health care, then suddenly, they have a stake in your lifestyle.

    It’s not that much of a stretch to see limits being imposed on various vices, be they tobacco, alcohol, french fries, or steak.

    My main concern, however, remains cost. Historically, government program’s cost estimates have been about as accurate as fortune cookie lottery number predictions. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see headlines in five years telling us how massively over budget the new national health services are (ala the Prescription drug benefit.)

    But whatever. It’s going to happen in some form or another and we’ll have to pay for it. So no use whining about it now.

  7. 7
    Napoleon says:

    And here is a conservative taking her to task:

    http://newledger.com/2009/07/h.....n-mcardle/

    The woman is a complete moron, and I vow from this point out to mention it in the comments of every post I see that takes her even slightly seriously, instead of just sometimes doing that.

    http://firemeganmcardle.blogspot.com/

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    sexism

    ruh roh. i sense a coming tidal wave of “DougJ is the real sexist here!!” responses.

  9. 9
    malraux says:

    the other reason that she has been given a free ride—in addition to the soft bigotry etc.—is that she was personal pals with a lot of the best of the smart young bloggers. matt, ezra, and others gave her a pass, an undeserved benefit of the doubt, far too often. i hope that’s over.

    I would hope so, but I’ve seen this cycle way too many times. How many times has MM published something that should dissuade anyone from ever taking her seriously again, only to have her linked as though she had actual thoughts the next day?

  10. 10
    Sentient Puddle says:

    As such, I don’t really think Megan’s post is an argument against national health insurance. It’s not even really about national health insurance. It’s about the government as it appears to a libertarian, if not to the rest of us.

    I really wish he would have led off with this point. While there was a lot wrong with what she wrote (and Ezra did a great job demolishing it all), the fact that she was straw-manning was the most inane part of it.

    And to start out dissecting the piece rather than saying “at a glance, this whole thing is garbage” gives her more credit than she deserves, because you’re sort of saying “Well, she may have an argument here, but…” No. There is no argument.

  11. 11
    steve s says:

    It’s Megan, not Meghan, you concern troll.

  12. 12
    ChrisS says:

    Why should I worry about medical innovation? Medical innovation is a code word for pills and treatments that can otherwise be prevented.

    Cancer innovation ain’t going away. Dick pills, ADHD and happy pills, “acid reflux” aka heart burn pills, well, maybe the money won’t be like it was. Preventative medicine is cheaper and you can’t make too much money telling people to walk more and and eat less.

    This country is fucked anyway. Consumers want big trucks to haul their lazy asses from their planned communities to the Wal-mart to buy frozen chicken fingers, and never-ending pasta bowls at Olive Garden.

    How did words conserve or conservation get bastardized into today’s conservative party which means you can do whatever you want, someone else will clean up.

  13. 13
    Paul L. says:

    So Ezra dismissal of “to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life.” consists of dodging the question and then writing how much he and “public health experts” care and understand the plight of the obese and how they will need to be micromanaged.

    The problem is, we now live amid constant abundance. Food is not only available, but cheap. It is the center of our social lives and the respite from our workdays. It is the way we spend time with our families and the way we connect with our culture. It is how we meet mates and hang out with friends. Corporations spends hundreds of billions of dollars developing ways to make food taste better and creating advertising campaigns to make us want it more. Restaurants and drive-throughs and frozen foods have reduced the energy required to create a meal. Portion sizes have shot up. And even as our caloric inputs have grown, our expenditures have decreased. We drive rather than walk. We sit rather than stand. We work at desks rather than in fields. This is why obesity experts think Americans are fatter.</blockquote?

  14. 14

    Insult to injury, that dumb untcay, Andrew Sullivan AGAIN cited Meggy as a a link of the day. (Sorry. I refuse to send traffic to that prag. Nagahap’n.)

    Anyone else here think that the Atlantic brain trust have asked Sully to do more to flog Meggy as a “serious” commenter? But Sully being Sully just couldn’t help himself; he used Meggy\’s announcement as an intro to a three-paragraph screed about how wonderful his marriage is, how it’s a blessed, sacred, and special thing–like Trig?–and how he loves his spouse more everyday.

    Blargh

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    Ezra obliterates McMeghan

    Not very hard to do, but he does it very well, although I don’t think that he addresses the issue of innovation as deeply as he could have. But he didn’t have much to work with, since Meghan’s point bordered on the nonsensical.

    She’s a young woman, and she can long blog posts from a glibertarian persepctive! Whoop dee doo.

    I don’t get the “young woman” or sexism thing. I had never seen her picture or paid much attention to any biographical detail.

    the strange respect the Atlantic imprimatur inexplicably yields

    This will be an ongoing issue, especially as newspapers and magazines continue to go out of business. Branding is not only inevitable, but some people insist on it.

    I hear a lot of discussions and read a lot of posts where people note that they got their information from NPR, but don’t reference a specific program. There is obviously the implication that the Atlantic or NPR confers some guarantee of quality. This is not always true, but there are only so many hours in the day and it is not always easy to separate the good sites from the worthless ones.

  16. 16
    Brian J says:

    McMeghan does not deserve to be taken seriously. What bothers me most about the whole MCMEGHAN IS A SERIOUS THINKER stuff is that it stems not only from the strange respect the Atlantic imprimatur inexplicably yields, but also from the soft sexism of lowered expectations. She’s a young woman, and she can long blog posts from a glibertarian persepctive! Whoop dee doo.

    I think it’s much more of a case of her personality, tone and what other bloggers approve of her.

    She may be ignorant of some areas, but she’s clearly not stupid. Nor is she hateful, nasty, and callous, like Coulter. I don’t read her very often, mostly because of the reasons Tom Levenson cited the other day, but each time I do, I could see having a conversation with her and not wanting to kill myself, at least not right away. Granted, a lot of the people that she might surround herself with on the right are really, really bad, so she might just appear better by default. But that’s something.

    She also, for whatever reason, is linked to by the more respectable right-leaning/libertarian bloggers out there, like the Marginal Revolution guys. Maybe I am reading more into this than there really is, but if some universally respected people say you’re okay, then you are in. Yes, it’s like high school, but then, what isn’t?

  17. 17
    Ann B. Nonymous says:

    She’s a young woman, and she can long blog posts from a glibertarian persepctive!

    I don’t mean to be catty, and maybe I’m showing my age, but Megan McArdle is 36. She’s not a gifted junior high school student who’s just read The Fountainhead.

    She has had time to learn and grow. She has chosen not to.

  18. 18
    Tax Analyst says:

    DougJ –

    I love this paragraph:

    “McMeghan does not deserve to be taken seriously. What bothers me most about the whole MCMEGHAN IS A SERIOUS THINKER stuff is that it stems not only from the strange respect the Atlantic imprimatur inexplicably yields, but also from the soft sexism of lowered expectations. She’s a young woman, and she can long blog posts from a glibertarian persepctive! Whoop dee doo.

    It explains SO much, SO well.

    The category tags are awesome, too:

    “Assholes, Burkean bells”

    Great post.

  19. 19
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Paul L.:

    So Ezra dismissal of “to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life.” consists of dodging the question and then writing how much he and “public health experts” care and understand the plight of the obese and how they will need to be micromanaged.

    That’s probably because McArdle’s point about government micromanaging was a slippery slope, at best. Once again, her having the courage to argue against something that nobody is proposing.

  20. 20
    ChrisS says:

    Food is not only available, but cheap

    Shitty food is cheap. Food with actual nutritional value is still pretty expensive. Hence, it’s cheaper to order a couple of pizzas for a family of 6 than it is to buy some vegetables and cook it yourself.

    Portion sizes have shot up.

    Because when Joe Six-pack takes his brood out to Chili’s he damn well expects to feel full when leaving the restaurant, otherwise he didn’t get his money’s worth. I was talking to a german guy in DC once, he makes business trips to the US every other month and he can’t eat more than one meal a day in the US. My girlfriend is south african and after she moved to the US, she gained close to 30lbs (now lost) because she didn’t notice how much she was eating.

    Corporations spends hundreds of billions of dollars developing ways to make food taste better and creating advertising campaigns to make us want it more.

    Flavor additives (salt/fat/sugar) make processed food taste better. Plus they’re loaded with calories.

    It’s not that much of a stretch to see limits being imposed on various vices, be they tobacco, alcohol, french fries, or steak.

    How about we just remove the massive subsidies for corn? Beef is cheaper because corn is cheap. Even just smarter planning to revolve around walking and not driving would do wonders for reducing waistlines. It doesn’t have to be punitive actions taken by the government bean counters. If I want ice-cream as a summer treat, I walk the mile to the ice-cream place and walk the mile back.

  21. 21
    gwangung says:

    I don’t mean to be catty, and maybe I’m showing my age, but Megan McArdle is 36

    That’s a kindergarten kiddie for the conservative “thinkers” of the current age.

  22. 22

    I too loved Ezra’s response. I’m going to try to get it together to write a real post soon about innovation and health care…but what is getting my goat about all this today, highlighted by a lot of the w/out the insanely outsized prices and profits garnered for drugs in the US, health care globally will cease to innovate. When, exactly, did the conservative wing of our polity decide it was a good idea to bankrupt individuals and the government while killing those who fall into the cracks — crevasses — in the system…all so we could subsidize pharmeceutical prices in France, say.

    Makes no sense to this leftie.*

    *noting, of course, that I’d probably be center or center right in a sane political system…

  23. 23
    Morbo says:

    I’ve come to believe that the reason Megan still has a job is that she’s a soft target (by which I mean not terribly intelligent) for Leftblogistan. Thus, every time she posts somethign inane and inflammatory it generates links from every liberal blog in the country for people to a) engage her argument, or b) point and laugh. The Atlantic doesn’t seem to care if people are doing a) vs. b) as long as they keep getting their precious page views. In short, a professional troll.

    I also scratch my head and wonder what she has to do to get taken off OW’s blogroll. Hilzoy repeatedly went the a) route assuming Megan was arguing in good faith, but was consistently rebuffed with the intellectual dishonesty we’ve come to expect from (to borrow from FMM) Mlle. When do they take the hint?

  24. 24
    Napoleon says:

    @Thomas Levenson:

    You hit on a point that has always left me baffled. If I could talk directly to Sully and his ilk when they raise this issue I would say “f— the drug companies. If this is a problem for them I suggest they go back and raise their prices in France”.

    To me it is like sports fans who complain that teams shouldn’t have to pay sports stars as much as they do as if the sports star is holding a gun to the head of the team owner when they sign the contract.

    I am sick of being the one subsidizing other countries. They can pay their fair share.

  25. 25
    Nutella says:

    Maybe the Atlantic has low standards for McArdle because she’s female, but the MSM in general has low standards for everyone. Bill Kristol is wrong all the time, too.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    My crush on Ezra got a little stronger when I read that yesterday. That young man is going places. Unlike that vapid McMegan. Gawd what a twit. Of course, all libertarians are twits IMHO. Just a bunch of wide-eyed utopians whose grasp of reality and human nature is exactly the same as that of communists. I can’t take any of them seriously. But McArdle is a special case of the stupid because she inexplicably taken seriously. She has less understanding of economics and policy than I do and somehow she gets linked and quoted as if she’s an expert. She’s a complete idiot which, of course, makes her bleating that of A VERY SERIOUS PERSON. Now I’m off to read MattY’s smackdown. He has seemed to take her too seriously in the past. I hope his eyes have finally been opened.

  27. 27
    jacy says:

    I think I read a full McArdle column maybe twice and then swore off. There’s just no there there. I think “glib” is the best way to describe her writing. It’s not even snarkworthy, just mildly annoying. You get the idea her “deep” thoughts are really pretty shallow.

  28. 28
    malraux says:

    @Brian J:

    She may be ignorant of some areas, but she’s clearly not stupid. Nor is she hateful, nasty, and callous, like Coulter.

    No, she is ignorant in a lot of areas. More specifically, she is ignorant in every area she blogs about. She is either stupid or just assumes her readers are. In either case, it makes her not worth reading. And glibbertarianism is pretty much the apotheosis of callousness; its saying that because my situation is ok, fuck off for wanting to improve someone else’s.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    What I don’t get is how you’ve got guys like Sully lauding this girl. After reading her article, you really are left wondering what her grounding is. She starts off with speculation and ends with her own personal thought experiment. Which, I guess, proves that if McMegan ever started a health care system in her head, it would fail. But for the rest of the country, there’s still a bit of hope.

    Having a libertarian, even a glibtarian, step in and say, “Universal health care has a great number of perils we should be aware of, and could easily fail” is one thing and is a welcome addition to the debate. Having a pundit step in and conjecture her way to the conclusion that an American health care system that encompasses more than just the elderly and the impoverished will surely fail, when we have functioning public health care systems running across four continents and dozens of first and even third world nations – from Japan to Cuba to Switzerland – is just asinine and weak.

    History has demonstrated public health care to be manageable and desirable, even if it’s not easy or cheap. Concern trolling your way to the doomsday scenario says more about you than it does about any potential program.

    And who does McMegan hope to sway? The gloom and doomers already sold against the notion? The idealists who’ve been pumping health care since the Truman Era? The serious thinkers who see the holes in her argument inside the first paragraph? Or the intellectually lazy folks that don’t read her magazine anyway?

    It seems like she’s either preaching to the choir or to the apostates.

  30. 30
    Michael D. says:

    Ben Domenech also takes her down a notch or two.

    I haven’t figured out where he copied his argument from yet, however.

  31. 31
    someguy says:

    Speaking of glibertarians – and maybe OT… is Jonah Pantload’s latest screed about “the god who bleeds” a conservative dogwhistle inviting rightwing assassination attempts on the president, or what?

  32. 32
    Brachiator says:

    @Nutella:

    Maybe the Atlantic has low standards for McArdle because she’s female, but the MSM in general has low standards for everyone. Bill Kristol is wrong all the time, too.

    ALL media has low standards. I keep hearing about some mystical alternative media that shines perpetually with wisdom, accuracy and insight, but no one seems to be able to show where this intellectual El Dorado resides.

    I appreciated Ezra’s piece (from the MSM, go figure) because it takes on her arguments. Bashing or demeaning her is cheap thrills, but gets wearisome, and pointless, after a while.

  33. 33
    someguy says:

    Bashing or demeaning her is cheap thrills, but gets wearisome, and pointless, after a while

    Speak for yourself.

  34. 34
    wilfred says:

    McMeghan does not deserve to be taken seriously

    Or read, quoted, written about, looked at or otherwise acknowledged.

  35. 35
    John S. says:

    McMeghan does not deserve to be taken seriously.

    Neither does Andrew Sullivan, who linked to this pile of shit and called it a “must read”.

  36. 36
    Lola says:

    I work with a young woman (22 maybe) who is a self-professed libertarian. Funny thing is, we work for the state of Texas. I pointed out one day that if she had her way about small government, neither of us would have jobs. We work for a child abuse hotline. She didn’t really have anything to say after that.

  37. 37
    Persia says:

    @Comrade Dread: Keep in mind, the government already influences what we eat, what we drink, etc. Corn syrup is in everything because it’s a cheap sweetener. Why is it a cheap sweetener? Government subsidies. Water policy influences what we eat. We’re not ‘allowed’ to eat raw cheese because of some bullshit policy. This is hardly a new idea, and hardly something that will suddenly be sprung on us if Big Government Gets Involved In Health Care.

  38. 38
    Svensker says:

    @White House Department of Law (fmrly Jim-Bob):

    I’m with you. Sully has really been irritating me lately. He’s so, like, “yuh, well I was totally like WRONG about what I was bloviating about yesterday, but, like, I’m so special that it’s OK. And have you heard how the MUSLIMS are really trying to, like, take over everything? Srsly!!!!”

    Grrrrr.

  39. 39
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Who’s “McMeghan”, and why do I care?

  40. 40
    Brian J says:

    Once again, her having the courage to argue against something that nobody is proposing.

    Word. I’ve been saying the same thing for a while now. You hear so many on the right these days argue against these terrible plans of the Democrats that have precisely zero support. I’m reminded of the time I saw David Frum on “Real Time with Bill Maher” saying how awful it would be if we went back to the time when everything was regulated as heavily as the airlines. I wanted to jump through the screen and scream, “Who the fuck is proposing that, little man? Name me one goddamn person.”

  41. 41
    Joey Maloney says:

    @gwangung:

    Remember, Henry Hyde defined “youth” as continuing into one’s 40s.

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @someguy:

    Speak for yourself.

    Hmmm. I looked at my post again. My post. Mine.

    Wow. I was speaking for myself.

  43. 43
    kth says:

    @burnspbesq: The Atlantic is actually not very good, rather the sort of magazine that affluent middlebrow types read to feel cultured, but without the fear that they will ever encounter a dangerous or even inconvenient idea. That’s hardly McArdle’s fault, as they’ve been pretty lame at least since Mort Zuckerman onwed it in the 1980s. If you want a general interest politics and culture magazine, Harper’s and the New York Review of Books are both far

  44. 44
    wilfred says:

    What I don’t get is how you’ve got guys like Sully lauding this girl

    Yes, it’s baffling, a conundrum,really. Apart from the fact that he’s a bloviating asshole there’s no explaining it, I’m afraid.

  45. 45
    Persia says:

    @Ann B. Nonymous: Shit, she’s older than me? I seriously had no idea.

  46. 46
    Brian J says:

    I work with a young woman (22 maybe) who is a self-professed libertarian. Funny thing is, we work for the state of Texas. I pointed out one day that if she had her way about small government, neither of us would have jobs. We work for a child abuse hotline. She didn’t really have anything to say after that.

    Maybe this is a good time to ask how George Mason can have a deep bench of libertarian scholars while being a public university. Perhaps there’s some special exception that either this ideology or these specific people have towards public schools, but I haven’t heard anything like that.

  47. 47
    Trinity says:

    @wilfred: Bingo.

  48. 48
    Brian J says:

    @malraux:

    Regardless of how off base she is with her comments, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out, based on an IQ test or something, that she’s not dumb. That’s more than you can say for a lot of the popular right-leaning writers out there, like Jonah Goldberg. Not exactly a high hill to climb, mind you, but at least there’s some small speck of hope.

  49. 49
    cleek says:

    i love the comments on Ezra’s piece. it takes like five comments before someone says he’s dumb and needs to read The Foutainhead.

  50. 50

    Wait, 36 is young? Then, 38 is young as well, right? Woo-hoo! I’m still young!

    Seriously, though, I have read one or two of her columns, and it drives me bonkers that she gets to have her drivel published at all. I do think there’s some sexism involved. Let’s let the female g(libertarian) write her little columns so we can say we have a Serious Woman Columnist as one of our regulars. It’s like Palin–all show and no substance.

    I seriously cannot believe she is only two years younger than am I. She reads like she’s in her early twenties.

  51. 51
    malraux says:

    @Brian J: One can be smart but incurious, I’ll grant that. The practical result is very similar though. Moreover, MM seems to have made a choice to intentionally be ignorant. If she is smart but by choice ignores reality, then I question the validity of the smart label. Garbage in, Garbage out.

  52. 52
    Crashman06 says:

    @cleek: That made me laugh out loud.

  53. 53
    gex says:

    @Svensker: I almost lost it when he posted the poll pointing out that most of the people who doubt Obama was born in the US are from the south and then he suggested the cause was race. Is he just now coming to that conclusion or did he think two days ago that an embossed piece of paper would cure these folks of their racism? I wonder if he even reads his own blog or if that shit just spews out of his fingers without ever touching his brain.

  54. 54
    gnomedad says:

    Megan has two primary concerns. The first is that national health insurance would succeed in reducing health-care costs, and that would limit the rewards available for medical innovation (drugs, devices, etc), which would in turn reduce medical innovation and prevent future generations from enjoying wonder drugs.

    If reducing costs is a bug, then she’s not even playing the same game as the rest of us. Utopia would be a health care system full of hyper-costly goodies almost nobody could afford.

  55. 55
    Tom says:

    @Lola:

    When I was in the Air Force some fellow airmen had similarly misguided ideas. I reminded them that they were in probably the most socialistic organization in the United States. It’s fair to say that thought kind of blew their minds.

  56. 56
    Nellcote says:

    I always get Megan Macardle confused with Megan McCain in the same way I get The National Review confused with The New Republic.

  57. 57
    tavella says:

    Given that a bunch of people here *still* treat Sullivan as if he had some value, I’m not surprised McArdle still gets a free ride.

  58. 58
    b-psycho says:

    @Lola: Much as, since people like Megan spread this false belief that the current health care system is anything like a free market (drug patents, regional insurance company monopolies, and regulations that make the more straightforward facets of health care artificially expensive in the first place dead that before you even acknowledge Medicare) I agree with considering her unserious, the kind of example you give about your co-worker reminds me of the “then why are they selling their music for money?” cracks that conservatives used to make about Rage Against the Machine.

    Obviously it’d be a contradiction if a libertarian, say, worked for the IRS or became a police officer. But a child abuse line, while still being tax funded, isn’t exactly what most people think of when noting the problem with government.

  59. 59
    EnderWiggin says:

    I don’t mean to be catty, and maybe I’m showing my age, but Megan McArdle is 36

    Then maybe she should follow a political philosophy mature enough for people over 16. I liked Ayn Rand just fine when I was younger, but then I grew up.

  60. 60

    P.S. Sully’s insistence in linking to her is just more evidence of his intellectual laziness.

  61. 61
    WereBear says:

    It’s not that much of a stretch to see limits being imposed on various vices, be they tobacco, alcohol, french fries, or steak.

    Yeah, those French, they are making do with gluten bread and those little low-cal meals you boil on top of the stove…

  62. 62
    freelancer says:

    Then maybe she should follow a political philosophy mature enough for people over 16. I liked Ayn Rand just fine when I was younger, but then I grew up.

    That, like, totally reminds of this awesome gem…

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  63. 63
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Comrade Dread: the ironic thing is the RIGHT way to change the composition of the calories we eat would be to remove the massive farm subsidies for empty calories. You know put some capitalism in and take the socialism out. Once the government is the one forking out for both sides, you’d hope they’d be more likely to go there.

    ‘course that didn’t stop the government from spending money both to educate people to stop smoking AND subsidize tobacco…

  64. 64
    Interrobang says:

    The point that really stands out for me, speaking as a dirty furriner, is that in McArdleland, there is no medical innovation anywhere else in the world. Medical innovation is entirely dependent on the US and its private, for-profit medical system. Just to go on what I’m familiar with, there’s no such thing as injectable insulin, the Alberta Protocol, the Gamma Knife, or drug pumps, and Wilder Penfield never existed, apparently.

    Never mind that most medical R&D is done by government-sponsored researchers (where do these glibertarians think most grants come from anyway?), a lot of the time at publicly-funded universities.

  65. 65
    b-psycho says:

    BTW: concerning Ezra’s comment on Megan’s fear of using national health insurance as reason for lifestyle nitpicking, there’s a reason that fear exists. There’s a strain of thought here that in order to hold down costs there should be strings attached to any social spending, so as to push its beneficiaries to what is deemed as less costly behavior. This isn’t a left/right thing, conservatives engage in the same type of talk on welfare benefits, but in either case it strikes me as dehumanizing.

    If Ezra and his peers don’t want people holding such a fear, then they should make a point of shutting down those among pro-national-plan types that think such nitpicking is worth the hassle. I’m under no illusions about where health policy is headed, and think single-payer is really inevitable in the long-run, but within that I’d rather have a system that doesn’t 2nd guess your habits over one that does*.

    (* – before anyone barks, yes I know that insurance companies adjust policy rates based on some lifestyle choices. I don’t like that either, anything beyond “do you smoke?” — since smoking in and of itself causes health problems — is an intrusion IMO, and I wonder how anyone ever came to accept it. As I’ve said before here, my ideal system would involve neither the government nor the insurance companies as we know them.)

  66. 66
    Ed in NJ says:

    @someguy:

    Yeah, it’s just you.

    There’s enough to complain about that idiot, but equating his Star Trek reference and declarations that Obama’s aura is gone to assassination is a bit much.

  67. 67
    Calouste says:

    McMeghan Libertarianism does not deserve to be taken seriously.

  68. 68
    jenniebee says:

    I thought his latest was about we’re going to be destroyed by asteroids so STFU about global warming already

    I don’t know about Peak Wingnut, but if we ever hit Peak Doughload asteroids will be the least of our problems.

  69. 69
    Martin says:

    The Atlantic wanted to have a libertarian & econ voice. To be honest, there are approximately zero libertarians that can argue economics in good faith right now. It’s not even Megan herself that’s the issue, but the placeholder that she occupies at the magazine.

    The only honest role she could play is to give a non-stop critique of all of the shit that went wrong the last 30 years, and how strong government oversight would allow for a strong and responsible free market, but libertarians aren’t interested in meeting anyone halfway.

  70. 70
    dms says:

    Well, in the last few weeks I’ve read liberal blogs whose writers indicate that 58 (Professor Gates) is elderly and 36 (McMegan–crap, I thought she was 33) is young.

    As a recent graduate to 55, I can say, on both accounts: Major FAIL.

  71. 71
    Eric says:

    It’s nice to see that even McMegan friends have their limits.

    Wherever you stand on the health care reform issue, you should never, EVER, take her seriously.

  72. 72
    MikeJ says:

    Wait, 36 is young? Then, 38 is young as well, right? Woo-hoo! I’m still young!

    The Young Republicans recently elected a 40 year old president.

  73. 73
    Molly says:

    @Persia: “Keep in mind, the government already influences what we eat, what we drink, etc. Corn syrup is in everything because it’s a cheap sweetener. Why is it a cheap sweetener? Government subsidies. Water policy influences what we eat. We’re not ‘allowed’ to eat raw cheese because of some bullshit policy. ”

    Raw cheese restrictions depends on the state, not the federal government. Some states forbid it.

    FDA policy is a “raw milk” cheese must be aged 60 days at 35 degrees F, so the acidity can rise and kill some of the more harmful bacteria. BTW – cheese can’t even FORM until that time period anyway.

    Sigh. I’m reduced to FDA cheese policy as a symbol of our repressive government and what is going to happen to health care.

    Cheese.

  74. 74
    Jason says:

    The “gov’t run health care will stifle innovation” is the same type of argument as “lax copyright will kill creative genius” (like, uh, Metallica’s), imho. I prefer an assurance of healthcare to the assurances of corporate agencies in dictating the direction of healthcare.

    Also, the threatened gov’t crackdown on french fries – rhetoric that’s got to be celebrating at least a decade of funding by now – is less than scary or otherwise persuasive. I can make my own goddamn french fries.

  75. 75
    b-psycho says:

    @Interrobang:

    Never mind that most medical R&D is done by government-sponsored researchers (where do these glibertarians think most grants come from anyway?), a lot of the time at publicly-funded universities.

    ^^^^This would be a great argument for deliberately destroying the ability to get windfall profits from such research. I’d say they sell on a just barely cost-plus basis, with no patents, or they do their own damn research.

  76. 76
    slag says:

    I’ve been all over the place checking out these McArdle smackdowns this AM, and you guys already had them here. In one place. Why do I bother reading anything but Balloon Juice?

  77. 77
    AhabTRuler says:

    I can make my own goddamn french fries.

    Plus, if you can get your hands on some horse fat, you can cook them the way the Belgians say you should!

  78. 78
    anonevent says:

    @Napoleon: I read the first article, and I still find it fascinating that a writer who points out that the government has to do some research because companies will not do it because it’s not profitable, will fail to notice that the government needs to be involved in health care because the conditions some people have would not be profitable for an insurance company to take on.

  79. 79
    burnspbesq says:

    @ChrisS:

    “Dick pills, ADHD and happy pills.”

    I can only assume that you are not the parent of an ADD kid, and have never had any conversations with the parents of ADD kids about what it’s like to raise an ADD kid. If you had, you wouldn’t lump Concer*a and A**erall in with “dick pills” and “happy pills.”

    Ignorance and condescension is a really ugly quinella.

  80. 80
    Cat Lady says:

    @gex:

    Forget Sully, you’d think that by now even Southerners would get around to saying “jeez, we really are all a bunch of dumb racist fucksticks”.

  81. 81
    Cyrus says:

    @Lola:

    I work with a young woman (22 maybe) who is a self-professed libertarian. Funny thing is, we work for the state of Texas. I pointed out one day that if she had her way about small government, neither of us would have jobs. We work for a child abuse hotline. She didn’t really have anything to say after that.

    Meh, I wouldn’t read too much into that. People need to work. I work for a branch of the DHS (I’m a contractor, technically, but I work in and with the office of a branch of the DHS, so close enough) even though, like most people in this comment section probably, I think we spend way too much on the armed forces. My office isn’t particularly expensive, and it’s not an at all objectionable part of what the armed forces do, but still, I realize that my policy preferences would at least endanger my job.

    But it’s a living, and while I think that this organization needs big change I don’t think it’s so destructive right now that I feel personally guilty working for it. So I’ll be here until I get fired, intolerably bored, or until something better comes along, and I don’t think that’s particularly intellectually incoherent of me, nor of your libertarian co-worker.

  82. 82
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Martin: The absolutely best example of libertarian “open market” fail is CDSs (credit default swaps), the beasts responsible for much of our current economic troubles. At the peak, worldwide 700 Trillion (with a T) were issued. Why? because they were totally unregulated and so no one in their right mind wanted to form a market for them. So, entity A has issued or bought a swap and now doesn’t like their position. So, they issue/buy a swap in the other direction to hedge. With an actual regulated market, they would have instead sold the original swap to close their position. Government intervention would have made swaps closer to what they were supposed to be: thinning of risk, rather than spreading of collapse due to risk as it worked out to be.

  83. 83
    Nutella says:

    Maybe this is a good time to ask how George Mason can have a deep bench of libertarian scholars while being a public university. Perhaps there’s some special exception that either this ideology or these specific people have towards public schools, but I haven’t heard anything like that.

    Yes, if they really believed in libertarianism they would quit immediately and go to work for some private university or foundation that accepts no government money at all. That they do not demonstrates conclusively that they are not libertarians, they are opportunists. And surely we can ask university professors to be intellectually coherent.

    Conservative and libertarian are now used to mean the opposite of their dictionary definitions. Today\’s conservatives want absolutely everyone to lift themselves up by their bootstraps without help from the government, except for their company and its government contracts, their paid-for congressmen, their unemployed brother-in-law who they pressure the congressman to hire, the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who are being \’helped\’ into democracy at the point of the government\’s guns, …

  84. 84
    Bertie Wooster says:

    @Ahab

    Due respect to the Belgians, but the best french fries (or roasted potatoes, for that matter) are fried in goose/duck fat. Golden brown, and crisp as a tater tot.

    Drool. . .

  85. 85
    Jason says:

    @b-psycho: Actually, a lot of funding for research at private schools is also public. “Tech transfer” (the term for the formal funding system of continued student/institutional work in areas subject to external funding and intellectual property considerations) is an important part of the pedagogical and economic structure, from engineering to design, for schools to really have a good shot at taming the process.

    Also worth noting in the patenting process is the making of local knowledge into corporate property, particularly in the “innovations” of pharma, which do not all originate in the lab. It’s a contentious issue, and one that’s hard to establish a specific ethical perspective on. Thomas Levenson’s post, linked to in an earlier BJ post, talks extensively about the project that developed Taxol from the Pacific yew, originally collected in Washington state iirc. There is generally an NIH statement covering tech transfer issues on this sort of development, and should be a freely available public document, for those who are interested.

  86. 86
    Jason says:

    @AhabTRuler: I…I do not have horse fat. This dog, though, is looking pretty tubby.

  87. 87
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Sigh. I’m reduced to FDA cheese policy as a symbol of our repressive government and what is going to happen to health care.

    Cheese is the Jew of liberal food facism.

    /Goldberg

  88. 88
    Sly says:

    Delving into the reasons why people like McArdle get a “free pass” isn’t really productive. It can be fun as a thought experiment, but doesn’t really add to the discussion of McArdle and people who think like her being intellectually lazy. For that purpose, Ezra’s “there’s nothing there” line is sufficient. Putting out something cheap that gets a response is always going to be preferred over putting out something that has taken time to craft and gets you a barrage of “Yawn. TL;DR.” Bill O’Reilly has made millions doing it.

    Punditry sells publications. Punditry not backed by any research is easy to churn out. All you have to do is take your own unexamined assumptions about a particular subject and wrap them in the guise of “common sense.” This is modern libertarianism in a nutshell, really. Blockquotes of people who’ve been dead for a hundred years, submitted as gospel truth. Appeals to authority. Personal anecdotes. Shout’s of “statist!” when they’re not getting their way. It’s how an 8yo would argue if they had a copy of “Economics in One Lesson” and knew how to use Google.

  89. 89
    Comrade Dread says:

    Keep in mind, the government already influences what we eat, what we drink, etc. Corn syrup is in everything because it’s a cheap sweetener. Why is it a cheap sweetener? Government subsidies. Water policy influences what we eat. We’re not ‘allowed’ to eat raw cheese because of some bullshit policy. This is hardly a new idea, and hardly something that will suddenly be sprung on us if Big Government Gets Involved In Health Care.

    Argh… my posts keep disappearing today.

    Yeah, I know about farm subsidies. I’ve been bitching about them for years. If National care is the stake through their heart and breaks the farm lobby’s grip on Congress, then I’ll celebrate with you and buy the beers.

    As to the rest, well, call me cynical, but I think that when the government has a more vested interest in our health in the form of tax dollars, that they will use that as a pre-text to cater to anti-smoking lobbies, MADD, and every other group with a cause and crazy members who can link some random activity to increased health care costs which justify intervention.

    Then again, considering our government barely rises to the level of competent most days, perhaps I should just sit back, drink a beer and stop worrying about it.

  90. 90
    inkadu says:

    @b-psycho: The problem with health insurance is a free market problem. It’s a failure of a free market so obvious and so predictable that any libertarian who can’t understand it is a damned fool.

    But I sure wouldn’t mind if government took care of all the medical research and handed out dick pills and happy pills like tic tacs. Heck, they could even do a combo dick pill and happy pill so you could have a really good night.

    A lot of happy pills make your dick go limp noodle like a dead trout going with the flow. Also.

  91. 91
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    It’s not that much of a stretch to see limits being imposed on various [“]vices[“], be they tobacco, alcohol, french fries, or steak.

    Or pot, or mushrooms, or erotica, or contraceptives, or abortion, or unconventional religions, or atheism, or….
    Government already does a great deal that it shouldn’t be doing, and that we need to roll back. But I don’t see this as a viable argument against single-payer or the public option, particularly when it’s raised by those (not you, BTW) who lean authoritarian on most other issues.

  92. 92
    freelancer says:

    I dream of a place where government is small enough to drown in the bathtub.

    I dream of a government where fair market principles are actually implemented.

    I dream of a free market that is truly free from the oppressive chains of a regulatory authoritarian government.

    I dream of a country without gratuitous bureaucratic monstrosities like Departments of Education, or Health and Human Services.

    I dream of a secure nation where everyone is free to own guns to ensure their own protection.

    I dream of Somalia.

  93. 93
    demimondian says:

    @ChrisS: What burnspesq said — I have a child whose life is made (barely) tolerable by Concer*a and A**erall. You don’t know what you’re talking about, dude.

  94. 94
    Jason says:

    In light of Sly’s comment, I think Domenech’s article is even stranger than Klein’s. Why spend so much time writing about the “good points” of an article, noting the article’s popularity, and directing your readers to it for “context,” only to make the single point that professionals in field she bases these points on not only think she is wrong but abso-fucking-lutely 100-percent head-up-her-ass wrong. I think the suggestion that being “the top read story at RCP” and subsequent linking-to are a sort of gift economy for the the linker and not the linkee is maybe also a potent argument against (or for, I guess) the remunerative virtues of glibertarian arguments.

  95. 95
    inkadu says:

    This links-are-good-for-business thing has gotten a little bit out of hand. The only reason I heard about it was because of the manufactured excuse of the Washington Post to get rid of whats-his-name.

    How much are a pair of eyeballs worth to a webpage? And what damage might McMeghan be doing to the paper circulation? And maybe we could start an open source real-time pirating web site so bloggers can link to commentators without giving them fractions of a cent.

  96. 96
    Awesom0 says:

    To steal a line from “SLC Punk”, libertarians like McCardle are nothing more than shills who spout the line, “I didn’t sell out, I bought in”, in the hopes that they can convince themselves that they are edgy and free-thinking.

    It’s punk rock for douchebags….

  97. 97
    latts says:

    @Lola:

    I pointed out one day that if she had her way about small government, neither of us would have jobs.

    IME, libertarians don’t usually respond to that contradiction, because they’re already so invested in how much the system they’re forced to accept is hiding their brilliant light under a barrel. IOW, in their preferred society–and their fantasies, needless to say– they’d be much more important than they are under our damnably oppressive, quasi-soc ia list system, so they’re not terribly grateful for the jobs that force them into mediocrity.

    I’m turning into a broken record on this, but the one common thread I’ve consistently found between libertarianism and conservatism is incredibly excessive self-regard. Libertarians are focused on the self and conservatives focus on the institutions with which they identify, but both groups seem utterly convinced that they possess the optimal character traits on which to model perfect societies… and usually, that there exists some combination of incentives to force others to be more like them.

  98. 98
    Jason says:

    @inkadu: Word. Pirate linkbacks.

  99. 99
    Awesom0 says:

    OT: But Google ads is displaying a banner for JohnGalt.com where you can stop producing by paying people money to produce merchandise to show you don’t produce.

    R.I.P. Irony

  100. 100
    RSA says:

    I work with a young woman (22 maybe) who is a self-professed libertarian. Funny thing is, we work for the state of Texas.

    I used to get in arguments with a hardcore libertarian who was in a soft-money position (i.e. funded by research grants, probably federal) at a public university. And by hardcore I mean on the border of Randism. Uh–consistent much?

  101. 101
    Awesom0 says:

    OT: But Google ads is displaying a banner for JohnGaltGifts.com where you can stop producing by paying people money to produce merchandise to show you don’t produce.

    R.I.P. Irony

  102. 102
    binzinerator says:

    McTardle or McTwaddle. Either is apt.

  103. 103
    oh really says:

    Gee, I wonder who else blogs for the Atlantic who might be hugely overrated?

  104. 104
    b-psycho says:

    @inkadu: Did you even read my explanation? Most of the intervention in health care to this point has played right into the hands of the same interests that liberals criticize to back up further intervention, it’s just not acknowledged because the big industry players like to pretend they don’t have the State to thank for their wealth. Hell, the concept of “intellectual property” alone w/r/t medications & procedures accounts for a decent chunk of the extortionist costs.

    Ostensibly, what each side is arguing is whether or not they think health care is a public good. If health care is a public good, then just do single-payer and be done with it. If it’s not, then any and every rule that concentrates its provision should be abolished, and the insurance companies broken up. The current system is a contradictory clusterfuck of the worst points of either, and thus far what’s being proposed isn’t as much of a departure as either party would be calling for if they actually believed their rhetoric.

  105. 105
    b-psycho says:

    @Jason: Correct me if I’m interpreting this wrong, but are you arguing that the institutions that do the real work have ways of preventing “private” companies from extracting windfall profits for shit they basically just marketed and didn’t do themselves, but they just aren’t that effective?

    IMO intellectual property itself is a fraud, full stop. Yet it is ESPECIALLY offensive when applied to items and procedures that apparently would not exist without tax-funded assistance. That amounts to us being charged a fee for the privilege of being ripped off.

  106. 106
    oh really says:

    The real issue is the effect on future lives, and future freedom.

    No doubt about it, the freedom to die is the one freedom McArdle appears to value above all others — for other people.

  107. 107

    @napoleon at 7: it’s a sad day when integrity-free Ben Domenech has to smack down Megan McCurdledmilk.

  108. 108
    Jason says:

    @b-psycho: Sort of – more like that corporate entities have ways of preventing indigenous communities from making claims on profits derived from “folk” medicine. And shit like that.

    Your position on IP is one with a historical pedigree, one that eventually fell to the wayside. But it’s there.

  109. 109
    inkadu says:

    @b-psycho: Your point is that medicine is NOT a free market, which I agree with.

    My point is that our bigger problem is with health insurance. And the problem with health insurance is a free market failing. Health insurance will competes on selecting and screwing their customers. Those companies that don’t will get gobbled up those who do. That is the free market at work.

    The end result of that free market process is, of course, the monopolization we see in progress today. But even if we broke up all those insurance companies, we wouldn’t see better coverage. It’s just not in the insurance companies interest to cover people who are sick.

  110. 110
    Comrade Dread says:

    Libertarians are focused on the self and conservatives focus on the institutions with which they identify, but both groups seem utterly convinced that they possess the optimal character traits on which to model perfect societies… and usually, that there exists some combination of incentives to force others to be more like them.

    I think everyone has a blind idealistic spot when it comes to politics.

    Liberals, when faced with evidence of government corruption, ineptitude, or outright failure, often fall back on the ‘we just need to get the right people in’. Much like the current GOP refrain now about finding the core true believers who can take back the government and institute a small government paradise or libertarians who envision the lone good man who will take power in order to dismantle the institutions of power.

  111. 111
    inkadu says:

    @Jason: Sort of – more like that corporate entities have ways of preventing indigenous communities from making claims on profits derived from “folk” medicine.

    Folk medicine is in the public domain; it would be nice to share the profits, but I don’t really see a legal reason why it should be necessary.

    At least the indigenous communities can continue to boil tree bark instead of shelling out $400 at the pharmacy every month; and now they can do it knowing that it’s likely to be effective in treatment.

  112. 112
    Brian J says:

    @b-pyscho:

    The thing is, a lot of the steps people are proposing to try to change the habits of some and allow them to lead healthier lives don’t force people to do anything. If we eliminate the subsidies that make high fructose corn syrup a cheaper alternative, thus making it that much less likely the diets of lower income people will heavily consist of that stuff, they will still have the freedom to eat as much of it as they want. People aren’t proposing outright bans on habits or procedures or services, and frankly, I don’t see any reason to expect them to. After all, how much as it happened in other countries?

  113. 113
    b-psycho says:

    @Comrade Dread: Basically. Though I prefer ignoring and/or undermining that power from below myself. The observation that no one seeks power in order to destroy it — also, no one seeks power that doesn’t want it for their own self-interest — feeds into the problem with that power in the first place.

    I’m not a utopian libertarian. I don’t think everyone is naturally good. I just think trusting a few among man with a force monopoly ranges from counterproductive to downright suicidal.

  114. 114
    b-psycho says:

    @Brian J:

    The thing is, a lot of the steps people are proposing to try to change the habits of some and allow them to lead healthier lives don’t force people to do anything. If we eliminate the subsidies that make high fructose corn syrup a cheaper alternative, thus making it that much less likely the diets of lower income people will heavily consist of that stuff, they will still have the freedom to eat as much of it as they want

    Who with any influence on policy is proposing ending those subsidies? I’ve heard tons about taxes to counteract such artificial cheapness, virtually nothing about yanking the handouts that made it that cheap in the first place.

    On a related note: that commercial with the family camping trip against a soft drinks tax pisses me off anyway, despite my view on it. Why? Because the same logic they employ on that, if rigorously followed, would lead to opposing state & local taxation of groceries — which they don’t do.

  115. 115
    inkadu says:

    @Comrade Dread: Liberals, when faced with evidence of government corruption, ineptitude, or outright failure, often fall back on the ‘we just need to get the right people in’.

    That’s everybody’s attitude, from liberals to conservatives.

    I don’t see liberals as naive idealists when it comes to cleaning up Washington. There are several things liberals advocate to improve the PROCESS of government:
    – public financing of election;
    – campaign finance restriction;
    – government transparency;
    – minimum free air time for candidates;
    – making entry by third parties less onerous;
    – regulating lobbyists;
    – maintaining a non-partisan bureaucracy;
    – and breaking up monopolization of the media.

    Can you think of a single government process reform that is proposed by conservatives? The only thing I can think of devolving more power to the states, and maybe term limits.

    Liberals and conservatives agree that you just shouldn’t trust “the government,” to do everything right. The difference is that good government is something liberals are willing to fight for, while conservatives would rather just chuck the whole mess into the trash can.

    Speaking of a small cadres, there’s a wonderful quote… I saw it when I was at social work school and I’m sure many people drew inspiration from it. It was attributed to Margaret Mead but I made my own adjustments:

    Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    Margaret Mead
    Leon Trotsky
    Adolf Hitler
    Benito Mussolini

    Karl Rove

  116. 116

    McMegan McArdle is an ignorant, glibertarian bimbo who got her job because she’s tall and easy on the eyes and someone at the Atlantic was probably hoping that he could knock a piece off of her if he hired her.

  117. 117

    @Brian J:
    I’m only half way through the thread so this may already be covered, but that’s what I thought for years about Phil Gramm: subsidized education, professor at a state school, elected official; for basically all his adult life — until he got far enough up the power pole for private cash to buy him off — he lived off the public, took tax dollars in salary, enjoyed publicly provided health care the lot.

    But by god, the rest of us must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, whilst boiling our tattered rags for bandages should we nick ourselves on the way up.

    It goes on: McCain always got my goat for the same nonsense — navy grandee’s kid, free education, and then rich folks’ welfare (marrying money), until he could get back on the public dole. Never once had to figure out whether to save for his kid’s college or buy health care. (And yes, I know he was a POW…)

    I don’t criticize anyone for seeking a secure job with good benefits; I’m very happy I’ve had one of those myself for the last four and a half years, particularly after going fifteen years free-lance and running my own small business. Not having to remember what “COBRA” stands for is an enormous relief. But I wish folks would remember that winning the employment lottery says nothing about one’s personal virtue nor about the merits or lack thereof of the fate that befalls those whose tickets don’t get punched.

  118. 118

    @asiangrrlMN: F*** that. I’m here to tell you 50 is still young, and 51 looks pretty juvenile from where I sit.

    Helps to have a nine year old to remind you how to act.;)

  119. 119

    @Bertie Wooster: Amen brother. One of my favorite heart attack meals ever was in the east sector of Berlin just after reunification: a big ramekin of rendered goosefat with fried onions mixed in, good bread, and a glass (or two, or three) of medium sweet German wine. Cold night, winter, and this was just the layer of blubber to lay down as a foundation for more drinking and then sausages in the wee hours.

    So that’s my stories: give me my french fries without the potatoes; I’ll just have the fat please.

  120. 120
    Jason says:

    @inkadu: I don’t think there’s any legal reason it should be necessary to share profits. But in some cases, you might consider that the commons-based resource in question is no longer part of the cultural heritage of a group once IP claims are made on it under international law, and that local control is often ceded to global corporations (who are, essentially, “free riding” – a term I think the McArdles of the world are against?) who may enforce a property regime on an unrepresented population through local government proxies.

    It’s not just pharma, also; I think this has a more tangible effect for Westerners if you just go outside and look at the invasive species, or go to a museum that contains works claimed by foreign government (the Elgin Marble is an interesting example; right to resources on land uncovered by Arctic melt will be another; I can go out right now and look at all the multiflora rose in my backyard woods). It’s more than ownership of biodiversity and the effect of industry on local biodiversity, but also competing property claims on biological elements that are part of a culturally diverse planet.

  121. 121
    inkadu says:

    @Tom Levenson: But I wish folks would remember that winning the employment lottery says nothing about one’s personal virtue nor about the merits or lack thereof of the fate that befalls those whose tickets don’t get punched.

    Tom, that’s the heart and soul of the libertarian philosophy — the free market measures personal value the same way it measures product value: with dollar signs.

    It’s not about reminding people. It’s about convincing them. That’s why I don’t find McMeghan bearable in anyway. Strip away the gloss, and you’re looking at a vulture you would like at you blankly as you lay dying in the gutter.

    A glossy vulture. Also.

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    inkadu says:

    @Jason: On the folk medicine front, I do think medical companies add a lot of value to the product; it takes a lot of work to go from a plant chemical to a synthesized and FDA-approved medicine. But I think IP law is an illogical mess that, at this point, does more to stifle innovation than foster it. I haven’t even begun to consider how biology and invasive plants, etc, fits under the rubric of ownership.

    I sure don’t like that ADM can sell patented corn that sterilizes native corn, though. No, sir, do not like that at all.

  123. 123
    Jason says:

    Yeah, exactly inkadu. ADM and Monsanto both have these issues to deal with. I remember the price fixing scandals for ADM in the nineties, too; bad stuff.

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    Batocchio says:

    Holy crap, that was the best smackdown I’ve read in a while – especially of glibertarianism in general. McArdle, like many glibertarians, has an opinion and attitude, but doesn’t do much research and isn’t that into the empiricism thing. Her shtick is generally thought experiments divorced from reality, very poor by wonk standards, and not well thought-out even on the theoretical level. She starts with self-gratifying conclusions – the government is bad, my privilege is based on merit, I deserve still more and resent the idea of a “public good” – and then free associates. In contrast, Ezra is a wonk, and quite a good one, especially on health care. As he points out pretty conclusively, McArdle is arguing against the government and health care reform, but has not taken a serious look at the issue or how to solve its problems at all.

  125. 125
    Church Lady says:

    Derek Lowe, a pharma researcher, has a pretty good smack down of those diagreeing with McArdle’s analysis of drug research at pipeline.corante.com. He seems to feel that her analysis was more correct than not. It seems that his commenters that are also in pharma research also agreed with her. Interesting.

  126. 126
    latts says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Liberals, when faced with evidence of government corruption, ineptitude, or outright failure, often fall back on the ‘we just need to get the right people in’.

    Sure, but political liberalism is still, as others noted, really about governing, and more specifically about governing an advanced society with an eye towards improvement, not a model of perfection that’s exemplified by a privileged archetype. As you said, there’s an unfortunate tendency to wish away venality, and apparently there is a strong history of wanting to throw money at every half-assed social proposal, but I just don’t see any real insistence on a utopian society (keep in mind that that’s the gentler version of conservatism & libertarianism; the real-world, less philosophical version is perfectly okay with a lot of suffering if it props up their sense of superiority). That’s why the snide little rightwing jabs about some sort of ‘perfectibility of man’ have always baffled me; I’ve never heard a liberal of any stripe insist that humans can or should be ‘perfected,’ but only that ongoing evaluation and efforts to improve are of both moral and societal value, which seems pretty reasonable. The left hasn’t been invested in saints & heroes in my lifetime (one reason I actually think that lefty criticism of Obama’s a good thing), and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  127. 127
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Comrade Dread: Liberals, when faced with evidence of government corruption, ineptitude, or outright failure, often fall back on the ‘we just need to get the right people in’.

    “We need to repair the org structures” is a much better response. If you structure how actions are overseen and incentivize people to take the actions you want, corruption has a harder time taking hold. As does just plain old waste. I personally never say, we need better people. Much better to say, we need systems that have a hard time failing with average people installed.

    For example, look at the church. Presumably those are the “best” people, no? (from the right’s perspective anyway) but the organizational structure leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of corruption running unchecked for decades.

  128. 128
    Brian J says:

    Who with any influence on policy is proposing ending those subsidies? I’ve heard tons about taxes to counteract such artificial cheapness, virtually nothing about yanking the handouts that made it that cheap in the first place.

    You’re right that nobody is proposing to eliminate them, and that’s terrible, but that’s beside the point. If we eliminate them, it won’t prevent anybody from eating products that contain them any more than the extent to which they can’t afford such products. We’re not talking an outright ban, we’re talking about removing the part of the law that encourages people to go in the wrong direction, as many see it, and then letting them do whatever they want.

    Most of the people who talk about the government forcing people to do stuff are light on the examples–and for a good reason.

  129. 129
    b-psycho says:

    @Brian J: Unless you’re advocating both for ending the subsidies AND taxing soft drinks, I’m not sure what your counterpoint is supposed to be. I’m all for eliminating them, you’re for eliminating them, but people with actual political power want to tax the resulting products instead.

    Why is that? I’d say it’s because people with political power only see dueling interest groups & campaign funds. Yanking the subsidies would be the right thing to do, but it would anger corporate agribusiness, so it doesn’t get done. It’s a small thing compared to other stuff done in our names, but it’s yet another symptom of an inherently corrupt system.

  130. 130
    Mike D. says:

    She also has an MBA from UChicago. Whoop de doo.

  131. 131
    Brian J says:

    @b-pyscho:

    Maybe I am misreading you, but I don’t think there’s much to the idea that the government is going to be forcing lifestyle choices on anyone. It seems like a a purely irrational fear, something that’s associated only with a truly totalitarian system.

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