Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Single-payer article picked up by Oregonian on-line

432 words.

Yesterday the article with which I kicked off this blog was picked up by the on-line version of the Portland Oregonian. To see this version published under a slightly different title, click here.

This will also get you to the comments sent in by Oregonian readers, which were up to 36 as I was writing this. A few of the comments offer useful perspectives in favor of or against a single-payer system, but many of them are stereotyped attacks on the concept or on the presumed dubious motives of anybody willing to think about such a system. There is no basis for thinking that any of the commentators have any personal experience in the medical system, have spent much time seriously thinking about it, or have any ability to think systematically about public policy issues. Furthermore, they are mostly so certain that they, and they alone, are correct!

I much prefer comments from people like John Myers and Bill Frick, whose thoughts I have posted here, who have interesting personal experiences with medicine and who frankly admit they don’t know what ought to be done but would like to help figure it out.

The kinds of comments that are sent in to newspapers like the Oregonian and the New York Times are exactly why I have chosen not to allow readers of this blog (who I hope will be more knowledgeable and thoughtful than most people who comment at the newspapers) to post comments directly to this blog. If too many comments like I read in the Oregonian appeared here, it would discourage the kinds of people I want to encourage to participate from reading postings and sending in their thoughts. In a kind of Gresham’s Law, the bad money (even from a small minority of readers) would drive out the good!

And even if they were all of high quality, if there were too many postings few of my targeted readers (who are busy and have a lot of other things to do!) would find time to read the blog. After all, sometimes there are more that 600 comments posted for a single article at the New York Times before the editors cut off further postings!

The economist Thomas Sowell says that the fact that he has never murdered an editor is proof that capital punishment really does deter. I, too, have often had unkind thoughts about editors. But I am functioning here as an editor, seeking to protect my readers from nonsense (unless it is truly interesting and original nonsense!) and also from being inundated even with too much good stuff for them to manage.

Let me hasten to add that I do not define as "nonsense" ideas with which I do not agree. So do not hesitate to send in criticisms of anything which I may have said.

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