23 March 2010

Bigger Things at Work Indeed

In his most recent post on National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg disputes the claim that the latest health insurance reform bill – law – will cause “massive improvements in American life expectancy,” according to Nick Kristof. Mr. Goldberg refutes this argument on several points, and finally states that when it comes to individual longevity, “there are bigger things at work.” Bigger things indeed.

One of the reasons why supporters are probably hesitant to discuss these bigger things at work is that they defy human control. For instance, Mr. Goldberg runs through a list of life expectancy rates in his post. Not only does it matter what one’s racial heritage is when it comes to life expectancy, it also matter where one lives geographically – even given roughly the same racial background in comparative groups. How would the federal government, or any human institution, deal with a group which is a “victim” of lower life expectancy? Deport them to another location? Genetically alter them? Mr. Goldberg argues that more health care is not and will not be the difference maker. Indeed, one wonders if there is a realistic difference maker.

If there is not a realistic difference maker – not even bank-breaking equity of health coverage, if not health care – then the idea of equality of outcome is shown for what it is: a well-intentioned yet futile hallucination. It is the denial, explicit or otherwise, of the recognition of things greater than man and his machinations which allows those who advocate such things as the panacea of universal health insurance to believe – to be true believers, in an Eric Hoffer way – in man’s ability to deliver equality of outcome. At the moment, the true believers in equality of outcome are winning the cultural tug-or-war. Those of us who believe in bigger things need to set in for the long-haul intellectual pull in order to affect a shift in thinking.

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