pageok
pageok
pageok
Mankiw on the Pitfalls of a Public Plan:

Gregory Mankiw evaluates the risk of a public health care plan.

Even if one accepts the president's broader goals of wider access to health care and cost containment, his economic logic regarding the public option is hard to follow. Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don't need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.

An important question about any public provider of health insurance is whether it would have access to taxpayer funds. If not, the public plan would have to stand on its own financially, as private plans do, covering all expenses with premiums from those who signed up for it.

But if such a plan were desirable and feasible, nothing would stop someone from setting it up right now. In essence, a public plan without taxpayer support would be yet another nonprofit company offering health insurance. The fundamental viability of the enterprise does not depend on whether the employees are called "nonprofit administrators" or "civil servants."

In practice, however, if a public option is available, it will probably enjoy taxpayer subsidies. Indeed, even if the initial legislation rejected them, such subsidies would be hard to avoid in the long run. . . .

Such explicit or implicit subsidies would prevent a public plan from providing honest competition for private suppliers of health insurance. Instead, the public plan would likely undercut private firms and get an undue share of the market.

President Obama might not be disappointed if that turned out to be the case. During the presidential campaign, he said, "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system."

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Mankiw on the Pitfalls of a Public Plan:
  2. "Fannie Mae Health Care":
josil (mail):
I think Mankiw has it right. A "public plan" can take the form of Medicare, with contining subsidies and/or continuing restrictions on coverage). Or, it could take the form of yet another non-profit medical provider (of which there are many) with no subsidies but a mandate to cover the uninsured. This would also engender continuing increases in cost and decreases in type of coverage.
6.28.2009 3:53pm
JK:
I'm not sure that a unsubsidized government plan is exactly the same as a non-profit health insurance company. That line sounds great rhetorically, but I think it demonstrates a misunderstanding (or intentional misleading) of the nature of nonprofit organizations, particularly large organizations that operate in partially for profit industries. Non-profits simply have a different set of rules for how wealth can be extracted from the organization, and are not required to have the goal of maximizing profit (but they can have that goal). Most nonprofits in the health insurance industry have been run under a similar profit maximizing model as for-profit companies. The difference is in superficial (i.e. legal) organizational structure, and marketing (advertising the fact that you're a non-profit, implying that it means something that it doesn't).

I agree that theoretically a non-profit with sufficient starting resources (including both talent and money) could potentially mimic most of what could be done with a public plan, but that doesn't mean that currently existing (or former) "non-profit" health insurance companies were run this way.
6.28.2009 4:05pm
Monty:
Maybe its fair to ignore the possiblity of an unsubsidized public plan, but there is an ever so small chance it could work. It requires that enough savings are found in its bairganing power and administrative effeciancy that it can apply those savings to achieve its egalitarian mandates. (Coverage for those who can't affford current products and the uninsurable).

Of course, once the public plan uses its market power to lower payments to the medical industry, whats to stop private insurers from latching on to those rates. Still unburdened by the egalatarian mandate of the public plan, they will steal the profitible insurees that are needed to fund the mandate.

Also, I don't usually think of the government as the model of effeciency, so its doubtful it can come up with the money through effeciency.
6.28.2009 4:11pm
ArthurKirkland:

Even if one accepts the president's broader goals of wider access to health care and cost containment


Even if?

Perhaps N. Gregory Mankiw should stay quiet until someone of the caliber of G.W. Bush returns to government and requires his counsel.
6.28.2009 5:05pm
Cornellian (mail):
President Obama might not be disappointed if that turned out to be the case. During the presidential campaign, he said, "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system."


Interestingly, this is what The Economist said about the US health care system in its latest issue, and that publication is about as pro-free market as any large circulation news magazine one might find at the local newsstand.
6.28.2009 5:05pm
interruptus:

Interestingly, this is what The Economist said about the US health care system in its latest issue, and that publication is about as pro-free market as any large circulation news magazine one might find at the local newsstand.

To a large extent I think The Economist has concluded that health care is standing in the way of a functioning market in other areas they care about more. They're particularly peeved about the negative effects employer-tied health insurance has on labor-market mobility and entrepreneurship, since people are scared that changing jobs could screw up their health insurance.
6.28.2009 5:21pm
JK:
Cornellian, The Economist has long been considered a communist rag by real right wingers. The economist does economic analysis of a situation first and then comes to a conclusion, real conservatives start with the conclusion and find an analysis that proves it. The fact that they come out pro-market 90+% of the time is irrelevant.
6.28.2009 5:23pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
Anybody who doesnt think the public option will by HEAVILY subsidized is out of their mind. That's why its a killer to the rest of the market. When your company runs on government red ink it can hardly be called 'competing'.
6.28.2009 5:37pm
New Esquire:
Prof. Mankiw left out a significant part of market competition: barriers to entry. Health insurers, or many other kinds of insurers for that matter, have set up substantial barriers to new ventures trying to compete with them. These barriers include their relationships with large group-plan employers, negotiated schedules with large provider practices, facilities, and independent physicians, and name recognition. The econ argument that if the same job could be done better and cheaper, someone would do it and make more money assumes that someone has the knowledge, resources, and opportunities to do so. In this case, the federal government does; it's not clear that the same could be said for anyone else. Consequently, what the politicians are debating is changing the rules of the game either by introducing themselves as a competitor (naturally, scary to some, a savior for others) or forcing the existing competitors to alter their behavior to match what they believe could be done by a phantom competitor.
6.28.2009 6:17pm
rosetta's stones:
Anybody who doesnt think the public option will by HEAVILY subsidized is out of their mind.

Currently, it's not heavily enough subsidized, as the Medicare and Medicaid payments appear to be lacking, according to many analyses.

Wouldn't that appear to be the bias, that government would cut payments, and force them onto the rest of the health care pool, through the backdoor? I think that's what we're seeing now.

Thus the drive for single payer.

In effect, single payer is what they're trying to do now, by forcing costs that government has committed to onto the backs of others within the system, rather than taking them out of the Treasury.
6.28.2009 6:22pm
mattski:

Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don't need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.



Health care is not a typical commodity and it is silly to make that argument.
6.28.2009 6:35pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
I can't help but marvel at Obama's assumption that he and his fellow federal pols have any authority to "devise a system from scratch" or generally interfere with the liberty of individuals to interact in a free market for medicine or other goods and services. Where in the Constitution does it say the feds have power to impose a national health care system or set up a health care system at all?
6.28.2009 6:42pm
Gilbert (mail):
FINISH THE QUOTE!

The next sentence in the Obama quote explains that, given we are not writing on a clean state, HE WOULD NOT SUPPORT a single payer system.
6.28.2009 6:55pm
Gilbert (mail):

I can't help but marvel at Obama's assumption that he and his fellow federal pols have any authority to "devise a system from scratch" or generally interfere with the liberty of individuals to interact in a free market for medicine or other goods and services.


His point was that they are, in fact, NOT at liberty to design a system from scratch.
6.28.2009 6:57pm
ArthurKirkland:
Anyone* wish to take a crack at supporting the assertion that the United States' current healthcare system constitutes a "free market?"

Or, the assertion that the current healthcare system in the United States requires no improvement?

*Other than Greg Mankiw, of course. We already know he doesn't necessarily favor increased access or cost containment, which makes the rest of his opinions unworthy of consideration.
6.28.2009 7:10pm
geokstr (mail):

Gilbert:
FINISH THE QUOTE!

The next sentence in the Obama quote explains that, given we are not writing on a clean state, HE WOULD NOT SUPPORT a single payer system.

No, but he would be happy to support a government option that will inexorably and inevitably lead to a single payer system in the relatively near future.
6.28.2009 7:13pm
eyesay:
Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) fire control. If their dwelling or place of work catches fire, the municipal fire department rushes to the scene and puts out the fire, and generally does not bill the property owner or tenant for the firefighting service.

Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) police protection. If one calls the police to report on a police-worthy situation, the municipal police show up and do what they do. They generally do not bill the property owner or tenant for this service.

Why shouldn't health care be treated similar to the fire department -- you pay your taxes, it's available when you need it, the department advises you on how to reduce risks, and you don't have to pay beyond beyond what's funded out of taxes?

I admit that the analogy is not perfect. The fire department takes care of the emergency, but does not reconstruct damaged structures. But, the point is, we do accept public providers for the fire department, police, coast guard, air traffic control, and so many other services. The claim that health insurance funded by a national agency is necessarily harmful must be supported by more than mere assertions.
6.28.2009 7:43pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

Anyone* wish to take a crack at supporting the assertion that the United States' current healthcare system constitutes a "free market?"

Not I.


Or, the assertion that the current healthcare system in the United States requires no improvement?

Improvement begins by getting the federal pols and bureaucrats out.


*Other than Greg Mankiw, of course. We already know he doesn't necessarily favor increased access or cost containment, which makes the rest of his opinions unworthy of consideration.

I suspect Mankiw favors, as I do, the increased "access" and cost containment that come about due to entrepreneurial competition and technological improvements, whether in the realm of medicine or other goods and services that people desire. Any notion that further meddling by pols and bureaucrats will reduce costs is pure fantasy.
6.28.2009 7:46pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) police protection...

The claim that health insurance funded by a national agency is necessarily harmful must be supported by more than mere assertions.

The fact that some limited number of functions (such as defense against aggression, internal or external) may properly fall within the realm of coercive government does not legitimate wholesale robbery and coercion in the provision of goods and services in general. The claim that health insurance should be funded coercively is what requires support. Sound economic reasoning, together with the entire history of socialism and political interventionism, rule out the possibility of a convincing case.
6.28.2009 8:00pm
mattski:

Any notion that further meddling by pols and bureaucrats will reduce costs is pure fantasy.

Otoh, maybe you are simply clinging to an essentially religious belief. Indeed, I know a conservative who would certainly disagree with you.
6.28.2009 8:03pm
mattski:

Sound economic reasoning, together with the entire history of socialism and political interventionism, rule out the possibility of a convincing case.



What you call "sound economic reasoning" sure looks like blind faith to me.

Here's something to challenge your prejudice.
6.28.2009 8:09pm
rosetta's stones:
Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) fire control.

No, they don't have "fire control", they have firefighting. Fire control is provided by building codes and other measures. Firefighting is, or should be, becoming passe. I've watched too many firefighters refuse to enter sites, as well they shouldn't, imo.

Fire prevention is the game now, and has been for a century or more. Firefighter unions may not like it, but we need less of them today than we once did. You know this yourself, intuitively, if you're paying attention around you.

The comparison with health care is only apt re emergency health care, similar to the functionality of firefighters responding to a fire. Today, my understanding is that everybody gets emergency health care, no matter what. We're discussing everything else, not emergency health care, so your analogy doesn't fit in any sense, imo.



Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) police protection.

Again, if you're looking for protection, you better not count on the police, because they won't be there when you need it. Investigation? Sure, and there's a need for that, and your analogy may be somewhat in alignment here. But, most will vote with their feet, re police protection. If a community is unsafe, they'll move. 1,000 per month have been leaving Detroit, and for years now. Many reasons why, but that's one of them. You wanna nationalize the police force across the country? We could do that, too. Socialized medicine is nationalizing the police force.
6.28.2009 8:10pm
Cornellian (mail):
The fact that some limited number of functions (such as defense against aggression, internal or external) may properly fall within the realm of coercive government does not legitimate wholesale robbery and coercion in the provision of goods and services in general.

Completely dodges the question of which functions "properly fall within the realm of coercive government" and which ones don't, and why.
6.28.2009 8:35pm
Psalm91 (mail):
Tautologically speaking, the "proper functions" of the government are those favored by conservatives.
6.28.2009 9:15pm
JK:
Wow, I wish we had some of this skepticism regarding any government action during the lead-up to the Iraq war. I agree we have to be wary of coercive government action, but I really don't get this wavering between "it's your patriotic duty to unquestioningly support funding for everything the military wants" and "any government intervention in the health care market will result in all the evils of Stalinist Russia!"


While there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of government involvement in health care, there's also a lot of good reasons to believe that health care isn't a market that complies well with the structure of perfect competition.
6.28.2009 9:30pm
BGates:
Cornellian, do you really need me to explain to you why the police and military necessarily involve coercion but buying a cholesterol pill doesn't?
6.28.2009 10:01pm
ArthurKirkland:
Plenty of people, including some inside our government (at least, until they were sacked for crossing the real powers-that-were), were skeptical of the decision to invade Iraq and of the gameplan (or lack of a gameplan) for occupying Iraq.

Not enough, obviously, but plenty.
6.28.2009 10:02pm
BGates:
that publication is about as pro-free market as any large circulation news magazine

As much as Newsweek? Wow.
6.28.2009 10:06pm
Desiderius:
The second time as farce.
6.28.2009 10:12pm
BGates:
I wish we had some of this skepticism regarding any government action during the lead-up to the Iraq war

This thread is more about leftist antagonism towards freedom in the United States. If you want to defend leftist antagonism towards freedom in other countries, look up one of the threads where Obamatons are cheering their man's reluctance to support the Iranian protesters.
6.28.2009 10:17pm
ArthurKirkland:
That, Mr. Gates, is not a sensible use of the time out imposed on your side as punishment for its misconduct. You should try to use your silent time in the corner more productively.
6.28.2009 10:32pm
JK:

This thread is more about leftist antagonism towards freedom in the United States. If you want to defend leftist antagonism towards freedom in other countries, look up one of the threads where Obamatons are cheering their man's reluctance to support the Iranian protesters.


I probably shouldn't have thrown in the part about the lead up to the Iraq war, my central point was about the lack of skepticism regarding military spending in general (Iraq is just an example of massive military spending without regard to costs, but there are so many other issues wrapped up with Iraq that it probably wasn't be best one to use).

A better example might be expenditure on "B-2 spirit" Stealth Bombers: The reason we're making it is because production is spread to every state and most congressional districts, not because any serious cost-benefit analysis that it's worth the $2.1 Billion per unit.
6.28.2009 10:44pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
Maybe you could come up with a better example than the B-2. We stopped making them in 1997 with the delivery of the Spirit of Louisiana.
6.28.2009 11:25pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> I'm not sure that a unsubsidized government plan is exactly the same as a non-profit health insurance company.

The point is that it can be.

> That line sounds great rhetorically, but I think it demonstrates a misunderstanding (or intentional misleading) of the nature of nonprofit organizations, particularly large organizations that operate in partially for profit industries.

Pointing out that non-profits don't act as we might hope might lead one to ask whether govt plans might have similar problems. Hmm. Before we start looking for such a thing, as implausible as it might be, why don't we name it. I suggest "regulatory capture".

However, I'm willing to be proved wrong. That's why I think that Obama should be given free rein over US govt healthcare. Yup, all federal, state, and local govt employees (and elected officials), the Indian Health Service, Medicare/Medicaid, and the various state analogs.

He gets 2010 to figure out what he wants to do. Then, starting in 2011, the per-person budget gets cut by 5%/year for the next four years. That's less than 20%, and he's been promising 30%, so it's a low bar. And, he gets to spend the savings on covering folks who are currently uncovered or anything else he'd like.

In 2016, we'll know whether Obamacare works. If our public servants are healthier and so on, great. If they're revolting....
6.28.2009 11:53pm
Cornellian (mail):
Cornellian, do you really need me to explain to you why the police and military necessarily involve coercion but buying a cholesterol pill doesn't?

And firefighters? Tax collectors? Those can both be done privately. Heck, you could even privatize much of policing if you really wanted to. Nor would a public health plan necessarily coercive. I still haven't seen a convincing explanation of how a public health plan will necessarily fail at delivering competent care in a timely fashion (as is alleged against the Canadian system) while nevertheless driving out of business all those private suppliers who presumably excel at delivering competent care in a timely fashion. If Canada were really overflowing with people pining for the opportunity to pay for faster health care than is available from the public system (as so many of the commenters here like to claim), you'd expect lots of private medical clinics in Canada operating outside the Canadian medicare system (which is perfectly legal depending on the province) and insurance companies ready to insure against that possibility.
6.29.2009 12:17am
Tony Tutins (mail):

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard.

The parallel struck me like a blow: Professor Mankiw is Dr. Zaius. For those who have read Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes, orangutans like Dr. Zaius are the purveyors of "official science" or the status quo, and they are incapable of taking in any information that challlenges their long-held beliefs.

A true intellectual, like the chimpanzee Zira, would realize that many of Professor Za I mean Mankiw's suppositions and speculations could be tested against the various real life universal health care schemes present in every other developed country.

Does he not realize how crazy he sounds? He's like a man listing obstacles to Mankind's ever putting a man on the moon.
6.29.2009 12:32am
Desiderius:
Tutins,

Might want to stick to touting the California Auto Insurance model. Mankiw is Zira, given the current power relationships on these questions in the Academy.
6.29.2009 1:00am
Curt Fischer:

Most Americans live in locations that have single-payer and single-provider (for the location) police protection.



http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1114740/
6.29.2009 1:50am
David M. Nieporent (www):
The fact that some limited number of functions (such as defense against aggression, internal or external) may properly fall within the realm of coercive government does not legitimate wholesale robbery and coercion in the provision of goods and services in general.

Completely dodges the question of which functions "properly fall within the realm of coercive government" and which ones don't, and why.
Policing and to some extent firefighting are public goods; health care is not, with the exception of a few communicable diseases. (Please note: I am using "public good" in the economic sense, not the political rhetoric sense.)
6.29.2009 3:06am
interruptus:

Policing and to some extent firefighting are public goods

Much policing isn't a public good in the economic sense, though. Some of it, sure: stopping the quintessential crazy man going off on a rampage through the public square (or the modern equivalent, someone releasing a dirty bomb or chemical weapon). And some very generic crime-suppression, keeping society more orderly as a whole. But a lot of policing consists of something closer to taxpayer-subsidized private security, defending property against threat of theft, damage, or (in the case of real property) trespass. In extreme cases we do recognize this, and shift some of the security burden to the property owner, so e.g. banks hire their own armored transport and secure their own vaults, rather than relying entirely on taxpayer-subsidized security. That's a good start, but there are still wide swathes of property-securing that are paid for out of public funds rather than by the property owner.
6.29.2009 6:33am
mattski:

This thread is more about leftist antagonism towards freedom in the United States.

BGates, have you ever perceived any ambiguity in the idea of "freedom"? Is freedom a coherent idea? Is it an unalloyed good? I think it would do many here a world of good to spend some time inspecting their notion of "freedom".

For example, do you see any tension between the idea of "law" and the idea of "freedom"?
6.29.2009 7:36am
mattski:

Policing and to some extent firefighting are public goods; health care is not

This is, you might say, a matter of opinion.
6.29.2009 7:38am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Health care is not a typical commodity and it is silly to make that argument.
Both you and Krugman are confused about -- or deliberately conflating -- the difference between health insurance and health care.


This is, you might say, a matter of opinion.
It is not. That's why I specified "in the economic sense" rather than in the political rhetoric sense. In the latter context, the term usually refers to things the speaker wants taxpayers to pay for, and that is, in a sense, "opinion." In the former sense, there's a well-defined definition; it refers to goods which are nonrivalrous and nonexcludable. Neither applies to health care, generally speaking. (As I said, with the exception of the issue of some communicable diseases.)
6.29.2009 10:02am
rosetta's stones:
"Both you and Krugman are confused about -- or deliberately conflating -- the difference between health insurance and health care."

And further, they are confused about a 3rd overriding parameter... public health... which is the only legitimate government interest here. We're arguing over whether the government should take an active or passive interest in public health... sorta like we've been arguing over whether the government should take an active or passive interest in the automotive industry (well, we were arguing anyways, until Obama Motors settled the argument for us).
6.29.2009 11:12am
theobromophile (www):
And further, they are confused about a 3rd overriding parameter... public health

Only if you happen to think that the first term in "public health" is essentially meaningless, or at least so broad as to not exclude anything.

Health insurance and health care for individuals, is, by definition, a private health matter. Infectious diseases and the availability of hospitals - things which affect the public - are matters of public health. Whether or not someone gets a broken arm set or gets cancer treatment, however, is a very private matter.

Of course, this all brings us back to the farce that is Roe v. Wade: medical "privacy" is apparently anything that allows a woman to get an abortion but in no way allows people to make other health decisions without government interference.
6.29.2009 12:39pm
Dan Weber (www):
If a town wishes to provide health care to its citizens, charging them taxes for the service, I see no problem. Local communities doing as they wish is the bedrock of federalism.

There is a vast, vast, vast difference between communities deciding to do this themselves and having the Federal government run it for everyone.
6.29.2009 2:00pm
Dan Weber (www):
President Obama might not be disappointed if that turned out to be the case. During the presidential campaign, he said, "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system."

Interestingly, this is what The Economist said about the US health care system in its latest issue,

Hmmm. All I've got is this:

If [Obama] were starting from scratch, there would be a strong case (even to a newspaper as economically liberal as this one) for a system based mostly around publicly funded health care.

Which differs in several significant ways from a call for a single-payer system.
6.29.2009 2:16pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Health insurance and health care for individuals, is, by definition, a private health matter.

If Canadian cars cost $1000 less to build because of their single-payer health care, then health insurance is a business competitiveness issue.

Moreover, as with any other form of insurance, health care insurers don't want customers who are likely to cost them money. Should these people die at the side of the road? Spend their way to bankruptcy -- or stop just short so that Medicaid can pick up their tab? Who pays when the lifetime limit has been reached? That's why I suggested the assigned risk model on another thread.

Health care rationing in action: According to the card that came with, my first employer-paid policy included a $300 childbirth benefit -- $600 if I had a c-section. As a single man I didn't see the purpose.
6.29.2009 2:56pm
mattski:

Both you and Krugman are confused about -- or deliberately conflating -- the difference between health insurance and health care.

No, I don't think so. And you certainly haven't shown so.

As to the other point about whether or not health care is a public good, OK, if all you meant to emphasize was an economic definition. But you were responding to Cornellian, who was responding to Allan Walstad. The gist of Cornellians comment was that Walstad had made a complaint about gov't interference in the market and our lives without making any attempt to explain his view of when it's OK for the gov't to do so. You responded by--you say--making a technical observation about the definition of a "public good."

But the discussion is normative, not technical.

And while rosetta at least recognizes that this is a normative discussion, as is often the case he has nothing of value to add.
6.29.2009 3:27pm
Dan Weber (www):
If Canadian cars cost $1000 less to build because of their single-payer health care, then health insurance is a business competitiveness issue.

Could be, but your "if" clause contains an unsure "because" statement.

But the closest model to single-payer that we have in the United States is Medicare & Medicaid. They spend $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country, to only cover a portion of the population. $2,000 per head is what most modern countries spend to cover everyone.

Medicare and Medicaid have the same problems that the private insurance companies do: pay-for-procedure compensation. While there is some twiddling you can do within the current system (for example: the massive tax subsidy provided to employer-negotiated health insurance), the entire health care system needs some significant changes to lower costs. This doesn't mean that any proposed idea is good simply because it makes significant changes.
6.29.2009 3:49pm
Desiderius:
Mattski,

"BGates, have you ever perceived any ambiguity in the idea of "freedom"? Is freedom a coherent idea? Is it an unalloyed good? I think it would do many here a world of good to spend some time inspecting their notion of "freedom".

For example, do you see any tension between the idea of "law" and the idea of "freedom"?"

"Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture or human happiness or a quiet conscience. If the liberty of myself or my class or nation depends on the misery of a number of other human beings, the system which promotes this is unjust and immoral. But if I curtail or lose my freedom, in order to lessen the shame of such inequality, and do not thereby materially increase the individual liberty of others, an absolute loss of liberty occurs. This may be compensated for by a gain in justice or in happiness or in peace, but the loss remains, and it is a confusion of values to say that although my 'liberal', individual freedom may go by the board, some other kind of freedom -- 'social' or 'economic' -- is increased."

From Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty

And further:

"Philosophers with an optimistic view of human nature, and a belief in the possibility of harmonizing human interest, such as Locke or Adam Smith and, in some moods, Mill, believed that social harmony and progress were compatible with reserving a large area for private life over which neither the state nor any other authority must be allowed to trespass. Hobbes, and those who agreed with him, especially conservative or reactionary thinkers, argued
that if men were to be prevented from destroying one another, and making social life a jungle or a wilderness, greater safeguards must be instituted to keep them in their places, and wished correspondingly to increase the area of
centralized control, and decrease that of the individual."

It would be a great benefit to get the names of the teams correct here. Mattski, welcome to the conservative or reactionary side.
6.29.2009 6:58pm
Desiderius:
To be clear, I am very much on the other, in all of my moods.
6.29.2009 6:59pm
rosetta's stones:
...back again eh, trollski?
6.29.2009 9:21pm
mattski:

It would be a great benefit to get the names of the teams correct here. Mattski, welcome to the conservative or reactionary side.

Vuddaya mean, Desiderius? Because I think "freedom" is both an ambiguous idea and also that it is clearly not an unalloyed good, that makes me a Hobbesian reactionary??

You don't mean that.

:^)
6.30.2009 9:30am
Desiderius:
mattski,

No one claims that it is an unalloyed good, just that you and your fellow stillstanders overvalue the alloys.

"Hobbes, and those who agreed with him, especially conservative or reactionary thinkers, argued
that if men were to be prevented from destroying one another, and making social life a jungle or a wilderness, greater safeguards must be instituted to keep them in their places, and wished correspondingly to increase the area of
centralized control, and decrease that of the individual
."

Do you, or have you ever, wished correspondingly to increase the area of centralized control, and decrease that of the individual?

;-)
6.30.2009 6:11pm
mattski:

Do you, or have you ever, wished correspondingly to increase the area of centralized control, and decrease that of the individual?

Well if I did, it still wouldn't make me a Hobbesian reactionary!

See, from my point of view, you've got some serious preconceptions about what I believe. I'd rather emphasize that I think people do have more obligations towards each other than typical conservative thought allows. And I think that given a rational public debate (a debate relatively unsullied by unbalanced lunatics) my opinions would prove more popular than many of the prevailing opinions expressed here.

Catch ya on the flip side!
6.30.2009 8:21pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.