Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tyler Cowen's Take on Government Healthcare Ignores the Devil

Over at Bloomberg, Tyler Cowen, who was once considered by some the next Murray Rothbard, has an excellent analysis of the current state of government provided health care/insurance.

Unfortunately, he conducts the analysis as though there is no concept such as free market healthcare,

This makes the otherwise excellent analysis bizarre,

The choices are not only various managed versions of Obamacare and Trumpcare but free market care. When you add free market healthcare to the mix, all versions of Obamacare and Trumpcare in comparison become, to use a Trumpian term, losers.

It is difficult to understand why on such a prominent stage, such as Bloomberg, Cowen doesn't discuss general principles and mention free market healthcare.

Rothbard would never simply lay out the current details without comment that the problem was much deeper.

Indeed, when the precursor to Obamacare, Hillarycare was being discussed. Rothbard smashed it in toto. From his piece, The Devilish Principles of Hillarycare:
[S]ince healthcare constitutes about one-seventh of the American output, there are enough details and variants to keep a host of policy wonks going for the rest of their lives.
But the details of the Clintonian plan, however diabolic, are merely petty demons compared to the general principles, where Lucifer really lurks. By accepting the principles, and fighting over the details, the Loyal Opposition only succeeds in giving away the store, and doing so before the debate over the details can even get under way. Lost in an eye-glazing thicket of minutiae, the conservative critics of Clintonian reform, by being "responsible" and working within the paradigm set by The Enemy, are performing a vital service for the Clintonians in snuffing out any clear-cut opposition to Clinton's Great Leap Forward into health collectivism..[T]he Clinton health plan must be fought against root and branch...Satan is in the general principles.
Cowen's article is odd. It provides, as I say, an excellent analysis of the political state of the current healthcare proposals but leaves the reader dangling with no sense as to what form of health care is best. This dangling, of course, could be eliminated if general principles were introduced into the discussion. But this is not done. Instead, we are told about the proposals delivered but are not told the proposals will suffocate the healthcare system and a much better alternative is available.


  1. Unfortunately, he conducts the analysis as though there is no concept such as free market healthcare

    Well, that's because Mr. Cowen is a thoughtful, mainstream libertarian which allows him to write for Bloomberg.

    That allows him to write three pages of flowing prose when fringe characters like us would say something like: You can do whatever you want. It's your property. You can enter into any contract you'd like if you find someone who agrees with the terms. That's just so boring. And simplistic.

  2. People considered Cowen the next Murray Rothbard? That's crazy!

    Besides, NS Kinsella is clearly the next Murray Rothbard.


  3. It is because Cowen is a coward, who fell for statist apologies for one reason or another. The pressure is very strong at high end academia. To accept Austrian Economics, one must both accept (1) the scientific aspect, and (2) the "moral" aspect, meaning, the grounding for why one should pursue the most just and value producing outcomes.

    1. @Perry Mason

      I actually disagree with your #2. Economics is a "wertfrei" endeavor.

      In fact, I think it's clear that the neoliberal elite have internalized many of the lessons of Austrianism, which has resulted in the abandonment of hard socialism in favor of subtler interventionism. They don't do so because they're "moral" but rather because they prefer to have limited control over an economic powerhouse rather than total control over an impoverished anthill. And Mises explained precisely why society is not simply a lump of clay they can mold at will, and why it's crucial to allow at least some scope for individual action.