Did you know that Paul Krugman is more compassionate than you are? Or so he says.
In fact, just about everybody who is left of center is more compassionate than everybody who is right of center, Krugman explained in a recent New York Times editorial.
“American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions,” he wrote. If you identify with Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” vision you are today part of the “free to die” crowd.
That last bit is a reference to Republican presidential candidates foolishly stumbling over a Wolf Blitzer question about what should be done with a man who willfully chooses to be uninsured and then discovers needs lifesaving medical care. No, in case you are wondering, none of them said “let him die.” But Krugman would like you to believe that is the position of the entire Republican Party.
[Democrats, by the way, would also have trouble with that question. In fact there is nothing in Obama Care that guarantees health care for someone who ignores the government mandate and remains uninsured.]
Krugman is not alone. Writing at Health Affairs the other day, Princeton University economist Uwe E. Reinhardt described the current budget impasse in Washington by declaring that this country has been in:
…a long ideological war fought over the distribution of economic privilege in this country, a war that has been raging unabated for over three decades now.
One side in this war believes that the current distribution of income and wealth in this country is fair, as it rewards generously those who contribute commensurately to the economy and properly gives short shrift for those who do not — e.g., unskilled workers…
The opposing faction believes that the current distribution of income and wealth no longer is the product of a genuine meritocracy, and even if it were, that health care, education and legal care are so-called social goods to which rich and poor should have access on roughly equal terms, regardless of their own ability to pay.
Although Reinhardt doesn’t engage in the kind of ad hominem personal character attacks that are Krugman’s stock in trade, the message is still the same: one side cares about the unfortunate and the other side doesn’t.
John C. Goodman is President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, and author of the acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts." He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.