Aaron Carroll is a doctor and a healthcare blogger. I wrote to him about a year ago about trend changes in healthcare. He was nice enough to write back that he didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Ah, the trials of a PhD scientist! Anyway, he takes on Tyler Cowen’s column in the New York Times, The New Tug of War Over Medicaid. Carroll is nicer than I am; he starts his article by going out of his way to say that he normally thinks very highly of Cowen. I’m just truthful: Tyler Cowen is a dick.
But once Carroll gets going, he is as blunt in his appraisal of Cowen’s argument as I am of Cowen himself. He starts each of the center paragraphs, “I get a bit annoyed…” There are five of them.
- when people claim that we can’t “afford” more government intervention
- by the claim that an expansion of government insurance leads to lines and waiting
- by blanket claims that doctors won’t accept Medicaid
- when people just claim government programs are “unpopular”
- at the blanket acceptance of the awesomeness of the free market in health care
He provides information that debunks each one of these claims. Mostly, he is just annoyed that thoroughly debunked ideas show up in columns in major American newspapers.
What Aaron Carroll doesn’t understands is that conservatives (including libertarians like Cowen) are not intellectually honest. Their ideology is fact-proof. This is because ideology always trumps new facts. As John Maynard Keynes said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” What conservatives do is ignore the facts. I know this. But when they do this, I, like Aaron Carroll, get a bit annoyed.
 I noted something really interesting, but no one is going to spend an hour listening to me talk about trend lines and their derivatives. If anyone starts making a big deal out of this, I will be really pissed off.