Smart Ignorant Conservative

Veronique de RugySomething really interesting happened this morning on Up With Chris Hayes. One of the guests was Veronique de Rugy, who was repeatedly referred to as a researcher at George Mason University, but who seems more correctly called an adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute. She is clearly a smart woman—she has a PhD from the University of Paris—Sorbonne. And yet, she was slapped down multiple times over factual errors.

This starts in the very first segment where she claims that we are focusing on the trees instead of the forest, “Which is this gigantic crisis in entitlement spending that’s coming.” That line made me jump out of my chair, but luckily, Chris Hayes was there to save the day, “There’s not a gigantic crisis in entitlement spending.” She responds, “Oh really?! Have you looked at the numbers going forward?” And he has a simple retort, “The projections right now for the Medicare trust fund, for instance, is solvency for the next 13 years, which is above what the projection has been for the life of the program.”

The point here is not, “Oh look at the conservative embarrassing herself.” It is that this is a smart and well educated woman. But she lives and works in the conservative bubble where everyone just knows things that simply aren’t true. One of those is: entitlements are bankrupting us; be afraid! And this just shows that even for the smart people at the most prestigious conservative think tanks, their conservative beliefs are faith based, not fact based. I occasionally see a liberal politician or pundit get information wrong, but not a liberal intellectual. If the data do not support their positions, they usually change their positions. And when they don’t, they at least know where the weak points of their arguments are.

The show continued on with the addition of Bruce Bartlett. I’m going to attack him in an article later tonight, so let me say for the record: there is no better conservative. He really does know his stuff. And it was nice to see him slap down de Rugy multiple times. She claimed that Grover Norquist is right to hold taxes and spending as a single issue. She used the same old Republican canard that, “Well, those Republicans that came before weren’t really conservative!” Bartlett slaps her down. She then doubles down on this idea and then Barlett kind of loses it. He says, “Your idea is so God damned dogmatic. You’re living in this fantasy land where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas.” She keeps fighting. “There won’t be enough tax revenue to pay for the large spending increases…” He cuts her off, “That’s not true! That’s a factually incorrect statement.”

It was wonderful to watch. Bartlett has clearly had it with all this conservative nonsense. And part of his anger certainly comes from being drummed out of the inner circle of the conservative movement for his apostasy. What I think I’m seeing is what happens to any small extreme group: they purge themselves. And after a while, you are only left with those who (voluntarily or not) are willing to drink the kool-aid. Clearly, de Rugy has drunk the kool-aid. What is a mystery is how the elites of a major American political party could exhibit this kind of behavior.

Watch this clip. It is fun:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Smart Ignorant Conservative

  1. In defense of the indefensible — Medicare is a future budget problem. Not because of the system (which, as we know, is far more efficient than private insurance) but because medical costs keep going up.

    This is something leftists don’t want to address, since they’re stalled at even taking insurance away from private profit-takers. But a simple walker to help elderly people with mobility costs $60 to buy (and probably $5 to manufacture.) That’s because insurance will pay for it, in most cases, and so there’s no restriction on inflation (besides premiums, which everyone has to pay.)

    I work with disabled people, so I deal with doctors a lot, and most of the good ones are fed up with spending the majority of their time writing letters to get insurers to authorize needed treatments. But they work for private companies, so they are pressured to bill more patients, squeeze more time, write more prescriptions.

    Note to anyone no longer young: find a general practitioner you trust, and take their recommendations on everything. Do not see a specialist unless your GP refers you to that person. If you are in a hospital, address your needs by talking to a nurse. The roving MD probably could not give less of two shits about you. GP’s generally became doctors because they liked the idea of using brainpower to help people. Specialists and hospital doctors usually got into it for the money and social cache. They are paid way, way more than GPs.

    I have occasionally heard the caveat that "if doctors are paid less under a socialist system, the best won’t become doctors." This is dumb. "The best" only applies to certain very specific physical/mental skils, like hitting curveballs, bagging groceries really efficiently, or cooking a damn fine entree plate. Doctors are diagnosticians; they take a best guess at what’s wrong with you from their education and their experience. Surgeons are apt at having careful hands; so are the people who paint details on their cars. I daresay most of them could be as precise as surgeons, with the caveat that they might actually give a damn and talk to you afterwards.

    Good GPs are on my short list of certified heroes in this world. Most hospital doctors and specialists aren’t. Yet those are billed for a lot more. Any real health care reform has to address that, and has to address the convoluted relationship between insurers and providers that results in double-dipped tabs for $10,000 wheelchairs.

    de Rugy isn’t wrong. She’s just simplistic. And wrong.

  2. @JMF – Good advice.

    I tend to have a dim view of all doctors because I used to teach physics to pre-meds. Now, in their defense, most of them, even now, became doctors before it got to be quite so hard to get into medical school. (The ER syndrome.) All these young people were very smart and most of them were devoid of a soul. I despised most of them.

    In my own experience, I find that doctors spend a lot of time faking it. They often don’t know important stuff.

    Okay, that was the bad stuff.

    One GP told me that his work was very much like that of a plumber. I thought that was not only very humble, but very accurate. And be honest: there are times when a plumber is far more important to your health than a doctor. (Historically, plumbers have increased life expectancy far more than doctors.)

    Doctors have also saved my life. Some are good and some are bad. I did once have a specialist who I thought was very good and very caring. I also had a crush on her, so whatever.

    I would say insurance companies are the biggest problem in our healthcare system. However, doctors are paid too much. Specialists even more so.

    The problem I have with conservatives is that they scream about hypotheticals (Socialized insurance will destroy our great medical care!) and complain whenever the government does something to cut costs (Obama is cutting Medicare!).

    De Rugy [i]is[/i] ignorant.

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