Reason under Attack

Article excerpt

America is suffering from a mind-set shockingly indicative of a lack of rudimentary reason. And nowhere is this deficit more on display than on the editorial pages of newspapers.

On any given day you can find editorial comment so bereft of critical thinking that it makes you shudder. To wit:

* The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lamented a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that allows employers to reduce or eliminate health-care benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. Our health-care system is broken and must be "reformed," it cried. It calls for "mandatory" health insurance for everybody.

Actually, it's government that's broken and in need of reform. How else can you characterize one arm of the federal government mandating that another arm of the federal government relieve the private sector of a personal obligation?

But wait, there's more to it than just that. Read on.

* The New York Times long has been on the bandwagon for mandatory health insurance. "Health improves when people gain insurance coverage," it editorialized.

To plug this assessment into the well-known equation of 17th- century French economist Frederic Bastiat, that's the "seen." The "unseen" is that mandatory coverage will only fuel the seldom- discussed fact that, as Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby notes, "health care costs so much because most of us pay so little for it."

And we pay so little because insurance picks up most of the tab. If health consumers had to pay more upfront, frivolous utilization would fall, costs would, too, and market forces would make health care more affordable.

So much for The Times' "compelling" case for mandatory health insurance. …