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April 27, 2006

Hoo Boy

This is the sort of high quality political commentary you can only find in The National Review:

Rest assured that I am not going to write about insurance per se. That requires a natural ear for droning that I lack; a numbers cruncher’s visceral need to drizzle “%” signs all over the page; and, of course, the technical knowledge to criticize HillaryCare and BushCare. I can’t do that. As Samuel Johnson said of the plot of Cymbeline, “It is impossible to criticize unresisting imbecility.”

I leave “deductibles” and “co-payments” and all the rest of it to the panicky-eyed patients milling around the doctor’s checkout desk while his shattered nurse waits on hold to find out who pays for the first three hemorrhoids.

I love the pride folks take in their ignorance, particularly when they're puffing out their chest because they can't evaluate the policy they've chosen to write about. It's like a disclaimer: "Everything I'm about to say is ill-considered and uninformed. Don't listen."

But more than not listening, I shouldn't have read. What follows is honestly -- and I rarely use this word, but I simply can't think of another -- moronic. It's one part cultural analysis of the concept of insurance, one part bizarre moral hazard argument. It argues that insurance created the hypochondriac. It argues that the fundamental reason folks rush to the doctor -- I shit you not -- is they hate to "waste" their insurance. That's right, I go and spend hours in waiting rooms because I got an insurance card burning a hole in my pocket, baby.

I just don't know what to say.

April 27, 2006 | Permalink


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Who wrote this?

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Apr 27, 2006 3:35:27 PM

Florence King.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 27, 2006 3:44:59 PM

The same cretins who rant against health insurance and social security can't be bothered about billions of $$ being passed out in the form of corporate welfare.

Posted by: cajun | Apr 27, 2006 4:15:30 PM

Its just pathetic, these people have nothing to do with their time and they project that uselessness on the rest of us. Taking time out to go to the Doctor is literally *impossible* for most lower income people because that time isn't covered for them in any sense *even if they have insurance*. Just to take one example with which I am painfully familiar--I'm insured and self employed and can take what time I need (or my doctors require) when my children or I need medical care. If that means hanging out in the doctor's waiting room for two or three hours, its not that big a deal. My children's babysitter, however, holder of three sets of jobs (one of which has health insurance) not only has to take time off to get to the doctor for herself--time that is unremunerated--but time off for each of her relatives who gets sick because either they need child-care to cover their doctor appointments or they need translation care. None of those people goes to the doctor unless they are at death's door because they have to call in so many favors to cover their work or their finances to get to the doctor in the first place. The idea that the majority, or even the minority, of americans is abusing their "privilige" of health insurance is positively obscene.


Posted by: aimai | Apr 27, 2006 4:15:48 PM

panicky-eyed patients milling around the doctor’s checkout desk

that is some true condescension right there. What an a-hole.

Posted by: Kathleen | Apr 27, 2006 4:28:11 PM

moronic asshole is better.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 27, 2006 4:32:33 PM

Dayum. Florence King used to have a brain, back in the day. Too bad she lost it. ("What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind," as Dan Quayle used to say.)

Posted by: RT | Apr 27, 2006 4:36:51 PM

"Fatuous", is I believe the word you are looking for here.

Posted by: Dan F. | Apr 27, 2006 5:10:41 PM

Well... Look up King's entry in Wikipedia. It looks like she's supposed to be the NR's version of Dave Barry, or some such. I wouldn't take her screed as an attempt at serious discussion in any sense.

There are more than enough fuckwits with real influence to worry about, nowadays. Let's stick to illuminating the spaces under their rocks, and ignore the lightweights.

Posted by: sglover | Apr 27, 2006 5:42:32 PM

Kathleen hits the nail right on the head. The words drip with disdain for the unwashed masses for whom money that is spent at the doctor is nontrivial.

It's sick, really, sick for someone to have such an attitude.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 27, 2006 6:38:25 PM

I get the sense King is one of those highly sarcastic conservatives burning down the shibboleths of PC thought to remind us that We All Think This Way Anyway, So Why Not Admit It? I get the impression (apparently she was retired, and she just came back) that at one point she was wickedly funny at this. I'm not so up in arms as Ezra is, mostly because I think this kind of thing works as long as the writer has some really sharp knowledge of the topic and can skewer the right things. King's clearly talking through her...ahem ... hat on this, and so it just seems, as you point out, idiotic. That said, she's got a way with the language. I hope she gets her act together, or it's just going to be painful to watch.

Maybe we can send her some of Adele Ferguson's work to give her some ideas... ;)

Posted by: weboy | Apr 27, 2006 7:25:17 PM

WTF was that? Was she trying to be funny? I think I lost a few IQ points just by reading that excerpt.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope | Apr 27, 2006 8:00:57 PM

I think UI is on to something here: how long do we think it will take for the buffoon circus over at NRO to hastily issue one of their patented pompous "clarifications" over King's piece, claiming that it was actually "wry humor" and sneering at us "humorless liberals" for not getting the joke?

Posted by: Jay C | Apr 27, 2006 10:28:06 PM

It argues that insurance created the hypochondriac.

Actually, an affluent middle-class paying its bills out of its pocket created the hypochondriac in the 18th century. Lots of good work by the late Roy Porter and others on the emergence of elective medicine during the period: spas, rest cures, etc. The current US healthcare system feeds this culture of 'boutique treatment choices as middle-class status symbols'.

I can understand why Ezra's angry about this: it's the 'whatevah' approach so common at Moron Junction or thereabouts, most recently used to establish the 'truth' that Glenn Reynolds, by selling fewer books than Kos, is selling more. Do the spadework, show the numbers, and it's all just wonkery. It's one thing to be dumb; it's another thing to lionise ignorance.

Posted by: nick s | Apr 28, 2006 11:58:48 AM

Brad DeLong has some advice for Ezra:

I know what Ezra should say. Here's what he should say: "Congratulations, Ms. King. You are now the front runner in the Stupidest Woman Alive contest. Oh, and anybody listening who has written for National Review wants to be taken for anything other than a moronic hack? Run, as far and as fast as you can, away from the operation. And change your name too."

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 28, 2006 12:17:02 PM

But it's even more ironic than that: the one health policy I know of that actually does induce people to consume "unnecessary" health care is conservative's favorite policy: health savings accounts. I have a couple of friends who have such accounts right now and, the way they're currently structured, they set aside money tax-free but they lose the money if they don't spend it. Thus, towards the end of any period in which they happen to emerge healthy and without serious health issues, they have a little bit of money left over and no choice but to find something to spend it on, lest they see no benefit from it at all.

Posted by: The Navigator | Apr 28, 2006 5:02:40 PM

Reminds me of Molly Ivins' introduction to FAIR's book about Rush Limbaugh, in which she pointed out that Rush's "comedic" targets tend to be the poor, minorities, and such -- the powerless -- and that making fun of the powerless is vulgar.

NR's Dave Barry? I don't think so. David Spade, maybe.

Posted by: filkertom | Apr 29, 2006 7:22:02 AM

Since I live in Spain, I can benefit from universal coverage.

I've gone to the hospital a total of 4 times in 6 years. I suffer from chronical rhinitis, have quite a few intestine problems and I'm very prone to suffer flu.

I can go to the doctor for free, but if I'm not in a severe pain, I just don't see the point of it. And I live 300 mts away from the facilities.

"Hypocondriac culture" my arse.

Posted by: Marcos Castrillón | Apr 30, 2006 9:16:19 PM

There are many different types of cushions out there so make sure to try out multiple cushions before deciding which one to get because you will likely be using it to sit for a long time. You can even buy a reclining chair which has a built in donut cushion for maximum relief. Remember your health is the most important thing so do not go cheap on this.

Posted by: Venapro | Jun 25, 2009 4:27:23 PM

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