Avoid “the absurd prescriptions of the doctor”

by Don Boudreaux on October 27, 2009

in Hubris and humility, Myths and Fallacies

Bob Higgs makes the important point that a valid diagnosis does not necessarily suggest a cure for the diagnosed ailment.

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TeeJaw October 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Higgs believes partisan politics is a fool’s game for the masses. He’s wrong. Here is one example of why he is wrong.It looks pretty good right now that the Republican will win the governor’s race in Virginia and the Republican in New Jersey has just jumped into a slight lead over the incompetent and arrogant Corzine. If these two elections go to the Republicans it will slow down some Democrats in the Senate from their plan to destroy the American health care system. If, on the other hand, the Dems pull out on these elections, those Democrat Senators who might otherwise restrain themselves will perceive less of a threat in the 2010 election and it will become more likely that the Obamacare nightmare will leave the station on the fast track.Partisan politics a fool’s game? No, in this case at least it is about fighting for one’s very survival. Especially if one happens to be over 65.

RG73 October 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm

So what if Republicans win two gubernatorial elections? Arnold is as big of a statist as you can find. Pawlenty is a big fan of climate hysteria and associated productivity crippling legislation. Perry is also quite fond of statist overreach. You’d be hard pressed to find a Republican governor that is a committed government minimalist. Constituents want a free bag of goodies–whether those goodies are actual entitlements or whether they are tax payer funded forays into other people’s homes to stop certain sexual practices or drug use. A governor who says “hey, you folks are on your own” just isn’t going to get elected. Sure, a Republican might be slightly less fiscally reckless and slightly less heavy handed in their application of state power over individual rights, but we’re talking mere degrees, not a real substantial difference in governance.

As for the fighting for survival if one is over 65, spare me the pity party and the hypocrisy. If you’re over 65 you are already getting socialized medicine, government welfare and entitlements paid for by those of us under 65. If you’re over 65 you need to answer for why you didn’t fight the encroachment of statism decades ago. Now, when you’re dependent on the very government you didn’t fight against, you suddenly find religion and want less government–except for the precious entitlements you already have. A fool’s game on a foolish errand.

Metre October 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm

So, just tell the patient he has a fatal disease then say “Have a nice day” as you usher him out? If economics has no prescriptions to offer, then what is the point of it?

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 5:18 pm

The point is not that economics has no prescriptions to offer; rather, economics does not necessarily suggest ways to get those prescriptions accepted in the political realm.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Would you rather not know that you are dying? Should the physician say nothing because no cure exists? I think most people would prefer to know that they are dying so they can make plans with their families and make changes (such as quiting work and taking a world cruise before dying).

Similarly, if we know that the government has a debt crisis that will come to a head in 2025 plus-or-minus five years, isn’t that better than not knowing? We may not be able to prevent the crisis, but I sure as hell would alter my personal financial plans! I might even emigrate. Diagnoses are useful even without cures.

Sam Grove October 27, 2009 at 5:29 pm

The response of lay audiences indicates the nature of the solution; inform people, then enroll them into informing other people. When enough people understand that government has become the problem, they will stop voting for it.

louh October 28, 2009 at 12:55 am

The prescription may be obvious, the dilemma seems to be with the delivery. When each and every solution is saddled with political baggage it becomes almost impossible to deliver the appropriate amount of medicine for said ailment. When “what does this mean for my constituents” is included in every solution the calculus becomes entrenched in infinite regress.

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