Sunday, October 11, 2009

On... ?

I was going to call this post "On Healthcare," then "On Americans," but ultimately I'm not sure what it's on. I'm reposting the final paragraph of a recent post by Megan McArdle because it resonated with me, but I can't figure out exactly why I loved it so much. Maybe someone else can help me describe what it is I see.
It's no good saying that well, we should try to be more like the Netherlands--you can't build a system on the assumption that you will, suddenly and for no apparent reason, be able to import someone else's political culture. Progressives are watching the whole health care legislative process with utter dismay as it produces a monster of a bill that not even its mother could love--and trying to love it anyway, on the grounds that it's a start. But this ridiculous hodgepodge, this hypertrophied Rube Goldberg apparatus, is not some startling aberration of the political process, induced by some Republican dark magic. This is the kind of thing the American political system produces. This is why all of our programs have a substantial element of the inexplicable and bizarre.

1 comment:

Pete Abbate said...

Alex T provides some commentary on MR about Elinor Ostrom, co-winner of this year's Nobel in Economics. Is it just me or is the following passage a nice rephrasing of Megan's central idea?


For Ostrom it's not the tragedy of the commons but the opportunity of the commons. Not only can a commons be well-governed but the rules which help to provide efficiency in resource use are also those that foster community and engagement. A formally government protected forest, for example, will fail to protect if the local users do not regard the rules as legitimate. In Hayekian terms legislation is not the same as law. Ostrom's work is about understanding how the laws of common resource governance evolve and how we may better conserve resources by making legislation that does not conflict with law.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty