View Full Version : You're not smart enough to worry

08-20-2009, 10:24 AM
An amazing truth was flushed out of hiding after Sarah Palin unleashed her resonant line about people having to stand before "death panels" that would judge whether they're worth treating.

The president, Nancy Pelosi, their followers and their media pets all threw a fit. This revealed something. It is this: They think you're stupid.

Palin had found evocative words for the sense of unease many people already felt for the idea of government dominating health care. People suspect that when budgets get tight, some inescapable authority might see them as line items rather than persons.

Those pushing Obamacare have little sympathy for this. They mistook one troubling sign, that Congress would pay for (as yet) voluntary end-of-life discussions, as the entire cause of this worry.

Well, they said, that's it? You've been misled by a rumor and must be set right.

So The New York Times published an astonishingly obtuse story trying to pin down the source of the "rumor." "There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels," wrote the reporters, diligently not getting it. Editorialists produced refutations in myths-and-facts format and patronizing tones; others equated worried citizens with conspiracy loons. There is no specific Czar of Unplugging Granny, we were told, so Granny will never be unplugged.

At no point does this "debunking" actually engage with visible evidence. President Barack Obama wants some kind of government-funded "public option." Fine; how would this handle costly cases? We need not theorize. People know that in Oregon, cancer patients were told to tough it out, in Britain, they won't get painkillers for bad backs, in New Zealand, authorities for a while refused to fund Herceptin for breast cancer patients. None of this is rumor.

People know as well that Tom Daschle, the man Obama wanted to run health care, wrote a book admiring Britain's rationing of treatment by how many "quality adjusted life years" an individual might get out of it. They may have heard that Ezekiel Emanuel, a key health care adviser to the president, once suggested that while society ought to guarantee health care, perhaps it ought not guarantee it for people with dementia. Emanuel disavowed this the other day. People might wonder whether it'll stay disavowed.