Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DeLong Smackdown Watch! ("Are My Methods Unsound?" Edition)

Matthew Yglesias demonstrates that he is Il Maestro di Color che Sanno as far as quotes from "Apocalypse Now" are concerned:

Health Care as Opportunity | TPMCafe: An interesting perspective from Brad DeLong:

"Even Medicare and Medicaid and the long-run fiscal crises of America's public health-care programs and the employer-funded health-care system... Let me put it this way: it's not a crisis, it's an opportunity. If technological progress in medicine were to stop tomorrow--if what doctors and nurses and druggists and researchers do and how they do it were to freeze--then we wouldn't be looking forward to a health-care funding crisis. We would have no difficulty funding Medicare and Medicaid, as underlying economic growth boosted tax revenue by more than a stagnant health care system could spend, even with the aging of America. It is only because we--rationally--expect that our doctors, nurses, druggists, and researchers will learn how to do new things, marvelous new things, incredibly expensive new things, that we project health-care spending into the future and blanch in terror. And I do blanch in terror. But it is important not to forget that this is an opportunity: how many wonderful, medical things will we as a society decide to purchase, in how egalitarian a fashion will we as a society distribute them--will only the rich be offered clone-eye transplants when macular degeneration sets in in our nineties--and how will we pay for them? We may fail to grasp this opportunity, or fail to grasp it well. And to miss this opportunity would be a catastrophe. But it is an opportunity, not a crisis."

That makes sense when you think about it. Later, Brad steals a page from my book, quoting "Apocalypse Now" to describe the Bush approach to public policy, but he mangles the lines. Willard says, "They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound." Kurtz asks: "Are my methods unsound?" And Willard replies: "I don't see any method at all, sir." (They're surrounded by deep-jungle tribespeople, decapitated heads on sticks, all sorts of corpses, etc.) I think that about sums it up.

In comments, Robert Waldmann piles on as well. Clearly I need to buy a DVD of "Apocalypse Now" if I'm going to run with big dogs...


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