Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The Mystery of the Media Mind

I fired off a copy of my entry on the Ellen Goodman / Maine-Health-Care-Is-Good column to my local paper, the Indy Star, and they ran it as a Letter to the Editor.

It is interesting to see what gets cut out. I'll reprint the original below, and highlight in bold the things that were cut, and put in italics the things that were changed or added.

This responds to Ellen Goodman's July 8 column, "What he's done for the people."

If ice cream cones are offered to the public free of charge, you can expect that there will be a run on ice cream cones. The line will be long, and even people who don't particulalry want or need an ice cream cone will queue up to get one. After all- they're free!

If luxury automobiles are similarly given away, the line will be longer, since the unearned value to be obtained is greater.

In the usual analysis of health care, the cost is derided as a great negative. The cost is seen as high, and as preventing some from access to the care. But high cost does have a function. It ensures that need really is the driving force behind acquisition of care. Cost makes all interested parties choose carefully before committing to spending.

Health care, like any other human product or service, is still subject to the laws of supply and demand. Maine Gov. John Baldacci's plan ignores this reality.

What has Baldacci done for the people? He has done something for all of the people, wittingly or not.

I was hoping that Oregon would have passed statewide universal healthcare when the voters had the chance to adapt it. Alas, the voters shot it down 80-20. Maybe the people there know something.

What Baldacci has done in not letting the voters decide is to give the other 49 states a classroom experience. We will all get to see if this thing works or if it fails. Expect it to be a disaster.

Mark Maine's current population statistics. That will be a telling figure. The other telling figure will be the poverty statistics. Expect both to increase. Sure, the people paying the tax bill will have a good reason to exodus, but they will have trouble getting to the turnstyle as those looking for health care that is provided by someone other than themselves clog the entrance.

Maine may not be the last state to enact this hideous policy. If my home state of Indiana follows suit Maine's example, I will make good on the kind of threat George Clooney reneged on: I'll leave it for a more liberty-loving, hospitable state.

That's no idle threat. I gave myself a 7% raise when I left Ohio last August, just on the tax savings. Think I wouldn't do it again?

The edit that strikes me as most curious is the one that begins, 'Mark Maine's current population statistics..." What the edit has done is to leave my assertion hanging out there with no support.

Not surprisingly, both references to unearned benefits were chopped. Also not so surprising was the chopping of my reminder that Oregon voters opposed universal health care in their state in a landslide.

Lastly, I was not surprised to see my description of Maine's policy as 'hideous' removed.

I was glad that what was left of the letter was printed, and that the main case could still be gleaned from it. I find it a fascinating before-and-after comparison, to be sure.

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