Don’t Tell Me What’s Good For Me!

05 Aug

One of the dominant arguments against government health reform, or even those who happen to support it is the conservative ideological position: “Government doesn’t know what’s best for me.” There’s a logical flaw in this way of thinking. While the people who feel this way will often admit–as some sort of evidence in support of government’s ignorance–that not even they, themselves, know what’s best for them, their opposition to government involvement tends to overstep its bounds.

What I mean is this: If you are opposed to government being involved in your own life, that’s okay, but as soon as you generalize to the point where you oppose government being involved in the lives of private citizens at large, you have taken a very poorly calculated step. For now, you have unknowingly placed yourself in the position you claim to oppose. You are now, indirectly, claiming that you know what is best for everyone else. Any attempts you might make to “convince” the other side that your position is the properly held one is born of the belief that you are right and they, unless and until they happen to agree with you, are wrong.

Thus, let us not be fooled into thinking that “knowing what is best for you” is a liberal mentality. True, a conservative may argue that they are just trying to leave autonomy to the individual, but what about those individuals who are willing to make some sacrifices in exchange for obtaining better (or any) health care coverage? Aren’t opponents of reform claiming to “know what is best for them?”

Rather than an ideological back-and-forth, individuals should focus on the particulars of the issue. Unfortunately, the details are often so complicated that the media hesitates to cover them fully, and political buzzwords lay claim to the debate. I would love to spell out all of the nuts and bolts of the proposed reform, but I have a dissertation to work on. Therefore, I refer you to a handy side-by-side analysis tool from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Later today, I’m going to provide a “crash course” on cost-effectiveness. It should be contentious, because for all of the talk about cost curves, limited choice, loss of benefits, and the like, this is one of the central pieces. It’s been around for years, but not many lay people know about it. This afternoon, that will change.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 5, 2009 in Uncategorized


One response to “Don’t Tell Me What’s Good For Me!

  1. Joel

    August 5, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    This is a pretty poor argument. Simplistically defining any sort of opinion on public policy as "thinking you know what's best for someone" dodges the real issue with word games. Sure, you can say that someone defending individual liberties "thinks that they know what's best" – no one argues about policy without thinking they know what's best.The basic issue is whether we want to enable our government to provide something extra at the expense of a few more freedoms. Since we would be enabling it to take action as opposed to limiting it from doing so, it's important that they know what's best for us. Arguing for limited government does not imply that you think you know what's best for everyone, only that you don't believe the government does.So allow me to correct your "conservative ideological position" by finishing it:"Government doesn't know what's best for me. They don't know what's best for you, either. If you don't know, it's your responsibility to find out."


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