A darn good argument is required

Everybody is entitled to their opinion. But if one wishes to convince critical and deep thinkers of something, it takes a pretty good argument. For example, if one believes that government should play little to no role in health care, it’d be nice to back it up with something that could convince the distinguished group of 23 economists that signed this letter back in November of 2009.

Or, if one believes that the ACA ought not to have passed, one would not be in the company of the 80 or so scholars who signed this letter in February of 2010.

I know full well, one could round up 80 or even 800 scholars to sign opposing letters. My point is this: government is and has been deeply involved in health care for decades. The ACA has passed, which is evidence that the argument for it not only convinced the scholars who signed the letter referenced above, but a majority of the members of Congress (including a super-majority of the Senate) and a president. Clearly a good argument–not one that convinced everyone–but a good one, has been made in favor of health reform.

What’s the good argument for going undoing it? That we have a looming budget problem is insufficient. We’d have one without health reform. That health care costs are out of control is not itself a reason to undo reforms to health insurance markets. I agree more cost control is needed. That’s the place to start a discussion.

Any argument that begins, “It costs too much,” should end with, “So we need more reform.” I would be more than happy to begin right there. Put aside “repeal.” That’s clearly politically charged. Just start with, “Let’s move forward with something that helps.” Then I’ll listen. Then you may convince me of your idea. And if you convince me, maybe you can convince one or another of those more distinguished and influential than I am. You know, someone who signs open letters to the President.

My advice: if you want someone to listen, don’t start arguing. Start with a good argument. Don’t pick fights. Pick up a shovel. Get to work! Build a coalition. Convince people of your good idea. Don’t harangue them about how they are wrong. There is a difference.

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