• Incivility and health care reform

    I know Austin already touched on this, but I want to add my two cents. Mostly, it’s to roll my eyes.

    First of all, Avik Roy is a big boy. He has, I’m sure, a great job. He is an influential conservative voice on health policy. He writes for national publications and appears on national television programs. There’s no way this last week has been anything but awesome for his career. So there is simply no need – none – for anyone to write another word “defending” him. Mostly, that’s because anyone spending time on that is not spending time writing about things that actually matter in the world. Like health policy.

    Moreover, too often, that’s how people avoid actual issues. They get all “offended”, and that becomes the story, instead of what we really need to discuss. There are actual differences of opinion here, and different values that inform reform.

    I can’t believe how many pieces I’ve read in the last week that focus on Avik, what someone said about Avik, what someone else said defending Avik, or how it’s become impossible for us to have a real debate. Please. Real discussions occur every day, right here on this blog as well as many others.Sure, they don’t seem to occur on TV or in many other blogs. But that’s because the incivility sells. It gets eyeballs and clickthroughs. Many, many people go and read it, and then talk about it, and make that the focus.

    It also allows some to avoid the debate they’d rather not have, no matter how much they profess to desire it.

    Just stop. Take a deep breath. Ignore the incivil people if that’s not your cup of tea and engage the argument. Don’t look for something to get the vapors over. Be the debate you want to see. Promote it when you see it. Then, maybe, things will change.


    • Who?

    • Why do humans reason?

      To GET OVER, to “win” the debate at hand. Not to tack toward objective truth (or evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” in support of a conclusion).

      e.g, Trial Lawyering 101

      See Sperber and Mercier.

    • You are missing the issue. Roy clearly engaged in the discussion in bad faith, using “evidence” so cherry picked and ignoring all of the pertinent issues involved in the discussion, that the only possibilities is that he is beyond George W. Bush in degree of idiocy or he was writing in bad faith. All the writers you refer to who “attacked” him clearly decided that rather than being a total idiot, he is a con-man instead. They also all rather clearly explained why his arguments were invalid and why they made it clear he was a con-man.

      • I didn’t take any of them to task. I literally said I’m rolling my eyes over this. I want everyone to thicken their skin and not discuss this!

        • The problem with that is that for lay people who read wonky blogs, credibility counts as much or more than the arguments. We don’t always have the wherewithal to know when an authoritative, reasonable sounding argument is nonsense.

          I had been reading Roy as a smart, well informed healthcare wonk with whom I had philosophical differences but from whom I thought I could learn something. That appears not to be the case, or in any case I don’t have time to read him if that entails doing a fact check for every column.

    • It is clear that Roy is being dishonest, maybe with himself if not intentionally dishonest with his readers. It is clear that comparing current health care insurance prices, where insurers rate individuals based on health, with the new exchange based health care, which works on community rating, without calling attention to the difference is incorrect, and that experts on this subject such as Avik Roy, should know better.

      It is perfectly proper to call attention to this, and make sure that Roy and those who make the same argument do not get by with it.
      Roy’s attempts to defend himself are also lame.

      There are some problems with Obamacare, and other issues that need to be discussed, but we need to make sure that dishonest people will not make dishonest arguments, in order the ensure a good faith and productive discussion on other issues.

      • “It is clear that comparing current health care insurance prices, where insurers rate individuals based on health, with the new exchange based health care, which works on community rating, without calling attention to the difference is incorrect.”

        Exactly right! So, for example, no one should claim this about ACA: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

        Also, no one should make this claim: “What we know for sure the bill will do is that it will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.”

        So who are the liars and charlatans making these claims? Barack Obama (President of the US) and Jon Gruber (MIT economist and champion of ACA).

        Enough with the double standards already.

    • How can you have a health policy debate when one party is busy trying to find crimes against our POTUS so they can impeach him? How can you have a debate when one side refuses to deal with any facts? Roll your eyes if you want at people attacking Roy, but you better be giving Roy the finger for what he wrote.

      • I’m rolling my eyes are the up and back. By all means, attack the post. But the shift of debate is a distraction.

        • and you can’t have an honest debate when one side refuses to be honest.

        • Mmm… I replied on Rober Ebert’s blog last year on his “A Statement and a “Film”” entry. Unfortunately the comments are no longer there.

          In that blog he asked, in essence, what people’s stances were on the statement that came out of the U.S. embassy in Egypt on Sept. 11, 2012. Along with that his exposition of his own towards that of Romney’s subsequent statements to the media. At the end he stated (in paraphrase) “I want to focus on the film. Who? Why? etc.”

          In short, a very long debate occurred (some silly, some vulgar, etc.) over the statement. In the middle of it all Roger came back and lamented “But, everyone is arguing over the embassy statement itself and not about the film”

          Some commenters, including myself, responded…

          He made the same mistake (in my mind) as you’re doing right now. Communication style in itself is a topic and is highly subject to the context it is applied to. Okay, you’ve said your piece about one part of it.

          I don’t think you can simply write a blog article explaining your stance on writing style in the context of an ongoing ACA debate and then assume it would not invite the exact subject it is tied to.

          There’s three appeals in rhetorical argument for a reason. Things matter to each listener at different intensities due to potentially radically different causes. Appealing to whatever is effective is what persuades. Preference by the speaker has little consequence in that outcome. So…yes, logic and “real debate” may take a back seat as you infer. If you think that it results in less than the best outcome to your position, then why? In the end it’s numbers of supporters or detractors and their ardor that count.

    • Sounds to me like you care more about people being nice to each other than you do about the truth. That is not acceptable.