Making the world fit your world-view

Austin emailed me a thought worth sharing. On Monday, I wrote the following at CNN about Rep. Akin’s comments:

[I]f you really believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, then it’s hard to suggest that there is any rationalization for it at all. While ethically consistent, this belief is rare in the United States. Even among those who oppose abortion, most people support exceptions for rape and incest.

It’s hard for a politician who firmly opposes abortion to square this. Such a person wants the support of a majority of people but doesn’t want to compromise principles. One option, then, is to find a way to make the occurrence of the problem nonexistent. If pregnancy from rape doesn’t happen, then we don’t need exceptions in the law.

This is what happens when a belief system you’re very committed to runs into the messy real world. I think the same thing is happening in my last post.

If you believe – and I mean believe – that government is bad, then you need to believe it’s bad, period. It’s bad because it stifles innovation. It’s bad because it limits choice. It has to be bad at everything, including controlling costs.

The real world is messy. Sure, government is bad at some things. But it’s also good at some things. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that innovation and choice are more important than saving money, so you want to limit government in health care. But if you profess that saving money is the most important thing right now, then government is what you want. You run into trouble because that runs counter to your belief system.

This is the difference between faith-based and evidence-based arguments. Faith is shaken when the world proves it wrong.

I believe that the cost-control measures of the ACA are worth the potential downsides. You may disagree. But some people want to deny they even exist!

We can have a serious debate on the trade-offs between more and less government in health care. But when you just assert, and believe, that government can’t do anything, even when evidence proves otherwise, it’s hard to have a real conversation.


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