Because Ms McArdle’s comment system seems to be a bit broken, I will have to do my commenting here, although – alas – I fear this means at least a three-orders-of-magnitude drop in the number of people who see my deathless prose and sparkling wit. At any rate, I’d like to point out that this:
Who am I to say that your life is not better with a sports car and five years to live? And to the former argument, I point out that in fact, you’ll probably end up giving the wastrels less money if they do fritter it away. Because once you’ve actually provided people a minimum income that is adequate to take care of their basic needs, there’s no moral reason not to turn away those who decline insurance from the emergency rooms. Giving people more choices also means allowing them to live with the consequences of those choices.
is just a bit over-optimistic, to say the least. How are we going to credibly commit to turning people away from emergency rooms? Just who are we going to hire for the job of looking at the victim of a car accident – bleeding to death, perhaps, but with enough awareness to plead for her life – and say “Sorry, you’re not insured, out you go”? Even TSA’s goons, notoriously a joyless and robotic bunch, might balk at the task. Not to mention the uproar there would be the day after. How many headlines of an “X died for lack of Y dollars of emergency care” or “Turned out to die, would have cost $500 to save” nature would it take to overthrow this system? And this is true even though Ms McArdle’s point about moral obligations is perfectly valid. Humans just don’t seem to be wired to let people lie in the beds they make for themselves, if those beds are sufficiently uncomfortable.