Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Health-Care Debate

Peggy Noonan makes an excellent point in this morning's Wall Street Journal: "As the federal government claims ever greater powers, its language has become vague to the point of meaningless and meaningless to the point of menacing" Link here.

In particular Noonan calls out Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius for answering a question: "in that dead and deadening governmental language that does not reveal or clarify but instead wraps legitimate queries in clouds of words and sends them on their way."

An example: Sibelius was talking about: "single payer plan vis-a-vis private multiparty insurers."

Why do government officials talk this way? I think that it's a rhetorical ploy.

Noonan identified the first part of the ploy: the people who are talking this talk are "extremely bright and pleasant types with no particular and personal knowledge of business in America."

In other words, they traffic in academic jargon because they do not know what they are talking about.

The second point is that they are trying to persuade us that they know more than everyone else, especially those unfortunate souls who have actual experience.

The more we are persuaded of their superior intellect the more we will feel comfortable allowing them to reform the system.

Their reforms are not about making the system work better or providing more care for more people. Not at all. They want the system to conform to their vision of an ideal health care system.

If it is impracticable, if it forces the country to ration health care, if it is far too expensive to sustain... well then these same great thinkers will gin up their mental faculties to figure out who to blame. I can guarantee that they will not be on the list.

Clearly, Peggy Noonan is right that "the indecipherable language of government has actually become dangerous to the well-being of the nation."

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