A frenzied Mark Ames at AlterNet attempts to discredit Megan McArdle’s writings on health-care reform by pointing out that her father has worked for the government and that she writes for the Atlantic! !!! It’s truly hysterical. Ames has done an immense service to critical thinking instructors the world over by piling so many argumentative fallacies into one neat package.
Well, maybe that’s the wrong attitude. After all, how can we really evaluate Ames’ argument before we know more about his parents and the circumstances of his childhood? And who am I to cast stones? I must admit that I too have parents. I suppose I ought to take this opportunity to expose my own hypocrisy before muckraking geniuses like Ames expose them first. So here we go. This isn’t going to be easy. Ahem!
So, my father had a long career as a police officer. There. It’s out. During my childhood, the taxpayers of Independence, Missouri and Marshalltown, Iowa put bread on our table and clothes on my back. Indeed, in Marshalltown (and, after I left home, in Council Bluffs, Iowa) my father was the chief of police. Nevertheless, I consider illegitimate many of the laws police officers are charged to enforce, and thus I believe police officers to be guilty of serious moral transgressions that differ from criminal assault, kidnapping, theft, etc., only in the sanction of the state and approval of the bulk of society. Yet, given the fact that policing paid for my piano lessons, any opinions I might have about police abuses of power, or about the state generally, pretty clearly refute themselves.
Perhaps worse, I learned to read and write in public schools, yet I use those very skills at a libertarian think tank (!!!) where I sometimes argue against the status quo system of public education. It is truly a wonder that I am able to sleep at night.
Actually… Doesn’t Megan suffer from insomnia? She does. So what more is there to say? Just this: greater government control over the health care system poses no threat to medical innovation or individual liberty. Anyone who would tell you otherwise probably has parents.