Tag Archives: NY Times Magazine
In a 7/19/9 New York Times Magazine article “Why We Must Ration Health Care,” Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer argues that we need government to actively ration the amount of medical care Americans get, particularly as they near the ends of their lives. Unfortunately for his readers, his argument is riddled with false hypotheses, untrue statements, and faulty logic. It is also unethical.
He mistakenly argues that health care is both a “scarce resource” (which it is) and a “public” good (which it is not). An economist could have told him that a public good must be both non-excludable and its consumption non-rivalrous. That’s economic geek-speak meaning that it’s not a public good if its use can be limited to paying customers or if nobody else gets to use it when you do—whether you paid for it or not. Accordingly, national defense is a public good, but health care is an “economic good” which Dictionary.com defines as “a commodity or service that can be utilized to satisfy human wants and that has exchange value.” Thus, economic goods include anything for which the supply is limited and that somebody has to be willing to pay for–like medical care.