On health care, is doing 'something' better than doing nothing?

Chris Gallardo
What I am getting a lot of these days in conversations with my leftist friends with regard to the healthcare bill(s) before congress is,"OK, maybe they're not perfect, but doing something is better than doing nothing, right?"

My answer is typically something like:
If your car runs out of gas on the side of the highway, is it better to fill the gas tank with rocks and dirt or is it better to fill it with nothing?

If you are stranded at sea in a rowboat and are thirsty, is it better to drink sea water or to drink nothing?

If you have a bullet in your head and were fortunate enough to survive, but it is lodged dangerously close to a critical brain component, is it better to remove it or do nothing?

Doing ‘something' is not better than doing nothing. Doing ‘something' is either better than, worse than or equivalent to doing nothing.

In history of political decisions, doing ‘something' has often been far worse than doing nothing. Doing ‘something' has, at times, had catastrophic consequences.

The usual retort that I get at this point is, "Well, OK, how do you know that what they are proposing won't be better", to which I usually answer with two points:

a) I don't. And the reason that I don't is that congress will not let me read it.
b) ‘Better' is a subjective term which frankly we shouldn't really be arguing about anyway. What we should be asking is, "Are the sum total of the costs involved, less than the sum total of the benefits and are the individuals that are going to bear those costs, aware of them and willing to pay them."

The conversation usually then evolves into one about trust in politicians and whether they are more heavily influenced by a desire to further the ‘greater good' or by self interest and career preservation.

I know where I stand.


What I am getting a lot of these days in conversations with my leftist friends with regard to the healthcare bill(s) before congress is,"OK, maybe they're not perfect, but doing something is better than doing nothing, right?"

My answer is typically something like:

If your car runs out of gas on the side of the highway, is it better to fill the gas tank with rocks and dirt or is it better to fill it with nothing?

If you are stranded at sea in a rowboat and are thirsty, is it better to drink sea water or to drink nothing?

If you have a bullet in your head and were fortunate enough to survive, but it is lodged dangerously close to a critical brain component, is it better to remove it or do nothing?

Doing ‘something' is not better than doing nothing. Doing ‘something' is either better than, worse than or equivalent to doing nothing.

In history of political decisions, doing ‘something' has often been far worse than doing nothing. Doing ‘something' has, at times, had catastrophic consequences.

The usual retort that I get at this point is, "Well, OK, how do you know that what they are proposing won't be better", to which I usually answer with two points:

a) I don't. And the reason that I don't is that congress will not let me read it.
b) ‘Better' is a subjective term which frankly we shouldn't really be arguing about anyway. What we should be asking is, "Are the sum total of the costs involved, less than the sum total of the benefits and are the individuals that are going to bear those costs, aware of them and willing to pay them."

The conversation usually then evolves into one about trust in politicians and whether they are more heavily influenced by a desire to further the ‘greater good' or by self interest and career preservation.

I know where I stand.