…There hasn’t been much L&S blogging today because we had the afternoon off. Most people spent the time playing at the beach or sightseeing. In the evening, Tom and his wife d hosted their annual barbecue at their home in San Clemente, from which I just returned. (Thanks, Tom and d!)
I did give a lecture this morning, prior to the break, that no one posted about. I can only assume my co-bloggers were so stunned at my keen insights and sharp wit that they were rendered uncharacteristically speechless. The gist of my lecture is summarized in this two-year-old post. But there’s one point I neglected to make this morning that I’d like to note here.
Beyond the fact that externality and public good problems are endemic to democratic and bureaucratic processes – hence making it odd to refer to such problems as “market failures” – it should also be noted that government regularly creates externality problems where they did not exist before. For example, when government socializes health costs (whether through public ERs, Medicare/Medicaid, or full-blown single-payer systems), it turns private health risks into matters of public concern. Helmet laws are justified on grounds that motorcycle riders end up in public ERs. Tobacco lawsuits are justified on grounds that some smokers’ health costs were covered by Medicaid. And now obesity, a quintessentially individual matter, is touted as a matter of “public health” because some of the medical costs associated with obesity get carried by the taxpayers. These government-created externality problems are then used to argue for regulation of lifestyle choices.
(Note to liberals: It is only a matter of time before conservatives use public healthcare costs as the basis for further bludgeoning of homosexuals, since homosexual practices do in fact carry greater health risks. They’ve already done this to some extent, but their arguments smacked too much of bigotry. But soon they will copy the rhetorical templates that liberals have successfully deployed in the tobacco and obesity debates.)