Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Conservation of Worry

David Brooks:
Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we’ve already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.

We all have to decide what we want at this moment in history, vitality or security. We can debate this or that provision, but where we come down will depend on that moral preference. Don’t get stupefied by technical details. This debate is about values.
I don't think so. Seems to me we have three choices:
  1. We can all worry about what happens to us when we get sick. The uninsured will worry a lot, the individually insured will worry almost as much, and those of us with group insurance will worry about our companies paring stuff back until we wind up in one of the other two groups of worriers.

  2. We can punt everything over to the government, and the we'll worry about what kinds of care they'll let us have, and we'll worry about what happens when the whole system collapses.

  3. We can be forced to take responsibility for our own care, and we'll worry about learning enough to make informed decisions, and how to shop for cost-effective solutions, and how to adjust those solutions as we age.
I like #3 better than any of the others. Those worries are within my control. If I make mistakes, I can fix them. And, if I'm not good at making decisions in this area, no doubt somebody will find in me a nice juicy market, allowing me to trade some nominal amount of money to reduce my level of worry.

If you want to be healthy, you have to worry about your health. We're ultimately only talking about the form that that worry will take.

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