Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Moral Bankruptcy of Thomas Sowell (Behind His Not So Glittering Words)

"One of the secrets of being a glib talker is not getting hung up over whether what you are saying is true, and instead giving your full attention to what is required by the audience and the circumstances of the moment, without letting facts get in your way and cramp your style. Obama has mastered that art."

And so, apparently, has Thomas Sowell, author of the paragraph cited above.

You see, Sowell even titled the article that contains that little nugget about deceiving one's audience Listening To a Liar: Part II. It really does take a special kind of liar to write what Sowell writes:

To tell us, with a straight face, that he can insure millions more people without adding to the already skyrocketing deficit, is world-class chutzpa and an insult to anyone's intelligence. To do so after an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has already showed this to be impossible reveals the depths of moral bankruptcy behind the glittering words.

Except that, quite incoveniently for Sowell, this is what the president actually said in last week's address to Congress:

First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future. (Applause.) I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don't materialize. (Applause.) Now, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for -- from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy. (Applause.) I will not make that same mistake with health care.

You see, the part I emphasized is really important because it negates Sowell's ill-conceived accusation that "To tell us, with a straight face, that he can insure millions more people without adding to the already skyrocketing deficit, is world-class chutzpa and an insult to anyone's intelligence." The intelligence that Sowell refers to is counterbalanced by the dishonesty that Sowell never lacks in his attack on the sitting president, whom Sowell likes to call our "Charlatan-in-Chief."

Sowell, the incorrigible charlatan that he proves himself to be, says that if Obama's health reform plan passes "government-run medical care in the United States can be expected to produce what government-run medical care in Canada, Britain, and other countries has produced-- delays of weeks or months to get many treatments, not to mention arbitrary rationing decisions by bureaucrats."

The problem for Sowell is that for each article or study that he fails to produce in support of his assumed theory about the delays in getting health care in other countries, I can produce one to back the fact that waiting times in the United States are in fact worse than those of the countries that have health systems Sowell would like us to fear. Here is one such article, and here is one such study. It took me all of two minutes to find them. I guess I am not as lazy as Sowell, or perhaps I am more concerned with backing up statements with facts than he is.

And when Sowell refers to "the arbitrary rationing decisions made by bureaucrats", I guess he refers to the fact that bureaucrats are only to be feared if they work for the government; if they work for insurance companies they magically morph from bureaucrats into savvy business people, who--as we know--are much preferable because how could they ever do us harm, even when they determine that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition.

Stories of claims being denied by health insurance companies abound, as well as those of people who have no insurance because of pre-existing conditions or because they cannot afford to purchase it. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) collected a few such stories in this pamphlet. (.PDF) And imagine Sowell's elation when he read (did he?) this congressional memorandum about the practice of rescinding insurance policies for things as simple as a typo in an insurance application, knowing that only insurance bureaucrats were involved instead of those scary Washington bureaucrats.

In his total committment to shamelessly misrepresenting reality, Sowell suggests that supporters of universal health care should ask themselves where the president "is going to conjure up the additional doctors, nurses, and hospitals needed to take care of millions more patients"? Wait a minute! Aren't conservatives like Sowell always telling us that the uninsured already have access to great American doctors, nurses, and hospitals, even if they cannot afford insurance? If it is so, why would we have to look for more?

I cannot think of a better quote to close this post with than the one below, written by a great connoisseur of confidence games:

Con men understand that their job is not to use facts to convince skeptics but to use words to help the gullible to believe what they want to believe.

Why, that sentence describes Thomas Sowell's article, and Thomas Sowell, to a tee! He should be proud: He wrote it himself.

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