Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

wonk me to sleep, mommy

On the one hand I'm happy to see a presidential campaign focus on policy instead of who you'd like to have a beer with or how severe John Kerry's war injuries really were. (A lot more serious than George W. Bush's that's for sure.) But the debate last night just demonstrated, once again, the great frustration of my adult life. There is no way to talk about health care policy without getting deep into the weeds of wonkery and boring and confusing people to death.

Congrats to Hillary for getting the idea out there that you need to get everybody into the insurance pool in order to spread the cost, that a voluntary system has to mean higher premiums because young and healthy people won't be in it -- until they are hit by a bus, at which point they will be expensive too. But a) it was not possible for her to spell out all of the implications and ramifications in the available time; b) if she did spend the time, it would have resulted in a massive epidemic of narcolepsy; and c) the whole discussion came close to creating condition (b) as it was. I doubt most people really got it and it certainly didn't inspire any voters.

All that said, the whole debate is pointless anyway because it's not as though one of them is going to become president next January, say "Shazaam," and see his or her proposal become reality. Whatever happens will be processed through the K St.-Congressional sausage factory and who the hell knows what will emerge? Neither proposal really gives us what we need anyway.

Finally, if Tim Russert enters the room, I advise standing well back. The man is so full of shit, he's about to explode.

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