German Politics

Our willingness to pay.

The NYT’s Robert Frank has written an important case study about the value of society wide risk sharing. About the weighing of cost and benefit, or rather, benefit and profit in a matter of costly life prolonging medicine or certain immediate death.

Everyone should read it. Certainly everyone interested in politics should read it. And if there’s anyone engaged in European health politics who has not read this, he shall not be entitled to speak until after he has read this. I read it, and I feel terrible. But that’s no excuse not to read it – it’s the reason. It’s also the reason why I’m writing this post.

I’m sure you, my gentle readers, remember the NRA’s PR line “guns don’t kill people, people do”. It’s true. It all depends how they are dealt with and who deals with them. The same is true for any system of social coordination, including, in this case, markets. Markets are a marvel. Markets themselves don’t kill people. People do. Sometimes with the help of a gun, sometimes with the help of a market. But don’t blame the market. Blame the societies who were unable to act collectively to prevent people from using it as a weapon.

At the NYT you have to pay tor read, but thanks to a commenter at Brad DeLong’s, large parts of the article are available for free.