Monday, November 30, 2009

A town without pity

Blue Commonwealth liked this column about health care reform.
Professor Bainbridge ripped it apart.
Kristoff here invokes a single but attractive and sympathetic example as an argument for a major shift in national policy. Presidents do this when they invite a symbolic figure to sit next to the first lady at the State of the Union address. Congressmen do this when they decide who to invite to legislative hearings. Trial lawyers do it when they select the most piteous victim to be the named plaintiff in mass tort class action.
It's effective because who amongst wants to seem like the priests in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It's analytically flawed, however, because it fails to take into account the interests of the mass of other individuals who may be adversely affected by the change of policy in question.

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