04 June 2011

Eh, Canada?

Not to pile on, but our friend Professor Krugman also says that Medicare in the United States is "sustainable" because Medicare in Canada is sustainable. Let's get one thing out of the way quickly and agree with the premise that if you increase taxes and restrict consumer choices ("less open-ended and more serious about cost control" is how the Super Genius euphemistically presents it in his piece), then the program can be shown to be sustainable. On paper. I will glide by the fact that Canada has no need for any significant defense spending because she happens to enjoy the rather extraordinary free rider benefit of being attached to America.
I will instead focus on this line: "Now, Canadian health care isn’t perfect — but it’s not bad, and Canadians are happier with their system than we are with ours."
There are a few problems with this position. First, how exactly can we measure this? I'm sure there are polls out there, but seriously think about how this can be compared in any meaningful sense. To be able to have a preference, one needs to be rather familiar with both options. Just showing data that says x% of Americans are "somewhat dissatisfied" with healthcare compared to y% of Canadians is useless as far as comparison goes. I may not like my broadband provider. But that doesn't mean I necessarily prefer another broadband provider with which I have absolutely no familiarity, right?
Also, there also this:

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