The intellectual incoherence of health reform opponents

Jon Chait absolutely intellectually eviscerates the opponents of health reform as few others can.  Read it.  Highlights:

 One could muster ideological extremism to make the case that the
government has no business subsidizing health insurance for people who
can't get it. Alternatively, one could make the equally nutty case that
Medicare should not lose a single dollar from its budget, however
wasteful and inefficient it may be. But no political philosophy on
earth could justify both of these fanatical positions at once. Somehow,
though, the Republican Party has managed to stake out this absurd
territory–Claude Pepper minus the social conscience, Milton Friedman
without the small government…

Notably absent was any close analysis of the nature of opposition to
health care reform, which turns out, upon inspection, not to consist of
a glorious pro-capitalist proletarian uprising. The segment of the
population most opposed to reform has been the elderly, who benefit
from a single-payer system in Medicare…

There is also the related inconvenience that opposition to health
care reform appears to be closely linked to misunderstandings of health
care reform. Support for reform rises when poll respondents are read
details of Obama's actual plan. And the low point for reform came
during August, when public belief in death panels and other
misconceptions surged.

Conservatives have reacted to this awkward fact by redoubling the
anti-intellectual populism championed (and embodied) by Sarah Palin.
One favored technique is to imply that anything believed by a majority
of the public–or even a significant minority–must be true. Palin
herself defended the fear-mongering over death panels thusly:
"Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many
Americans." Well, that settles it.

Now, I'm not saying all opponents of health care reform are intellectually incoherent or totally misinformed, but…

The Return of Abstinence

Why worry about science and date when you've got ideology to keep you going?  Might as well be the slogan of the modern Republican party.  The ongoing support for the failed and discreditd abstinence programs is exhibit A.  From Suzy Khimm at TNR:

 Last night, the Senate Finance Committee tried to ensure
that one of the failures of the Bush administration will live on–in
sex-ed classes across the country. Orrin Hatch’s amendment to provide
$50 million a year for abstinence-only education passed by one vote,
12-11, with Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad joining the Republicans to
tip the balance..

The vote deals a blow to the advocates of comprehensive sex education, who have wielded definitive evidence that
ab-only education is ineffective, misleading, and dangerous to the
health of young people. (One of the most recent studies links ab-only
education to a 10% decline in teen contraceptive use, for example—not surprising when some of the teaching material tells kids
to believe that condoms aren’t effective at preventing HIV because
latex is “porous.”) Even more tellingly, nearly half the states in the
country have come to the same realization—23 states have rejected the
federal funds for abstinence-only education, even in the midst of a
deep fiscal crisis, having deemed such programs to be ineffective and
the regulations for using the funding onerous. The states’ message to
the federal government couldn’t be clearer: stop wasting money on
programs that don’t work.

Unfortunately, the centrists and Republicans on the
Senate Finance Committee don’t seem to have gotten the memo. While
they’ve gone out of their way to berate the
cost of the health care bill, Hatch and his compatriots make an
exception for a failed program that has amounted to an ideological

The Guardian article linked to above, has a nice run-down of the evidence, if you don't believe me or TNR.  This is also a good time to plug the documentary, "The Education of Shelby Know," a entertaining and informative tale of a teenager from a conservative home in conservative Lubbock, TX(!!) who takes on the abstinence-only establishment in the hopes of reducing Lubbock's absurdly high teen pregnancy rate.  You can actually get it from Blockbuster or Netflix.  I will admit to having an especially soft spot for it due to the Lubbock angle.

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