Sunday, December 9, 2012

A thought for Sunday: PEOPLE WILL DIE

- by New Deal democrat

In connection with the idea floated to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67,touted by Ezra Klein (who, when it comes to Social Insurance programs is nothing more than Young-Broder-in-Training, ever willing to throw granny and grampa under the bus to prove his economic Seriousness), Prof. Brad DeLong notes that it isn't just poor fiscal policy, but also sends us to Duncan Black who inconveniently points out that "raising the Medicare eligibility age will cost money, not save money, and also kill people;" and to Adele Stan who writes, quite starkly and correctly that PEOPLE WILL DIE.

When was the last time you ever saw an economic model that took into account the number of people who will, ahem, exit the simulation because they starve to death or otherwise die? Probably never. Certainly Ohanian and Cole never took it into account in their fairy tale that presumes to show that the New Deal set back recovery, despite the fact that death by starvation during the 1929-32 "great onntraction" was not uncommon, and studies showed that about 1/4 of all American children were malnourished.

If you make the simple, straightforward, and eminently reasonable assumption that people prefer to live rather than die, then the economic situation which saves lives is always an efficient, Pareto-optimal solution.

You'll never hear that simple fact pointed out no matter how far you go in your academic economic training. I'll bet Ezra Klein doesn't know that. It used to be that we had a political culture that knew that, but no more.

P.S.: I will be personally and significantly impacted by raising the Medicare eligibility age. If that happens in return for raising taxes on a few people that doesn't even return their taxes to Clinton-era rates -- i.e., if Obama et al are ready to give up the family jewels just to roll back some of the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, I will take that very personally. Do they really think I won't remember who they are in two or four years? Do they really think they can scare me in 2014 by telling me that kicking them out of office will allow the GOP to maintain control of the House of Representatives for the next two years (i.e., what we have already)?!?