I feel like a strange digital stalker. I don’t know Robin Hanson. I’ve read his blog, Overcoming Bias, a handful of times. I’ve listened to all three of his Econtalk podcasts with Russ Roberts. I couldn’t help but think of him when reading this quotation of Victor Fuchs by Daniel Henninger in the WSJ:
But even the state must bond: “It may be that one of the most effective ways of increasing allegiance to the state is through national health insurance.” This would have been Bismarck’s purpose. “We live at a time when many of the traditional symbols and institutions that held a nation together have been weakened and fallen into disrepute. A more sophisticated public requires more sophisticated symbols, and national health insurance may fit that role particularly well.” Updating the public symbols, Mr. Obama says health care is one of the two “pillars” of U.S. prosperity in the 21st century.
One of Hanson’s specialties is signaling. Signaling is, from the blurb atop one of his Econtalk podcasts, the way people spend resources to convey information about ourselves to others.
I never thought about the push for nationalized health care in this light. It’s a push to solidify the relationship between the state and its citizens, to shore up a national identity by proving to ourselves that we “care” for each other.
Sorry I can’t provide a link to the article quoted above; it was given to me by a WSJ subscriber and has a time limit.