Although I try to make my blog entries more than just a link to a "read/watch/hear this," today I just heard a discussion so lucid and crisp that I feel like extensive commentary would not add greatly to it. On NPR's Fresh Air, host Terri Gross invited two economists involved in health care reform to discuss the basics of the economics of health insurance, and for those who have found the news about the legislation working its way through Congress a bit confusing, this is the show for you. It only costs about forty minutes of your time, and is well worth the listen.
The economists are rather philosophical adversaries: Stuart Butler serves as the vice president for domestic and economic policy studies for the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, and Paul Krugman (a favorite of Billy's) recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics, writes a column for the NY Times and is a champion of political liberalism. As always, such terms as "conservative" and "liberal" get a little slippery and often aren't helpful, although in this case I use the labels since they indicate their general attitude toward their faith in "free markets" and whether they believe government involvement can improve or worsen a more laissez-faire system. Both men are highly articulate and offer a much more in-depth discussion than that found on cable network news. Moreover, given their divergent perspectives, it is astonishing listening to how much they agree about in terms of how ridiculous, wasteful, expensive and ultimately ruinous the current system is.