Kevin Drum links David Frum’s doom and gloom comment,

The Republic has had better weeks. It opened with a Supreme Court decision on race preferences that bids fair to institutionalize this injustice in the national life for a minimum of another generation — proceeded through a Supreme Court decision on sodomy that seems logically to demand a high court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage — and ended on Friday with the Republican Senate passing a prescription-drug benefit that amounts to the first major national social entitlement since 1974.

Kevin wryly observes, “Hmmm, doesn’t seem like such a bad week to me.”

Me, I’m right down the middle on this one:

  • With Frum on affirmative action;
  • With Drum on gay rights as to the policy outcome but not the route; and
  • Undecided on the prescription drug benefit because the other issues caught my attention and I haven’t spent enough time on the nuances of it. I’m not philosophically opposed to socialization in medicine because I don’t think health care is a true free market owing to low elasticity of demand and the tendency toward monopoly but think it is a free market in other ways, notably the need for incentive to keep up innovation. I’m also not thrilled about the free rider problem or the potential for Big Brother to step in and say that certain people (smokers, disgusting fatbodies, white Southerners) are underserving of treatment. But I don’t know this particular legislation well enough to know how it handles those issues.

    I do tend to agree with Frum on this aspect of the issue, though:

    The logic behind the emerging new entitlement is lopsided. Should it become law, Americans will qualify for federal assistance with their medication not according to how sick they are (a large majority of seniors spend less than $1500 per year on prescriptions), not according to how poor they are (the Senate bill provides for full coverage of all but the very wealthiest senior citizens), but according to how old they are.

    It seems to me that coverage should be either universal or means tested. Having the taxpayer subsidize the wealthiest cohort of the population at the expense of the rest strikes me as odd. Also somewhat amusing, since the Democrats tend to make that argument when it comes to letting people keep their own money (tax cuts) but not when it comes to providing goodies for old people (who tend to be quite well off).

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    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


    1. Kevin Drum says:

      It’s the Frum and Drum show!

    2. James Joyner says: