The Moment At Which The Laugh Track Erupts

Ach, it’s Megan McArdle. Where indeed will that moment be?

Above: The Carrie Meeber of the schmibertarian espadrille

How low can you go?
25 Aug 2007 08:16 pm

Keep going.

In discussing health care, one often hears about how low America ranks on the WHO survey–37th in the world! This is true. But there are a couple of problems with it.

Not yet; wait for it…

First of all, that survey is getting a little elderly; it hails from 2000. In the normal course of economics writing, that’s pretty dated; my editors at The Economist would never have let me discuss health systems using a ranking that outdated. In general, an economics writer has to have a pretty darn good reason for using data more than a couple of years old.

No no, ignore that odd little juggling act. (Apparently, the 2000 US Census might also be quite sketchy as a source for, you know, up-to-the-minute business news.) Wait for it; you know it’s coming…

Also, as John Stossel notes,

[cue laugh track]

many of the measures it uses, such as life expectancy, may be exogenous to the health system:

McArdle, the serious commentator, wins an extra gold star for linking to Stossel’s column via the stealth-right-wing Jewish World Review, and not via

Update: Thanks again to the genius of J-, we learn that according to the 2007 World Health Organization report, the US has sunk to 42nd place in life expectancy.

Bonus McArdle:

Now, personally, I don’t really care about equality of distribution per se. I don’t care if Bill Gates gets super-awesome treatment; what I want to know is, are people suffering and dying from lack of care?

Wow. We’re perceiving a pattern here in which she’ll get in trouble for saying something nuts, and will then turn around and completely change her position, pretending with bold alacrity that she was totally saying the same thing all along.

Here’s her 8/22/07 at 11:26AM opinion on the efficacy of torture, while here’s her 8/22/07 at 6:43PM opinion on the efficacy of torture. See, it’s just like she was saying…

Seb adds: Re: “In general, an economics writer has to have a pretty darn good reason for using data more than a couple of years old.” From The Economist, October 7, 2004:

Indeed, in a 2000 study of the effectiveness of health-care systems around the world, the World Health Organisation ranked America only 37th[.]


Comments: 61


Is she aware that she’s being mocked all over the internet?

Is there a quick and efficient calculation for the effect of such mocking on the utility of her writing?


Anyone who links to Stossel immediately suffers a full loss of credibility, period, no exceptions.

“what I want to know is, are people suffering and dying from lack of care?”
Exactly what kind of hermetically sealed, upper west side existence does one have to be living in to even posit such a question?

noen - assumptress of ubiquitous representation

I don’t think she gives a shit if other people suffer and die from lack of care. I think all she cares about is giving the appearance that she cares. The mark of a true sociopath. She doesn’t understand feelings of compassion for others any more than Ayn Rand did. What she does understand is her need to convince others that the monster beneath her skin really isn’t there.


I’m beginning to wonder why you add “bonus” McArdle moments at the end of these.

Shouldn’t you call them, “Yet Another” McArdle moment? Or “Oh Please God Not Again” McArdle moments?


I’ve had occasional reservations in regards to The Economist, but knowing that they once hired this preening nitwit, i’ve completely lost respect for it.


Bonus point for the casual reference to “my editors at the Economist.”

And yeah, my opinion of the Economist just droped through the floor, through the basement, and into the sewage pipes below…


my editors at The Economist would never have let me

And what won’t the editors at The Atlantic let her do?


Okay, so in 2000 the WHO ranked world health care systems and for whatever reason hasn’t done a similar ranking since. But if an inquisitive economist and her editors want data that’s hot off the spreadsheet application, they could try the WHO’s 2007 world health report. And if they want to compare this data with other data, they could turn to the WHO’s world health reports from the previous 12 years.


“what I want to know is, are people suffering and dying from lack of care?”

Yes and yes.


But whatever our true ranking is, I’m pretty sure we’re not behind a significant chunk of Latin America.

Isn’t that the her end-all argument on every subject. She is “pretty sure” of something without any evidence. She assumes, she guesses. She plays concern troll with other arguments without giving any of her own.

Someone needs to sit her down and tell her that a liberal helping of “gee, I sort of guess this is the way things are” is the sure mark of an idiot.

I’m pretty sure she’s fucking stupid.

If she is really concerned with whether people are dying maybe she could, you know, like totally do some research on that. Or do her editors not allow that either?


So basically, what McArdle is saying, is that some right winger quietly bought the Atlantic and is turning into toilet paper.
Or they think she’s gonna be like Paglia for Salon, only they don’t have a Greenwald or Tom Tomorrow or Opus to force you back despite your disgust.
At least neocons are in it for the money. Libertarians are just plain old dumb.


I guess the one ‘positive’ in this is now HTML has a better example than Yglesias to point to how the supposedly left leaning media outlets don’t employ actual lefties.


The United States of America.

Worlds largest consumer economy.

Worlds largest GDP.

Worlds largest military budget

Thats not enough, so the US also has the worlds largest deficits.

In health care, ahead of a significant chunk of latin america. Maybe.

I’m not sure that’s such a great argument, young lady…



I can’t help but wonder, what other measurements used by the WHO Megan considers exogenous to the health care system?

For that matter, I’d rather be uninsured anywhere in the United States than an average citizen in Costa Rica.

Man, is it possible for us to do some sort of trading spouses episode here?


“what I want to know is, are people suffering and dying from lack of care?”


Well, that one was easy to snark. I could go for a Pastor Swank chaser.


Does she *ever* cite any actual facts or perform any research at all?

What the hell? I write my crappy blog (VISIT IT YOU FOOLS!) at 2 AM on weeknights and I perform research. I kind of expect someone working in an official capacity and assumedly being *paid* to spend more than 30 seconds using Google.

Jesus look at the recent takedown of Lowry here, then read her blog – it hurts the brain to compare the two.

Her blog should be titled “supporting the status quo through factless musing.” American healthcare has got to be better than the healthcare of dirty Latinos – because we’re America QED!!

Arrgh. (Burns worthless Ivy League diploma)


WTF, the Economist paid her to write?! Like, paid her money?


That’s it. Her stupidity has turned me into an unrepentant looksist.

McArdle, I’m lookin at you, and it ain’t pretty.


Does she really think that life expectancy has nothing to do with the health care system? What *does* relate to life expectancy–the NFL? The weekly box office draw? The positions of the planets and stars?


Who’s Carrie Meeber?!?!?

Klein's tiny left nut

Well, I mean, who the hell can argue with John Stossel? Once she broke him out I waved the white flag of surrender.

He’s an expert on health care in addition to his fine work in gay porn.


Fortunately, the tiny platform atop McArdle’s glibertarian Pillar of Rectitude(tm) contains a turntable mounted with the finest titanium ball-bearings. In an instant, she can swivel 270 degrees, from looking down on progressives for not endorsing torture, to looking down on progressives who don’t endorse torture for the wrong reasons. Or from looking down on poor people for not being able to afford healthcare, to looking down on poor people who think they’re as entitled to health care as good as that for productive VIP members of society like Bill Gates. The one thing that never changes — it’s only a turntable, after all — is the “looking down on” part…

I’m pretty sure she’s fucking stupid.

No, Jonah Goldberg is stupid. McArdle just believes that being slightly more glib than Jonah Goldberg is plenty good enough, for the people who sign her paychecks if not for those among her readers who choose to disagree with her lazy, ignorant, underresearched arguments. McArdle, as a good libertarian, believes that doing more than the very least she can get away with would be “wasteful”. I don’t know McArdle’s religious background, but her writing always remind me of the Jesuit tenet that being stupid is a tragedy, but being intellectually lazy is a sin.


“Anyone who links to Stossel immediately suffers a full loss of credibility, period, no exceptions.”

-Still Laughing at that one…

Herr Doktor Bimler

life expectancy, may be exogenous to the health system
I first read that as ‘erogenous’. Perhaps that’s what she intended to write.


J- ALL of those files are in .pdf format. Are you actually suggesting that Megan ‘install’ Adobe Reader? Then download them? Then READ them?

What kind of sick and twisted fool are you?

Megan isn’t there to provide ‘facts and evidence’, she is there to provide specious arguments to morons too stupid to come up with their own.


You’re too kind, Gavin.

owlbear1: Okay, pdf requires a number of steps which may be confusing and time consuming. How about an online searchable database of Core Health Indicators?


Yeah, her attitudes and arguments are tedious and boring. It’s a damn shame.

That said, if she consented, I’d be willing to engage in anal sex with her, one time only, double condom, and I’ll even spring for her cab fare outta wherever it happens.

Like I said – it’s gotta be consensual. I’m not threatening anything, I’m just saying I’d be open to doing it once.

My only requirement – nobody can know about it. Nobody.


J- A “Searchable” database? Now really that’s not the ‘raw’ information is it? Someone had to enter that data into the ‘data’base didn’t they? Probably a “Scientist” too boot? Hmmmm?

The more evidence you produce means a larger margin of error in your facts. It is better to have no evidence and marginless facts!


I’m not sure Carrie Meeber is apt, Gavin. As I recall, Carrie Meeber had… what’s that phrase? Natural talent.

And RubDMC: Ewwww.


“He’s an expert on health care in addition to his fine work in gay porn.”

Had i ever seen Stossel in gay porn i would’ve immediately entered an ex-gay program. Fortunately he himself doesn’t appear in gay porn but simply hires out his moustache.


WTF, the Economist paid her to write?! Like, paid her money?

People tend to forget that when it comes down to it, The Economist really isn’t on our side; they would love it, for instance, if the Republicans would stop all this Jesus-freak stuff and get back to what they really do best, which is screwing the poor for every last drop that they have. You read their columns about the current clusterfuck that is the GOP, and you can hear the wistful sighs as they wish for a bygone age of robber barons and moustachioed steadfast Republican presidents waxing lyrical about the divine right of capital, all the while paying Pinkertons to destroy working-class solidarity. “When did all these funny little poor people with their funny little religions get involved in our Grand Old Party?” you can hear them say.

Sure, they do some decent reporting, as long as you remember that they have the Free Market Filters out on everything that they’re writing, but they would love it if the Democrats, even as craven and cowardly as they are now, would just go away, because of the populist element still in the party. That is The Economist in a nutshell. And Megan fits them like a glove in spirit, although not in intellectual honesty, which is what makes some libertarians, and that organ itself, bearable without flying into a blind rage.


May I respectfully demur (not “demure”) from those who diss her looks? She’s cute enough, IMHO.

That said, a) I’m w/ Pablo re the Economist, and b) oy vey. Her comments give “thinking” a bad name. The real casualty in this is the Atlantic.

Different Brad sez “libertarians are dumb.” Interestingly, it does come down to that. They’re intelligently dumb. Just as, per Steven Weinberg, to make good people do bad things, it takes religion, to make intelligent people say stupid things, it takes libertarianism.

They’re (as I’ve harangued) *existentially* stoopid. A list of top libertarians’ favorite authors (Rand aside) would make your aesthetic hair curl.


You can find smart libertarians (and I say this as a full, honest-to-God, you’ll-all-be-first-against-the-wall socialist); they tend to be (non-Austrian) academic economists, and thus usually have some interesting things to say, and don’t stop at debate by saying “The market shall provide, never fear!” or “insert egregious unsubstantiated anecdote here.” A few of the libertarian economists who engage with the lefty academics at Crooked Timber, for instance, are interesting, even if I don’t agree with them, unlike the glib hacks like McArdle or Stossel.


Aah, Gavin. All I’m seein is your flirtin’ with Nurse McCurdle, tryin’ to slip her into Room 102 and givin’ her the excitement with yer “trombone” (Safe For Work — it’s Walter Lantz).

No doubt she’s busy thinkin’ about runnin’ her hands over an honest to God Socialist like you. These Irish lasses, they all put up a show of piety, but wait ’till the lights go out.

You should be troubled about this obsession of yours, Gavin. If it happens again, be thinkin’ of Saint Patrick, now. It’ll help the bad thoughts go away.


wait. least self-aware moment in that whole post:

“The WHO table isn’t even a good ranking of where I’d prefer to be poor.”


may be exogenous to the health system…
She then goes on to reference auto accidents, as one thing we have more of than Euros, which may be one reason for lower life expectancy. This brings two things to mind: The number of infants driving (explaining America’s higher infant mortality rate) & how I’m sure many “libertarians” were against requiring car manufacturers to provide seatbelts (“If people want them they can pay extra for them.”) & against mandatory seatbelt laws (“It’s a personal choice, if people want to wear them, fine, but it’s not the state’s business. What, pay medical bills for people who made the choice not to wear seatbelts? I think not!!)
I also question her use of “exogenous.” And what was that other one? “Arguendo?” I’m all for Latinate words, they’re often clearer & more precise than some of the sloppy Anglo-Saxon parts of English, but come on!!


The number of infants driving

There many 18-month olds at the wheel of an 18-wheeler in the US?

I would pay to see that.


Aah, Gavin. All I’m seein is your flirtin’ with Nurse McCurdle,

OMG, ew.

Bleagh cough ack.


The sicker you are, Gavin, the more she wants to looooove you.


It is true, however, that life expectancy and health care are not synonymous, though they do heavily influence one another.


America’s higher infant mortality rate

U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world, report says — American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

“The United States has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn rate is higher than any of those countries,” said the annual State of the World’s Mothers report.

Gosh, if I weren’t listening to John Stossel so raptly, I might think that many people not having access to those doctors and hospital beds is part of the problem. But that can’t be it.


When the data ain’t in your favor, you have to attack, or better yet, manipulate, the data. It’s like when the Reagan administration increased employment totals overnight by including the formerly uncounted armed services, and improved inflation rates by removing housing from cost of living indices. For the McStossels, infant mortality and life expectancy either have to be meaningless factors for assessing healthcare (which is patently ridiculous), or they have to make up shit about accident and homicide deaths to dismiss them.

I’d far rather be an uninsured day laborer in San Francisco, than in the Dominican Republic. For that matter, I’d rather be uninsured anywhere in the United States than an average citizen in Costa Rica.

Sadly, she can only say these things because she will never be a day laborer or uninsured, anywhere. However, there is always the possibility that the uninsured laborer who prepares her restaurant food, or cleans her hotel room, or nannies her children, is sick as a dog and highly contagious. Then she might learn the meaning of “enlightened self-interest.”

I learned from her comments section that those 50 million are uninsured because they choose to be. See, no problem

Incontinentia Buttocks

Better a dead infant in Manhattan than a live one in San José, CR, it seems to me!


Is she aware that the Economist regularly makes stuff up about stuff outside (or inside) their comfort zone, as if they viewed America as their own personal fantasy world? Seriously, has she even read that magazine while “working” for it? When you can casually fact check their American cultural pieces you wonder if the writer is filing his/her stories from bong world.


Is she aware that she’s being mocked all over the internet?

Yes. Because she’s aware that we’re aware that she is getting paid for being a careerist hack, and will continue to shin her way up the greasy pole precisely because she is a hack.

Isn’t that the her end-all argument on every subject. She is “pretty sure” of something without any evidence. She assumes, she guesses.

And she has a nifty line in argument from anecdote. Ultimately, it’s her gut and her cousin’s best friend’s dog-walker’s brother’s boss that decide all arguments for her, and — quel surprise — always in her favour.

Fishbone McGonigle

Megan McArdle has managed to make me proud of my state university degree.

I seem to have received a far superior education at Football U. than she did at whatever Ivy she attended, and at a fraction of the cost. Go me!

Fishbone McGonigle

She then goes on to reference auto accidents, as one thing we have more of than Euros, which may be one reason for lower life expectancy.

Know what else we have more of than the Euros, Megan? Guns.

Bet you won’t be making that argument anytime soon.


Jewish World Review is “stealth right wing”?


The US rank in healthcare isn’t really the issue. If we were No.1 (USA! USA! In your face, space coyote!), we’d still have lots of people paying too much for lousy health care, or not getting any at all. We’d still need to do something, regardless of whether Canada, France, and Japan had their act together. McArdle, as is her wont, manages to raise the question obliquely and never really addresses it in the course of telling the world what her gut tells her about something pretty much irrelevant to the main point.

She’s intellectually lazy, more than anything else. Guh.


Bong World, Pinko?

errmmm, how does one get there?

And it’s not Gavin, but Brad the Rocket that TOTALLY crushes on the Megan. dig this:
To be clear here, I bear no particular malice to Ms. McArdle as I do with other, more vile propagandists, i.e., Ole Perfesser Reynolds, Malkin, etc. She’s simply a person who is amusingly wrong about a great many things, but I don’t put her in the same class as the Mark Steyns of the world.

It’s luuuurrrrve, I tell ya.


I would hope that Bong World is better than Spice World.


She casually disregards the masses with her childish narcissim, whereas Steyn actively wants to make them a sausage burger- it is all the same. She’s just as bad, but a different flavor.


I LOVE that the woman whose research habits consist of navel-gazing, being like so totally sure about stuff and remarking “Google? Tee hee, that sounds dirty!” derides W.H.O. data for being too old. At least it was DATA at one point, Megan. The W.H.O. didn’t start their report with “It seems to me…”

But of course, concepts like “data” and “indicators” are no match for the ultimate determinant of a society’s worth: whether Megan “would rather be poor there” than somewhere else.

Friggin’ Andy Rooney would be embarrassed to put his name on this crap.


Her analysis of health care may be ridiculously inaccurate, and it my be that her analysis is so poor because of her holding odious opinions – but she is ‘smoking hot!’. I would be delighted to give her a tour of the health care experiences that ordinary Americans face – and particularly if she learned something. Faces are always the most beautiful when understanding dawns in the mind behind the eyes.


Maybe it’s time for our media elites to reconsider whether an Ivy League degree correlates at all to intellectual curiosity, high-level logical reasoning, or having a head located at the end of one’s neck, rather than firmly lodged in one’s fundament.


For that matter, I’d rather be uninsured anywhere in the United States than an average citizen in Costa Rica.

From (about retirement to Costa Rica):

Many international medical authorities rate Costa Rica as having one of the best low-cost medical care systems in the world, when preventive and curative medicines are considered. The United Nations consistently ranks Costa Rica’s public health system as the best in Latin America and one of the top 20 in the world.

Ahead of the USA, incidentally.

Buying into the state-run system costs about US$60/month for ages 55 and under, much less for people older than 55. Something like 90% of the people in the country are in the system. Prexisting conditions? Covered. Medications? Covered. (many medications are OTC in Costa Rica, btw) Eye care? Covered. Dental care? Covered. There are more expensive private plans available if you want to use private hospitals or doctors, but the public ones are considered quite good by most of the US retirees who have used them.

So, if she were an ‘average citizen’ in Costa Rica, she most likely wouldn’t be uninsured, and she’d be a helluva lot better off than an ‘average citizen’ here. I wish I were an ‘average citizen’ in Costa Rica.

What a stupid, dishonest woman she is.


oscarzoalaster: Sir, Are you on Meth?! Hot?! Having seen various pics on the Internets, she sometimes looks somewhat cute. Hardly hot. More of a “I can’t believe I drank the whole case” type of a girl.


an economics writer has to have a pretty darn good reason for using data more than a couple of years old

Would “because it’s the most comprehensive and authoritative source available, and the factors it considers are not particularly volatile except in countries experiencing dramatic upheaval” count as “a pretty darn good reason”?

Granted, it is a bit strange that everyone references that work and not the more recent statistics that are released every year, as far as I can tell. But I blame that on the self-referential circle-jerk that passes for reporting these days. Too busy doing quality journalism to bother with little things like research, dontchaknow.


So basically, she is defending Uncle Sam at number 42 by saying that other places are even worse.

Wow. Join me in a rousing chorus of God Bless America, anyone?


Because she’s aware that we’re aware that she is getting paid for being a careerist hack…

Heck, as a professional Glibertarian, she’s probably printing off all our nasty snark (or getting the interns to print it off for her, the lazy slut) and forwarding it to her current paymasters as proof that she’s attracting all the right eyeballs. The more we mock her, the better her chances for a bonus at year-end. Yay, capitalism in action!

On a side note, isn’t Jackie Mackie Paisley Parsley living in Costa Rica, not least because of its high-quality health-care services? I know I saw an article about American retirees taking “medical vacations” there in order to take advantage of cheap hip replacements and balloon angiplasties at bargain prices, but I’m not going to do any further research, because why should I work harder for free than McArdle does for money (/snark)?


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