To the Editor:

Paul Krugman’s Dec. 17 column, “Big Table Fantasies,” labels as “unrealistic” Senator Barack Obama’s plan of inclusiveness to address the nation’s health care finance problem. Instead, Mr. Krugman claims that the solution must exclude insurance and drug companies, because they are the cause of the problem.

Many progressives would agree that the wealthy and corporate interests have undue influence over public policy, and that bold action is necessary to minimize that influence and change public policy for the better.

But there is no consensus that we should move to a national one-payer health care system, or that we must eschew the benefits of technology and drug innovation to improve health care availability. So it is not clear that the politics of exclusion will produce a solution that works or is desirable.

F.D.R.’s authoritarian approach may have worked in a crisis, but it is not the only effective leadership style when bold action is called for. Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson all practiced the politics of inclusion to overcome the ills arising from the factionalism and the special and corporate interests of their time.

The true test of public policy is its sustainability. Policy change aligned with the interests of all stakeholders is likely to be most sustainable, and thus consistent with Mr. Obama’s brand of progressivism.

Tim Platt
Concord, N.H., Dec. 18, 2007

Note from KBJ: The letter writer’s mistake is thinking that Krugman* wants solutions. Like all progressives, he doesn’t want solutions, for that requires compromise, negotiation, good faith, and, most importantly, civility. He wants victory. He’s a totalitarian, interested only in imposing his will—his utopian vision—on everyone else. Why do you think he’s so intellectually dishonest? He has an end. That end, in his view, justifies the means.

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).