Peter Singer Is Trying to Kill You This Week

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07/22/2009 8:36 AM |

b350/1248210522-19health-600.jpgWelcome to Who’s Trying to Kill You This Week?, the weekly L Mag feature that seeks to monitor the inevitable failure of healthcare reform in America, as it happens.

Utilitarian ethicist and Animal Liberation author Peter Singer (free-range eggs yes, shellfish no) wrote an essay for the Times magazine this past Sunday, called “Why We Must Ration Health Care.” It’s a fascinating article in which he uses some moderately academic terminology, thought experiments, and philosophical mathematics to try to quantify the monetary value of a human in relation to medical care.

It’s a great article because Singer first makes the point that health care is already rationed, inasmuch as good health care is expensive and thus beyond the reach of most Americans. And if you read it all the way through, the article draws some ultimately reassuring conclusions about rationing. (That is: killing you.)

It’s not really Peter Singer’s fault, I guess, that this is exactly the kind of smartypants pragmatic article that will be disingenuously bandied by scare-tactician conservatives trying to protect the interests of private insurers. That’s just what you get for trying to raise the level of the discourse.

In this way, it is not dissimilar to articles, like this great Tim Noah piece, arguing for more progressive taxation to pay for health care — all anybody will hear is “more taxes.”