The authors of the blog The Incidental Economist are thinking of changing its name and are asking readers for suggestions (mine is given below). Evidently, the primary authors have no formal economic training and so the name doesn’t “convey” what they do, which is relating “health and health systems research to policy.” Indeed, the blog’s subtitle is: “Contemplating health care with a focus on research, an eye on reform.”
Many of the blog’s posts deal with medical studies and serve to encourage medical care based on evidence, so TIE does well in this regard. Major publications often cite to its posts and it primary authors are well-known. But healthcare policy also contains a sig-nificant political element, and here the authors are reluctant to explicitly state their political views. For that we have to look at the posts and their implications.
From what I’ve seen so far, the posts on TIE imply an extremely liberal orientation to healthcare policy and government, even to the point of supporting a statist view of government. I haven’t seen the TIE authors, for example, object to the idea of a health-care system that places 315 million Americans under the thumb of a central authority, notwithstanding the facts that (a) healthcare is a local activity and (b) centrally directed economies never perform very well.
Statism circumscribes individual freedom yet liberal healthcare policy wonks don’t seem to care. These wonks tend to see individuals as nothing more than statistics that they present in their charts, graphs, and tables. And they don’t seem even vaguely aware of the concept of self-government. So it’s no surprise that many of them, including TIE’s wonks, approve of a health system that treats adults as children, as is seen in their praise of a policy that places 25-year old adults on their parents’ health plan.
So if TIE’s authors wish to better convey what they do, I suggest they highlight the statist aspect of their blog. One possibility might be to call the blog “The Incidental Statist.” But wait – TIE’s statism seems to go beyond the incidental. So perhaps the name should be “The Determined Statist,” which might better capture the blog’s unflagging support of big government. And a cute new subtitle could be: “We Heart Big Government.” Yeah, that’s the ticket.