Saturday, May 31, 2014

Paul Krugman: Free Markets Are Not Always the Best Medicine

Steven Levitt, in his new book, Think Like a Freak, with Stephen Dubner, thinks he was being smart by telling British Prime Minister David Cameron that he should scrap the National Health Service and let the magic of the marketplace deal with health care. Strangely, Mr. Cameron wasn't impressed.

I think there are several things going on here. One is a Levitt-specific, or maybe Freakonomics-specific, effect: the belief that a smart guy can waltz into any subject and that his shoot-from-the-hip assertions are as good as those of the experts. Remember, Mr. Levitt did this on climate in his last book, Super Freakonomics, delivering such brilliant judgments as the assertion that because solar panels are black (which they actually aren't), they'll absorb heat and make global warming worse.

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