Roger’s Rules

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, Division of Health Care Legerdemain

“Interesting, if true.” That’s the motto that the 19th-century British travel writer Alexander Kinglake wanted inscribed on the lintels of all the churches in England.

I wish I could impose something similar, if less polite, on the emetic mendacities regularly published by our former Paper of Record, The New York Times. Consider yesterday’s story proclaiming that “In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health.”

Really? Read on:

“The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.”

Amazing, what? The story also spoke of a “growing confidence in the government’s ability to manage health care.”


But wait. Who conducted this poll that returned such extraordinary results? Why CBS in conjunction with The New York Times. Pollsters employed by these two dispassionate entities called up 895 people and, lo! 72 percent said they would favor government administered health care similar to Medicare.

Do you believe that? Not the bit about 72 percent of the 895 carefully chosen people CBS & The New York Times contacted responding in a way that this unofficial division of the Obama Press Office favors. I mean, do you believe that 72 percent of the American people are really in favor of handing over the machinery of health care to the government? Of course you don’t. And the reason is suggested by another story that appeared in The New York Times yesterday: the story about how a Veterans Administration hospital–i.e., a government-run institution–“botched 92 of 116 cancer treatments over a span of more than six years.” (Thanks to Instapundit for highlighting this delicious conjunction.)

There are currently some 1300 insurance carriers providing health care coverage in the U.S. The Obama administration wants to reduce that to one: the government. Would it cut costs? Possibly. We really don’t know. What we do know is that it would sharply erode the quality of health care in the United States. Indeed, if it ObamaCare becomes a reality, I am planning on investing in the biggest manufacturer of hospital gurneys: that’s about the only piece of hospital equipment that there will be more of as, like Canada and the UK, patients line up for weeks or months or even years for treatment as the number of specialists dwindle and a state-run system of health-care rationing is phased in.

The New York Times can devise polls and surveys till the end of time. You can be sure that they will always demonstrate exactly what The New York Times wants. Extraordinary, isn’t it? And I, as Dorothy Parker put it in another context, am Marie of Roumania.