Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Debate and Respect

I hope that I'm self-conscious enough to identify when people with whose opinions I agree are expressing them in a disrespectful or unproductive manner.

At the very least, I'd like to demonstrate that I can recognize the inverse, when people are expressing opinions with which I might disagree, but doing so in an inclusive, charitable, and productive matter. This is obviously an easier thing to recognize, but I'd like to cite both Michael Kinsley and Greg Mankiw as illustrations of respectful and productive disagreement.

Quoth Mankiw:
Arthur Okun said the big tradeoff in economics is between equality and efficiency. The health reform bill offers more equality (expanded insurance, more redistribution) and less efficiency (higher marginal tax rates). Whether you think this is a good or bad choice to make, it should not be hard to see the other point of view.

I like to think of the big tradeoff as being between community and liberty. From this perspective, the health reform bill offers more community (all Americans get health insurance, regulated by a centralized authority) and less liberty (insurance mandates, higher taxes). Once again, regardless of whether you are more communitarian or libertarian, a reasonable person should be able to understand the opposite vantagepoint.

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