Saturday, May 2, 2009

Obamanomics and The Matrix

This week's New York Times Magazine lead article is After the Great Recession, an interview with President Obama by David Leonhardt. It provides a great window into Obama's thinking on the ecomony and other issues, including health care. Here's an excerpt from the health care discussion:

LEONHARDT: And right now we’re footing the bill for a lot of things that don’t make people healthier.

THE PRESIDENT: That don’t make people healthier. So when Peter Orszag and I talk about the importance of using comparative-effectiveness studies as a way of reining in costs, that’s not an attempt to micromanage the doctor-patient relationship. It is an attempt to say to patients, you know what, we’ve looked at some objective studies out here, people who know about this stuff, concluding that the blue pill, which costs half as much as the red pill, is just as effective, and you might want to go ahead and get the blue one. And if a provider is pushing the red one on you, then you should at least ask some important questions.

LEONHARDT: Won’t that be hard, because of the trust that people put in their doctors, just as you said? Won’t people say, Wait a second, my doctor is telling me to take the red pill, and the government is saving money by saying take the blue —

This cracked me up, as Obama was evoking Morpheus, from The Matrix:
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

This kind of red-pill / blue-pill symbolism can't be what Obama intended, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who will notice this. Ooops...

A follow-up note: I pointed out this amusing little slip on the NYT's moderated article comment section; they declined to publish it. I guess levity has no place at the Times.

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