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Post-reform doctor supply in Texas III

(Earlier entry.) Professor Charles Silver responds a bit more angrily this time, complete with a smear of this website. My response:

Professor Silver's response, where, inter alia, he (1) makes ad hominem attacks on me; (2) misquotes me; and (3) defends a false statement he made in his op-ed by pointing to a different, unrelated, argument that he claims is true, is beneath him.

For the record, this is a link to what I actually said, which bears little relationship to Professor Silver's characterizations of my argument, which he doesn't bother to link to.

Silver falsely states "Frank contends that I cannot criticize the tort reformers for misinforming the public." I never said that. I merely noted the irony of Professor Silver's double-standard in holding a lobbyist group's sound bite to a higher standard than that of a law professor's 800-word op-ed in the paper of record. I would think the reverse should be true, and I suspect Silver thinks so, too, judging by his sneering (and revealing) insults about those who dare to question what he writes on a weblog. I'm not sure what to think of Silver's mischaracterization and put-downs, other than perhaps they're some of those rhetorical tricks that academics do not "disdain."

I note that Professor Silver knows his smear "Toeing the party line may be the order of the day at PointofLaw.com, but other blogs allow disagreement" is false. How do I know that he knows this is a deliberate canard? Because his latest law review article, published in the Vanderbilt Law Review quotes and cites PointOfLaw.com for an anti-reform proposition published on that site (and nowhere else) by Professor Saks, a reform opponent.

Silver, in the midst of complaining about mischaracterizations, falsely states that "Frank asserts that what is true in the long-run must be true in the short-run as well." A careful reader will find no such assertion, or anything that could remotely fairly be characterized that way. But perhaps this is again one of the rhetorical tactics that academics do not "disdain."

Silver also falsely accuses me of "condemnation by association." My remark was: "You [Professor Silver] acknowledge that, under reform, doctors come out ahead. (This is appreciated: there are numerous dishonest/disingenuous opponents of reform, including several who write on [the DMI] website, who argue nonsensically that malpractice insurance rates are unrelated to the expense of providing malpractice insurance. We are to believe, under these arguments, that the doctors who run nonprofit mutual insurance companies are conspiring to charge themselves too much money.)" That's hardly condemnation by association; it was contrasting an intellectually honest anti-reform argument (such as Silver's "Doctors should pay higher malpractice insurance rates") with a dishonest anti-reform argument ("Reform is not needed because it is insurers' fault that doctors do not have lower malpractice insurance rates"). Silver is being far too thin-skinned.

To conclude, there are two important issues:

(1) Silver claims that his "sole intent was to show that tort reformers made false claims." His concluding paragraph in the original post, however, made numerous false statements about the public-choice theory underlying the passage of reform in Texas that were completely unrelated to the argument that "reformers made false claims"; he is effectively complaining that I pointed out these fallacies, which he continues to refuse to defend.

(2) Liability reform increases the supply of doctors and improves access to health-care. In short, the lobbyist groups are fundamental ly correct on the underlying issue. (Silver adds a new claim for the first time in his third post, arguing that, even if reform increases the supply of doctors, increasing the number of doctors may not improve health-care quality, but doesn't support this proposition in any detail for one to determine if he's arguing that it has relevance to the reform discussion.) The lobbyists' oversimplification of data to support their arguments suffers from lack of nuance. But the lobbyists are more accurate than Silver's popular public contributions to the medical-malpractice debate in the New York Times and this blog.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.