ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Left's Infantile Arguments on Healthcare

Two items today regarding healthcare and the President's veto of the expansion of S-CHIP to cover families with an income of up to $80k per year.

First, there's this cartoon from Ted Rall - a guy who most sane people recognize as being unhinged, yet he somehow continues to make a living with poor drawing skills and poor dialog.

Now, is this really what those who like free markets, capitalism, etc are suggesting? That the sick child should go without care - or according to the "hilarious" Rall, gun her down so the father can exercise his 2nd amendment rights?

Ummm, no... the right recognizes that expanding S-CHIP to families who make $80,000 (which, incidentally would put them in the 4th tax bracket, paying a 28% marginal rate) is not necessary. (Perhaps a taxcut for those that were lucky in life's lottery is in order?)

But, Rall's cartoon is missing something... and what might that be?

Well, the McMansion, the two new cars, the flat screen TV with the HD programming & TiVo being pumped into the guy's basement entertainment room, the surround sound 5.1 channel stereo system, the weekly nights out to dinner with the family, the greens fees at the local golf club, the tickets to sporting events, etc, etc.

Just saying... There are plenty of things that a family with $80k per year could forgo in order to pay for health care from a doctor they know and trust.

Next up is this article by Paul Krugman, who makes a similarly infantile argument. The GOP doesn't oppose expanding S-CHIP because of principle - no, they oppose it because they hate kids.

October 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Conservatives Are Such Jokers

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.
In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”
Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.

For an economist, you would think that numbers would be important. Instead, Paul simply throws emotional accusations at his political opponents. The man is a hack and amazingly is extremely poor at making interesting and compelling arguments - which Pinch Sulzberger figured out when people were unwilling to pay to read such crap.

I know that there are a variety of opinions from economists, but for an economist to be so opposed to free market mechanisms and capitalism is quite striking.

As I've pointed out several times (see here and here), our healthcare system today can't be described as being a true free-market system. And the problem of the uninsured isn't always as it seems.

That we would turn over the seriously important healthcare system to government mis-management is ridiculous.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (2)
Anonymous said...

Good connection with "life's lottery," that theme is prevalent in Krugman's article:
"care about those less fortunate than themselves"..."less help for the poor and unlucky"..."the downtrodden"..."help the less fortunate."

Unless provided by the government or an employer, health insurance is typically a bad deal because of the tax consequences and adverse selection. S-CHIP increases those problems for those not covered by the program.

I support a one-payer system. Except that the one-payer would be the individual requesting the service. Health care and education both suffer because the government continues to throw money at them while ignoring individual responsibility and choice.

St Wendeler said...

I support a one-payer system. Except that the one-payer would be the individual requesting the service. Health care and education both suffer because the government continues to throw money at them while ignoring individual responsibility and choice.

Anon - good points... by the way, I would say that your healthcare policy preference is a 300 million payer system. And we all know that 300 million decision makers are better than one.

Secondly, if you look at sectors & industries which have the highest amount of government control & regulation, you find that the performance of those industries is not acceptable to the consumers.

Healthcare & public education are the prime and most complete examples, but other industries certainly would fit the bill.

It baffles me that an economist of Krugman's (former) stature doesn't care about the economics of socialized medicine. I suppose that once someone is inside the New York Times bubble (which is inside the Manhattan bubble which is inside the New York bubble) it can be difficult to recognize reality.