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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-08-16 05:54
Subject: [politics] Conservatives and healthcare
Security: Public
Tags:healthcare, politics
I've been thinking a lot about the current healthcare brangle here in the U.S. You can't really call it a "debate", since there's precious little rationality emitting from the conservative end of the spectrum. That in and of itself is very revealing — if this were a clash of principles, or a clash of competing solutions, we wouldn't be seeing town hall shoutdowns, bizarre distortions such as the "death panel" meme, and flat out idiocy such as the Investor's Business Daily editorial sanctimoniously informing us that Stephen Hawking wouldn't have survived under the British National Health System.

These are not the tactics of a faction with a coherent viewpoint, let alone a leg stand on. Conservatives appear to favor the current system, where 40 million people are not covered at all and most of the rest of us are one lay-off notice away from risk of medical bankruptcy, over any possible attempt at change. Otherwise they'd be engaged in the process, either collaboratively or competitively.

That many of the town hall shouters against government healthcare are likely either Medicare or VA beneficiaries is an irony which seems lost on everyone. That the United States already has the third highest public expenditures for healthcare in the world (ie, tax dollars, specifically) is a fact which seems lost on everyone. That our healthcare outcomes put us near the bottom of the top 40 nations ranked is a fact which seems lost on everyone.

The system is broken. Badly. Without good insurance, I'd be bankrupt or dead right now, thanks to my ongoing cancer adventures. I am one layoff notice away from that fate. And I'm one of the lucky ones.

But conservatives would rather shoot down any chance of liberal-progressive success that admit the current system is broken, let alone attempt to fix it.

I'll go back to what I've said about conservatism before. As a movement, and through its political standard bearer, the Republican party, conservatism has failed on its own terms. These are people who say, in their party platform, that they believe in:
An optimistic patriotism, driven by a passion for freedom. Devotion to the inherent dignity and rights of every person. Faith in the virtues of self-reliance, civic commitment, and concern for one another. Distrust of governments interference in peoples lives. Dedication to a rule of law that both protects and preserves liberty.


This devotion to freedom, dignity and rights expresses itself as a howling drive for forced pregnancy, government control of consensual private behavior, destruction of educational quality in the name of religious dogma, wholesale abrogation of constitutional rights, domestic spying, perpetual imprisonment, and deficit spending practices that would shame a 1970s era Congressional Democrat. To name a few.

Conservatives can't even get their own narrative straight, how can they respond to a competing narrative?

Through lies and hysteria. Hence the current healthcare brangle. The most bizarre manifestation of which is the so called "death panels." Considering that it's a time-honored conservative impulse to deny benefits and privileges to people who cannot afford them on their own, assigning to liberal-progressives this putative desire to "put granny down" is the worst form of projection. I suppose a lot of conservatives believe that liberal-progressives will shunt old people aside, simply because they recognize their own willingness to shunt children, the poor, and immigrants aside, and can't imagine that liberal-progressives might rise above that tendency. Given the long-standing conservative disgust at liberal "giveaways", it's a very strange charge indeed. Not to mention counterfactual.

As I said this morning on Twitter, Conservatism is the morbid fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying an undeserved privilege at your expense.

Except healthcare isn't an undeserved privilege. Not in a society of our means. I think conservatives should fight for lower taxes and smaller government and individual liberties. (We'll ignore the Bush Administration for the sake of that.) That fight benefits us all, or can do so. But fighting to keep people sick and dying without recourse? That's not a passion for freedom, and that's not devotion to the inherent dignity and rights of every person. That's just a sickness born of fear.

Live up to your own words, people.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Post A Comment | 8 Comments | | Link






Chris McKitterick: Bush dollar
User: mckitterick
Date: 2009-08-16 15:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bush dollar
This is fantastic, Jay, the best analysis of what's wrong with the conservative movement as it stands today. It's something I wish all conservatives could read without reactionary nature dousing their mental embers. If only conservatives could wake up and recognize that the movement as it stands today in the US is not what their internal eye sees.

How anyone can self-proclaim as "conservative" after the Bush years is beyond me, yet I have friends who do. Clearly they are not seeing how radicals have co-opted and corrupted the notion of conservatism, have poisoned its roots.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-08-16 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well-written.

I'm old enough to remember the transition from primary fee-for-service with either no insurance or insurance with a high deductible (essentially, medical catastrophe coverage) to pretty much needing medical insurance for any purpose in society as a whole. My parents didn't get medical insurance until I was ten or so (and, data point here, my mother had been a teacher pretty steadily from five years before my birth until shortly after I graduated from high school. In retrospect, I now realize that medical insurance came as part of the new and improved union program, once collective bargaining was allowed for teachers).

I'm wondering how many of the conservative leaders have ever been without insurance. I'm willing to bet that most of them consider Kaiser to be evil--but as someone who's been on Kaiser for years, I'd buy into it as a model for national care. Especially the preventative care aspect of Kaiser.
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Chris Furst: you Americans . . .
User: theclownhunt
Date: 2009-08-16 17:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:you Americans . . .
Bullseye!
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lt260: Zappa America
User: lt260
Date: 2009-08-16 18:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Zappa America
Well stated, Jay. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this coin: the profound and abject cowardice of the Democrats. Majorities in both houses mean nothing without strong and effective leadership. That is sadly lacking with Reid and Pelosi. The lobbyists have purchased the votes of key congressional Democrats and Obama (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRK_Xw1KG9U). There will be no public option (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/16/politics/main5245229.shtml). There will be no health care reform. The status quo will not be maintained: it will get worse with the insurance industry making more and more obscene profits at the expense of the US public.

There will be no change in DC until a viable third party is formed. A strong, well-financed progressive party that will stand up to the Rethuglicans and goad the Democrats. I don’t see that happening within my lifetime.

Pogo was wiser then any of us could possibly imagine.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2009-08-16 18:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There is a lot of both information and mis-information on the vet lists, but, the VA health system and benefits would be protected since they are uniquely earned. And even if you are 100% covered under the VA, they still want to know if you have any form of insurance they can charge your care back to.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2009-08-17 12:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What I'd love to know is what is meant by "socialism". It's a word that's been used a lot, and is being applied to places like Sarkozy's France. I'd no idea that Sarkozy was a socialist. Nor, I imagine, has he.
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Karen, aka Ana Lake, ska Aine inghean Cathal
User: summers_place
Date: 2009-08-19 21:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This entry is getting signal boost on Facebook, by myself and others. Just want you to know.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-08-19 21:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you.
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