I have been trying to figure out, with some precision and specificity—Why so many Republican-Conservative-“job-creators” are so bug-eyed and frothing at the mouth about Affordable Health Care? The months and years of simmering disdain have spiked upwards to a boiling point in the last 24 hours, exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that upheld the ACA’s constitutionality—but, what is the root of the anger against it?
I notice a lot of the outrage is rooted in the short-sighted notion that the government does not (and should not) have a moral, legal, or ethical duty to help common less-fortunate folks who cannot afford health insurance (or any other kinds of support?). The logic of this position goes something like this–the government doesn’t help me (or you) to purchase a new laptop, a health club membership, or a trip to Palm Springs so why should the government be involved in helping folks to get medical coverage? The job-creator believes that he/she worked his/her butt off to get what he/she have, so why should he/she help you, I, or anyone else? Why should anyone care whether or not you or I have health insurance, or why should you care whether or not that I do or don’t? It’s every man for himself in this cruel world, and to hell with this liberal mush of helping others–in their view.
I remember walking down a street late one night in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. It was probably in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The storefronts were closed, it was cold, and the rain was falling. I noticed many individuals and small groups of people huddled together under the storefront awnings as I walked down the street. I suspected that many of these folks were homeless, using drugs, drinking out of a bottle, and were generally not doing so well. I started worrying for my safety, reminded of similar places in New York City, LA, and elsewhere back home. I imagined that some addict would approach me, try to rob me, and then slice me in the face. I could see myself as some EU headline, “Lost and dumb American gets head thumped by heroin addicts.” I darted into a small liquor store, escaping the rain, coldness, and my fear. I asked the shopkeeper—“I notice a lot of homeless folks on the street and I wonder about my safety walking around here?” He told me, “sure, those are drug addict lunatics but they are all registered as such with the government. They get all the drugs they want and so they don’t need or want to rob you to get your $5. They are content and will leave you alone.” This was an eye-opening moment for me as I compared the reasonable fear and true level of terror that one can feel on some streets back home in similar situations, and the ramifications of social responsibility (or conversely, social irresponsibility).
From that walk on the street in Denmark, I recognized and integrated the facts that
1) taxes are high in Denmark
2) Danes get what they pay for because they get to walk the streets and not be in constant fear
The theoretical commodification of health insurance extends to the point, articulated by Ronald Reagan, that poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough to be rich; and conversely, rich people are rich because they work harder than those who are poor. If poor folks can’t afford a commodity, any commodity–in this case, the commodity of health insurance–then they shouldn’t get it, period. Worse yet, the government should NEVER be involved in the free market, in their view, so the compulsion by the government that folks be insured is immoral and horrible. This is yet-another tautological quagmire that seems to pervade the job-creator’s mindset. In this view, the market should decide how all commodities fare in the marketplace, including the commodity of health insurance. If you can’t afford health insurance or don’t want it, then one should not be forced to buy it. The folks that spout that position are likely to be well-protected with their own health insurance coverage and probably have never been without health insurance coverage for one day in their life, plus they apparently don’t see the systemic implications that are emerging in our society because the have-nots have much less than the haves and the haves don’t notice or care. It’s a clear case of “I’m in the boat so let’s get going, Jack” and to hell with those who are not as fortunate as others who are fortunate.
For me and for us, Hooray for Affordable Health Care!