Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Being Better = Cheating

Shorter Newsreal:

Obama's proposal to let states offer alternative health care plans so long as they "can cover as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does, without increasing the deficit" is a trick, because (unlike single-payer, which meets this requirement handily) every GOP health plan covers fewer people at greater cost. This demonstrates, not that Republicans don't have a serious agenda with respect to health care, nor that single-payer is a good idea, but that Obama is "cheating".


PG said...

I think you're being unfair to Newsreal.

As many people on the left often do, you make the mistake of thinking that you and people the right share the same goals.

You don't.

People on the left care about maximizing material well-being for the greatest number of people (roughly, the Rawlsian view). So you believe the goal is to cover as many people as possible, affordably and comprehensively.

People on the right don't think the government should be in the business of material well-being. Indeed, they think it's destructive to the human spirit for government to legislate for people's own good (in contrast to legislation that punishes people for harming others, whether specifically as in theft and murder, or general harm to society as in sodomy and abortion).

Thus, people on the right fetishize "the private health care system" and are indifferent to whether the ACA improves the length and quality of Americans' lives, because the legislation involves government regulations and mandates, and therefore is inherently evil regardless of material benefits it may provide. Presumably any state-created alternative to the ACA also would involve regulations and mandates, so it's indistinguishable from the ACA in both design (big government!) and effect (destroy the private health care system!).

Seriously, the sooner you understand that your counterparts on the right care more about the survival of private insurers than about the literal survival of human beings once they've exited the womb, the sooner you can be honest about what they're saying.

The "cheating" thing in particular is a really inaccurate quote; in context, "cheating people out of their future" clearly refers to the coercion involved in any feasible plan -- state or federal -- to expand health care coverage. The future people on the right fear we're losing is just an extension of the one Reagan worried about when he was making radio speeches opposing Medicare: a future in which we're free [both to not-have insurance and to die for lack of it].

David Schraub said...

Flattering fact: I did a double-take at the passage "As many people on the left often do....", to ensure I wasn't reading an NF comment.

I agree with you that many movement conservatives don't care about covering health care. But I think it's notable that they don't think it politically prudent to say so explicitly. They pretend like they want to achieve universal coverage too, because they understand that goal is very popular, and because they understand that "poor people gonna die" makes them sound like monsters.

I don't mind backing them into that corner. If liberals win on the "universal coverage for cheap" front, I think we win the war, and I think conservatives think we win the war too.

PG said...

Ha -- you know it's not an NF comment because I'm not claiming to be a liberal while telling you to be more like a conservative :-)

Where in the NewsReal article that you linked did the author say he wanted to achieve universal coverage?

David Schraub said...

They don't say it, they just don't not say it. In the public imagination, that is the health care debate (PPACA is bad because its too pricey a way of achieving the goal, but ensuring coverage is definitely important), so people fill in the blank that the GOP at least thinks its counterproposals will do a better job providing coverage.

PG said...

"They don't say it, they just don't not say it."

That's not a sound basis on which to ground a critique. Why not look instead at what they actually do say, which is "burdensome requirements," "coercive," "crushing burden [of] horrendous big government," "destroy the private health care system" (twice), "destroy the private health care system."

While people on the right often do set up elaborate facades for the general public ("we want to cut taxes for rich people because it's actually going to trickle down to the poor and make everyone better off -- not because we think progressive taxation is theft!"), this is far less common on fora like Newsreal, which are seen mostly by people who are highly engaged in politics already. There, people on the right often are speaking amongst themselves, sincerely, and should be treated as such.

I think the hysteria around the individual mandate (it's not just for federalists anymore!) indicates that what the right is playing up about the ACA is not just "too expensive to achieve its stated goal," but that the specific tools to achieve that goal are toxic and un-American. So again, I think this post is unfair to the Newsreal piece.

PG said...

Sorry, that last quote should have been "destroy private health insurers." Ctrl-C, not to be relied upon.