I Don’t Understand Why You Don’t Understand

This morning, co-blogger Joe Windish points to a paper that says Americans are resisting health care reform because we’re racist; it’s a legacy from slavery.

Our bottom line is that Americans redistribute less than Europeans for three reasons: because the majority of Americans believe that redistribution favors racial minorities, because Americans believe that they live in an open and fair society, and that if someone is poor it is his or her own fault, and because the political system is geared toward preventing redistribution.

Because everyone know that we are essentially European, right? Nothing in our history has led to a different view of redistribution (like…say… leading the West in a very long Cold War…), or of governmental power (like… say… breaking free of a European autocracy at our inception…). Little things like Federalism and the deliberate design of a limited central government are just minor details.

At the very heart of it all, apparently, there’s only one thing standing between our core culture and Europe’s: the legacy of slavery.

Thus the racial factor as well as a wider net of social beliefs play a key role in why Americans don’t care about income inequality, and why, not caring, they have no great interest in expanding the welfare state.

By all means, let’s just skip right past those secondary “social beliefs”. They play no meaningful role in resistance to the welfare state.

From the comments on another TMV health care reform thread:

But what I don’t understand is the philosophy of those who don’t have insurance, don’t have health care, don’t have the financial resources–oftentimes have already bankrupted themselves and their families–who would badmouth and even reject a health care reform that, at the very least, would bring some much-needed medical care into their lives.

If it is self-reliance, pride, stoicism, independence, etc., etc. then I understand and salute them.

But, there must be more to it…

I even asked “why there must be more to it” on that thread. The response I got was, essentially, that the “more” is racism:

It’s not just health care reform they’re after… they’re after Obama. Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart, black Democrat is President of the United States.

This is getting a bit tiresome, folks. Please. Stop it.

Yes. It’s quite obviously true that there are people out there who cannot get past the color of Obama’s skin. Absolutely, there are some folks who have a confused, vaunted view of themselves as “better” than racial minorities. I have no more use for those folks than you do. But simply because you, personally, think government-run systems are a panacea for various ills does not — NOT — ipso facto mean that only a fool or a racist would not agree.

Self-reliance and independence are not secondary afterthoughts, and the inability to understand these core values by some liberals confounds me. Why does there have to be more to it? The fundamental feeling that a person is responsible for him/herself isn’t enough? When did adhering to deeply held principles become “working against their own interests”?

We need health care reform. Without it, runaway costs and insufficient regulation are going to bury us when the Boomers hit the Medicare system. However, there are multiple ways to skin the cat.

Everything isn’t black or white… or even just black.

Author: POLIMOM

79 Comments

  1. Just to be open, fair, honest and complete about the entire exchange, Polimon, below is my comment. It was posted as a comment to what I felt was a heartbreaking story Self Care, Preventative Care, Pre-Existing Conditions: How Some Are Coping
    Posted by DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS.

    The “commenter” was me, Dorian de Wind.

    It is followed by the entire comment that I was referring to (by Steve K) and which you summarize as “racism.”

    First my comment:

    “I hear, read and see heartbreaking stories such as these–and worse–all too often.

    I have often said that I “have no dog in this fight,” as my family and I have, and have always had, the best possible medical care our government can provide.

    But, call it stupidity, call it compassion–I don't care–I would want every American to have the same health care. And, call it stupidity or whatever, I am willing to pay a few more dollars in taxes to see this come about.

    I understand–albeit I find it morally questionable–that others who are fortunate to be in a financial position to have good medical care whenever they need it, would not want others to be as fortunate, for whatever reasons: they want to hold on to the money they worked so hard for; or they don't want bigger government, bigger deficits, or they don't want “socialism,” etc., etc.

    That, I can understand—I may not approve of it, but, then again, it is not up to me to approve or disapprove.

    But what I don't understand is the philosophy of those who don't have insurance, don't have health care, don't have the financial resources–oftentimes have already bankrupted themselves and their families–who would badmouth and even reject a health care reform that, at the very least, would bring some much-needed medical care into their lives.

    If it is self-reliance, pride, stoicism, independence, etc., etc. then I understand and salute them.

    But, there must be more to it…”

    Here's SteveK's comment, that I referred to in answer to your “Why does there have to be more to it?” and to which you refer as “The response I got was, essentially, that the “more” is racism:”

    “Dorian, You're 100% correct in your opinion and assessment of the morally questionable positions being taken by **some** of those who have their own. Even the amount of support the health industries are receiving from those actually losing under the current system is just illogical EXCEPT…

    … EXCEPT when you hear that a anti-health care reform group (nameless?.. Faceless?..) ran one television ad 115 times over a day and a half before the President arrived… IN MONTANA… ONE AD… ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TIMES… IN A DAY AND A HALF.

    And at the same time Republican legislators continue repeating BALD-FACE LIES… Death Panels!.. Euthanasia!.. Government panels that are going to kill Grannie… LIES… LIES… LIES.

    It's not just health care reform they're after… they're after Obama. Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart, black Democrat is President of the United States.

    Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News has nailed it: President Obama is the real target of health care protesters, not policy
    “Yes, there were a few protesters en route. But the Montanans who were excited to hear the President far outnumbered the fringe groups.”

    Then she said this about Obama: “He was smart, fair, funny.”

    So this wasn't an occasion when people with legitimate concerns and legitimate points to make were overwhelmed by the wing nuts and screamers who take their marching orders from right-wing radio and television and the Internet.

    Those idiots come to these town hall meetings more to be seen than heard, and think creating chaos makes them great Americans.

    [...]

    The most violent opposition isn't directed at his ideas about health care reform. It is directed at him. It is about him. They couldn't make enough of a majority to beat the Harvard-educated black guy out of the White House, so they will beat him on an issue where they see him as being most vulnerable.

    [...]

    With that kind of zealotry, screaming about government programs as if Medicare isn't one. It is why so many of them, all these wild-eyed red faces in the crowd, look completely certifiable, screaming about how Obama wants to kill Grandma, as if he's suddenly turned into Jack Kevorkian.

    [...]

    Even in Montana, the Swift Boaters who would line up against any health care plan endorsed by Barack Obama ran one television ad 115 times over a day and a half before the President arrived.

    “Every time we are in sight of health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got,” the President said outside Bozeman. “They use their influence and run their ads. They use their political allies to scare the American people.”

    He is right about that. But the special interests aren't fighting the reform, in a system that cries out for reform, as much as they are fighting him. They see their first real good opening and they go for it.

    They don't just want to hijack this debate, they want to hijack his presidency. The rest of it, about your coverage and everything else, is just the cover story.”

    Now that we have all the facts, can we start all over again?

    Thank you

    Dorian de Wind

    And, by the way, Polimom, I still don't understand why you don't undersstand

  2. I hope you enjoy the roads you drive on to get to work. I hope you enjoy getting your birthday cards in the mail. I hope you enjoy that without public education the ignorance that would be at your door trying to burn it down would be staggering. I hope you enjoy knowing that when you dial 9-1-1, a fire and emergency crew is there to rescue you.

    I hope you enjoy eating affordable foods because our farmers receive subsidies to keep their prices low. I hope you enjoy the railways that ship all that food to points across the nation, making your next meal a thing you can always take for granted. I hope you enjoy that your grandma got Medicare and your family didn't have to pay for her medical care to the point of bankruptcy. I hope you enjoy the military that keeps whacko nations at bay and not invading your beaches. I hope you enjoy federal relief if your house and family gets caught in a disaster….Let's play a game. Maybe Father Time or another realistic poster could post more socialized programs you already love to use every day..?

    If you privatized all those vital functions to our nation, you would be priced out of those services by the monopolies that eventually would control them. We aren't talking about healthy capitalism with MedMob. We're talking about monopolies that agree to price-fix without regulation. I notice that lately the MedMob, figuring it's goose is cooked, is running an ad that promises they won't drop you for pre-existing conditions. What they aren't telling you in the ad is that this already goes on but what happens is they jack the hell out of your rates to punish you for having that condition.

    Socialized medicine is just another missing puzzle piece to the large socialized infrastructure we all already enjoy. To profit from human suffering is probably the most immoral thing I can think of. This is a nation under God. Let's live up to that saying and be our brother's keeper in this most basic of human rights. The enemy is disease, the army we need to protect us from that enemy is a guarateed staff of Uncle Sam's health army.

  3. Polimom, I think you're being a bit harsh. There is a difference between making a generalized descriptive statement about political coalitions/historical underpinnings and stating that everyone that has that position has it for the same reason.

    The antipathy towards social welfare nets has historically been driven largely by racism when it came to influencing the mainstream. This is not the same as saying that all the people against socialism were racists or that it's even the largest reason now, it's simply a descriptive (and correct) statement that the anti-big government groups used tons of racial and moral messaging. [Similarly a lot of the pro-government groups did too. It's not a one way street.]

    Considering how much of political views are cultural, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of people on both sides don't hold their views for any well thought out logical reasons, just cultural imprinting. You might think that's cynical, but in my experience it's entirely accurate. It's not even about intelligence either…a lot of people I've talked to have agreed with my points logically and have a grasp of the underlying situation [I tend to play devil's advocate no matter what they believe] but ultimately don't change their political identity or reactions. It's not necessarily that people who could be “helped” by the larger social policies don't understand their situation or are racist, it's just that it goes against what they hold on a belief/cultural level and they have high levels of cognitive dissonance. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that many people seem to hold onto the dissonance even stronger the more unhappy they are with the situation, because at some point it starts serving as The Answer.

    This is why they can simultaneously idealize The American Dream and complain profusely that it's impossible to accomplish because all the crooked corporations make that impossible. It's why liberals can claim that things would be better with government run stuff but also complain about how government is beholden to corporate interests and are completely corrupt and wasteful. It's how free marketers can idolize corporate efficiency while ignoring that the bulk of industries would never have started without massive government expenditures into research and infrastructural support (and many would fall apart instantly without continued government favor).

    So really I guess it depends on the argument. If you argue that Europe is less racist and that's why they have socialism and we don't, then that's false…since they are arguably more racist these days. If you argue that most of the opposition is racist, well again. But if you argue that a lot of the cultural mythos and messaging done decades ago had largely racist overtones or explicit bigotry (and connecting patriotic and self reliance messages as “white” values) and that the end values (if not the reasoning) held and transmitted can be attributed to that, then I think that is reasonably accurate.

    It's not an academic question either. Many liberals and minorities know that was the driving basis then, and so reflexively assume it now.

  4. Joe, the gulf between our core ideologies appears to be incredibly wide. You evidently see only 2 reasons why somebody might oppose a government run health system. One is either a) “others who are fortunate to be in a financial position to have good medical care whenever they need it, would not want others to be as fortunate”, or b) opposition is fighting Obama, specifically.

    Pointing to SteveK's rather long comment, (which I did not quote in full, for purposes of brevity), and saying that he “may just have found the more to it”, was pretty clear to me.

    Since I am not a supporter of a government-run healthcare system, I am offended by your (and others') views of me as either a rich selfish person or a racist — or even a non-thinking drone taking talking points from the ludicrous Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh. I resent it deeply.

  5. Silhouette:

    Do you think that public, government-run education is better than private education? In general, do you think that the public schools provide better-quality education in safer surroundings? Are private universities worse than public ones, as a rule? Stanford and the Ivies are private. How have they managed to achieve excellence without being run by the government?

    As for trains and the delivery of goods, have you no respect for the (private) truckers who deliver food and many other products to the consumers? They are not owned and run by Washington DC, and they deliver goods at relatively low prices that, as you say, people take for granted – as you seem to do so. The private sector delivers good quite well.

    And where is your evidence that subsidies for farmers keep prices low?

    The current President recently admitted in a town meeting that Federal Express and UPS were doing fine, and that it was the Post office that was having problems. Seems that some people don't regard the way the Post Office is run as highly as you do!

    Hotjets

  6. HJ…if I thought your arguments were actually worth taking the time to dismantle, I would…but they're not. So I'll make one general comment.

    Cherry picking instances where the private sector does certain things better than the public sector, and not cherry picking very well I might add, does in no means prove that the public sector can't do other things better.

  7. Polimom,

    Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has an Opinion piece in the WSJ today that provides some support to your suggestion that perhaps it's just a conflict with American 'core values' that's behind the reluctance of many to jump on board the current health care reform train.

    In January 2009, the Pew Research Center asked about 2,000 Americans, “Do you think the government does more to help or more to hurt people trying to move up the economic ladder?” Amid the most frightening economic crisis in decades, more Americans still said the government would hurt than the number who thought it would help (50% versus 39%). Independent surveys from roughly the same period found that only one in five Americans believed he or she could trust the government.

    Citizens will put up with a lot—but not with anyone who imperils our future. There is practically nothing that lowers American happiness more than taking away our faith in a better tomorrow. Data from the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey in 2004 show that, even if two people have the same income, education, race, sex, family status and political views, a lack of optimism about the future lowers the likelihood by nearly 50% of one saying he or she is “very happy” about the present.

    Most Americans see their best future in the free enterprise system when (as a March 2009 Pew Research Center poll found) 70% of respondents agree that, “people are better off in a free market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time.” There is no evidence that more than a minority of Americans accept the idea that a $17 trillion national debt, greater reliance on government for jobs and health, and hyper-progressive taxation offer the hope they deserve for themselves and their children.

    Providing people with “faith in a better tomorrow” was Ronald Reagan's greatest strength, even as Paul Volker drove short term interest rates up to 21% in a (successful) effort to slay the inflation dragon. IMHO, Obama has neglected this essential role over the past seven months. It's not too late for him to start doing it, but if he had been working on this all along, he might be facing an easier road now.

    Based on this survey data, one could conclude that a basic failure to “sell the benefits” of these health care system changes is responsible for much of the unhappiness with the current health care proposals. That, reinforced by the underlying distrust of 'government as a help to moving up the economic ladder', may be sufficient to explain most of the resistance to a massive expansion of the role of the Federal government.

    Not a word about racism–that universal excuse for public attitudes and actions that some people just can't understand.

  8. Silhouette, if you don't see any difference between programs that ultimately have individuals relying on the government for their care (as opposed to temporary helping hands to set them up and going again) and roads or standing armies, then you really, seriously don't get what I'm saying here at all.

    You said: “I hope you enjoy that your grandma got Medicare and your family didn't have to pay for her medical care to the point of bankruptcy.”

    Funny that you bring that up, Sil. As it happens, I think the permanent nature of those programs are part of why our society is fracturing. If I had my druthers, families would be FAR more directly responsible for their own today than they have become — and that includes Social Security as well.

  9. PM…

    Calling someone a racist for not supporting the current health care reform bills in Congress is no different than calling someone unpatriotic for not supporting the war in Iraq.

    Anyone that does it is taking the Karl Rove approach to politics and debate…and that is a very very very low road.

  10. shannolee,

    I agree. Sad that the Health Care Reform proponents have had to stoop so low…..

  11. I even asked “why there must be more to it” on that thread. The response I got was, essentially, that the “more” is racism:

    It’s not just health care reform they’re after… they’re after Obama. Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart, black Democrat is President of the United States.

    This is getting a bit tiresome, folks. Please. Stop it.

    What is “getting a bit tiresome” is people like Polimom that only see race (BLACK) in my comment. SMART and DEMOCRAT were there, too, so “Please stop”… you're coming across as a racist.

  12. What the Sils, GeorgeSorwells of the world don't get is that while some of us do use publicly funded services, some of us, unlike them, have contributed a third of our wages for the usage. We're not living off the dole. Public healthcare is just another dole. I'm quite confident I can find healthcare services in the private sector that won't cost me 33 cents of my next dollar earned.

    As long as we're espousing historical/cultural theories to explain everything that happens in the universe, I will espouse that people become liberals because they lack one or more of three personal qualities……ability, determination, perseverance. Those are the only 3 things I ever needed to succeed in getting everything I wanted.

  13. Polimom:

    “You evidently see only 2 reasons why somebody might oppose a government run health system. One is either a) “others who are fortunate to be in a financial position to have good medical care whenever they need it, would not want others to be as fortunate”, or b) opposition is fighting Obama, specifically.”

    Polimom, let me–again–quote myself on “some of the reasons” (more than “two”):

    “…they want to hold on to the money they worked so hard for; or they don't want bigger government, bigger deficits, or they don't want “socialism,” etc., etc.” (Please note the , Etc., etc”

    Also,

    “…self-reliance, pride, stoicism, independence, etc., etc.”

    Finally, my “But, there must be more to it…” on which I later referred to SteveK's post.

    As you say, “…the gulf between our core ideologies appears to be incredibly wide.” I'd like to leave it that way.

    Thank you

    Dorian

  14. I'm amazed at the ability of people to read my mind. People who have never met me are able to tell that I'm opposed to the health care bill because I'm racist. They are able to see that my stated reasons are just a fig leaf for my hate and selfisness even though they know nothing about me.

  15. “Since I am not a supporter of a government-run healthcare system, I am offended by your (and others') views of me as either a rich selfish person or a racist — or even a non-thinking drone taking talking points from the ludicrous Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh. I resent it deeply.”

    Polimom. . .truly you are not non-thinking. . . lots of strong thinking going on. . .but some issues are best resolved when the mind opens through the heart?

  16. I love reading thoughtful and well articulated opinions, and passion just adds spice, so long as the passion doesn't trump the thinking. So with that in mind, just let me say that I enjoyed reading the comments so far. I don't think anyone appreciates being lumped in with those who have racist leanings merely because they share part of an ideology, and so a person in that position is bound to be defensive and justly so. That said, the racism that exists should not be downplayed merely because it casts a poor light on ones party or because it makes one feel defensive. To the extent that charges of racism intrude and divert from discussion of policy details then it is unproductive, but underlying and non-overt racism can still have a huge negative impact on what we are able to accomplish in this country. I'd like to think that most of us can avoid that dynamic by simply being honest with ourselves and others about our true motives. But there are those for whom the fear and bias are too deeply rooted to permit self-examination. When those fears are played to (however subtly) by people who should know better, then it is unforgivable. Moral and honest leadership is critical in this area since there will always be a portion of the electorate who take their cues from their party leaders and media standard bearers. Not everyone has the time, inclination, or ability to think critically on every issue.

  17. Jets,

    You have 50 million who didn't attend school at all because the private-school industry squeezed them out of their ranks by price-fixing and you'd have ignorance burning your barn down. And if you can't see the similarities between railways, military and public health protecting and preserving life with health care that protects and preserves life, then maybe you went to a private school that disqualified you because you have a pre-existing condition of willful blindness.

    All these are socialized systems that we, yes, pay for with our property and income and sales taxes are VITAL to preserving the infrastructure of a society that has decided that the mayhem, the anarchy that would result from not having them would leave all of us without a country PERIOD to debate about. Here's how 50 million uninsured people is a threat to our national security. Someone has to pay for their care and it winds up being you and me anyway through the ERs, only through a corrupt and bloated system that is geared towards soaking the taxpayers anyway. What the public option does is take what already exists and cleans it up so we can actually afford it. It keeps private insurance honest and it rights a system for that 50 million that is being held together with fiscal equivalent of chewing gum, bobby pins and duct tape.

  18. Since we are talking about offending people, here's a beauty found in an earlier comment:

    “As long as we're espousing historical/cultural theories to explain everything that happens in the universe, I will espouse that people become liberals because they lack one or more of three personal qualities……ability, determination, perseverance.”

    It needs no elaboration

  19. casualobserver said: “As long as we're espousing historical/cultural theories to explain everything that happens in the universe, I will espouse that people become liberals because they lack one or more of three personal qualities……ability, determination, perseverance.”

    Don't let my family hear that! They have an overabundance of ability, determination, and perseverance and are liberals. And I've been the victim of those three qualities in many settings! LOL!

    Nevertheless… The Race Issue… Just…wears…me…out… I have some family members that say they wish President Obama was elected during better economic times because, as it stands now, black people on the whole will get the blame for his failures. And they are really upset about it. These are family members who aren't paranoid in general but when it comes to Obama and this health care plan, the paranoia is there.

    It seems to me that this is a time for everyone to be a little bit bigger than they are and attempt to hammer out a health care plan in good faith. But it's not happening on the Left and Right. Political demonization is a zero-sum game and humans have long memories when slighted and/or downright stomped on.

    That's why I can't even absorb the details because the behavior the Health Care Left and Health Care Right has been ridiculous.

  20. And the coops we're hearing about is just one way MedMob is dressing up their victory to make the public complacent and quiet. They are nothing but MedMob with a different coat on. They'll be back to their racket, padding Congressional pockets to deregulate in no time at all. They will do it quietly, stealthily and in the shadows of Capitol Hill while we are all distracted with other issues. Before you know it their victory will be complete.

    That's why the public option is the only option. It won't be perfect. There will be bugs to work out. But at least the wellbeing of you and your family will not hinge on a soulless CEO weighing your health against a bottom line on his golden scales that are rigged to balance in his favor.

  21. As it happens, I think the permanent nature of those programs are part of why our society is fracturing. If I had my druthers, families would be FAR more directly responsible for their own today than they have become — and that includes Social Security as well.

    What's interesting is that Polimom and other conservatives don't even understand what's wrong with that statement and the amazing level of ignorance that it displays. Party like it's 1899, guys! Nothing's changed in society, family structures or anything else in the last century or more that makes that statement hopelessly naive and unrealistic.

  22. Casualobserver, let's have a little more disclosure while we're at it. So you have (and have demonstrated) ability, determination, and perseverance. That's great and inspirational. But maybe there are some things besides these three that contributed to your success, which I don't begrudge you! A few questions:
    Were you raised by a family? Was one or more of your parents employed or was the family entirely self-sufficient? Are you from the dominant cultural group in your society?

  23. I dunno. I know that Glenn Beck doesn't speak for everyone on the right of this issue, but he did specifically say that Obama's health care reform was based on “reparations.” If that doesn't smack at least a little bit of “redistribution favors racial minorities,” then I don't know what would. I am not saying that it's a common argument, but it has been brought up, and Beck has a rather wide audience that tends to parrot him practically verbatim. We can't say that the statement hasn't been made.

    Now, I wouldn't argue that that's the majority belief, but it's definitely something I see a lot of here in the South. At least in the Southern states, you will see race play a HUGE factor in a lot of this. But I don't think it has as much to do with health care itself as it does that Obama is half black. At least, I don't remember the same arguments thrown about when Clinton proposed reform.

  24. You know, folks — even though I expected this post to provoke strong reaction, I did think there'd be an attempt to at least understand one another. I wrote it, in fact, in an effort to explain the underlying principles behind at least some of the opposition to government-run health care — and specifically, in part, behind mine.

    Evidently the gap is every bit as wide as it appeared — and there's not much interest in closing it. (Coming right out and saying so makes it pretty hard to move forward.)

    Dorian's right that co's comment about liberals lacking …”ability, determination, perseverance” was offensive.

    Along with that — To say that I'm displaying an amazing level of ignorance because I suggested a chicken-egg problem with our societal changes and permanent social entitlement programs is… um… unhelpful.

    To imply that I inserted the racial component — that I merely plucked the word “black” at random out of a sentence and therefore am “coming across sounding like a racist” — is either disingenuous or dishonest… and… er… unhelpful.

    I was wrong. The gulf is not merely wide. It's apparently insurmountable.

  25. OK, Polimom.

    Perhaps I was a little too intractable when I said, “I'd like to leave it that way,” referring to your “the gulf between our core ideologies appears to be incredibly wide.”

    Let me rephrase it to, “let's agree to disagree”–on this one.

    Dorian

  26. You're the one who isn't understanding dear. Revisit what Jim Satterfield wrote. Read it a few more times until you get it. If you're so easily offended by reasonable rebuttals to the position you're clinging too, eyes shut tight and knuckles white, then you shouldn't be a pundit blogging here.

    You are wholly immature and unrealistic when it comes to how an actual society of people function. You will always have groups of people who are unfortunate. Just because bone cancer hasn't hit your house yet, doesn't mean it won't. And those people who are unfortunate must be covered. They must have access to roads, schools, military protection, fire and police protection, protection from disasters and protection from disease and accidents that affect life and limb REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT THEY CAN AFFORD TO PAY FOR THEM. Got it? Do you understand now?

    You've never live through anarchy that the old west was dangerously close to being. You have some dimestore childish romanticism attached to the idea of what you think it is to being a “free american” is all about. You have no concept of the ravages of TB, polio, influenza, small pox etc. etc. had on even the wealthiest of people back in the day. Each day new diseases emerge that will threaten your marble thresholds if you allow a general population to slip into the dangerous position of being vectors to infect you and your priveleged get.

    I won't even argue morality with you since you proposing human health as something to be weighed with a bottom line tells me you aren't even capable of a modicum of compassion for others besides self. I'll just stick to scaring the crap out of you with the factual reality of what will happen if your beloved “free market system” is allowed to continue unchecked with regards to human health.

    You are displaying a staggering level of ignorance. I learned more than you appear to know about human social systems, US history [the good, the bad and ugly] and biology by the 5th grade than you are displaying a handle of in your article.

    Sorry to be so blunt but someone has to show you a mirror sooner or later.

  27. “Self-reliance and independence are not secondary afterthoughts”

    No they are not, but must we have self-reliance in all things? One of the main purposes of government is so that we may do certain things together, for the betterment of us all. Building highways, defending the country, putting out fires, ect… there are many things that we do through government.

    I don't see why health care…”all you have is your health”…is not something we deem important enough to guarantee us all? The easiest way to do this is through a government plan.

    We'll save your burning home, but we won't put out that cancer.

  28. Sil…your attacks aren't helping this discussion. You're painting a very nasty picture of the kind of people on your side of this argument.

  29. Polimom,
    It's only a matter of time before the health care debate turns to illegal immigrants and their status under the new system. Regardless of the content of the proposed legislation, I'm sure Republicans will use racial tensions to try and defeat reform. It's… their… playbook.

  30. “It's only a matter of time before the health care debate turns to illegal immigrants and their status under the new system”

    I've already had that email forwarded to me.

  31. Sil, are you angry? I don't think polimom's really so nasty as you are treating her. I mean, I don't agree with what she's written either, but this attack is a little much.

    I have a hard time reconciling your concern for people who are marginalized or disadvantaged with your frequent anti-gay posts. What's the deal?

  32. Sil, you should really step off your high horse and take a good look in the mirror about extending compassion to others. Calling people deviants (as you have made a very extended habit of doing) is anything but compassionate.

  33. To say that I'm displaying an amazing level of ignorance because I suggested a chicken-egg problem with our societal changes and permanent social entitlement programs is… um… unhelpful.

    You did not suggest a chicken-egg problem. You simply stated that your preference was for a system that would depend on factors that don't exist any longer and no, they are not the government's fault. Families are smaller. The government did not do that. They are often dispersed across the country. Once again, that was the fault of the government or any of its policies. Those two factors alone make your preference unrealistic. That's before we get to income having largely flatlined for large numbers of people, eating away at the resources they might have to help other members of their family out. My point stands. Believing that the good old days is where we should still be and that any changes that have made that a non-viable position is the government's fault is just repeating the standard meme of the modern conservative, “Government is bad. Government can't do anything. Our problems are the government's fault.”. That blind ideology isn't particularly helpful, either.

  34. Polimom,

    Fascinating. Unwilling (or unable) to engage on the merits of the issue, Jim S sets up a strawman and attributes it to you.

    Party like it's 1899, guys! Nothing's changed in society, family structures or anything else in the last century or more that makes that statement hopelessly naive and unrealistic.

    It's sooo much easier to mock a loony position than an actual, principled one. Too bad no one was advocating a return to the national health care approach of 1899. That kinda makes the comment a valueless, empty insult . . . . rather like his first sentence.

    Also, shannonlee is sooo right.

    Sil…your attacks aren't helping this discussion. You're painting a very nasty picture of the kind of people on your side of this argument.

    Stay classy, Sil. With every word you write you make others sooo much more interested in trying to understand your positions, priorities, beliefs and values.

    Apparently, Polimom, any doubts as to the wisdom or necessity of government run health care reflects badly on the character, temperament, personality, ancestry, or sanity of the person harboring the doubts.

    Look on the bright side; at least no one is challenging your patriotism!

  35. The_Master,
    Polimom did imply she wants to get rid of Social Security.

  36. Polimom,

    Isn't it a fair assessment that you resent being lumped into a group that doesn't represent your views on health care? Wasn't the implication that you have a racial bias that drives your opposition? Not being racist myself, I know I would.

    If that's what this is all about, broad brushes tarring everyone on both sides; Why not write an article that states the reasons for that opposition. I'm not suggesting you haven't done that in the past, but these side bars to the real issues have swamped the debate to where everybody's striking out at the distractions being spewed by both sides. If you'd have said I was for killing Granny, I'd been pissed in the same way you ae now.

    As local pundit, I ask you to restart the real debate that is currently being over looked. You're not for socialistic programs. Fine. State your case. State any other reasons for your views. A legitimate debate is clearly not in the interest of the bomb throwers, it clearly leaves them unarmed.

    I personally am against the lobbying effort that pays politicians to hold their positions. I've discussed this numerous times in many comments, but it always takes lots of cross-talk before the emotions get out of the way.

    I for one don't come here for a rock fight, I come to rationally discuss vital issues with people who disagree with me. Isn't this one of the reasons you started to contribute here? Change the meme. Don't let the tail wag the dog.

    Everybody might actually learn something.

  37. You wrote: “Yes. It’s quite obviously true that there are people out there who cannot get past the color of Obama’s skin.”

    Yes, they're called Democrats. And they are race-fixated.

  38. danamack,
    Actually I think the current term is birthers.

    In any event, Joe's article was about the race of the perceived recipients of society's charity, not the President.

  39. This is a very, very odd post. I don't think I even understand what the point is? The conflicting messages must mean there's a lot of sarcasm there, but I can't tell what's sarcasm and what's meant in earnest. I mean, is the OP denying that we have a basically European system, or that we don't have the same public safety net as most of current Europe? Or are we arguing that someof the people making huge, yelling stinks about health care are people who would clearly benefit from the plan? Or maybe everyone's a racist. Or maybe NOBODY's a racist. That could be it too. And is it just me, or does it seem like the OP just got angry at the way the previous post ended up so she started her own? I'm very confused, but it sure is a funny group of rants, followed by lots of lively commentary…

  40. I think many people react strongly to suggestions that social security wasn't and isn't a good idea. When it was instituted there was a need to address the extreme poverty being experienced by many elderly people who had worked all their lives and didn't either conveniently pass away in time or didn't have the option of family who would take them in. Why is a society that takes care of it's elderly any different than a family that takes care of it's elderly? The main difference is in scale. That said, most people don't react well to charges of “ignorance” either. If we want people to understand our POV we need to show a certain level of respect.

  41. It isn't about race at all. It isn't even about hating the poor or the rich. It's simply politics. Republicans are losing badly and need to dig in on SOMETHING and they've chosen this because it's big and complex and easy to stir the pot. They don't need to actively mislead people because there are enough numbskulls out there in the media doing it for them.

    Unfortunately, Democrats think the only way out of the cesspool is to drown everyone else and stand on their dead bodies (figuratively, of course). You want to know why nothing changes? One party has nothing to offer but disciplined resistance and the other party has plenty to offer, but no legislative discipline to enact a single idea.

  42. What we “need” is national healthcare. That’s the only skinable cat. That solves our problem. Anything else does not address cost, short or long term.

    Obviously far to much “transfer of wealth” is from the population to the healthcare industry. The Europeans had the opportunity, at the end of the last world war that killed 54 million people, to completely rearrange their governments. Largely so in any case. You might have noticed that they did not choose to emulate our rather inept, if not openly corrupt, system.

    We are no longer an agrarian society needing “small government”, but a mass of diversity needing common leadership toward national common goal (s). Look at the unconscionable waste of humanity lost to poverty, stupidity, and, social paranoia simply because opportunity is not even close to being equitably available! Resources are greedily hogged up into “business sectors” rather than shared in better measure via a government , of , by, and, for the people. In reality, we ALL KNOW that our particular government is of, by, and, for business. Particularly the business that uses the most money to influence government not to mention manipulate popular opinion by massive nonsensical media propaganda.

    These business entities want President Obama to fail in those things they want him to fail at, and, succeed in those things they want him to succeed at. Their objectives are to keep the American people disunited and confused so that they can perpetuate their prosperity at our expense. If that manipulation requires attacking or disparaging our President on the bases of race, I guarantee you they will do so using the most sophisticated techniques that money can buy.

    You are not free. You only THINK you are free.

  43. Self-reliance and independence are not secondary afterthoughts, and the inability to understand these core values by some liberals confounds me.

    Self-reliance and independence, and having systems in place to help human beings negotiate and manage the realities of their lives, are not mutually exclusive.

  44. The_Master,
    Polimom did imply she wants to get rid of Social Security.

    Chris (and also Jim) –

    What I said was, “I think the permanent nature of those programs are part of why our society is fracturing.”

    I should have put emphasis on the word “permanent”. I should also have added the words “overly broad”, I guess… but even that wouldn't have been quite enough of an explanation for what I really mean there, and I'm actually sorry I dropped it into the discussion.

  45. After Senator Grassley, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and a few hundred other prominent Republicans tried to scare the bejesus out of the American people with death panels, euthanasia, pull the plug on grandma, etc., etc. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate Republican, both confirms and denies the perps, the issue, and the effects of the lies:

    (According to the New York Times)
    “I really reject the notion that the American people oppose this because somebody on the Republican side has deliberately spread misinformation about the plan,” he said on a conference call with the news media. “In this democracy, there is no way voters can be fooled to this extent.”

    As for the death panels, Mr. Kyl said the Republican Party was not responsible for that claim. “You can’t control what somebody will say about the debate,” he said. What Republicans are saying, he said, is that there is a provision on end-of-life counseling that is scaring a lot of people.

    As a result, Mr. Kyl predicted, “There is no question that it is going to be dropped.”

    So the death panels should rest in peace.”

    Now that's clarifying the issue

  46. “We are no longer an agrarian society needing “small government”, but a mass of diversity needing common leadership toward national common goal (s). Look at the unconscionable waste of humanity lost to poverty, stupidity, and, social paranoia simply because opportunity is not even close to being equitably available! Resources are greedily hogged up into “business sectors” rather than shared in better measure via a government , of , by, and, for the people. In reality, we ALL KNOW that our particular government is of, by, and, for business. Particularly the business that uses the most money to influence government not to mention manipulate popular opinion by massive nonsensical media propaganda”~FT
    *********.

    Yes, and this dragon eating its own tail doesn't realize that in order to exploit our country like it has been doing, it needs a country to exploit. The missing factor that I tried to bluntly point out to polimom is that social systems as big as our nation would never exist without certain socialized mechanisms that guarantee our cohesion If we are torn apart by throngs of sick, impoverished and ignorant people without access to basic human needs, the far right won't need to complain about us anymore because we'll all be in the same boat. In order to exploit a country, you need one left to exploit.

    But they'll probably all move on to another area of the world where their type of slavery can be practiced. Maybe those. Our nation Of the CEOs, by the CEOs and for the CEOs has nearly nibbled the last vertebrae of it's tail. Question is, are we willing to all go down so that a handful of uber-rich can live in the manner they've been accustomed to?

  47. Sorry, The_Master. You are wrong. I was not creating any strawman but just responding to exactly what Polimom wrote. She's still wrong and so are you. It does not matter that she modifies her statement with “permanent”. Frankly, if the programs she criticizes weren't permanent they'd be just this side of useless. She and Jazz and the other conservatives posting here make it plain that they simply do not want a government program no matter what. It doesn't matter how much the corporations in health care have screwed things up. It doesn't matter if they continue to suck up more and more of our resources while providing less of everything but their profits. It's just a case of ideology over every other consideration.

  48. Why is a society that takes care of it's elderly any different than a family that takes care of it's elderly?

    Why, then, have we not set up creches for the children?

  49. Has anyone succinctly clarified exactly what the problems are with health care, or health treatments, or health insurance in this country? How can we have a solution if the problem has not been adequately defined? That needs to be done first instead of this muddle that no one seems able to explain. (In my opinion, the references to race are a distraction from actually addressing the issues.)

    If the problem is that there are people that do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it, or they are excluded for pre-existing conditions, why can't those people be identified and some plan offered to them by printing money like we've done for the automobile industry and the banks? It seems that would be far better than the current proposals which no one seems able to read, much less understand, and which offer the potential of overhauling the entire system with unintended consequences and astronomical costs.

    The discussion has moved into the emotional realm, and that is not where wise answers lie. No rational person wants to have ill or diseased people suffer and not be treated with compassion, kindness, and good medical practice. If we were to have a government run system, there would still be the special elite, i.e. politicians, celebrities, sports stars, et al (our American version of royalty), who would receive a higher level of care than the general public, whereas now it is at least possible that an ordinary individual could choose to access better care (for example, many people where I live, regardless of income, have access to a top-knotch teaching hospital).

  50. Okie dokey! I see this turned into quite the love-fest in the comments thread. Judging from some of the heat here, you'd think I'd suggested that I hate puppies and babies or something.

    I don't, of course, had puppies and babies — any more than I hate old people, or minority groups, or the poor. And I do think there's a need for safety nets in society. But imho, nets are there for if you fall; they're not supposed to be a guardrail running alongside the high wire of life.

    I do think the way health care has been managed has become a goat rope. As I said in my post (for those of you still able to read through the red haze by the very end) — we need to address the sky-rocketing costs before they bury us in 20 years or so. Or we will be ready for a fork. Lady singing. All that stuff.

    Uncouple health insurance from the employer-based approach we seem to be married to. Allow states to create regional insurance groups. Let's talk (sanely) about the coop suggestion(s). Since both sides are attacking that, there must be something to it.

    But let's leave the assumptions about why people might be opposed – or even for – by the wayside.

  51. Well OK. The simple solutions are that we already pay for the uninsured through unbelievably astronomical ER bills when they fall critically ill due to lack of preventative care we should've funded. Penny wise, pound foolish we already are.

    So you rip the lid off the rotting log, dig it back to the good wood, mill it and use the boards to build a new foundation. Obama wasn't kidding when he said our system needs an overhaul, a remodel from the foundation up. We already have socialized medicine. We already pay for other people to get care from birth to the grave. Only, like idiots we do it all in the triple the triple cost ER visits and ambulance rides on our tab. We need a less-expensive way to do that than the chewing-gum-bobby pins-duct tape-leaking $ieve way we're doing it now.

    Obama et al aren't offering a new system. They just want to overhaul the one we have. The solutions are simple in that preventative care has already been proven to be vastly cheaper than critical ER visits. So all we need to do to save money is IMPLIMENT THE S.O.B. Then if you really want to see first-class care for the uninsured, tax sodas, cigarettes and booze some more. You can still be free to kill yourselves with those products, only doing so will now be covered in the plan.

    It isn't complicated at all. Legislators taking bribes are calling it complicated to obfuscated it and make it all [hopefully] go away. The secret is out though: we already have socialized medicine. What we need is to make it more affordable to have by putting the official US brand on it and reining it in.

  52. “If we were to have a government run system, there would still be the special elite, i.e. politicians, celebrities, sports stars, et al (our American version of royalty), who would receive a higher level of care than the general public, whereas now it is at least possible that an ordinary individual could choose to access better care (for example, many people where I live, regardless of income, have access to a top-knotch teaching hospital).”

    That is simply not true. Again, in other countries public and private systems compete against each other…the private goes from a little more expensive to a lot more. The “elite” would not be the only people able to afford care through private insurance.

    More fear mongering…with a taste of classism to boot.

  53. Calling people deviants (as you have made a very extended habit of doing) is anything but compassionate.

    This is jchem addressing Silhouette, and I agree that Sil is not in the best position to criticize Shannonlee for being nasty to Polimom given that Sil has said very nasty things about gays and lesbians. That said, I have a hard time with the concept of chastising Sil for chastising Shannonlee for being nasty to Polimom because Shannonlee herself has written in this space some exceedingly nasty and mean-spirited things about various people, including me. And of course, I have to be careful as well about taking others to task for nastiness, since I have in the past made some nasty and insulting characterizations as well.

    I find it very difficult to engage with the very, very small number of commenters here who have been gratuitously mean — even cruel — to me without any subsequent acknowledgment of possible pain caused, but on the other hand, it's possible that exceedingly small number of people feel similarly about me.

    Perhaps we would all be better off to not become third parties taking the side of one commenter against another.

  54. Almoderate “But I don't think it has as much to do with health care itself as it does that Obama is half black. At least, I don't remember the same arguments thrown about when Clinton proposed reform.”

    Well Al I live in 'The South' too and I'm not resisting healthcare because Obama's half black! I am resisting healthcare because we are borrowing our way into extinction. Maybe Clinton didn't get the same arguments because during his administration we weren't teetering on the verge of an economic Armageddon – ya' think?

  55. “As I said in my post (for those of you still able to read through the red haze by the very end) — we need to address the sky-rocketing costs before they bury us in 20 years or so.”

    Based on your other posts the assumption that this statement has a qualifier consisting of “So long as the government isn't involved.”. This is my problem with your statements, Polimom. The lack of honesty. The failure to address the fact that in truth you are only willing to accept attempts to solve the problem if the proposed solutions fit into your ideological limitations.

  56. “…you are only willing to accept attempts to solve the problem if the proposed solutions fit into your ideological limitations.”

    Well, now. We've managed to achieve nearly perfect symmetry, Jim, since your comments have led me to conclude much the same thing.

    I say “nearly perfect”, though, because unlike your view of me, I have not assumed your position to be underpinned by a lack of honesty.

  57. OK, just pointing out the obvious here. Jim is taking her to task to and not with kid gloves either. No one has chastised him nearly as much as me..lol…could it be covert sexism at work?

    Anyway, my comments on gays aren't meant or intended to harm them psychologically. If they get bent that I see their behavioral deviance the way I do, it isn't what I set out to accomplish. I'm just saying it how it is from my and others POV and from facts demonstrated about mammals from the AI industry and human developmental psychology, associative conditioning and so on…

    Just like with polimom. Her insistance that there doesn't need to be a moral component to the health care issue is a sign of social immaturity at best, pure ignorance at worst. There really is no other way to put it. Anyone who has really looked into the history of our country and what the intent of the founding fathers was, as well as sociology and political systems/history knows that you cannot turn your back on the poor and downtrodden without devouring your own tail in the process. Denying the basic human right of good health is also A-M-O-R-A-L, if it matters at all to polimom…

  58. Casualobserver–

    What the Sils, GeorgeSorwells of the world don't get is that while some of us do use publicly funded services, some of us, unlike them, have contributed a third of our wages for decades for the usage. We're not living off the dole and using a service we haven't effectively paid for.

    First of all, I'm not sure why you think you pay taxes but Silhouette and I don't pay them. Seriously–why do you think that?

    Second, there's a huge budget deficit in this country, so we are, in fact, living off the dole.

    Third, you're admitting the practical use of (at least some) government programs.

    Fourth, your math is off–that 33 cents of your next dollar would include health care in with other government services. (And maybe your taxes would go up by the amount your health insurance premiums would go down–and maybe, considering the budget deficit, taxes should go up to get you and all the rest of us off the dole).

    Fifth, I'm happy for you that you've gotten everything you wanted, including the right to insult liberals.

  59. Polimom wrote (to Jim_Satterfield): “I say “nearly perfect”, though, because unlike your view of me, I have not assumed your position to be underpinned by a lack of honesty.

    Polimom – I was not going to reply to your earlier “disingenuous or dishonest” remark that you directed to me (quote below) until this holier-than-though reply you've tried to pass off on Jim_Satterfield.

    The attitude you've portrayed in this article and in your comments here is that you DO BELIEVE that anyone who disagrees with you is either “disingenuous or dishonest” or both.

    Polimom wrote: “To imply that I inserted the racial component — that I merely plucked the word “black” at random out of a sentence and therefore am “coming across sounding like a racist” — is either disingenuous or dishonest… and… er… unhelpful.

    You appear to have felt the need to fall back on an 'I'm not a racist' position because ONE WORD in my comment… the word “black”. Was that because that was the only WORD in my comment that your position could argue against?

    You seem to have conveniently overlooked the parts where I said:
    1) “morally questionable positions being taken by **some**
    2) “a anti-health care reform group (nameless?.. Faceless?..) ran one television ad 115 times over a day and a half
    3) “Republican legislators continue repeating BALD-FACE LIES
    4) “Death Panels!.. Euthanasia!.. Government panels that are going to kill Grannie…
    5) “Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart, black Democrat is President of the United States.

    I don't actually think you 'missed' these points, it's just the word “black” was the only part of my argument you could use to defend the “morally questionable positions” taken by those who oppose MAJOR Health Care Reform and therefore you decided to play your “SteveK called me a racist” hand.

  60. Learn how to read the entire post, jokenzee, or at least not selectively quote. I also said the following:

    “I am not saying that it's a common argument, but it has been brought up, and Beck has a rather wide audience that tends to parrot him practically verbatim.”

    In fact, I stated a couple of times that this was not a common viewpoint, though I did say that I saw a lot more concentration of it in the South. Even then, that would not translate into “all opposition.” I was merely saying that, yes, the racial comments had been made and that while they may not present a majority viewpoint, we cannot ignore that they have been made– and by a man with a very wide audience at that.

    As for “same arguments” I'm referring to the racial commentary, again. I don't recall anyone making the claim that health care reform attempted during Clinton's administration had anything to do with racial reparations. Racial reparations has nothing to do with the state of the economy.

  61. Yup, SteveK. You're all over it, you clever fellow, you.

    Since you seem to be claiming that your adjectives are all weighted equally, with absolutely no intended hint of a racial component, let's try your sentence a couple other ways, shall we?

    “Some people just can not stand the fact that a black Democrat is President of the United States.”

    Hmm. The racial emphasis is a little more glaring like that. You sure you wanted to go here?

    “Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart Democrat is President of the United States.”

    As opposed to what? I admit it — I still would have noticed the adjective, but it would have been funny.

    “Some people just can not stand the fact that a Democrat is President of the United States.”

    That's certainly true, and would stand alone on its own merit. But it sure does sound a lot different without those adjectives.

    Also (I’m editing to add) — FWIW — your comment was only a part of what I was reacting to yesterday, and it’s certainly not all I wrote about in this vein. All by itself, I’d have ignored it.

  62. “Some people just can not stand the fact that a Democrat is President of the United States.”

    That's certainly true, and would stand alone on its own merit. But it sure does sound a lot different without those adjectives.

    Anytime one wonders whether or not racism might be a common motive, I think this is a good test- would the person or group be acting differently if race was taken out of the equation. By formulating Steve's statement without the racial adjective, I think the point is made- because I don't see any difference in the degree of political opposition that Obama is facing and that which Clinton faced. And even if it is greater now, there are other temporal differences that explain why conservatives are generally even more concerned about expansion of federal govt now than we were in the early 90s.

  63. And Polimom STILL chooses to ignore the elephant in the room… The point of my comment:

    You seem to have conveniently overlooked the parts where I said:
    1) “morally questionable positions being taken by **some**”
    2) “a anti-health care reform group (nameless?.. Faceless?..) ran one television ad 115 times over a day and a half”
    3) “Republican legislators continue repeating BALD-FACE LIES”
    4) “Death Panels!.. Euthanasia!.. Government panels that are going to kill Grannie…”
    5) “Some people just can not stand the fact that a smart, black Democrat is President of the United States.”

  64. SteveK — I'm sorry to deflate your self-inflating balloon, but I left the rest of your very long, SHOUTY comment out (initially and later) because it was mostly loud irrelevance.

  65. Steve, maybe your point could be addressed if you explain what it is. You've repeated that list a few times but I don't see what you are getting at, other than a few data points indicating that some opponents of the current health insurance reform plan are dishonest or use tactics that aren't respectable. Do points #1- #4 somehow add up to #5 in your view?

  66. CStanley wrote: “Steve, maybe your point could be addressed if you explain what it is.”

    It seems that you never actually read my original comment so here's a link… you can read it for yourself.

    The personal attacks and insults being tossed around in this thread has made trying to actually debate views and opinions impossible.

  67. Silhouette, this particular comment — of all the comments I've received in the 4 years I've been writing online — is far and away the nastiest I've ever received. It would fit right in with the most hostile diatribes coming from the politically hyperbolic extremes, and it may be that you have a future there. Perhaps you'll look into it.

    I actually left this alone for a full 24 hours, waiting to see how I felt a day later. But nope — you reset the standard to a new low. For that dubious achievement, I salute you.

  68. Sorry, Steve. but I'm still not getting it. You list a lot of examples of arguments against the reform plans which are dishonest or unrespectable, and you quote an article which does the same- but neither you nor that author explained why those tactics prove that the opponents are attacking Obama personally rather than his policies. People can argue against policies in dishonest or distasteful ways just because they really strongly oppose the policies- it doesn't logically follow that those people must have a personal or political vendetta against the person who advocates the policies.

  69. CStanley wrote:

    >I don't see any difference in the degree of political opposition that Obama is facing and that which Clinton faced.

    Unless I missed something, I don't think anyone brought guns to town hall meetings or other similar public events when Clinton was President. And there has been an increase in membership in white supremacist membership since Obama took office. And then there is Glenn Beck's atrocious comment. I don't think opposing healthcare reform makes you a racist but I DO think that the most vitriolic opponents, such as the ones screaming and bringing guns to town hall meetings, are most likely racist. Militia groups in particular have a strong overlap with white supremacist groups.

    And I think whoever wrote that other article might have a point about American's non-compassion toward the poor having something to do with blacks being disproportionately poor because during the Reagan era the word “welfare queen” was thrown about quite a bit and the stereotype of the welfare queen is a single mom who is black. That's what people think of when they hear that term. The problem is that people like Polimom don't understand the difference between deliberate, conscious bigotry and racism that is more unconscious and institutional — something coming from the way we've been conditioned, rather than from deliberate individual choice. No where in that article did I read that every person who opposes healthcare reform personally holds racist views. That's not what the article was about at all. But I can understand how people can misunderstand the point because conservatives in particular see everything from an individual point of view and don't look at things from an institutional or societal perspective. (Libertarians are even worse – “but society is made up of individuals!” yes, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts!) Looking at things from a societal view isn't an easy thing to do, either.

  70. I don't think anyone brought guns to town hall meetings or other similar public events when Clinton was President. And there has been an increase in membership in white supremacist membership since Obama took office.

    That's all true. And even though the weapons weren't actually IN the town halls (and were legally carried), those folks are being supremely stupid (imho), and deliberately “in your face” confrontational.

    The guns, though, are reflective of a whole separate bunch of issues related to Obama opposition, centering up on the 2nd Amendment. I really do need to do a separate post on that — but essentially, I think the NRA is leading a lot of people around by the nose as they execute a massive fundraiser. It's working, but at a very high social cost.

    Meanwhile, it was during Clinton's term that the militia movement REALLY took off. We saw all kinds of havoc playing out during his early (health care push) years, from Waco to Oklahoma City (which actually jumped off of Ruby Ridge, late during Reagan's term). The militia movement is also, in my head anyway, tied together with the endless 2nd Amendment argument.

    The white supremacist movement is, of course, a whole different problem, and is much more on point. But as far as I know, they've not been out to the town halls…?

    And I do in fact know the difference between conscious bigotry and the more subtle undercurrents of racism. What's still not clear to me is whether folks who toss the opponents as racists charge around do. Cuz it very often appears that they're very fast to slap that label on, when it ain't necessarily so. And given the history of our country, that's an extremely sensitive charge to make.

  71. CStanley wrote: “Sorry, Steve. but I'm still not getting it. You list a lot of examples of arguments against the reform plans which are dishonest or unrespectable, and you quote an article which does the same- but neither you nor that author explained why those tactics prove that the opponents are attacking Obama personally rather than his policies.”

    Well CStanley I don't think there's anything I can say that will get you to see my position so I'll link you to Dorian's recent comment on Polimom's new thread on the topic.

    He covers the same points that I have tried to make in my comment. He named names and cited specifics (and didn't use the word “black”) so he seems to have satisfied Polimom misunderstanding of what was being said… maybe it will satisfy you, too.

  72. Disease is not an enemy – it's a largely unavoidable part of human life. There are treatments for various things, and ways to reduce your chances of developing certain conditions, but ultimately we each will die of some form of disease. I appreciate modern medicine that allows us to live longer and healthier lives than at any time in human history, but the government is not responsible for keeping me healthy. Furthermore, Christian charity must be a personal gift, not coerced by government mandate. If I give money to someone from my pocket, that's being my brother's keeper. If Uncle Sam takes the money from my pocket to give to someone else, that's theft.

  73. beckyee,

    >If Uncle Sam takes the money from my pocket to give to someone else, that's theft.

    No, that's called paying your membership dues. The armed forces pay their dues by sacrificing their lives. All that is asked from the rest of us is that we pay our dues in return for all the services and benefits we get from living in this country instead of an anarchy. Conservatives don't like their tax money going to social safety net programs and liberals don't like so much of their money going to fund wars, some of which we don't approve of. But the government does a lot of things that we do all benefit from and if you don't pay taxes (and you aren't too dirt poor to pay them) then what you are doing is freeloading. So the taxes as theft argument put out by the radical Libertarians is complete nonsense.

  74. Oh, just want to point out that I'm using “if you” in a generic, hypothetical way – I'm not accusing beckyee or anyone else of tax evasion. Just wanted to clear that up because I can sound more strident than I intend sometimes.

  75. Almoderate – Me thinks you are calling the kettle black. I read your WHOLE post and I responded to the fear mongering hysteria laden core (I'll re-quote “But I don't think it has as much to do with health care itself as it does that Obama is half black.”). Please…am I deluded to think that there are moderates here? Saying anything about criticism towards Obama being motivated by racial fears or racism or whatever silly misconception the hearer has about the criticizer is just about as narrow minded as racism is itself.

    IMHO anyone claiming that criticism of Obama is motivated by racism is racist themselves. Racism is defined as “discrimination or prejudice based on race”. When one determines that a 'white' person can not have an honest opinion about a 'black' president one is prejudiced towards 'whites'. Prejudice is defined as – “an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics”. That's right, if a person SUPPOSES that a white person can't have a legitimate criticism of a black president then that person is a racist.

    While we're on the issue of correcting someone's use of quotes – why don't you learn to quote Beck correctly? Now I'm not really a fan of Beck nor do I watch him regularly (yes, that is a disclaimer) but I have seen him explain his thinking behind his stating that he feels Obama's healthcare push is motivated by a veiled reparationist agenda. Obama is 'on tape' stating that he is against reparations because they don't go far enough. Beck's extrapolates by saying if reparations aren't enough could it be that the 'public option' healthcare plan is part of an agenda to provide reparations of a sort. Free healthcare would be better than the classically discussed reparations (which have always focused around dollar amounts from my experience) because they'd be a gift that would keep on giving.

    Before you get yourself all in a froth over my response let me point out that I am a person that's spent most of my life leaning towards socialism because I felt it was the political system that best reflected my Christian faith. I am beginning to lean libertarian not out of 'right wing' leanings but greater appreciation for the protection The Constitution of the United States of America provides me to have my Christian faith separation of church and state. Obama's latest plea to religious leadership for public option healthcare reform is sweet but it is informed by religious philosophy and not based on a constitutional philosophy. Before we fall all over ourselves to 'be our brother's keeper' we need to remember that the best thing anyone's found to help a brother be a free man is our Constitution.

    Let me end by quoting some philosophers you may know by their words – You say you'll change the constitution / Well you know / We all want to change your head / You tell me it's the institution / Well you know / You better free your mind instead.

  76. My comment about a lack of honesty simply comes from the fact that you have not once acknowledged that you are completely unwilling to allow for any form of public option when you say you do want a solution. Whatever makes you think that the private sector will actually do a thing about controlling costs after decades of failure in doing so?

  77. “Whatever makes you think that the private sector will actually do a thing about controlling costs after decades of failure in doing so?”

    Jim, the private sector hasn't had a chance. How do you excuse the rising costs of health care in countries with socialized medicine?

  78. Jim, I can't acknowledge it because it's false. I haven't drawn rigid lines in the sand regarding my positions on health care reform. I do, however, have very serious skepticism about massive bureaucratic entities, and I also dislike the way they tried to move this so quickly. Any time a solution must 'be passed right now', my natural reaction is… Whoa! Hold on there Nellie! Let's look at this much more closely.

    Also (and not unrelated) — there's a certain political element that's saying “the public option is the ONLY solution”. That is almost never correct, and so I'm even more skeptical. That view, to me, is a rigid line in the sand — every bit as rigid as the Republicans with their resounding “no” to everything.

    “Whatever makes you think that the private sector will actually do a thing about controlling costs after decades of failure in doing so?”
    Whatever makes you think I believe that?

  79. “””But I can understand how people can misunderstand the point because conservatives in particular see everything from an individual point of view and don't look at things from an institutional or societal perspective. (Libertarians are even worse – “but society is made up of individuals!” yes, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts!) Looking at things from a societal view isn't an easy thing to do, either.”””

    Lynnehs,

    I am not disputing your claim that [a] “the whole is more than the sum of its parts!”, nor am I disputing your claim that [b] “looking at things from a societal view isn't an easy thing to do.” This is not to say that I understand them as well as I might or should, for I think that I do not (which in itself supports [2] perhaps).

    You seem to suggest that one might reject [a] because of difficulties with [b]. I would add that one may -misunderstand- [a] because of difficulties with [b]. Perhaps the -ability- to “[look] at things from a societal view” depends on having a developed concept of “societal view”. And perhaps it doesn't — perhaps even young children are able to look at things “from a societal view” prior to their being able to develop the -concept- of “societal view”.

    And perhaps someone who has never learned to look at things from a societal view would benefit from having a clearer concept of “societal view”, even if the “looking” does not normally require the concept. (Adults learning a second language do so in ways much different that how one learns their first language).

    Think of me trying to learn how to “[look] at things from a societal view” as trying better to learn or understand a second language. More than children, adults can recognize in themselves conceptual sticking points, and can make progress when these points are addressed. More than children, an adult can be in a position to pursue an enquiry such as: “it seems grammatical to say X in situation Y, but not in situation Z, even though Y and Z seem similar to me: is this true? and does it point to a difference between Y and Z that I have not yet recognized?” Such inquiries, made by a reflective and attentive student, can facilitate progress, without requiring the teacher to provide anything like a “grammatical treatise of X”, as it were.

    I don't presume you to be my teacher (ie have teaching obligations to me), but you may consider me, at and on this point, to be your attentive student. You seem to be saying that “looking at the world from a societal view” in some manner gives rise to the belief that “the whole is more than the sum of the parts.”

    My question is: is the latter a consequence of the former (looking at the world this way gives you the tools to -conclude- that the whole is more than the sum of the parts?)? Or is the latter an axiom of the former (looking at the the world this way -means-, at least in part, seeing the whole as more than the sum of the parts?)

    (This thread is days old I know — but one may ask in hope [-: ).

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