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. 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.

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. “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.

  6. “…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.

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. “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.

  13. 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.”

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. “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?

  28. 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?

  29. “””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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