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Posted by on Aug 18, 2009 in Health, Society | 79 comments

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.

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