Talking Points

September 8, 2008 § 2 Comments

Dooce wrote a post last week about American politics and was barraged by thousands of comments, hundreds from conservatives who 1) felt insulted for being called selfish because they oppose universal health care, 2) insisted that they had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, had never taken a dime from the government, and everyone else can choose that path, too! and 3) adamantly maintained that allowing people to choose which charity to give to is a much more cost-effective means of distributing money to the less fortunate than any bureaucratic institution could ever be.

Rebuttals (that none of them will ever read):

1) There is no reason to oppose universal health care; it will not be a mandatory program. You can opt out if you have private coverage. What you’re really supporting with that argument is a system that denies children necessary asthma medication because their parents (who both work full-time) can’t afford to buy it as often as they need. Yes, there was a government program in place the kid who don’t qualify for Medicaid and whose parents can’t afford coverage. It was called SCHIP. Bush vetoed its extension last year. While he extended coverage on previously enrolled children until March 2009, very few of the (state-administered) programs have been accepting new enrollments for more than two years.

2) How about some perspective: If you have ever relied on police, firefighters or EMTs to come to your aid in an emergency, you’ve taken a dime from the government. If you’ve ever eaten a chicken breast produced at a plant overseen by government meat inspectors, you’ve taken a dime from the government. If you have ever attended a public school, driven on a public street, watched Sesame Street, or checked a book out of a library, you’ve taken a dime from the government. If you’ve ever used municipal water or sewer systems, or strapped a child into a car seat and driven in a crash-tested car, you’ve taken a dime from the government.

The federal government does not just fund those storied welfare queens and donate aid to ungrateful foreign governments. We’re all in this together. Isn’t it better to err on the side of generosity, possibly enabling the occasional system-abuser rather than allow the unspeakable poverty of 1950s Appalachia return?

3) We’ve actually tried that altruism-based system before; it was called the Nineteenth Century. For further reading on the matter, please examine the works of Dickens, Charles J. H. (1812-1870). Cliffs Notes version: it didn’t work.

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