Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stop Making Nonsense

Recently people like Ross Douthat and other right wing shills have been making the following case: Obamacare is bad because people will stop working so hard.  This makes sense only in a world where sense is nonsense.  Or in a world, like modern America, where people are paid to be professional liars in order to preserve a system which condemned millions of their fellow citizens to nasty, avoidable, illnesses and deaths.

There is no necessary relationship between affordable health care and not working. None. Its like saying that because the "air is free" people will be encouraged to stop working because they don't have to pay for tubes of oxygen in order to survive.  Even though oxygen is currently freely available and necessary for life people still work, and work damned hard, to supply the other necessities.  In addtion, obviously, there are a lot of things people don't have to pay for and yet they work (for pay), and there are a lot of things people can't get paid for and yet they continue to do for other people (charity, child rearing, eldercare, cooking, sewing, doing art).

There is no sum total of work which is mandatory for each person in society in order for them to have dignity, or worth, or to contribute to society.   Lots of people don't work in this society--children, the very old, people dying of cancer.  We don't consider them unemployed and we certainly don't, as a rule (unless for purposes of right wing propaganda or if they are non white) consider them moochers and looters.  Lots of things that are valuable to society and to the human beings who make up society aren't paid for and yet people do them anyway.

Its a historical accident that our previous health care system was bound up with 1) for profit insurance companies and 2) employer and taxpayer subsidies through employers.  While its technically true that, as a result, people have had to work hard and often work continuously for particular employers in order to gain access to health care that is not at all necessary to health care--that was just forced on us by the refusal of the American Medical Profession and Employers to permit the formation of a serious national health care system that would cover everyone.

People in other countries, notably Canada, France, the UK, and Switzerland and Germany get health care as a right, as a baseline, regardless of their income (though income plays a part in some aspects of the system) and yet they have not stopped working and producing for the market. It production for the market is your god.  More importantly, they have not ceased to be human beings creating art and supporting each other if that is your desired form of human community.

 Douthat and the Republicans in congress have a model of human beings in which if they aren't in fear and dread for their very lives, every moment, they will somehow become useless idlers, sucking the teat of the government and refusing even to tie their own shoes.  But this is, of course, nonsenense.  Babies and children get sick all the time--we treat their illnesses and they go back to doing the things children do: playing and learning.  Adults get sick all the time and if we treat their illnesses they go back to doing the things adults do: learning, working, forming families, supporting each other.  Health care isn't some kind of frivolous toy or drug, whose aquisition sates or stupefies us. Its just something, like food, shelter, and clean water that enables us to live a little better and a little longer, to function a little more serenely or to die with a little more dignity.


  1. The entire right wing has become nothing more than a group of totalitarian tools that openly hate freedom and self-determination.

    I know we say they are anti-choice because they hate abortion. But really, these assholes hate anything that allows people to decide their fates.

    The co-pay free preventive service commonly known as the Pill? Noooo! It gives women more control over their bodies!

    Equal marriage? Noooo! It allows icky gay people the freedom to form relationships that are legally protected from crazy hateful relatives (and complete strangers).

    Labor unions? Nooooo! They allow people to determine how they'll be treated by their employers.

    Head Start? Nooooo! You'll increase the chances that children from poor families will have more choices and opportunities later in life!

    And so on.

    Of course they hate this aspect of Obamacare.

  2. I skimmed the post by Steve M. on this topic earlier today, and thought he missed the mark because he didn't address this aspect of the argument. There is no reason to link employment and access to health care.

  3. Good piece, Aimai. Once again the wingnjut reductionists have decided that the only work worth doing is work not worth doing except for the benefits. People who quit lousy jobs because their health insurance is suddenly mobile aren't going to stop WORKING; they're just going to work at something they want to do. Whether it's as a stay-at-home mom (since when do the Republicans sneer at that?) or even as the poets and artists they sneer at, people will be WORKING. Or working for themselves, as business owners.

  4. The best thing i could do is to get a spy cam