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The Right Wing is Framing the Discussion Again

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Jul. 15th, 2009 | 07:34 am

So long as the country talks in the terms of self reliance and independence, we're not going to see substantive change in health care, education, or the scope of the community compact.  The allure of free men (sic) creating a personal paradise from their own intelligence and sweat is too powerful to overcome with mere logic.  There are too many catchy slogans about "tax and spend" and other off-point sound bites to alter the course of the country by continuing to talk in the terms created by Republicans and Libertarians.

Instead, I believe the President and others interested in strengthening the wider community need to take up the challenge and talk about the type of society we want to build based on the type of people we are.

We need to act more like a compassionate society where we say we want our most well off people to help those who cannot effectively fend for themselves.  Empathy is in, and Welfare Queen stories are Ronald-Reagan-like fun-fact distractions.  In fact, they need to be challenged as irrelevant to our moral belief that we are in this life together and want to help each other out.

Rather than sniveling and trying to minimize proposed tax increases on people making more than $1 million (or, $250,000, or whatever), we need to be bold and honest. Congratulate these successful people on their work, and say to them that we need their help to create the society we want to live in. 

Look, Bill Gates, America needs 3/4 of what you make over $1,000,000 so that we can let the Amazon.com worker who is shipping boxes of Windows to your clients get appropriate chemotherapy for his cancer.  I'll show you, Bill, how the medical program is efficient and cost conscious.  You're monetary contribution is being well used, and thank you for being such a huge contributor to our community's well being.

I frankly don't think Bill Gates -- or many entrepreneurs -- are going to stop working because of the tax rate.  They are not going to stop hiring people or doing whatever is right for their business if their personal income is taxed.  More importantly, asking them to chip in is the right moral thing for us to do.  And, if we consistently describe the taxes as a contribution to the American Community, I think we have a better chance of acceptance and compliance.  Or, if the well-off rebel, and everything breaks down, we know we belong back in the caves owned by Ayn Rand, Dick Chaney, and other appealing egoists.

This is the true debate. I am my brother's keeper. We are stronger and better people when we help one another.

Or, as the Cains of the right suggest, should government exist only to provide civil order?

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Comments {8}


(no subject)

from: excessor
date: Jul. 15th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)

Ha. The California DMV is a good model of how government could work (although their website is almost unusable—maybe you could help them). But the US Immigration Office is a nightmare and an embarrassment. And we should look at what the government has done so far with the health care that it controls right now: certainly, there have been no cost reductions in that system. If the government can't do Medicare, how can we trust it to do something much larger?

Again, that's a red herring and forms part of what makes it a difficult decision. But it doesn't change the fact that we can't keep going as we have been.

I do believe that as a higher wage earner, I can contribute more to the society. But I want far more accountability, too, and I want that accountability to take me (as a gay man) into account. What I don't want is to pay some huge extra tax that delays my retirement so as to pay for healthcare for someone who can't be bothered to take care of his own health (however we define take care of). In other words, there has to be an incentive for good behavior and a disincentive for poor behavior.

So if someone decides that brushing his teeth is too much trouble, should the society pay for his tooth replacements? I'm not so certain we should. If someone decides that Pyramid Energy is the way to cure his cancer and then later figures out that he needs extreme chemo, should I pay for that when he could have done something earlier (and possibly less costly) that would have prevented a bad situation? If someone decides that he should eat cake and candy corn and Snickers bars every day, should I have to pay for his diabetes treatments?

I think that there's an element of personal responsibility here and somehow it has to be woven into the discussion so that we understand what we're getting into. Just saying I'm paying for more civilization doesn't suffice. I already believe in that—but I don't want to waste my money either, because money I give to the government is money that I don't get to use for my own purposes.

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Galen of the Ozdachs Pack

(no subject)

from: ozdachs
date: Jul. 15th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)

I like your healthcare questions. ALL of them are better than the current "Do you have insurance/enough money?"

I think we need a complete change first, and THEN we can work on the very valid concerns you have. Right now we are immobile because the health care alternatives are all imperfect. Yet, each alternative is better than the status quo. I'm ready for the Devil I don't know.

Stay well, btw!

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(no subject)

from: excessor
date: Jul. 15th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)

The bigger question is Who gets to decide? I think there is a spectrum of questions here. So in my dental question above, I think most people would say it's ok to tell the guy, “You're on your own.”

But what about someone who seroconverts after admittedly risky behavior? Will he have access to the treatments he needs? That's not a hard decision for me, but it is for conservatives because of their self-defeating need to legislate their own narrow brand of morality into every part of the society.

I think that during his campaign, Obama reiterated that “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” I'd rather find something better than we have today.

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