Thursday, April 1, 2010

Willful Ignorance

The great thing about Facebook is that it teaches you how dumb and hate filled the people you know can really be.  This is especially true for those of us who still have a lot of friends in conservative Christian circles.*  A couple years ago I de-friended a guy because he’d been annoying me with his crap.  The last straw came when he slapped up a link to Ann Coulter’s If Liberals were Smart They’d be Conservatives.  I was done.  Then there was that time that I made some sort of approving statement about Obama during the campaign and was informed that I shouldn’t vote for him because he’s a baby killer.

Anyway, last week a guy who was one of the youth leaders of my high school youth group started putting up statuses with “hilarious” ObamaCare-related themes.  It was literally stuff like, “is going to the hospital for some free stuff.”  Each status got slightly dumber and was given with the promise of more awesome status updates from the same vein.  One of the updates was even about how he got free stuff but had to pay for parking, which actually confused me.  I’ve never in my life had to pay to park at a hospital.

Now, then, say what you will about health care reform in principle.  Say what you will about the reform bill as passed.  My intent here isn’t to discuss the reform idea itself.  It is, instead, to discuss objective reality.  Two aspects of objective reality, in fact:

First, there was nothing that could have been done differently the day after the bill was passed.  It was simply a legislative maneuver.

Second, there is nothing in the health care bill that would lead anyone who actually knows a damn thing about the bill to think they could now “go to the hospital to get some free stuff.”

The bigger problem I see, though, is that the individual in question was not one of those mis-spelled sign waving tea partiers.  He’s intelligent, capable, and college educated.

Last night, since I already had started in on this post and I hate attacking people who don’t know I disagree with them, I broke my number one rule of Facebook: never, ever respond to people’s stupid statuses.  So I tossed this one up:

Hey, [person], before you get too much farther in your little orgy of anti health
care reform please try to answer a few questions:

1.  When, exactly, did the Constitution of the United States get amended to
allow the President to write legislation?  I am aware of various attempts at
health care bills written by members of Congress, but not aware of any
written by President Obama, as this would be a violation of the Separation
of Powers, and, therefore, unconstitutional.

2.  How, exactly, is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
substantively different from 1993's Health Equity and Access Reform Today
Act, co-sponsored by 19 Republican Senators, including Orrin Hatch and "Kit"
Bond?  I'll give you a hint: it's not.

3.  How does a government mandated buy-in to private insurance coverage,
even with available government subsidy, amount to hospitals giving away
"free stuff?"

4.  Where in the Bible does Jesus say, "Screw the needy.  They're a bunch of
lazy pikers, anyway?"  Was it before or after he told the rich man to sell
all he had and give the proceeds to the poor?

I chose these four points for specific reasons:

1.  To establish that the person has simply been parroting talking points when making his posts.

2.  Historical precedent.  I chose Orrin Hatch and Kit Bond specifically because they’re still Senators and Bond has referred to the new legislation as Obama’s health care “take over” on his website.

3.  Reality check.

4.  I, quite frankly, don’t give a flying crap what Jesus said.  I just found it necessary to establish that he doesn’t, either.

Either way, I got this response this morning:

love it but answer me this - how much in percentage or raw dollar did you pay in taxes over the past two years? when did national heathcare become a right? is it not aready possible to get heathcare based on need at the county level? if employers stop offering group insurance would you consider not working there? yes there are many things wrong with the system but why do i have to pay for everything? go to woodfield mall and have dinner on me but you have to pay the tax 11 3/4% when is too much tax regardless of Jesus' teaching? remember Jesus hung out with tax collectors the where as bad as the prostitutes! Jesus also said render until ceasar so people have always struggled with burden of tax. so i can bet you that the price of coffee at McDonalds would be cheaper if the judge would have thrown out Stella's lawsuit, her car had cup holders.

Note how this doesn’t actually answer any of my questions.  I also love the implication that everyone will quit their jobs in droves the moment they get this mythical “free health care.”  Because, really, I don’t have rent or car payments to make.  And I don’t like eating.  Or my television.

Also, what, exactly, does a private lawsuit brought against McDonald’s have to do with, well, anything?

Now, it’s entirely possible to make a principled and rational argument that the government should not be involved in health care.  I’m pretty sure that the one I’m seeing above ain’t one of those…

EDIT:  In case anyone is interested, here's my response:

Now, I'm not Constitutional lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that the issue of the "right" to health care was established with the Social Security Act of 1965 and its earlier precedents in the New Deal's Social Security Act and the Kerr-Mills Act and SSA 1965, however, was the legislation that established Medicare and Medicaid.  Or, possibly, it had something to do with the Veteran's Administration, which has its roots back in 1778.  My guess is that it has something to do with a combination of Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution, specifically the general welfare clause, in conjunction with the Ninth Amendment and probably the Interstate Commerce Clause, since that thing gets invoked for pretty much everything.

Second, you've established the availability of health care.  It has to be provided and there is assistance provided at the state and county level, but its inconsistent at best and doesn't really go far enough.  That is why the federal government needs to take some action on the issue.

Third, why, exactly, would I quit my job just to get not-at-all-free medical insurance?  I'm pretty sure that medical insurance does not cover my rent or car payments, nor does it buy food or electricity.  Also, I like my job.  The issue at hand, though, is that many people don't like their jobs but have to stay because they don't get insurance otherwise or switching to a different job means switching to a different health insurance program that will not cover a pre-existing condition.

Fourth, where in, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," does one find, "As long as it's capped off at a maximum of 15% of gross income?  And what does the fact that Jesus hung out with tax collectors have to do with anything?  Jewish hatred tax collectors was due to the fact that they were corrupt, unregulated, and acting as collaborators with an occupying foreign power.  The IRS is a heavily regulated agent of our duly elected government.  Ergo, your argument is a non-sequitur.

Fifth, what does a private law suit have to do with anything?


*This is not to say that all of my Facebook Christian friends are dumb and hate filled.  Plenty aren’t.  It’s just that some are and they proudly flaunt it on their statuses.  I’m apparently one of about three people on the planet who realizes that statuses are public and, therefore, not a good place to write things that might well piss everyone else off.  Of course there’s the terrifying possibility that people who write disturbing statuses don’t realize that they’re doing it and that other people might read them.


PersonalFailure said...

I have no answers to your questions, so I will now blather random crap at you. I win!

Geds said...

Hey, it works in verbal debate. If you say enough crap fast enough your opponent can't counter it all...

Sadly, y'know, for him, this is all written down. And I have access to the Google...

Fake Al Gore said...

You should either keep updating the post with the responses or post them in the comments section. I'd be interested to see how it goes.

Also, I'm completely bored at work today. Can you tell?

Geds said...

Yes. Yes I can.

The thing is that the whole thing has already rapidly deteriorated in to "pile on to the guy who disagrees with us" stage. Oddly, I now know how internet trolls probably feel. Although, of course, the main difference here is that I don't do this for fun. Also, I generally have valid points...

I've already pretty much lost interest, but I'll toss up a couple things. Here's the response to my edit comment [I'd also addressed someone else who popped in to say that the government can't force people to buy health insurance with, "I assume you have a similarly principled stand against auto insurance?"]:

[Geds] - answer a simple question of logic. If auto insurance is mandated for everyone. Then why do I pay for a line item on my auto insurance for "uninsured motorists"?
Private law - Tort reform - I believe we call them the Stella Awards - idiots winning frivolous law suits. So putting hot coffee in your crotch while driving goes against common sense...I believe there's another suit with Winnebago and a guy thinking cruise control was auto pilot. Why not address tort reform? Auto insurance is competitive across state lines why not health?
If the Social Secuity Act of 1965 was sufficent then why did the capital markets force congress to enact section 401(k)?
You're right - let's give everyone cars, cell phones, vacation homes, and rolex's.
At what point to you say enough is enough? Did not Forbes suggest a flat tax of 17%? It's tax time - go look at your return and tell me how much do you pay? Then we'll calculate sales and other local taxes to boot. Let's go back to cars - city sticker $20 bucks, state sticker $80. Do they not get enought taxes through sales and state income?
[Geds] at what point is enough regulation? The SEC regulated Bernie Madoff right?

Someone else chimed in to tell the guy whose status I'd originally responded to that he should "tell his friend" (yeah...nobody directly address me or anything) that many parts of the New Deal had already been ruled unconstitutional. Just, y'know, keep that in mind.

Geds said...

So this is my response:

So your response to my questions is to accuse me of drinking too much coffee and then throw more non sequiturs at me? Thanks so much for reminding me why I have a, "Don't reply to stupid crap people put in their statuses," policy.

Meanwhile, the reason you have an line item for uninsured motorists is because some people break the law. The point of laws isn't to make people perfect, but to allow recourse in the event that people do bad things to other people. The uninsured/underinsured motorist protection line item in your auto insurance is because it is recognized that there will be people who break the law. If they're caught driving without insurance they will get in trouble. If they're not caught before they hit you, you're SOL. Same thing with Bernie Madoff, by the by. He broke the law because it was profitable. The entire purpose of those regulations is to give people incentive to not screw around, but some unscrupulous people don't care, so the laws and regulations have to punish, too.

Tort reform, meanwhile, is just a dodge thrown out by Republican lawmakers. Health care in America isn't expensive because people keep suing. Health care in America is expensive because the system is set up wrong. For-profit companies with captive customer bases are not efficient. The system as-is in America with employer provided health works completely against free market principles and only serves to create separation between those who can and those who cannot afford health care. Things like lifetime benefit caps and rejection of people because of pre-existing conditions also create a system akin to wage slavery, where someone who could get a better job cannot because leaving their current company will result in them never being able to get their health problems dealt with.

401(k)s also have absolutely nothing to do with anything. Tax sheltered retirement accounts with optional buy-in and optional employee additions exist completely separately from health care. They also exist to give people an incentive to put money toward their future needs and to not have to rely so much on Social Security. They also pay for things like food and housing, which is not so much covered under Medicare. So, please, feel free to explain why this matters.

Oh, and I love the line of reasoning that I have a job so I can own nice cars and pay rent, so why don't we just have the government buy me a car and a Rolex. It's flawless logic.

[Person who didn't feel the need to address me directly]: Or you could address "his friend" directly. Perhaps with examples of court rulings that struck down the various bits of the New Deal and how it is that applies, since the Social Security Act of 1965 was allowed to be signed in to law some thirty years later.

But, other than that, I'm done.

The interesting thing, though, is that since I left Christianity I've been asked how I feel about the message I'm sending to the people I used to be a youth leader for. I now have an answer for that. I'd rather they think I'm apostate than think I'm an asshole.

Geds said...

Also, I apparently missed one in there. Either that or I missed the part where he accused me of drinking too much coffee, as if that's the reason I, y'know, used a lot of words to respond to things he said.

I don't really feel like going back to look.

Michael Mock said...

I suppose this would be the wrong time to point out that the coffee lawsuit was in fact entirely legitimate, and won on the perfectly reasonably merits of the case?

Geds said... made coffee more expensive for the rest of us! Shouldn't she have just shut up and sat down, or accepted a lower payout just to make sure that I could get my McDonald's coffee for a buck, not a buck-ten? Waaaa!!!!11!eleventy!

Actually, now that I think about it, that pretty much blows the whole, "Tort reform is the answer!" argument out of the water. I mean, assuming it was a valid argument to begin with. Which is wasn't.

And when he asks, "auto insurance is competitive across state lines, why not health?" doesn't that also negate the "employer-provided group coverage is the way to go and don't you dare mess with it" argument?

Really, my entire purpose for doing this was to see if there was any logic at all in the stance. Apparently the answer is no. Not a bit.

Fake Al Gore said...

First, here's an interesting news article and great book about tort reform and the medical malpractice subset thereof.

Second, TEA PARTY!!!!!!!!1one