would Megan McArdle have saved Deamonte Driver’s life if it meant expanding government?



Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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166 Responses

  1. Avatar Mark says:

    Great post, Freddie. Of course Megan won’t call his mother to defend her opinion. Megan, with her private high school/Ivy League college/MBA education pleads that she has both known true poverty and has been one of the sick and uninsured – and implausibly notes that it made her more opposed to a government guarantee of care.

    But of course she wasn’t like Deamonte Driver. She’s white; she has middle-class parents; she has an educational pedigree that opens doors; and she could just about guarantee that she’d be able to find a job that would offer her benefits despite her pre-existing condition. I highly doubt that she stopped going to the doctor because she didn’t have insurance – she just knew that paying out of pocket during her brief unemployment would likely not bring about financial ruin and that she could move back in with her parents if things went really wrong. That’s not the typical uninsured person’s experience – they stop going to the doctor, as you mentioned, and some of them die of preventable illnesses. That would not be Megan’s fate, whether she recognizes it or not.

    McCardle was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple. And she has no sympathy for those who were born on first base – because clearly she got from where they are to where she is entirely on her own merits.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Much less at home plate. Batter up!Report

    • Great post, Freddie. Of course Megan won’t call his mother to defend her opinion. Megan, with her private high school/Ivy League college/MBA education pleads that she has both known true poverty and has been one of the sick and uninsured – and implausibly notes that it made her more opposed to a government guarantee of care.

      Has she ever specifically stated why it made her more adverse to Gov’t run health care? Or is she just blowing smoke out her rear end? I wonder if she’s been reading any of the stories that have been posted by Sully and his helpers.Report

    • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

      Great post. Ad Hominems kick ass.Report

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    I should note that Megan did actually move in with her parents while she was uninsured.

    This is a real hatchet job on her and her father, but it gives you a bit more insight into how she’s different from the typical uninsured American:


    • Avatar Freddie says:

      I don’t condone a lot of the stuff in that piece, for the record.Report

      • Avatar Mark says:

        Nor do I! Unfounded accusations of criminal activity and conflict of interest aside, it does give you a sense of whether Megan can lay claim to being legitimately impoverished/uninsured (as she claimed) or if she had no need to worry about a government safety net because she had a family safety net in the top 1-3% in the country (as seems more likely).Report

  3. Avatar Karl says:

    Of course you leave unanswered the next logical question: can government ever limit healthcare spending for individual treatment? If it is immoral for government to not act to save a life, isn’t it just as immoral, if not more so, for government to refuse to fund a treatment or procedure, regardless of how expensive or unlikely it is to succeed?Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      What constitutes an adequate level of care is the stuff of democracy, and will be hashed out the way all contentious arguments about the necessity of government spending are, with long and often difficult discussion. First we must come to agree on the necessity and practicality of government guaranteed minimums of care.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “What constitutes an adequate level of care is the stuff of democracy”

        It is?

        If, after the town halls, it turns out that there isn’t a viable plan out there that could win a majority of votes.

        Would you see democracy as having spoken in that case?Report

        • Avatar Freddie says:

          You mean, would I see it as democracy if the democratic process rejects my political preference? Sure. It’s happened before. We keep pushing.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I don’t know. I see “rights” as outside of the arena of stuff that democracy can vote on.

            If you take a vote and reach the conclusion that gays can’t marry, you don’t get to then say that gays aren’t having their civil rights violated. They are. Even though we had a vote.

            History is full of shameful votes.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Meh. Is it immoral for private business (insurance companies) to limit treatment?

      Any health care system will pay for some things and not others. It’s called reality. Cope.Report

  4. Avatar Ian M. says:

    Megan has a major long term problem – she is not an economist and she has to continually comment on economics. This problem leads to long, well-written posts devoid of serious policy analysis and she’s quickly running out of interesting things to say. At this point, her job is to drive traffic to The Atlantic which she does recently with less and less serious bait for liberals. But hey, if they start arguing on the comments it keeps up the click count and keeps her in business. Which is, after all, her raison d’etre.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Were I to discuss Sheila Norrington, or Barrie Clark, or Linda O’Boyle, would that be appropriate?

    We could explore whether your proposed system would be a system where these people would have been denied care. More importantly, we could talk about the people who loved them, the people who prayed for them, the people who cried for them, and the people who survive them. We could talk about how they enjoyed this particular kind of tea, or that particular type of movie. We can talk about the books that made them cry and the television shows that made them laugh.

    And then we can talk about the health care systems that denied them care.

    And then we can talk about whether you want a system like the system that would deny care to Sheila Norrington and Barrie Clark and Linda O’Boyle.

    Or, I suppose, we could discuss whether use of such people in a discussion is somewhat shameless.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      Which is worse? Talking about Deamonte Driver, et. al, in the prosecution of an argument to change the system that has oppressed them? Or letting the system that failed them in the first place remain?

      The question of whether I am exploiting Deamonte Driver is between me and my conscience. The question of health care for the many millions denied it and so suffering is a matter for every democratic participant in the United States.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:


        I would find it exceptionally tacky to come out and argue that you would support the denial of care of anybody at all. The three names I mentioned, I’m sure, would get you to say that you would want a system that would cover their treatments. I’m sure, if it were up to you, people would never need for anything (food, clean water, shelter, education, employment, and health care).

        I’m pretty sure that most of us would want such a world.

        From my perspective, the system that the bill that is on the table (the one that would be voted upon and signed) wouldn’t have necessarily saved Deamonte Driver… the article specifically talks about dentists who take Medicaid being hard to find, after all. I don’t know that the system that is on the table would have provided a single dentist who would have been helpful.

        And yet he is given as an example of someone that Megan hopes will fill mass graves.

        But I don’t see how the system you’re asking to be voted on would have provided more dentists to the inner city.

        And yet you still use Deamonte as an example of the veniality of others.

        For the record, Sheila Norrington and Barrie Clark and Linda O’Boyle were all denied care by a single-payer system.Report

        • Avatar Freddie says:

          Saying expressly that you are opposed to “the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing health care” ensures that you will be denying people needed care.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            It comes down to whether you see “I shouldn’t have to provide X” as the same thing as “denying stuff to people”.

            Let’s engage in a little word substitution.

            Let’s say that I oppose “the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing comic books” to children. Do you read this as me saying that I think that comic books ought to be denied to children?

            Let’s say that I am opposed to the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing chewing gum to the elderly. Do you read this as me saying that the elderly ought be prevented from owning Orbit?

            Or lets say that I say that I am opposed to “the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing salsa lessons”. Would you read this as me denying spicy dance moves to committed couples?

            Because, in every case, it seems obvious to me that there is a significant difference between me being opposed to the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing (positive good) and me denying it to someone.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Let’s engage in a little word substitution.= Let’s engage in a series of bad analogies.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not an analogy at all.

                Am I denying any positive good when I substitute (Y) for (X) in the sentence “I am opposed to the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing X”?

                It seems quite obvious to me that I am not *NO MATTER WHAT THE VALUE OF X*.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Oy…..the X’s are not comparable….apples and oranges….so phrase it like a logical argument, that doesn’t make it one.

                Although I will gladly concede X is one of the best punk bands ever. But they surely are a different band then ABC.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Why are they not comparable?

                In every case, they involve the time and/or materials of another.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                traveling around the world and clicking my mouse both take time. I think there are a few more things involved in traveling around the world.

                Aside from scale, importance to human life, consumer goods vs life saving trt, different profit models, different exposure to risk, one is a collective action problem the others aren’t, one issue involves public policy and effort the others don’t. TIME.

                okay i set myself one minute to quickly list a few of the differences. Done.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I still very much see a difference between “not giving” and “denying”.

                I still don’t see how badly you may need it as erasing that difference.

                I mean, are you denying health care to the Uzbeks right now?Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                On the Uzbeks question: probably somewhat, yeah. Given the nature of the social compact, though, I only live in one country. National borders, as Will Wilkinson convincingly argues, are largely arbitrary and not particularly important for drawing moral distinctions, but it is still somewhat difficult to imagine how to practically draw a line between my taxes and health care provision to Uzbeks.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we can disagree on the limits of the social compact, that’s all I need.

                If you could explain to me why my social compact ought cover you, I’d appreciate it. I don’t recall ever having signed anything so, from my perspective, this is like some guy I’ve never met on the internet telling me that I owe him stuff.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Well, unfortunately for you (I guess), you’re an American. National borders may be arbitrary, but they’re real. You owe things to other Americans, most of whom you haven’t (perhaps fortunately!) met. Among those things are police, an army, a fire department, schools, food stamps, and health insurance.

                More importantly, government isn’t a contract. You don’t get to just choose whether you want to sign up or not. As long as the rules are set up certain ways, we get to assume your involvement. That might be somewhat unfair, but that’s the way we do it here and everywhere else.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ve no doubt that these things will be taken from me. None at all.

                I’d just like to point out that they are being taken by force and my obligation to provide them has not been demonstrated.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                “Force” is an unhelpful word. Especially given that I don’t endorse the position that you have any strong moral claim on any money you have “earned” within the borders of a nation whose legal structure is set up to empower you to earn. Unless you would like the United States government (and its subsidiaries) to stop legal enforcement of your contracts, your freedom of travel, and your physical protection – not to mention taking back the education it provided you, the testing it used to make sure the foods you eat and the drugs you take aren’t poison, and the various and sundry other services it has provided along the way to you drawing the paychecks you draw – I fail to see how anyone can really justify the strong property rights claims of the libertarianly-inclined.

                As for your obligation, it is drawn from the democratic process and the constitutional structures of the country. That will often mean that the government asks you to provide tax money for things you don’t support. Count me in double on things like the Iraq war. But, whatever my objections to that war, it was authorized by Congress and there isn’t a very compelling way for me to argue that, just because I didn’t agree to it, I shouldn’t have to fund it. (That said, since it wasn’t actually funded, this argument is only approximate anyway.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                From my perspective, if I don’t “chip in”, then I will have guns drawn on me and I will be thrown in prison. I don’t know of a better word than “force” to describe that dynamic.

                Additionally, it doesn’t seem to even matter that I *AM* ponying up a percentage of my money. I’m not cheating on my taxes (non-wickard interactions with my spouse that could, in theory, have an effect on interstate commerce notwithstanding). Additionally, given that I tend to overwithhold on my paychecks (all it takes is one year where you underwithhold significantly) the government gets a no-interest loan from me every year. This doesn’t matter either.

                What matters is that I have a poor attitude.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                That may be the first thing we have discovered that we have in common. 🙂

                God bless the USA.Report

            • Avatar Ryan says:

              If giving children comic books were the difference between life and death for those children, and you refused to believe in a social obligation to provide them with a minimum level of comic books, I would say that you are denying them needed care.Report

              • Avatar David Nieporent says:

                Well, I’d say you were English-challenged then. Whether one is “denying X” to someone is independent of the identity or importance of X.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                That’s only if you believe that one does not have an obligation to provide X to someone. In the case of health insurance, I believe you have an obligation (in some sense) to provide some amount of it for others. If comic books were the difference between life and death, I would likely believe something similar. If you have an obligation to provide something, and you refuse to do so, it is perfectly plausible that it would be correct usage to say you’re “denying” it. It is manifestly not independent of the identity or importance of X, which is what makes this analogy game so insane.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t believe that I have an obligation to provide you health care… but, here’s what I’ll do for you. This is the best health advice you’ll find.

                Quit smoking. You’re killing yourself.
                You loaf around too much. Get some more exercise. You don’t have to go to a gym, but you should go for, at least!, a walk every day. Take a loved one and walk for an hour. While you’re walking, discuss the events of the day, listen to them, talk to them, deepen your friendship. Not only will this help your body, it’ll help your soul. It also loosens the bowels.
                You drink too much. Nothing wrong with drinking one bottle of wine in a week, but don’t do it in a 3 hour period! Have a glass of wine with dinner, on Friday night have two. But be moderate.
                In addition to that, you eat too much crap. Instead of eating food that you’ve prepared with fresh ingredients, you eat out all the time. Eating out is a treat, not a diet. Cook every day and take leftovers to work for lunch.
                Go to bed two hours earlier and wake up one hour earlier and make yourself breakfast. Wake up with the loved one and talk while you’re cooking.

                You do these things, your health will improve dramatically. You’ll also be happier.

                I don’t have a degree in health care or anything so I can set a bone or give you stitches but I’ve just given you the best preventative care available.

                Let me guess… you probably don’t think that I’ve given you anything at all and I am still obliged to provide health care to you.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Well, I actually think that advice is particularly good. Within the last year, I have in fact, stopped smoking, started exercising more, begun a valuable relationship, dramatically reduced my intake of fast food and soda/pop, instituted a firm bed time, and make myself a light breakfast every morning. I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel as healthy as I’ve felt since I was about 18 years old. It’s wonderful advice, and I think everyone should take it. (It’s also funny that the list of things I did to improve my health is the EXACT list of things you suggest.)

                But yes, as a member of a civilized society in which people die from things that could easily and inexpensively be provided, a society that is richer than any that has ever existed in the history of the planet, I do think you have an obligation to help provide a basic safety net for those who are less fortunate. And I think that safety net should most definitely contain a basic level of health insurance.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      Who cares why he was in a position to die from preventable illness? He died for the lack of an $75 tooth extraction. I could could not care less about his mother’s failings. His death could have been prevented, and was not, because of our catastrophic failure of a health care system.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Who cares why he was in a position to die from preventable illness?”

        People might, in theory, find it relevant if he is used pornographically as an example of how bad people opposed to your pet program are… if your pet program would also have had him die for want of a $75 tooth extraction.

        I mean, if your proposed system would have saved him, sure.

        If it wouldn’t, that might answer your delicately phrased question of “Who cares why he was in a position to die from preventable illness?”Report

      • Despite my comments below, reading the original article (rather than Frum’s comments), I have to say that this case may provide more support for opponents of reform than proponents. Specifically, this: “And even with Medicaid’s promise of dental care, the problem, she said, was finding it.”

        Without getting into the issue of parental responsibility, which I think is wrong to judge from afar, this sentence is precisely what opponents of single-payer warn about happening more often in such a system – longer waits, more difficult obtaining quick medical attention.

        In fact, in context, the biggest cause of this incident seems to be the huge delay in care rather than the lack of ability to pay. According to the story, he was rushed to the hospital several days before his appointment was originally scheduled, so even if there hadn’t been a lapse in Medicaid, the result would have been the same. This means that the lack of coverage was not the proximate cause – it was the delay in treatment during the time he was covered.

        I’m not an opponent of reform in concept, though obviously I’m opposed to these specific reforms. Hell, I even think that a single-payer system would be marginally less-bad than our existing system, though not nearly as good as other directions we could and should go. But this particular case just doesn’t seem to provide a good argument for reform towards universal coverage.Report

      • Avatar Brian says:

        No it wasn’t. He had medicare coverage. His mother’s carelessness lost it for him. He’s a victim of bad parents, not a lack taxpayer-provided medical coverage.Report

  6. A few things.

    First, this really is an argument that opponents of universal health care need to give up: “Those opposed to health care reform point out again and again that emergency rooms are forced to provide emergency care regardless of insurance.” I have no idea how this ever got to be an argument against reform. It’s just a bizarre argument; I wish I could say that it was an uncommon one, but it’s not.

    Second, there is a problem here with relying on these kinds of arguments, though. That problem is that the perfect health care system does not exist and probably can’t exist, which means that whatever system we create is ultimately going to be directly responsible for some number of deaths. This means we’re always going to be tinkering with new ways to fix the system. What is problematic about that is that the impetus is always going to be towards moving in the same direction as earlier attempts to fix the system rather than taking a step back to see if those earlier attempts went in the wrong direction in the first place. By this I mean, we get put in a situation where the story of Person A becomes the impetus for a reform, but as a result of those reforms, Person B dies and thus becomes the impetus for more reform. But that reform isn’t going to be to go backwards – the story of Person A will prevent that for quite a few years; it’s going to be to simply do more of the stuff that hasn’t really worked in the past.

    That said, opponents of reform in any direction need to at least acknowledge the very real problems with the status quo and make a strong case for why the problems with the status quo are less significant than the problems they believe would exist with a change to the status quo.Report

    • Avatar mike farmer says:

      Many opponents have given good reasons for opposing government reform and have offered altenatives, it’s just that the proponents aren’t listening. They say that the proposals are unrealistic, not politically viable or won’t cover every single person for all ailments. Frankly, I’m sick of the hypocrisy and irrationality. All of you can pretend that blue is green and that government can run healthcare under ANY plan and not destroy the whole field of healthcare, but I won’t pretend. I don’t know anything about Freddie, but I work everyday with people, in a second endeavor other than real estate, where I help people put their lives back together, get the medical tx they need, help find them jobs, help them get back with their families and any other area of their lives that have been fucked up. I’m no different than thousands of others who don’t yap about justice, but get off their asses and do something about the screwed things the world throws at us. I’m sick of the dependent mentality that thinks this zoo of a government is the only route to a safety net. The government will bankrupt the country and there WILL NOT be any money for teeth, hearts and livers. If you let the free market live and prosper, people will design safety nets and give aid to those who need it — there’s enough potential wealth in this country to help every single person in need, but we won’t get there sitting at a computer begging the government to control it all.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

        Well said, Mike! Voluntaryism!Report

        • Avatar mike farmer says:

          Thanks, Bob. I will not capitulate :), our society, and liberty, are too important to leave to progressives. I’m just all angry mobish tonight.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            And here I, and 60+million other voters, though it was too important to leave in the hands of conservatives.Report

            • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

              And for some reason being against government health care has turned into I like blowing rich assholes like George Bush. 60 million voters rejecting George Bush is not 60 million people supporting government run health care.Report

      • Avatar Mark says:

        Uh, Mike, in case you haven’t noticed, the private insurance companies are already bankrupting our country. And the only reason we don’t hear about old people dying in the street is because the government had the foresight to take the responsibility for their medical care away from the so-called “free market.” The misery rained down upon us by eight years of republican mis-rule is something we want to double down on.Report

        • Avatar Mark says:

          Er, not double down on. Anyways, you get the point.Report

        • Avatar mike farmer says:

          “The misery rained down upon us by eight years of republican mis-rule is something we want to double down on.”

          I fear you had this right. I think the Republicans are complicit in everything I’ve criticized. If you think comparing Democrats to Republicans means anything to me, then you’re wrong. Both parties have destroyed the free market.Report

          • Avatar Mark says:

            Even my friend Dan, who makes $1M a year as an institutional trader and obviously must be a “libertarian”, has come to the conclusion that markets need to be regulated to prevent undesired outcomes. Don’t free markets “create winners and losers?” What happens to the “losers” among the health insurance purchasers?Report

      • Avatar Freddie says:

        If you let the free market live and prosper, people will design safety nets and give aid to those who need it — there’s enough potential wealth in this country to help every single person in need, but we won’t get there sitting at a computer begging the government to control it all.

        This is a central idea of libertarianism. I’m afraid that it’s a naive fantasy. When government stops taking tax dollars from people, they don’t actually start giving them out to charitable causes. They keep them.

        But even if they didn’t, increased charitable giving would be insufficient. Private charity defintionally cannot provide a guarantee. Only government can do that.Report

          • Avatar Freddie says:

            If the belief that there is a moral way forward for this country, and that it is my responsibility to try to steer my country in that direction, is sanctimony, then I’ll take sanctimony. There are far worse things, like not giving a shit, or rolling over to callousness.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Only one person has said “Who cares why he was in a position to die from preventable illness?”

              The people arguing against a system that would not have helped him anyway ought not automatically be assumed to “not give a shit” or be “rolling over to callousness”.Report

        • Avatar mike farmer says:

          Actually, my rant was levelled against the naive notion of mislabeled liberals who have crossed the left line into progressivism and whose disregard for classical liberal principles have driven the country to the brink of financial collapse. The naive idea that we’ve had a free market and that private insurance as it works in the nightmare of regulation and government enmeshment is representative of free market failure is the underlying delusion that prevents people from seeing how government involvement has prevented healthcare services between consumer and provider from working properly. And, the naive notion that more government involvement is the answer reveals the economic insanity of progressives. It takes someone with their head in the clouds to ignore the debt we’re piling up and the almost certainty of economic disaster that will be brought on by government run healthcare in the U.S. The underestimation of the cost to our nation will be a huge miscalculation.

          But this is foremost a moral issue, as you have pointed out. The most immoral, naive position one can take is to set up a dependence in the U.S. based on naked government aggression against producers and the confiscation of property which belongs to supposedly free men and women. You don’t legislate morality — morality is either chosen or it’s not morality, it’s enslavement. Forcefully taking money from individuals to give to others is immoral.

          You dismiss charity because you can’t imagine the moral actions that would create a benevolent society. The most immoral thing you can defend is the destruction of capitalism. What you will wind up with is a statist system which does great harm to poor people — you seem to care more about an ideological approach than real solutions to poverty. The U.S. is set up on classical liberal principles, and we will fall if progressivism has its way — not only will we fall, but all the countries who depend on our success will be hurt — and it will destroy any real chance for people to act morally through charity. Instead, dependence will breed apathy, and the mistaken idea that government is taking care of the needy.

          The most evil form of existence is in dependence. I see it every day. There’s nothing moral about financial collapse and dependence on a broke government.Report

          • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

            “What you will wind up with is a statist system which does great harm to poor people — you seem to care more about an ideological approach than real solutions to poverty.”
            Mike, yes, this IS the reason for the so-called ‘health care plan.’ How many of you guys have read the 1100 page document? Why the hurry to implement it? Why not a legitimate national debate? So what if it takes six month?
            Mike, dude, you’re doing a great job here! I love the common sense!Report

          • Avatar Matt says:

            I’m with Mike on this one. Liberals point out that the current system, with its labyrinth of regulations and interventions, is not producing an acceptable outcome. Great, we can all agree on that. So why not dismantle all that crap first, then see where we are? Why is there almost no investigation into why prices are so high to begin with? How will getting rid of insurance companies, which are the only downward pressure on prices at the moment (as weak as that pressure is), actually lower prices? How can the government lower prices short of rationing (performing less operations) or price ceilings, and has any thought been given to the unintended consequences of either approach? Does Obamacare even tackle the problem of high prices?

            We’re being asked to sign on to a huge reform, and yet as far as I’ve seen the liberals inside and outside of the government haven’t done a minimally respectable job of answering even the obvious questions. I’m going to need a little more than moral outrage and trumped up urgency to jump on this wagon.Report

            • Avatar Freddie says:

              Urgency, when reflecting actual people who are actually dying, can never be “trumped up.”

              Again, this is the titanic two-step of advocacy for our insurance companies, constantly hopping back and forth from saying “how dare you accuse me of not caring,” to arguments that are inherently dismissive of the suffering caused by our system. It’s an empty dodge.

              As far as lowering costs is concerned, you can read Ezra Klein or Timothy Noah or a whole host of bloggers and writers about why comprehensive reform will lower costs and how. The costs are secondary to me, because despite what you’ve heard, this country can afford it. It just has to be willing to tax.Report

              • Avatar Matt says:

                If any objection to the proposed reform is tantamount to defending the current system, the insurance companies, or being dismissive of anyone’s suffering, then the well is poisoned and there is no point in discussing this any further. Enjoy perching on your moral mountain.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                Excuse me– you said, “trumped up urgency.” Is that or is that not trivializing the current level of need for change?Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                This point would be far easier to take seriously if the objections of so many weren’t so unhinged. You have the rabid protesters screaming until congressmen have to stop talking, you have Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and their pals on the teevee talking about death panels, you have libertarians like McArdle saying “why don’t we just, um, do nothing?”, and on and on.

                It’s very difficult to take any objections to “the proposed reform” (and, since there are at least four separate proposals in varying degrees of on-the-table, it’s not necessarily clear what that phrase means) seriously when roughly 95% of the people speaking most vocally against it so clearly *do* want to defend the current system, the insurance companies, and the continued suffering of millions.Report

              • Avatar Matt says:

                Who cares what 95% believe? Who cares about the town hall shenanigans? I’m not a libertarian, so I don’t care what they say. I’m not Gingrich or Palin, and have no intention of backing them up. I can’t and won’t answer for everyone else who opposes the current reform (by which I am referring to HR 3200, the one most likely to pass).

                In any case, if anyone who doesn’t think we should do something RIGHT NOW RIGHT THIS MINUTE OH MY GOD PEOPLE ARE DYING MAN THE HELL WITH THE DETAILS is a moral cretin who doesn’t care about anyone else, then we’re done; there’s nothing more to say. I made the mistake of believing all the talk by certain liberals that they truly wanted to have reasoned debate on the subject. I won’t make that mistake again.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                But, of course, I didn’t say that, Matt, or anything of the sort. I said that you disputed the urgency of the needed reforms. You explicitly did so. So your complaint is what? I believe that this is an urgent issue. You’re free to disagree. What you can’t do is pretend like my sense of urgency is somehow disqualifying when it isn’t.Report

            • Avatar AC says:

              Insurance companies exist to maximize their own profit. Period. All of their administrative overhead is to further this non-health related end.

              Removing the profit motive is the only sure way to provide basic, accessible care to all. The insurance companies will find a way to make a buck on higher-level, more comprehensive policies, and won’t be driven out of business.Report

          • Avatar Freddie says:

            The most evil form of existence is in dependence.

            That attitude is a product of privilege.Report

            • Avatar mike farmer says:

              “The most evil form of existence is in dependence.

              That attitude is a product of privilege.”

              No it’s the product of living in poverty, depending on patronizing assholes, until I could become independent.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                You go, dude!
                Freddie’s attitude is really screwing up any possibility of a discussion.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                No; you disagree with me, and you don’t like that I won’t stop saying my piece. What’s more, conservatives are constitutionally unable to deal with liberals who refuse to abdicate moral arguments. But here I stand.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                Again, only someone who has had the privilege of knowing the alternative could think that being patronized is worse than literally being unable to get adequate health care.Report

            • Avatar Ryan says:

              I actually think the most evil form of existence is callous selfishness and indifference to the suffering of others. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.Report

          • Avatar Freddie says:

            Yes, it’s naive to believe in the power of good government, but it’s not to believe that people will just start giving their money away if they aren’t taxed? That a free market will magically bestowed abundance on all of us? Thanks, but no.Report

          • Avatar Ryan says:

            “Forcefully taking money from individuals to give to others is immoral.”

            This statement is false. In fact, it represents probably the cruelest, most hideous, most immoral belief held by anyone on the planet. Every argument that proceeds from here is completely unworthy of respect.

            If you can make assertions, so can I.Report

            • Avatar Freddie says:

              That argument is especially bankrupt in that no one could actually make any money without roads, the police, a civic infrastructure, clean water, the regulation of commerce, a currency…. Taxes are the price you pay for living in a free and stable society, and indeed when their are no taxes there is only the jungle, where people are quite happy to come take your money, and happy to kill you to do it.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Nasty, brutish, and short.Report

              • Avatar mike farmer says:

                Your lack of imagination, or knowledge, of what a free market can accomplish doesn’t necessitate a jungle in the absence of confiscatory taxes.

                No one is saying that an agreed upon revenue source to pay for the necessary role of government — police, government and border defense — possibly infrastructure, is not needed — Constitutionally it is allowed, but what we are talking about is redistribution of wealth, which is not constitutional. This is a strawman argument so that you can avoid the criticisms you have no answer for.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                I find your complete faith in the magical powers of a “free” market to accomplish things that no market has ever actually accomplished is perhaps completely on the other end of the imagination scale – and is not especially compelling either.

                Also, I’m pretty sure that the “redistribution of wealth” *is* constitutional. And, wonder of wonders, most constitutional scholars – as well as most of the Supreme Court – seem to agree. It’s your position that seems least plausible.Report

              • Avatar mike farmer says:

                Perhaps you can show me where the Constitution allows the government to confiscate wealth and redistribute it. No one who has read the Declaration of Independence, which is the philosophical grounding for the Constitution, can interpret the spirit and meaning to condone confiscatory taxation.

                Your foolish attempts to reduce what I’m saying to your cute cartoonish version of the free market shows an ignorance that’s too ingrained to battle with with — so, enjoy your darkness, my friend. These types of partisan defenses are what’s going to destroy what’s left of this country. There’s a spiritual and moral weakness that hides behind the skirt of state power which is very unattractive for free people. Later.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Sure thing. Article I, Section 8: ” The Congress shall have power… To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States…”

                Taxes? Check. Provide for the general welfare? Check.

                As for the rest, “these types of partisan defenses”? Physician, heal thyself.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                general welfare of the states!Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                I think the state of constitutional law in this country has long since done away with the notion that “United States” refers to anything other than a single nation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Ah, yes. It’s a living document. I keep forgetting.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                That is almost entirely what having a common law legal system means. “Originalism” is very weird and very ahistorical.Report

              • Avatar dsimon says:

                mike farmer: “Perhaps you can show me where the Constitution allows the government to confiscate wealth and redistribute it.”

                Perhaps you could show me where it’s prohibited.

                Government has the power to tax. The federal government has the power to spend in accordance with its Art. I powers. If such spending winds up disproportionately benefiting certain groups, it’s not unconstitutional.

                Perhaps you should read some case law on the matter before making such assertions. Or do little things like facts not matter?

                You can refer to taxes as “confiscation” if you want, but the revolution wasn’t fought over taxation; it was taxation without representation. Being in the minority when it comes to taxation decisions doesn’t make it confiscation. Unless, of course, you hate democracy. And therefore, America.Report

              • Avatar AC says:

                Promoting the general welfare, might take a little cash, no?Report

              • Avatar AC says:

                At present, all health insurance companies operate in more or less the same way. If looked at as the de facto monolith they are, there is no free market here.

                It takes a great deal of capital to start an insurance company, so the barrier to entry is very, very high. Suppose you wanted to start your own, more service-oriented insurance company. You’d go looking for investors, and when they asked you how much return they could expect, you’d tell them a reasonably high number. Then, you’d do anything you legally could (you, as a corporation are now legally obligated) to increase the return to your investors. Invariably, this means screwing over as many of your subscribers as is possible by raising rates incrementally, and dropping subscribers that turn out to be liabilities. Congratulations. You’ve now joined the monolith.

                Maybe, just maybe, we don’t want our decisions about who is or isn’t covered based on crass bottom-line decisions. A citizen willing to pay for things that benefit his fellows is in no way hiding behind any skirts. We have a political system for determining how much or little our world is shaped by our government. In many ways, I agree with the libertarian mindset, and prefer market forces to influence what institutions and products survive. I fail to see how we collectively and individually benefit from the faux free market of healthcare, any more than we’d benefit from free-market firefighters. I take offense at your characterization of those with a different opinion as skirt hiding.

                Would you share with the class your plan on how you provide for the health care of you and your family? Which insurance company has the market shined it’s ever-loving light on, so as to win your business?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “Unless, of course, you hate democracy. And therefore, America.”

                This is why we must support the people shouting down congressional folk at town halls, gay marriage bans, and ID being taught in biology class.

                Because it’s democracy.

                Unless, of course, you hate democracy. And therefore, America.Report

              • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

                A common argument. The government provides roads, and I can’t imagine a world where markets provide them so they must not exist. Unfortunately it’s the opposite. The government took over the job of providing roads, clean water, protection services, and nearly every capacity it has usurped. These services were not dreamed up by governments. They were copied from markets.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                What makes one redistribution but the other not? Oh, right– your assertion. What is and is not appropriate use of public funds gained through taxation is one of the most basic questions of our democracy, and it is settled through our typical channels of representation and procedure. You’re trying to do an end run around that by pretending that there is some magical dividing line between redistribution and any other kind of government expenditure. There isn’t; there never has been.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Your consent is to the “typical channels of representation and procedure”. You don’t get to pick and choose citizenship based on whether Congress is using its powers to do something you like (or dislike).Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                Everyone consents to building roads? Everyone consents to paying for the police? Everyone consents to funding the military?

                Guess what? Many liberal social programs are wildly popular. Medicare is wildly popular. Social Security is wildly popular. People vote for politicians who support them. You know what we call that? Consent. And if the democratic apparatus of this country enacts universal health care– which is, as a concept, overwhelmingly popular– then that’s consent, as well.

                You and Mike Farmer have the same problem. You want to act as though everything you disagree with is somehow not done with the consent of the people. But, sorry for you, progressive taxation, social programs and the like are far more popular in this country than libertarianism. Sorry.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you’d like to know what the, ahem, “magical dividing line” is, it’s that.

                I doubt that Mike Farmer is hiding income from the government. Neither am I. Your resentment of us has nothing to do with our not paying our “fair” share. It’s that we say “this is being taken by force” as it is taken from us. For some reason, that really seems to grate.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                You ignored my question. Not everyone consents to roads and highways. Not everyone consents to the military. Not everyone consents to roads and bridges. So what on earth does “consent” mean? If it means consent of the democratic polity, then fine– but most people support and vote for the programs that you call redistribution. So what do you mean, the dividing line is consent? Consent of who?

                The answer, I think, is “consent of Jaybird.” Well, sorry, the last I checked we hadn’t elected you philosopher king.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I am an individual moral actor, yes.

                These things are being taken without my consent. When they are taken from you, they are taken from you with your consent.

                As such, you find them to be “other kind of government expenditure”. I find them to be “redistribution”.

                You want to know where the magical dividing line is? It’s there.


                (Note: This also works for such concepts as “sodomy”.)Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                So if you didn’t consent to roads and police, in your ideal society, the state wouldn’t be able to tax you for them? Anybody can just opt out, say, “hey, I don’t consent to the fire department”?

                And if consent is given by the person in question, then people who support things like universal health care are not having their wealth redistributed, are they?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I see you fully grasp the concept of the “magical dividing line”.

                “Wow, when s/he says ‘yes’ first, it’s no longer sexual assault!”Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                Oh, sure, I grasp it. I just think saying “It’s redistribution if I don’t like it and not if I do” is just facile.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I am not merely saying that. I am more than happy enough to go into great detail, at length. Reducing the arguments of others into strawmen is not only facile, but peurile.

                We’ll find out if it’s also futile.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                How on earth am I strawmanning you? You have just gone on at length about how what divides redistribution from legitimate taxation is a matter of consent. So I asked, reasonably, consent from who? If it’s the consent of the people as revealed through democracy, then many programs and policies that you consider redistribution aren’t, because they are broadly popular. Liberal social programs poll very well, and people vote for them. So if it’s the people who consent, then those are most assuredly not redistribution.

                And if it’s the individual who consents, then that means that there’s no objective definition of what constitutes redistribution. What’s redistribution to you isn’t redistribution to me, if it comes from my personal choice and yours. So what possible meaning does the charge have? Why do you and Mike Farmer fling around the accusation of redistribution like it’s some nuclear bomb of argument, if whether something is or isn’t redistribution is totally a matter of the whim of the individual?

                It’s a very bizarre thing to accuse someone of supporting redistribution if you are asserting that redistribution is in the eye of the beholder. My response then is merely to say, no, that’s not redistribution, and the accusation is gone. Because it’s my consent that makes it not redistribution.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Consent from the moral actors.

                Applying this same argument to sex has you saying “I engaged in congress with (his or her name) and s/he was cool with it. Why aren’t you?”

                Consent makes the difference. It is, indeed, the magical dividing line between “good thing” and “bad thing”. Even if you really, really, really need it. Even if you are going to shoot up a gym if you don’t get it. Even if you are going to take it from me whether or not I consent so I might as well sit back and enjoy it. Even if you explain to me how facile I am being.

                The difference between “good thing” and “bad thing” is my consent.

                (And, for the record, I am far, far more okay with straight redistribution than with “additional government spending”. Would that all they did was take my cash, stuff it in an envelope, and mail it off to the less fortunate. It’s the creation of yet another program like rent control (that will, of course, need oversight and overhead that will result in people being worse off than otherwise and produces little more than reports explaining how more oversight/overhead is needed) that gets my goat. So, on that, I disagree with Mike Farmer.)

                As for “broadly popular”, I’d put that in the “teaching ID in addition to evolution” or “banning gay marriage” category. “Broadly popular” is a crappy measuring stick. American Idol is “broadly popular”.

                For my part, I am 100% down with you supporting redistribution. Knock yourself out. Hell, I’m even down with you voting for a larger chunk of my pay to go be spent on liberating Iran or paying for abortions in the inner city or for sterilization of the feeble minded. That’s the system we live under.

                I will, however, point out that this money is being taken from me without my consent to be spent on programs that I feel will do more long-term harm than short-term good (and even the short-term good that the little money that makes it past overhead/oversight produces is arguable).Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                But again, Jay, you’re not being fair with me, as usual. Like I said– plenty of people don’t consent to having money taken from them for roads, the police, the military, etc. And yet those are all things that you explicitly exempted from the charge of being redistributive. But why? There are “moral actors” who don’t consent to that. Why then are they not redistributive? You’re not being logical.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I am not a huge fan of roads but, eh.
                As for police, I’d be interested in seeing what would happen without them. I wonder if, in their current incarnation, they aren’t doing more harm than good.
                The military? Get rid of it. All of it.

                We can discuss the whole “roads” thing, if you’d like… though The Big Dig and New Jersey as a whole would be interesting to balance against, say, E-470. We could discuss the whole “car culture” thing that grew out of it, the abandonment of localism, up to and including the recent GM bailout.

                As for “police”, I’m one of those wacky people who has no (or very little) problem with local taxes. City taxes to pay for city police? Eh, fine. If I hate my city police, I can talk to the mayor or, at worst, move to a city that has a better police force. In my ideal situation, the mayor would matter more to me and my everyday life than the president. If it turns out that you hate the police no matter what city you live in, then move to a town that only has a sheriff. Find a place quiet enough where your voice can be heard. I very much do not like the idea of laws being enforced against people who have no real say in their writing. (I see it as analagous to our anti-poppy efforts in Afghanistan.)

                As for the military, I think we shouldn’t have a standing army at all (I am also opposed to a draft… it’s analagous to slavery). If it comes up that we need to fight a war and we can’t do it with the volunteers that show up, I guess we don’t need to fight it after all.

                At the end of the day:
                I consent to roads.
                I (mostly) consent to the police (I prefer the local to the state ones).
                I think that a robust 2nd Amendment would do more to keep our country safe than a standing army.Report

              • Avatar dsimon says:

                Jaybird: “‘Unless, of course, you hate democracy. And therefore, America.’

                “This is why we must support the people shouting down congressional folk at town halls, gay marriage bans, and ID being taught in biology class.

                “Because it’s democracy.

                “Unless, of course, you hate democracy. And therefore, America.”

                I guess my small satire was lost on you.

                My point was that just because someone doesn’t like the tax rates they’re paying doesn’t make them “confiscatory.” It means they lost the argument on tax rates. That’s democracy.

                I welcome all people saying what they want at “town meetings” or anywhere else, whether they are informed or not. And I oppose all attempts to shut down discourse and discussion, regardless of which side does it.Report

              • Your lack of imagination, or knowledge, of what a free market can accomplish doesn’t necessitate a jungle in the absence of confiscatory taxes.

                The present financial crisis showed us just what a clusterfuck the “free” market can provide. How do you like those apples?Report

              • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

                Ah yes. Fannie May and Freddie Mac repackaging government mandated 105% mortgages on cardboard houses and then providing implicit guarantees to companies that insure them (AIG) is the “free market” at it’s finest. Apples? They are pretty fucking good. Just had one for breakfast.Report

              • Avatar AC says:

                When there are no taxes, there is no representation — a la Saudi Arabia. Not a jungle, but still not what we ought to aspire to.Report

          • Avatar dsimon says:

            mike farmer: “Forcefully taking money from individuals to give to others is immoral.”

            Then we should have no public education. After all, it is in many cases a transfer of money from those who could afford private schooling to those who couldn’t. And no public policing. Or fire protection. Those things are all immoral.

            I gather we should end Pell Grants for higher education too.

            “what we are talking about is redistribution of wealth, which is not constitutional.”

            Even if it were redistribution (which I think it is not, or at least no more than providing public education), what provision of the Constitution does it violate? I suggest reading the document and the case law before making such assertions.Report

            • Avatar mike farmer says:

              “Then we should have no public education”

              YES! YES! Finally, someone understands me!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Heh. I am reminded of an exchange between a fan of central control and a fan of libertarianism wrt Prohibition 2.0.

                “You libertarians won’t be happy until there are corporation-funded PCP vending machines in every public school!”

                “Feh, public schools.”Report

      • Avatar AC says:

        There is no free market in the health care industry. A patient is not a consumer in the same way someone in the market for a new car is. The cost structure is simply too byzantine, the rules too fluid, and game too tilted in favor of the house (the insurance companies). The insurance companies are nigh impossible to hold to account when a policy holder is wronged. They make no bones about the fact that their business model is based in no small part on wronging the very customers they purport to service. The very fact that they get away with such behavior is evidence enough of their impunity.

        The preamble to our Constitution describes, among other things, our government’s role as to “promote the general welfare.” I submit that insuring citizens are not taken advantage of by for-profit corporations in times (cruelly, specifically) of need falls under this umbrella.

        The current system is an undesigned hodgepodge that greedy folks have gamed over the decades. It does nothing to address the overall health and welfare of the citizenry, despite the much celebrated (and welcome) technological advances in medical procedures. It’s high time injustices and inefficiencies are corrected, for the benefit of all.

        How can it be argued that accessible preventive care, and affordable basic treatment presents a moral hazard?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Will this bill provide “accessible preventive care” or “affordable basic treatment”? Or is it likely to have been written by lobbyists for the health care industry?Report

          • Avatar AC says:

            The lobbyists fill the vacuum left by an unengaged citizenry. I’d say there’s a very high likelihood that industry will have too much influence in this effort of reform.

            I notice above folks worrying about the apparent speed of this legislation. Slow down, read the bill, they say. Well, this debate is not new, and the problem itself has been building for decades as we passive-aggressively punt to the next congress, the next administration, the next generation.

            And it’s disingenuous to call for things to slow down and let the details sink in, when you have zero interest in seeing reform passed in any form.

            Realize that to do nothing perpetuates a dysfunctional, unjust, inefficient system. And doing nothing gets us no closer to the libertarian ideal, either.Report

            • Avatar AC says:

              By the way, the folks who want to slow things down seem very unlikely to change their mind. In fact, they seem quite unable to, for reasons I suspect have to do with a mixture of saving face and ideological purity.Report

      • Many opponents have given good reasons for opposing government reform and have offered altenatives, it’s just that the proponents aren’t listening.

        Can you name those opponents and specifically what they are proposing?Report

  7. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    This may be slightly off topic but my recollection is that M.McArdle supports universal disaster insurance from the gov’t (what John Kerry proposed) and not universal health care. I’m not sure that would have mattered in the sad case of this young man but there’s some questions that the proposed changes might not have done either. Somehow that seems like that makes a difference. i.e. She says she is against universal health care but that doesn’t automatically mean she is doing a Mr. Burns over the dying.Report

    • Avatar Mark says:

      She may not be rubbing her hands with glee, but doesn’t it seem like there’s something really wrong with her? What Ivy Leaguer with an MBA would pretend to have lived the life of the poor and uninsured in America? And would claim to have come out of it with *less* empathy for their circumstances?Report

      • Avatar Ryan says:

        I don’t know. I think a lot of the motive-guessing is a bit beside the point. Megan’s problem, like that of most libertarians, is that she just doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about. A fetishistic preference for the “free market” is no substitute for actual knowledge. The evidence is pretty compelling that a social guarantee of universal health insurance is far more likely to produce good outcomes than not making such a guarantee. Caveats about the difficulty of performing actual experiments in economics are well-taken, but I remain skeptical of the argument that Europe/Canada/Australia is not a glaring contradiction of virtually everything Megan believes about health care.Report

        • Avatar Jon H says:

          “. A fetishistic preference for the “free market” is no substitute for actual knowledge.”

          It’s a bit like a die-hard mid-20th century Soviet, preaching about the evils of Capitalism and the dire state of the West, when all he knows about the West is what he’s gleaned from propaganda.

          This comes out in the way anti-universal health care folks cling tenaciously to Canada and the NHS as examples of how “horrible” it would be. They haven’t been exposed to any of the other myriad systems around the world. It’s like a Communist whose opinion of Capitalism is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and the Pullman strike, and nothing else.Report

        • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

          It’s interesting that the most silver-spoon fed wealthy economist of this century (Keynes) is the messiah to liberals.Report

  8. Avatar bcg says:

    Deamonte has a name, so his death is more important than someone else who will die in the future from whatever crack that’ll exist in Freddie’s system.

    Only Freddie’s moral beliefs justify accepting death in society, because some things are important! Megan’s moral beliefs that she argues justify death in society are fanatical and fundamentalist, not like Freddie’s, which allow for an America where not a single preventable death happens because of the new, wonderful frictionless access to health care! Very pragmatic and realistic, Freddie’s beliefs.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      I have this weird preference for saving the lives of real people I know exist over maybe, possibly, theoretically saving the lives of hypothetical people I don’t know exist, and no one can prove exist.Report

      • Avatar Ryan says:

        Libertarian theory and Econ 101 prove they exist. And, as we all know, libertarian theory and Econ 101 do an excellent job of describing the world as it actually is.Report

      • Avatar bcg says:

        Yes, all the future lives that Freddie’s plan benefits are real! And he knows they exist! The future people Megan’s plan benefits are not real, and nobody can prove they exist!

        We only have one system in place, so there is a real population of people who would benefit from a changeover. However, since Freddie’s system is still, at this point, hypothetical, we don’t have to consider the people who would benefit from a hypothetical changeover back to the current system, because they are only imaginary people!

        So we see that all of the people Megan’s preferred system hurts are Very Real, whereas all the people Megan’s preferred system benefits are In Fact Imaginary. This is exactly the opposite for Freddie’s preferred system, where all the people it benefits are Very Real but all the people it hurts are In Fact Imaginary.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Yeah, this argument works for environmental issues.

          Let’s burn that coal, burn that oil, burn that forest, burn that peat.

          The people who will pay the price aren’t even born yet. This makes them “imaginary”.Report

          • Avatar Freddie says:

            These people are real, I can introduce you to some of them. People who don’t want to fix their health care have no moral standing to invoke the health care of people who might exist.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              If I suspect that the bill on the table will not, in fact, “fix” their health care and will not, in any way, make their life any better and therefore oppose the bill, would I qualify as someone with or without moral standing?

              If I see you as someone agitating for a bill written by lobbyists for the health care industry that will create an even worse situation for the worst cases, would I have moral standing to say that you had no moral standing?

              Because only a monster (worse than Hitler, even) would support a bill that would make life even worse for people like Deamonte Driver, true?

              You know the story of Deamonte, right? He’s dead now. Perhaps you should tell his mother that you support a bill that would have slaughtered her child even more efficiently, you vampire!

              Aw, I’m just kidding. I know that you are filled with more compassion, caring, feelings, and other squishy things than anyone on this board.

              Even if you do support a bill written by health care lobbyists.Report

              • Avatar Freddie says:

                Forget about all that. Why should I support the health care outcomes of theoretical people if I am unmoved about the health care outcomes of real people?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’re the one who brought it up!

                Why should I care about the air quality of future generations more than I care about the electricity bills of the poor today?

                It’s because I am weighing short- and long-term good and short- and long-term harm and coming to the conclusion that there is far, far more potential long-term to be had than short-term harm and, as awful as the short-term harm is, there are amazing possibilities ahead that ought not be strangled in the proverbial crib.

                You understand this argument when it comes to industrialization vs. global warming, right?Report

          • Avatar Sycophant of the Bourgeois says:

            Holy Fuck, that was ownage. Really, how can liberals be crying about the lives of people who died today, offer a system that won’t save them, then claim they care more about the here an now while pushing for massive Global Warming controls.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              It’s ownage easily flipped around.

              I fully expected people to say “why do you care so much about future generations having seventh generation CAT scan machines when everything except the Rocky Mountains will be under water?” or similar.Report

  9. Avatar Jim says:

    “She says, “I was writing about my deeper opposition to the entire project of providing, paying for, or otherwise guaranteeing health care…. ”

    The exact same argument holds for police protection and for public education, and the same answer applies. Both are good for the rest of society. The “free” market that McCardleites so fetishize couldn’texist without police protection a court system and a whole lot of other government subsidies.

    “You ignored my question. Not everyone consents to roads and highways. Not everyone consents to the military. Not everyone consents to roads and bridges. So what on earth does “consent” mean? ”

    Staying out in the society constitutes consent. If you don’t like being a serf, leave Europe – for instance. If you disapprove of slavery, fight a war to get rid of it. Anything else is consent.Report

  10. Avatar Dave Hunter says:

    “It’s that we say “this is being taken by force” as it is taken from us. For some reason, that really seems to grate.”

    Because by “taken from you,” you refer to the process of you driving yourself to H & R Block, reporting all exemptions, writing out a check, putting it in the mailbox, and then watching some cable.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      So… they aren’t taking it from me?Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Money doesn’t exist without an entity to back its value. In essence unless the government of the United States exists, te pieces of paper and metal that you claim they’re taking from you is in essence worthless.Report

      • Avatar Dave Hunter says:

        Not by force.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          What will happen if I don’t go to H&R?

          Would you prefer me to say “by threat of force”?Report

          • Avatar Ryan says:

            I would prefer for you to act like an adult, actually. “Oh yeah, who’s gonna make me?” is the sort of thing one hopes would go out of style around first grade, when you come to terms with the fact that you aren’t the only person on the planet.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Again, I pay my taxes.

              I am merely pointing out that, if I do not, I will have guns pointed at me.

              I am saying the way the world works. If my description is accurate, then I’d say that “telling the truth about the world” is an adult response and those yelling “don’t talk about it” fall in a different category.

              From my perspective, I have paid what has been asked of me. The resentment I get has *NOTHING* to do with whether or not I have done what was asked (AT THE POINT OF A GUN) but whether I’ve noticed the gun and pointed it out to others.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                It’s still incredibly, spectacularly childish. It’s like saying you obey traffic laws AT THE POINT OF A GUN, rather than because it’s the right (and non-jackass-y) thing to do. You can continue to insist that you pay your taxes with those mean, nasty gubmint men standing over you ready to fill your body full of holes if you were such an big, strong cowboy that you would dare to not pay your income taxes (OMG SWOOOOOOOOOON), but the rest of us can see you’re really just kind of a jerk.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                This is one of those things that confounds me.

                You know, by virtue of my opinion, that I am just kind of a jerk. I could point out that I am doing X in my personal life, overcame Y, help my friends with Z, and do Aleph in my free time… and yet the fact that I resent paying my taxes categorizes me, in your mind, as jerky.

                It has *NOTHING* to do with actions on my part. It has only to do with how I feel about the dynamic that exists between me and the government when it comes to giving up X% of my income to pay for (insert thing that you don’t support either, but at least you don’t complain about it here).

                Once again: I remain continually surprised by the amount of resentment one encounters when one points out that one resents how much one pays in taxes under threat of force.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                It’s not that you resent paying your taxes. A lot of people resent paying taxes. But they don’t constantly say “by threat of force” or “at the point of a gun” like some kind of obnoxious, spoiled child. “I don’t like paying taxes” and “OMG theyz gonna shootz me” are not the same sentiment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But it *IS* the dynamic that exists.

                I am merely pointing out a fact that makes you uncomfortable enough to respond to my pointing it out with attacks on my character.

                The fact does not seem to bother you anywhere near to the extent that my pointing it out bothers you.

                Why is that?Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Actually, good point. It doesn’t really bother me that much. If there were any danger of libertarians actually gaining traction over the laws of the United States, I would have something to worry about. As it is, I guess you can continue to say angry things on the Internet, and it really affects my life in no way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It affects you enough to insult me… and not just you. Your response is representative of a very common response to pointing this fact out.

                I wonder why this is.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                It’s because you’re pointing out a “fact” that isn’t actually, you know, true. And you insist on it like it’s some kind of deep insight into reality.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It is true. If I do not pay my taxes, I will be looking at the barrel of a gun.

                Your pointing out “only if you refuse to go with the people who will throw you in prison!!!!” does not do much to wave away the dynamic you deny exists.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Go ahead and try it. Simply don’t pay your taxes next year. I bet all the money on Earth that you are far more likely to get a summons or a court order than a gun in your face.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And let’s say I go to court and then what?

                You refuse to look in the face that there are guns on one side of the equation and they will be pointed at me at some point in response to me quietly saying “no”.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Also, let’s be clear, it is vanishingly unlikely that anyone would point a gun at you if you refused to pay your taxes. They would point a gun at you if you resisted arrest for not paying your taxes, but fighting with the police is an entirely separate crime.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If I said “no, this isn’t right, I don’t consent”, they would then pull a gun on me.

                You say “no, you’re resisting arrest!”

                I see it as “pay your taxes or be thrown in jail to be sodomized”.

                You see this dynamic as no big deal.Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                If you said, “No, I don’t consent”, they would say, “Yeah, paying taxes sucks, but it’s the law. Come along.” If you said, “OMG NOOOOOO I won’t goooooo” they would pull a gun on you. That’s the difference between civil disobedience and resisting arrest. One has a long and proud philosophical tradition; not so much the other.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And if I said, quietly, “No. I will not.”

                Then what? Is there a point at which I will be forced?Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Sure, but you will never be forced to pay your taxes. We can’t really use force to accomplish that. You will, however, be forced into a jail cell.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                “Would you prefer me to say “by threat of force”?”Report

              • Avatar Ryan says:

                Nope, because there is no threat of force. The only way force would ever be applied in this situation is if you refused to be arrested (or follow a court order of some kind). Those are different crimes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                And if I said, quietly, “No. I will not.”

                Then what? Is there a point at which I will be forced?Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It wasn’t lost on me at all. I thought it was worth running with.

    It seems to me that this is a case of “We are engaging in democracy (and therefore America). You all are voting. They are a howling mob.”Report

  12. Avatar Dave Hunter says:

    “What will happen if I don’t go to H&R? Would you prefer me to say “by threat of force”?”

    Only you would know if that were true. What if the government didn’t have guns, or jails? Instead, a button would be pushed, your name would be flagged, and it would no longer be possible for you to participate in the American economy. Would that be enough incentive to get you to pay taxes?Report