Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fight About Obamacare is a Symptom of a Virulent Disease

The Right has lost the defund-Obamacare battle, but it won’t go quietly.

As the next “best” thing, the Right has brainwashed public opinion into believing that Obamacare is a “train wreck.” The Right is achieving this by harping on the technical problems associated with the program’s inauguration.

Yes, the program, the website(s), the software, the coding, all that does seem to be problematic. I don’t know whether these problems are unprecedented. I don’t remember how severe the “glitches” were when Social Security and Medicare were launched, or for that matter the new FBI website, or Apple’s iPad and iPhone.

Whatever the case may be, the focus on Obamacare’s TECHNICAL failures is now universal. Even liberal sources such as the Sacramento Bee’s editorial page agree that the situation is embarrassing, and that someone must be held accountable (Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius? President Obama?).

Of course, the Right feels that the technical difficulties justify scrapping Obamacare altogether.

I believe that it’s time to re-focus on what the true issues are:

1. Unlike EVERY SINGLE developed country in the world, the US until recently did not have universal health insurance. 45 to 55 million Americans - the poor, essentially - were deprived of what ALL other advanced countries long ago adopted as a FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT.

2. Every single democratic administration since President Truman (as well as several republican ones, including Eisenhower and Nixon) has tried to remedy this shameful situation. Finally, Obama succeeded - barely.

3. The Right is having a conniption over this, as it has every time that the country took a step towards greater justice and fairness - be it the abolition of slavery, the 14th Amendment, women’s suffrage, Civil Rights, Social Security, Medicare and other steps in the march of progress.

4. What can the motivation of people like Ted Cruz be? They may use all sorts of smoke-and-mirror “economic” arguments, but ultimately there can be only one true motive. Here is what’s going on inside such people’s minds:

“Whatever privilege, right or benefit I enjoy, I do not want to share it with you.
The fact that I have something and you don’t, makes me feel good.
My superiority over you is good.
It is good that 50 million Americans do not have health insurance.
I have health insurance, and I don’t want you to also have it.
Were you to also have this benefit, this would diminish me.
I hate you, and I want to continue to hate you and to know that I have more than you do, and that I am better than you.
Inequality is good, and it must be preserved.”

This is a disease which comes and goes. It is the disease of reactionary fascism. Its virulence fluctuates. It is a virus or a bacteria, and it is contagious. We are currently going through a recurrence of this epidemic, as we did during McCarthyism. We are now going through neo-McCarthyism.

I witness the illness all around me. At my health club, I sometimes overhear muscular jocks talking: “Obamacare! What a crock! The welfare chiselers are taking over! They’re turning us into Kenya!”

At meetings, I hear people saying things like: “All this Kumbaya stuff is disgusting! I am not responsible for how those pigs live in their ghettos! I never give any money to beggars; they just use it to buy drugs!”

Today, the social compact is in tatters. Feeling responsible for one’s fellow man is out. The government must be dismantled. Taxation is nothing be theft. Frank Capra is out. Ayn Rand is in.

Many of these pathological government haters are hypocrites: They are often the government’s greatest beneficiaries! They accuse “the government of wasting the taxpayer’s money, and public employees of being corrupt, incompetent, lazy bureaucrats,” while they themselves are often retired veterans, retired federal engineers, retired state employees. They are often double, triple and quadruple dippers who enjoy Social Security PLUS federal and state pensions, in addition to juicy IRA’s and various other investments. They clamor about those lazy welfare chiselers, those greedy food stamp users, the population’s growing dependency on the government. While playing golf at their country club, they pontificate that poverty and unemployment are due to an absence of “work ethic” (code for “laziness”), and that black men are often poor and criminal because they were raised by single mothers and lacked male role models, discipline, responsibility and proper family values.

This is a vulgar third-hand version of a theory originally formulated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the sixties (the “Black Matriarchy” thesis) and subsequently adopted by Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and all the other Right-wing ideologues as a convenient pseudo-sociological justification for blaming the victim (“black poverty is the blacks’ own damn fault.”)

Hopefully, this cynical selfishness will dissipate, as similar epidemics of the past have dissipated... leave comment here

© Tom Kando 2013