It’s Not My Business

It should come as no surprise — though it should shock anyone with any decency — that the Tea Party fanatics would applaud the idea of letting the uninsured die:

This is the central ethos of the modern right: Don’t give the hungry food to eat, don’t give the thirsty water to drink, don’t care for strangers, don’t clothe the naked, ignore the sick, and fry those bastards in prison. It’s just like Jesus said, only the opposite.

No, the modern Gops don’t care much for the teachings of Jesus. They take their attitude toward the poor from a more recent philosopher:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “ I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the worldview of the tea party: that of Ebeneezer Scrooge, before he had his epiphany. The sooner the poor die off, the sooner we can stop pretending to care for them. And then we can buy bigger cars and fancier meals, because that, in the end, is what really matters.

This entry posted in Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Economics and the like, Health Care and Related Issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

17 Responses to It’s Not My Business

  1. 1
    Elusis says:

    I keep composing in my head an essay in response to SF Gate commenters, which right now has the title “So, a man is shitting on your doorstep. What should be done about it?”

  2. 2
    Harlequin says:

    Martin Harty, a GOP New Hampshire state senator, nearly quoted Scrooge a while back:

    I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.

  3. 3
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    What did he say? (no PC sound…)

  4. 4
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Not so much what Paul said as what the crowd said. Wolf Blitzer asked whether a hypothetical comatose 30-year-old with no insurance should just be left to die, and several in the crowd shouted out an enthusiastic “yeah!” Paul was more circumspect — he didn’t so much want the guy to die as to have his family driven into penury, which I suppose is better.

  5. 5
    Conservative wahm says:

    ummm wow. What a strange way to twist what he’s saying. And yes, you ‘ll always have one or two idiots in a crowd, sadly they’re usually the loudest ones and get the most attention. Ron Paul clearly said No, you don’t let him die but you look to other sources for help, not the ambitiousness of the government. Our government is so big and so distant that I honestly don’t think many low or middle class people really comprehend that more debt obligations mean anything to them whatsoever. And why would they? We’re nearing the 50% mark, where 50% of the American population pay nothing in federal income tax. Our little town of 1500 people recently saw a 6th grade girl diagnosed with a brain tumor from out of the blue. As a community (small and rural) we were able to raise over $20,000 in just a few short weeks for her family’s travel and medical expenses. They have been able to stay at the Ronald McDonald house to further reduce expenses (say what you will about McD’s but they *do* do good things). If we could just get away from the expectation that the government is always the solution and starting looking to ourselves and our communities as the solution I think citizenship in our country would be much more rewarding then it is now.

    This idea is exactly what was behind Dave Ramsey’s great giving challenge last year. Listen to his show every Thanksgiving and you’ll hear amazing stories of real individuals giving and helping other real individuals. Read his book or take a Financial Peace class and you’ll see that a huge huge part of it is that after you get your financial life in order you use your wealth (yes wealth, with a debt free budgeted lifestyle) to give! His philosophy is that individuals and communities can function better and more efficiently then our huge cumbersome government if people would get back to giving and put themselves in a financial position to be able to give. As Ron Paul pointed out, there actually was a time in modern history when Medicare didn’t exist and no, poor people weren’t dying in the streets.

  6. 6
    Emily says:

    Isn’t a more significant question what a healthy adult who makes $10/hr and has two kids should do? Should they spend the money on health care premiums for themself? Or on things their kids need/want? And what happens when they get injured?

  7. 7
    Bear says:

    I agree with Emily, but I have to admit, the way Blitzer loaded it should have made it an easy out for Paul. All he had to do was point out that the guy had the choice to buy insurance and chose not to. The fact that he seemed to lose balance in the face of such a hypothetical shows, I think, that he’s not as nearly confident with the consequences of his positions as he is with the positions themselves.

  8. 8
    Jake Squid says:

    Also, $200/month for health insurance? Major medical, maybe, but what percentage of people are aware of that option?

  9. 9
    nobody.really says:

    Not to quibble, but….

    1. SOME people applauded the idea of letting an uninsured person in a coma die. I don’t know how representative those people are of any larger movement. Ron Paul did not (forthrightly) embrace this view.

    2. To the contrary, Ron Paul favored voluntary charity – which is arguably the view espoused by Jesus.

    3. Comparisons between the debate and Scrooge are inapt. Scrooge was asked to contribute to the poor. The debate asked about contributing to a rich man who simply declined to buy insurance.

    4. Scrooge did not oppose a social safety net; he acknowledged that debters prisons, union workhouses, the Treadmill and the Poor Laws provided a useful service.

    5. Scrooge opposed paying for LAVISH accommodations for the poor; see the recent discussions about whether the public should pay to defend poor people’s dignity. Admittedly, Scrooge’s definition of lavish might differ from yours or mine. Contrary to the suggestion in the original post, Scrooge did not treat himself to big cars and fancy meals; he was pretty miserly in accommodating his own creature comforts. In short, it appeared that Scrooge had a world view – a religion, if you will – that he adhered to himself, and he was not inclined to finance other people’s choice to flout his world view.

    6. Finally, Scrooge affirmed the rights of people to refuse the accommodations provided by the social safety net – even if this would imperil their lives. But the fact that some people would turn up their noses at these accommodations did not motivate Scrooge to make the accommodations more lavish.

    Look, people differ in their place on the individualist/collectivist continuum. Let’s try not to demonize people for landing in one spot rather than another. In the spirit of the season, maybe?

    And May God Bless Us, Every One.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    It should come as no surprise — though it should shock anyone with any decency — that the Tea Party fanatics would applaud the idea of letting the uninsured die:

    It would come as a surprise to me based on listening to this video. Although I heard three people yell “Yeah!” (and who knows who that was or what their political affiliation was, for all we know they were the camera operators) I didn’t hear anyone applaud at that point.

    What they did applaud was:

    “I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid In the early 1960′s when I got out of medical school (possible edit at this point) I practiced at Santa Rosa hospital in San Antonio and the churches took care of them. We always took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospital.”

    and

    “That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risk.”

    And that, in a nutshell, is the worldview of the tea party: …. The sooner the poor die off, the sooner we can stop pretending to care for them.

    I can’t see any evidence for that in this video, either. The hypothetical example given does not involve a poor person. It’s of a person employed with a good job who can afford insurance and has chosen to spend the money elsewhere. He’s not poor. And outside of a couple of yahoos in the audience it’s not suggested that he be allowed to die.

    It should come as no surprise — though it should shock anyone with any decency — that the Tea Party fanatics would applaud the idea of letting the uninsured die:

    I can see that you oppose the viewpoints of many who are involved in the Tea Party movement. Fair enough. But you shouldn’t lie about their viewpoints to try to advance your point.

    Now, should the hypothetical young mean have to stand up to the responsibility of his choices instead of making us pay for them? I think so, and so apparently does Ron Paul from what I see on this video. He may have to sell his assets and go into debt, surely. But how is that less acceptable than he gets to keep those assets, not go into debt and get me to pay for medical care that he could have afforded to insure himself against?

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    Also, $200/month for health insurance? Major medical, maybe, but what percentage of people are aware of that option?

    Given that the hypothetical person was employed at a “good job” where health insurance was an option I’ll guarantee he was aware of that option. When I sign up for my benefits there’s all kinds of instructions about what the various medical insurance options are, how to sign up for them and what the consequences are for making the various choices or for not making any choice. The same thing’s happening at any other employer.

  12. 12
    Jake Squid says:

    I didn’t get the implication that the 200 or 300 dollars per month were his contribution to employer provided insurance. If that’s what was being suggested, that’s something entirely different.

    I can assure you that over 80% of the employees where I work have no idea that major medical exists since we don’t offer that kind of policy as an option. We have a single health plan and you’re either part of that or you’re not.

  13. 13
    Nan says:

    Enough people yelled “yeah” or applauded the idea of leaving the man to die that they drowned out Dr. Paul’s actual response to Wolf, which was “No.” They began applauding before Dr. Paul went on to espouse the idea of private charity picking up the pieces, which we all know (she said sarcastically) has worked so well in the past. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter if it was one person, a dozen people, or everyone in the room who enthusiastically endorsed death — the idea that these people who no doubt have a self-image of themselves as decent human beings would applaud anyone’s death is flat out appalling — and going off into libertarian tangents about personal responsibility doesn’t make it any less appalling that anyone, anywhere thinks it’s morally okay to applaud someone else’s suffering.

    In short, this particular group of tea partiers showed that they have no problem with death panels as long as they’re the ones serving on them.

  14. 14
    RonF says:

    Enough people yelled “yeah” or applauded the idea of leaving the man to die

    Three people yelled “Yeah”. Nobody applauded.

    that they drowned out Dr. Paul’s actual response to Wolf, which was “No.”

    I could hear him clearly. On what basis do you claim that he was drowned out?

    They began applauding before Dr. Paul went on to espouse the idea of private charity picking up the pieces,

    They began applauding between the phrases “we never turned anybody away” and “from the hosptial”.

    The bottom line is it doesn’t matter if it was one person, a dozen people, or everyone in the room

    Yes it does. If you are going to claim – as Jeff seems to be doing – that the reaction of this group of people represents the opinions of the Tea Party Movement members in general, then the validity of that is proportional to the proportion of that group approved of the statement.

    who enthusiastically endorsed death — the idea that these people who no doubt have a self-image of themselves as decent human beings would applaud anyone’s death is flat out appalling — and going off into libertarian tangents about personal responsibility

    Dr. Paul’s statement wasn’t a tangent. Don’t forget that Wolf Blitzer very carefully built a specific case. What he’s saying is that in a case where a person who has income sufficient to be insured chooses not to be insured, then it’s reasonable to send him the bill for his own medical care. Now, if after he exhausts his ability to pay there’s still an outstanding balance, then we can talk about government assistance, etc.

    doesn’t make it any less appalling that anyone, anywhere thinks it’s morally okay to applaud someone else’s suffering

    True, which is likely why nobody actually did so.

    In short, this particular group of tea partiers showed that they have no problem with death panels as long as they’re the ones serving on them.

    You have no idea what this particular group of tea partiers thinks. You are apparently of the opinion that 3 people shouting “yeah” represents the entire group, which is ridiculous. The thrust of Dr. Paul’s comments were that in the given case the person should not be left to die but should have to exhaust their own resources first based on their own informed choices. And given when applause actually did occur during his comments, that viewpoint represented the overwhelming majority of the audience.

    But what your statements represent is an attempt to twist 3 people’s reaction to a specific case into an entire group’s approval of a general proposition that wasn’t put forward at all. Quite dishonest, frankly.

  15. 15
    mythago says:

    To the contrary, Ron Paul favored voluntary charity – which is arguably the view espoused by Jesus.

    What do you mean, ‘arguably’? Did Jesus espouse voluntary charity only or didn’t he?

    And defending Scrooge is ballsy, but also kind of silly. “Prison” isn’t exactly a voluntary charitable organization, nor were Victorian workhouses the equivalent of a Goodwill job-training corps. Dickens presented Scrooge as miserly in his personal habits precisely to reflect his miserliness of the soul.

    So, yes, I’m perfectly happy to demonize people who pretend that a starving child in poverty is morally unworthy of charity because they ask for voluntary help instead of or in addition to, say, working for a pittance in a very dangerous factory for someone else’s profit.

  16. 16
    nobody.really says:

    And defending Scrooge is ballsy, but also kind of silly. “Prison” isn’t exactly a voluntary charitable organization, nor were Victorian workhouses the equivalent of a Goodwill job-training corps.

    Ok, you caught me. I talk a good game, but I’m not all that knowledgeable about the social safety nets of the 1800s. I was riffing on this:

    ”I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    That suggests that at least some of the institutions in question were voluntary.

    I’m perfectly happy to demonize people who pretend that a starving child in poverty is morally unworthy of charity because they ask for voluntary help instead of or in addition to, say, working for a pittance in a very dangerous factory for someone else’s profit.

    Fine. And I suspect people starving in [pick a place] would be perfectly happy to demonize you for your indifference, too.

    Some people advocate absolute communism; the early Christians did – See Acts 4, 5. Some people advocate absolute self-reliance. The rest of us are somewhere in-between. So, while I disagree with many people’s positions on this continuum — and Rawls Theory of Justice gives me good cause to regard the self-reliance crowd as immoral — I generally don’t get so exercised about it. I suspect we’re all clinging to a slippery slope in a long, sloped glass house. Unless I have a really firm footing, I’m not in a strong position to dislodge anyone else.

  17. 17
    nobody.really says:

    To the contrary, Ron Paul favored voluntary charity – which is arguably the view espoused by Jesus.

    What do you mean, ‘arguably’? Did Jesus espouse voluntary charity only or didn’t he?

    Don’t know.

    1. Clearly the New Testament provides examples of Jesus lauding (and performing) voluntary acts of charity. I don’t recall Jesus either lauding or condemning government programs designed to produce charitable outcomes. However, there wasn’t the same concept of a Separation of Temple and State, and the distinction between social mores and enforceable duty wasn’t always clear.

    2. Today I sense a distinction among people’s interpretations of Jesus’s admonitions.

    Some people focused on the material world, and regard the goal of charity as the alleviation of suffering and the promotion of joy here on earth. To these people, the focus of the charity is on the RECEIVER (including society at large). Such people pick the means to best promote the desired ends; form follows function. Private charity is great; public programs are great; pick the process that best produces the desired ends.

    Other people focus on the spiritual world, and on their personal salvation. The material world is but a test for demonstrating your virtue. Consequently the focus of charity is on the GIVER. (See Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4, wherein Jesus praises a poor widow’s meager contributions over wealthy patrons’ larger contributions. That is, he focused on the giver, not on the amount of good done for the recipient.) For these people, government social safety nets are antithetical to their world view. Through taxes, such programs sap resources that the charitable giver might otherwise use to better demonstrate personal virtue. And these programs also diminish the supply of people needing charity.

    If I recall correctly, people living in the Bible Belt claim (on tax forms) to donate a larger share of their income to charitable causes – and no, not just to churches. Yet people in these areas also vote down public programs designed to achieve good social outcomes. People in New England, for example, don’t report donating as large a share of their income to charitable causes, but do vote for better social safety nets. And, lo and behold, people in New England report better social outcomes (better health care, more education, less violent crime, fewer divorces, etc.) than do people in the Bible Belt, even if they also report lower share of income for charitable causes. Each to his own, I guess.

    3. If this interests you, you can check out a discussion of Biblical social safety nets here. An excerpt:

    Though the ancient system paid no professionals to carry out the “core functions” of government as we know it, the Law did include an extensive welfare system. Ancient Israel was a welfare anarchy! Liberals and other leftists are entitled to a short neener dance.

    But keep it short, because the Biblical welfare system was very different from the alphabet soup of do-good bureaucracies we have today. And the Biblical Law did contain a great many conservative and libertarian components. In fact, all political factions are entitled to a short neener dance when their opponents cite the Bible to bolster their case….

    At this point you might be wondering, “Why haven’t I heard of this welfare system before?” My answer: you probably have heard at least parts, but your preacher probably breezed by many of them in embarrassment. The welfare system is buried in with the disturbing and politically incorrect parts of the Bible: the stonings, the thrashings, the slavery, the naughty bits. Nay, God’s welfare system includes some of the embarrassing parts: slavery and polygamy were part of the system. So preachers downplay and politicians run away.