by TrogloPundit | February 13, 2010 4:44 pm
The government health care debate may be stalled in Washington, but it’s up and at ’em in Madison. We were arguing about it just this week: specifically, whether or not to extend government benefits to more childless adults.
Yes, that’s right. We in Wisconsin provide government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health care to childless adults — leaving no one whom we may safely expect to take care of themselves — and those in control (Democrats across the board) want to expand that program to cover more of them.
Anyway. The debate. The liberal said yes, the conservative said no. The liberal’s question to the conservative: okay, so what would you do instead?
How would you help these people?
The question was a trap, because none of the conservative’s answers were going to help that person now. The conservative was all about creating an environment in which health care costs are lower, and the economy is wealthier, so people can better take care of themselves. None of the conservative’s answers included giving anything away.
Ah, so you wouldn’t help him! The 28-year-old man making $8 an hour and suffering from chronic health problems that prevent him from taking a real, grown-up, full time job!
That, right there, is where conservatives get their butts kicked. Scoffing at welfare for childless adults as a group is one thing. Showing the hand to a real life anecdote — a living, breathing human being whose life has gone hard through no fault of his own — that’s something else. Eighty percent of Americans, I’ll bet, will go all mushy. Oh, of course we need to help him. It’s not his fault!
Hey, I’m sympathetic, too. I feel the ol’ heart strings tugging. The thing is, once we’ve helped that guy, there’ll be another guy who needs help. That’s how it works.
The rolls of the needy — the people who really need help — change constantly, and not because people move up the economic ladder. See, when we help one group, invariably there are people left out of that help. People on the fringes. People the last set of “we’ll help” laws didn’t anticipate.
Just look at Wisconsin. I may have my history out of order, a little, but: we had Medicaid; then we had to have BadgerCare, to care for children and their families; then we had to expand BadgerCare. We got BadgerCare Plus; then the BadgerCare Plus Core program, and now BadgerCare Plus Basic.
At the same time, we were putting new mandates on private insurance companies. We require them to cover mental health coverage. Cochlear implants. Autism treatment. And that’s just in the past year.
There’s always somebody else.
And, lemme tell you: sitting through those hearings, listening to those stories, and then saying no to the people who come with heartfelt and tear-jerking stories about how much they need it — that’s not easy.
This is, unfortunately, conservatism’s greatest weakness. The conservative way isn’t giving people things — it’s allowing an environment to grow, in which people can provide for themselves. Over time, we’re all better off for it, but we don’t notice any improvements because they are, individually, small. They happen little by little, marginally, and they don’t prevent bad things from happening in the meantime.
It’s like outsourcing. We hate outsourcing. A factory closes its doors, because the parent company can do that same work cheaper in Mexico, or India, or China.
In an economic sense, outsourcing is good: it makes things less expensive, which makes us all relatively wealthier. But that improvement is marginal. One factory closing and moving its operations elsewhere represents a tiny, infinitesimal alteration of the econosphere — the benefits are spread across the economy. We can’t see them.
But the people living in the town where the factory closed…that, we can see.
So what do we do? Take control of the economy? Well, yes, according to the economic Left. That’s exactly what we should do. Relieve the pain, the struggling, the difficulties that sometimes go along with grown-up lives.
The health care debate is exactly like that. The Left says: take control. Don’t let people suffer. The Right says: back off, leave it be, and fewer people will suffer.
The Right has broad, logical economic arguments, but benefits that are, in the short term, only theoretical. The Left has worried mothers with babies on their hips, and pocketfuls of taxpayer money.
The Right is right, but its PR sucks.
The irony is: for all the Left’s success in taking control of things, in the U.S. and elsewhere, they haven’t erased the anecdotes. No matter how much they do, how much they take, how much they give away, how many stories they respond to, there are always more. More anecdotes, more stories, more people who need help.
And, of course, the more they take, the more people will need help, because there will be less opportunity for them to provide for themselves.
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