With Idiocy Like This, Who Can I Vote For?

A while back a bunch of Nashville bigwigs tried to live on food stamp levels of food for a week (I think they got like $21, but I am too lazy to look it up for something tangential to my larger point.  Let’s not get distracted here, folks!) and Coble and I were talking about it and she was on the side of it being ridiculous bullshit and I was on the side of well, yeah, but if it really does help them understand…

And they all did claim to get some understanding of it and to be shocked, just shocked to find that it was very difficult to eat well on $21 a week.

And then I guess they went back to having their $21 lunches.

So, maybe Coble was right after all.

I don’t know.

I’m just perusing this Slate article on the healthcare plans of the three main Democratic contenders and I’m sensing something in the background of this discussion that has chilled me to the bone.

They really, truly are going to make this healthcare discussion about how to make recalcitrant poor people buy healthcare.  Why, oh why, won’t those poor people get insurance?  Can’t they see how they’re hurting the rest of us?

I know we talked about that before, but it’s that we now seem to be openly, as fucking liberals, talking as if poor people cause their own problems and that they are to blame for how their problems effect us.

I see it.  I mean, I look at that article and I see the words on the page and all the talk of “enforcement” and I just about still can’t make it real.


Like poor people “refusing” to have health insurance is some kind of problem the solution to which requires us to “enforce” and make them behave.

I’m truly just dumbfounded.

We’re really going to try to achieve universal healthcare by making it illegal to not have health insurance.


Gah.  This is embarrassing.

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18 thoughts on “With Idiocy Like This, Who Can I Vote For?

  1. It seems a lot of the state apparatus at all levels of government is built around protecting the rights of rich people to become richer, often at the expense of those less fortunate.

    The insurance companies are a huge beneficiary of this largess.

    My personal case-in-point: I recently settled up with the TN Dept. of Safety, to the tune of $1500+, in order to have my driving privs reinstated. My crime? Driving without insurance. Expired tags.

    Now, I don’t have a car… haven’t had for over a year. I ride a scooter, take the bus, or stay home.

    Several months after settling up as described above, I get a letter from the DoS, saying that because I paid up, I was admitting guilt to the offense of driving w/o insurance, and that they were planning to re-suspend my driving privs UNLESS I could either

    a.) prove I had insurance at the time of the offense, or;
    b.) show a current policy, pay $65 more, and take the driver’s exam.

    The scooter, under TN law, is not required to have insurance coverage of any kind (being under 50cc, and considered a “motorized bicycle” under statute). However, I bought a year’s liability coverage (a whopping $45) so that I could avoid further hassles from DoS.

    That will be the last $45 any auto insurance company EVER sees from me.

  2. “My” “hive government” has never been about taking from poor people to give to rich people, which is exactly what we have right now.

    You’ll see, soon enough, if you don’t already.

  3. Aunt B., as much as it disturbs me, I find myself agreeing more and more with Arthur Silber. In spite of the most fervent protestations of my more liberal acquaintances, there truly is no fundamental difference (beyond style points and approaches to common goals) between the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats. They are all beholden to the expansion and solidification of the corporatist state. In the realm of domestic policy, this means that no solution– no matter how sensible, constructive, or popular– to any problem will be seriously entertained if that solution threatens corporate hegemony.

    That is why our constitution has been gutted by the Bush administration (though much of the groundwork for that was laid by the Clinton administration). They may only be abusing the rights of a few brown foreigners and unpopular domestic dissidents now; as the economy collapses, or the nation careens into the pit of some other manifestation of the republic’s collapse, it is possible that a majority will be shaken from their ovine consumerism (and maybe even torn from their childish, reactionary political attitudes) long enough to openly rebel. That is when the mechanisms of the police state will be unleashed.

    If you think I’m full of it, just take a look at how much real opposition the Bush administration has had to its authoritarian policies. How many Democrats have stood and railed against the Military Commissions Act? How many opposed the Patriot Act? Where is the official outrage over the FISA violations? I don’t even need to bring up the Iraq War.

    JP, right on.

  4. I’m just amused that you think their lunches only cost $21.

    I’m fairly sure that in many of those circles a $21 lunch is the equivalent of brown-bagging it.

    Not that it’s related to anything at all, but I always remember the scene at the end of Working Girl where Harrison Ford gives his new lady love Melanie Griffith a lunch box (how retro cute!) with an apple inside and then a $50 bill for “lunch money”. Damn. In my house at that time $50 was called “Groceries for a week” money.

    Yes, I know the movie is a modern fairy tale and most secretaries don’t end up with great jobs and shagging Harrison Ford on the side. But that $50 “lunch money” business has always struck me as emblematic of the fact that certain people living at certain levels of society have completely lost touch with what it means to be a secretary in the midwest or midsouth…or a line worker in a factory, etc.

    In fact, I think this may also serve as part of an answer for your earlier question of why poor white people vote for conservatives. The conservatives have–until about 5 years ago when they switched to the Scare You To Damn Death method–made a very good track record of at least ACTING like they know what it’s like to be in the working poor.

  5. Kleinheider sent me a note letting me know that they probably eat lunches where the tip is $21.

    I just feel a little disillusioned today. I think that’s probably good for a girl occasionally, but bleh.

  6. Kleinheider sent me a note letting me know that they probably eat lunches where the tip is $21.

    Having done many expense reports for both politicians and bosses in the private sector I can safely say that Kleinheider is correct.

  7. For a good idea of how much it costs to feed a family for a week, I really like Hillbilly Housewife’s $45 Emergency Menu and $70 Everyday Menu. She manages to feed 4-6 people healthy food on that amount, but I’m under the impression most low-income families don’t have the knowledge or the time or resources to learn how to afford anything besides highly processed foods.

    Really, though, what is the difference between making people pay taxes to fund government-payed health care, and making people pay for health care and giving them tax credits?

  8. Really, though, what is the difference between making people pay taxes to fund government-payed health care, and making people pay for health care and giving them tax credits?

    The latter keeps the insurance companies in the loop, which means the campaign contribution gravy train keeps chugging along. Make no mistake, it’s a bipartisan gravy train.

    I agree with Aunt B. except on the point of motivation. The politicians who support these ‘enforcement’ mandates know its wrong, and they aren’t idiots. They’re just making good on their bribes, and they know that enough of us are childish, selfish, and self-defeating (and racist) enough to keep swallowing the b.s. about keeping the gub’mint out of our health care ‘choices.’

  9. Yeah, I think it sets a very dangerous precident for the government to be able to force its citizens to have to do business with for-profit businesses. To me, it reminds me of the controversy with the eminent domain decision (Vitter? I can’t remember the name) that now allows governments to confiscate citizens’ land not for government projects like roads or reservoirs, but for Walmarts.

    The government should not be working first for the benefit of corporations and then for us.

  10. Funny you should mention eminent domain, Aunt B. The City of Chicago is trying to use eminent domain to confiscate a couple of businesses in my neighborhood and hand the land to a developer. These aren’t flashy, upscale businesses, but they are successful (and some have been there for decades). This is an abuse of eminent domain, but the precedent has been set. There’s going to be a meeting where the public will come out and voice its discontent with this idea, but I have to work tomorrow and will miss it. I hope the public outcry works this time, but even if it does it won’t be the last time this is tried.

    Anyway, I agree with you. There is a strong connection between this issue and the healthcare travesty. Again, this is bipartisan corporatism. As I recall, the case to you reference was narrowly decided by the U.S. Supreme Court with the so-called moderates making up the majority. And Chicago’s city government is almost unanimously Democratic.

    When the interests of concentrated wealth are given official precedence over both individual rights and public property, the death of democracy can’t be far behind.

  11. The debate over the future of our health care system currently turns on paying into the system because in a universal plan in our crapitalist economy, it is dependent on nearly everyone participating. Sen. Obama’s points about giving options because people may not be able to pay in are as well taken as Sen. Edwards argument that we need to do everything possible to encourage people to participate or the system may collapse. Each has their own sets of numbers and assumptions they’re working from.

    I would explain the real answer but Valentine might come along and call me a Commie.

    Really, though, what is the difference between making people pay taxes to fund government-payed health care, and making people pay for health care and giving them tax credits?

    One helps you get elected and the other one doesn’t.

  12. I think I fixed it.

    This is going to cause me to get run out of the red states, but I’m going to say it anyway. Throwing out anything that remotely stinks of communism is like refusing to fertilize your field because you don’t like the smell of shit. We’re missing out on good ideas because we’re afraid of being in any way associated with the Red Menace. It’s ridiculous.

  13. I think it sets a very dangerous precident for the government to be able to force its citizens to have to do business with for-profit businesses.

    The precedent is already set (see my example, above). If you can’t pay your health insurance premium, the culture of life wants to revoke your breathing privs. Whoo-hoo!

  14. We’re missing out on good ideas because we’re afraid of being in any way associated with the Red Menace.

    most of the red-baiters, moreover, don’t seem to have a good grasp of what “communism” means to begin with. (nor “socialism”, either. when somebody uses those words as though they were synonyms, you know you’re dealing with an ignoramus.)

    it’s a kind of magical thinking, really — it’s invoking the name of the devil in order to scare one’s audience back to jesus. the tactic is regrettably common in american political discourse, i’ve noticed.

  15. I think it’s pragmatism rather than evil that mandates (yuk, yuk) the mandates.

    In the current political climate, with the enormous moneybags of the insurance industry arrayed against it, single payer cannot pass. Anyone who’s paid more than 10 minutes of attention to the problem knows single-payer is the solution, but it’s not politically possible. Mandates are the wedge, is all.

    See Ezra Klein for more,


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