Monday, July 23, 2012

Wealth Redistribution

Through the link-maze known as the intertubes, a guy who has a teabagger blog came across one of my posts, and proceeded to deconstruct it on his site.* Since then I've engaged in a couple of comment exchanges with him over there (seems he didn't much want to press his arguments here.) Anyhow, it revolved around the idea that I refuse to used the word "socialism" to describe the Affordable Care Act, and, in a tone less argumentative than what I often use here, I tried to explain why it's, in fact, nothing like socialism.

Well, it turns out he has a particularly teabaggeresque and Foxorovokochian definition of the term; and while it's neither remotely accurate nor, being mouthed repeatedly by his sources of ideas, original, here it is: wealth redistribution.

By that definition, of course, when money changes hands by any means, it's a necessary and sufficient set of circumstances to define socialism. Well, excepting anything that takes money from the less well-off and trickles it uphill to the really well-off. That's, well, that's America. That's what the Constitution (his understanding of which seemed as broad and deep as of socialism) demands. If all he knew of socialism is that it redistributes wealth, which indeed it does, like any form of government anywhere and any transaction involving money in any amount, it was obvious we were never going to find a basis for discussing health care. But I tried.

He didn't much like it when I pointed out that one of the greatest episodes of wealth distribution was when Bush cut taxes disproportionately on the wealthy. Nor did he agree with the Supreme Court's calling the ACA constitutional. What's constitutional for a teabagger, he made clear, is only that which supports their particular reading. Not a very, uh, constitutional view of the process, but still. (Helpful analogy: it's like a jury deciding guilt or innocence. It's an imperfect system, but it's the best we can do. Within the rule of law, it is what it is.)

Then he wanted to tie it all to unfettered abortion and forced euthanasia, both of which he sees as the natural next steps from trying to fix health care. I even agreed that abortion is an issue worth addressing, but pointed out it had nothing to do with his perseveration on health care reform as socialism.

Having made his opinions known, and ignoring my specifics about how leaving insurance companies in the middle and in control is anything but socialism, he concluded our exchange (it's his blog: I let him have the last word) by declaring, as if it were the word of god, that America doesn't need government telling it how to run health care, telling people which doctors they can see. (I'm paraphrasing.) Having pledged to stay silent, I didn't point out the obvious: what we have now is private insurers, whose goal is to avoid spending money on health care, telling us how to run the system; and that the ACA has a few rules, all right, but doesn't do a hell of a lot to change that situation.

Well, of course nothing was accomplished, no minds were changed. To me, it was I pointing out reality; to him, it was he. There's just no getting past it. As I wrote over there, it's apples and asparagus. Me, it made depressed. Him, I'm sure, it made angry and self-righteous. In the end, that makes it an unfair fight, and the subject of an upcoming post.
*I think this is first time I've referred to a site without providing a link. I know I should, but in the end he sort of put me off. Being a teabagger, I'm sure he gets plenty of traffic: no doubt, more than I do.


  1. WTF?! The damned roads we all drive on is socialism personified. As a species it is arguable that we only survived, then later prospered, 'cause we were socialists from the beginning. I don't get where these teabaggers, libertarians if you like, are coming from.


  2. Health insurance, indeed insurance of any kind is wealth redistribution.

    But I'm more worried about you, doc. You're trying to have a constructive conversation with someone who seems to have his own private reality. And trying to change his mind is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It's only going to frustrate you and annoy the pig.

    Try and remember your psych rotation: you can try and talk to that nice psychotic patient all you want, but you'll make a lot more progress with major tranquilizers.

    Personally, the only way I'd attend a tea bagger convention is with a vaccine gun and a barrel of haldol.



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