Thursday, September 15, 2011

Insisting On Personal Responsibility Is NOT Cruel

I hesitated writing this piece because I was afraid of coming across as supporting Ron Paul. So let me be clear. I am not a Ron Paul supporter.  Far from it. I am also not a Tea Partier. However, the following exchange between Ron Paul and Wolf Blitzer is being unfairly spun as advocating for letting the uninsured die:

The progressives point to a couple of people in the audience shouting "Yes!" - when Blizter asked whether an uninsured man should be left to die - as evidence that the whole Tea Party (and by inference the whole Republican party) doesn't care about the uninsured. While they completely ignore the part of the clip where the audience (yes, the same Tea Party audience) applauds Ron Paul when he talks about churches and communities providing help for the uninsured as they did when he was practicing medicine prior to Medicaid. Also, when asked whether the individual should be left to die, Ron Paul answered "No".

But Paul's answer is ignored. The Tea Party cheering for communities, religious organizations helping the needy is ignored. The spin machine is cranked up spitting out the headlines 'Tea Party Fanatics Cheer 'Let Him Die'.

None of this is surprising. Of course, the progressives are going to ignore the cheering of communities helping the needy. It doesn't fit their narrative that all Tea Partiers (and by inference all Republicans) are heartless. It doesn't fit their worldview that unless government does it, it will not be done.

What is more interesting about the reaction to this exchange is the underlying assumption that insisting on personal responsibility is cruel. The hypothetical question posed by Blitzer was about a young man with  a "good job... making a good living" who chooses not to spend "$200 or $300 a month" to buy health insurance. This is not about someone who has no choice. Someone who is needy. This is about someone being irresponsible. The discussion should be about how do you encourage personal responsibility. 

The reaction "OMG.... you are going to let him die!" is entirely predictable. We live in a country where decisions are privatized while negative consequences are socialized. So, if you run your business into the ground, don't worry. The government will bail you out by taxing profitable, well managed businesses. If you decide not purchase health insurance even though you can afford it, don't worry. You will be taking care of by raising the premiums on the people who act responsibly and buy health insurance. And, if the responsible people raise any objection they will be labeled as heartless. While the guy that decides to spend his money on leisure rather than health insurance will be labeled as the victim. Is this a great country or what? /sarc.