Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ron Paul's Health Care Plan

Ron Paul is an unusual human being. He actually has quite a bit in common with Barack Obama in my opnion (hear me out): both men tend to serve as symbolic ciphers onto which extremely loyal followers, looking for a man of ideological purity and political benevloence, project their hopes. You can see this phenomenon in Obama's continued support in some sectors of the left that should, by all rights, be taking what the President has to say with a grain of salt considering the amount of money he has taken from Wall Street and the composition of his cabinet in terms of hunchbacked, black-hooded capitalist necromancers.

Paul has the same "reality problems" with libertarians. Many economic libertarians (or classical liberals, or whatever they want to be called) love Paul's hard line stances on a variety of issues. From the gold standard – I used to play a drinking game in political discussions with libertarians where I would take a shot when the term “fiat currency” was floated – to the PATRIOT Act, bless him for that – to FEMA, the EPA, the DOE, and other agencies he would like to eliminate – Paul seems to be a freedom lover's wet dream. Then you look a little closer and see that he has brought home pork aplenty to his district, that he opposes reproductive liberty for women, and that he is, in essence, kind of a kook.

Now, it's easy for liberal bloggers (and also for whatever the hell kind of blogger I am) to take shots at Paul, because he says controversial things, and sometimes he actually means them, and that is interesting and can make other conservative figures look weird by association. That's not a fair way to play the game, and I try to reserve that type of look-at-the-freak dogpiling for those who truly deserve it, like Michele Bachmann or Glenn Beck.

Paul has crossed the line this year, though. He hasn't become a laughingstock; he has become a dangerous cult figure who now acts like exactly that; a new David Duke without the overt racism (although his mysterious and "accidental" connections to racist literature have always been fishy) but with a new, thinly-veiled threat of political violence; a particular kind of political violence.

There are consequence through action, but are also much less-often publicized, less well-understood consequences that are tied to inaction. Seth Abramovitch, with Gawker media, writes:

Should the state pay [an indigent person's] bills? Paul responded, "That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody—" He never quite finished that point, letting the audience's loud applause finish it for him. So Wolf Blitzer pressed on, asking if he meant that "society should just let him die," which earned a chilling round of approving hoots from the crowd. Paul would not concede that much outright, instead responding with a personal anecdote, the upshot being that in such a case, it was up to churches to care for the dying young man. So basically, yeah. He'd let him die. As it turns out, Paul was not speaking purely in hypotheticals. Back in 2008, Kent Snyder — Paul's former campaign chairman — died of complications from pneumonia. Like the man in Blitzer's example, the 49-year-old Snyder (pictured) was relatively young and seemingly healthy when the illness struck. 

He was also uninsured. When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder's surviving mother (pictured, left), who was incapable of paying. Friends launched a website to solicit donations.

The Gawker article (give it a read) goes on at great length about how Snyder is the reason Paul got into the race back then, and was the wind beneath his wings &c. Any way you look at it, it was a tragedy.

It was a tragedy that should have taught Ron Paul a blunt-force lesson about reality and ideology. If your close friend and former campaign manager dies young and leaves piles of medical debt behind, and you continue to hammer health care as an individual responsibility that anyone can pay for, you are either lying to yourself, or your mind is so warped by political ideology that you literally cannot see a reality that does not conform to your worldview even when it slaps your familiy friend's grieving mother with a half a million US Dollars in unpayable debt. "Welcome to the new economy," as they say.

Either way, Ron Paul, who didn't stand much of a chance of taking the nomination in the first place, is done, but I suppose the main point here isn't that piece of old news. 

It's just an old-fashioned case of me saying: good riddance.


  1. Unfortunately most "liberal bloggers" fail to accurately post Wolf's question and leave out:

    "A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it."

    This made up guy CHOSE not to get insurance, even though it would have been affordable. Being the strapping young guy he is, he most likely opted for a convertible and lake house in a gated community.

    Why should the government stop at paying for this guys medical bills, why don't they pay for his mortgage that he overextended himself on too. Or better yet, why doesn't the government just trade his mortgage in for one half the size?

    Meanwhile on the other side of town, I'm paying for my health insurance, paying my mortgage on my affordable townhouse, and driving around in my beat up Honda. Can I bend over a little more to make it any easier?

  2. Anonymous - in difficult economic times, it's a fair question why the industrious ant should help the lazy grasshopper who fiddled all summer long while the ant was buying gold and, I don't know, T-Bills? I gently poke fun with the analogy, but it is a valid point. Individual responsibility is important. It's what, in some lucky cases, can become the engine of greatness, and over the last year or two, especially when it comes to small business, I have had my eyes opened to the fact that there are onerous government regulations and ridiculous rules, overreactions to litigation and the like, that, if eliminated, would no longer choke the growth of local business.

    That said, it sounds like your understanding of our government rests solely on negative liberties (i.e. "freedoms from") rather than positive liberties (i.e. "freedoms to"). If you immediately see that latter category and think of them as a scam or some kind of handout, you need to realize that positive liberties are as important to our republic as negative liberties (where I agree with you most). For example: there is no right to vote in the Constitution. Go ahead, point to the right to vote. Well, isn't your attempt to exercise these so-called "freedoms" at the polls a usurpation of limited Constitutional government?

    I don't say that as a trick, I say it to suggest that our country needs a sensible balance between negative liberty (freedom from tyranny, freedom to bear arms, etc.) and positive liberties (the right to vote, civic participation, etc.).

    Another way to understand health care is to understand the scientific - and yes, it is scientific and not ideological - consensus about vaccines. Vaccines only work when everyone participates - if people "opt out," epidemics can happen. In a similar way, insurance only works in an "everybody in" approach. In such an approach, the costs and benefits are distributed evenly enough - and in a fashion regulated to make sure no fraud and/or cheating is going on - that everyone's health care is lowered.

    I don't understand opposition to current Health Care Reform, because it in no way stifles private enterprise - if anything, it's a huge giveaway to pharmaceutical companies and insurance giants. That said, it will get "everyone in," and bend the cost curve eventually. If your concerns are that your insurance premium will go up, switch companies - for people who are so gung ho about private competition (and I admit that in some cases I also think competition benefits consumers), opponents of Health Care Reform seem to forget that there *is no* public option, only private companies, just like before.

    Thank you for you comment (I'm serious) - I love feedback. If you ever want to continue the discussion on this or any other topic, please leave a comment (and feel free to sign it or not), or e-mail me at