Tuesday, June 19, 2007

All Or Nothing

I've been seeing a lot of 'All or Nothing' in various conservative posts and replies around the blogosphere. I've even encountered it in a personal conversation with a few old friends who, surprisingly to me, have become diehard conservatives.

So let me address a few of these misperceptions.

"Liberals want someone else to pay for their health care."
This makes us sound like lazy, shiftless bums, which we are not. We want everyone to pay for everyone's health care. There's a big difference. How would you feel if you heard someone complaining that 'liberals want someone else to pay for the roads,' or 'liberals want someone else to pay for clean water.'

Liberals consider health care to be a public need and a public benefit. If everyone gets health care from the government there will be vast savings reaped by moving the administration of the system out of the hands of profit-driven bureaucrats in huge, unacccountable insurance companies. There will be more savings realized by the many users who will no longer ignore health problems until they become serious enough to warrant emergency room attention. But make no mistake, we're willing to pay our fair share.

"Liberals want the government to look out for your and hold your hand."
Another grotesque oversimplification. Liberals simply want there to be a safety net to ensure the least fortunate of us are not totally hosed by the occasional catastrophe we are all subject to. It simply makes sense, on a moral as well as a practical plane, for the group to help look out for the individual.

The rich and the powerful can look out for themselves. It's the poor who are vulnerable, who are trying hard, that we should help. We need to provide a better minimium wage for the countless thousands of working poor who are busting their butts holding down a part- or full time job and still live below the poverty level.

"Liberals Engage in Class Warfare."
This is the most Orwellian spin of all. When the rich and the powerful adjust (or circumvent) the rules in order to protect and increase their profits, that's somehow okay, but when liberals try to adjust the balance back in favor of the little guy doing better, it's 'class warfare.'

The real class warfare is how the middle class has been eviscerated in the past 30 years. Bear in mind that during the boom years following World War II the rich were taxed far more heavily than they are now. We had shrinking poverty, a growing middle class, an unprecedented economic boom and increasing levels of literacy. Heck, my parents were a carpenter and a secretary and they managed to put 2.5 kids throuch college! (I was the .5 kid, dropped out and then finished my college in the Navy.) Just try doing that on today's wages.

Since the Reagan years, we've seen more and more of that income go to the richest of Americans while the rest sink into poverty. This is the injustice we seek to remedy. If anything, we want to end the class warfare that has been waged against the poor and middle class.

"Liberals all believe [fill in the blank]."
Yeah, well so do conservatives. Neener neener neener. That's intellectually satisfying, isn't it?

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