Why conservatives hate Obamacare

Connor Wood

Ugh, politics. Congressional Republicans are determined to stop President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act from ever getting off the ground, and they’re willing to hold the entire government hostage to get their way. To many people (including sometimes myself), these Tea Party-style priorities seem incomprehensible – not to mention cruel and reactionary. Who on Earth wouldn’t want to give as many people as possible affordable health care? But one perspective, informed by role of religion in traditional cultures, can at least help explain some of the conservative resistance. This doesn’t excuse governmental loggerheads, but it might help some of us to stop talking past one another.

To a liberal or progressive, it’s axiomatic that the government is morally obliged to provide services like affordable health care. If a society has the power, wealth, and means to prevent children from dying of lymphoma, or to provide eye surgery to a poor working mother, then it is morally mandated to do these things. To deny this ethical truth is pretty much the definition of being, well, a jerk.

Now, I’m not going to deny that there are some jerks out there. But not everyone who argues against the Obama health care law is one. To understand why, we need to consider one important factor: humans are social animals. We tend to live out our lives in small communities of mostly familiar faces. Homo sapiens has been around for 150,000 to 300,000 years (depending on who you ask), but we only decided to build cities for the first time about 10,000 years ago. Big, cosmopolitan societies like the modern United States are historical anomalies. In other words, most people throughout history have directly known the people they depend on, and who depend on them.

This is very, very different from today’s Western world and other developed societies. In such economically advanced nations, most people have virtually no personal knowledge of the people who depend on them, or on whom they depend. Do you know the truck driver who delivered your cereal to the grocery store? No, you don’t. Do you know who fixed the power lines, dangling in a harness with a hardhat in the rain, the last time a storm knocked out your power? Chances are very good that you don’t.

The big difference between progressive social morality and conservative or traditionalist morality is, I think, that progressives are much more comfortable with these abstract systems. If people are poor, progressives believe, it is the same vast and largely impersonal systems that provide for all our needs – delivering electricity, growing food, paving and plowing streets – that should help them back on their feet.

Conservatives and traditionalists, on the other hand, are more wary of – and somewhat out of their element in – big, abstract systems, especially when it comes to providing social goods. A big part of the reason for this is religion.

Why? Religious traditions from Catholicism to Cambodian village Buddhism have, in a very large part, always been about linking people into tight, personal networks that provide social and material benefits. A good example of this in today’s world is Brazilian Candomblé, an African-based syncretic religion that is largely practiced by the urban poor. Candomblé practitioners are famous for providing for each other in times of need, including both spiritual and material resources. It’s the religion that does the community-forming work; the most ritually active practitioners are the most generous and giving to their peers, for instance.

But you don’t need to fly to Brazil to see how this religious function works.* Go to any small Midwestern town and see how central a role the local churches play, not only in the spiritual life of the community, but in its practical, material existence. Churches are where resources are pooled, such as canned goods, and where valuable information is exchanged – who’s hiring, which doctors are good, who needs a babysitter.

The more you take part in such a small-scale community, the more your own religiously shaped, interpersonal obligations come to shape your behavior. For example, if you become deeply embedded in a Candomblé community in northern Brazil, you’ll probably find that, over time, much of your free time becomes devoted to helping other members of your community.

So what’s the hitch? Why can’t religious people and conservatives simply switch over to a larger, more systemic – and, possibly, more effective – system for providing goods to people, such as Sweden’s social safety net or Canada’s nationalized health care? Religion, after all, has often dazzlingly failed at helping society’s poor in places like India, which is both deeply religious and wildly unequal. Religious practices may have been the best game in town for thousands of years, but we’ve come up with something new and better now. Right?

Well, maybe. The best and most worthwhile objection to large social systems comes from the fact that in small-scale cultures, where religious practices and rituals drive interpersonal relationships, people get both their life’s meaning and their material support from the same place. I’m talking about the kind of meaning that comes from aiding others; the Atlantic recently published a fascinating article on the difference between meaning, which comes largely from helping others, and hedonic happiness, which comes from getting your needs and wishes met. Meaning, all things being equal, was a much better predictor of life satisfaction.

So the most pressing conservative or traditionalist problem with big social safety nets isn’t the Randian fear that helping the poor will make it more difficult for talented people to succeed. It’s the danger that, by transferring the responsibility for providing basic social goods away from local and/or religious communities to larger, more abstract systemic platforms, cultures divest people of their obligations to personally care for one another. With that can come a serious reduction in mental well-being and increase in loneliness – and in lack of meaning.

Because of the spectacular utility and effectiveness of this new, abstract system, the feedback cycles that keep communities bonded together begin to falter. Once people see that personal relationships aren’t needed to survive, they tend to transition from very tight, bonded relationship networks to looser, more discretionary ones. In other words, communities that don’t need each other don’t stay communities. They become population clusters.

Here’s the famous conservative philosopher Russell Kirk on the dangers of what happens when, “in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction:”

In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily.…For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities.

Now, let me make myself absolutely clear: I am not arguing that this conservative objection is necessarily valid. What I am arguing is that it is the unspoken fear driving much of the debate around things like the Affordable Health Care Act. If progressives were to articulate their case for large-scale social programs in a way that directly addressed this fear of a culture filled with loneliness, weakened ties, and lack of meaning, then some of the sticky resistance to affordable health care might melt away, or at least loosen a little. But progressives aren’t having this argument. They’re arguing with people who don’t want to share their resources because they are selfish, poor-hating, or lacking in compassion. The problem is that, by and large, the people progressives are arguing with don’t exist.

Conservatives worry that offloading social responsibilities to an impersonal, systemic platform will corrode the collective bonds of daily, local life.† But (other than Russell Kirk) they aren’t very good at expressing this fear, and progressives aren’t very good at understanding it. And there is some evidence to suggest that conservatives’ wariness about big, society-wide systems is warranted; social fabric has, indeed, weakened in the decades since the introduction of social welfare programs such as Social Security, as Robert Putnam has exhaustively described. This probably isn’t coincidence, if outsourcing social responsibilities to big abstract systems does, in fact, hurt people’s motivation to take part in local community life.

But it’s also clear that religions and small, local groups have historically let many slip through their cracks: outsiders, gays, children, nonbelievers. If religious groups could be counted on to provide for everyone, then we could happily cut loose our safety nets. But we can’t count on religions or local communities to carry out this task. Personal relationship webs are filled with holes, and the people who comprise them are flawed – just as we all are.

The question is how much we should let larger, impersonal systems complement the local, personal ones. The danger is real that by divesting too much responsibility to abstract systems, local communities and relationships will suffer. It is equally a threat that if local communities retain all responsibility themselves, many real people will go uncared for.

But nobody in this debate is a villain. If we learn what motivates the people with whom we passionately disagree, we might have better conversations. And one of these years, hopefully before the sun goes nova, we won’t have to suffer through yet another government shutdown (please).

________

* Although you might want to anyway. Especially in, oh, about mid-February.

† This is not the only reason Republicans in Congress are against Obama’s health care law. There are corporate and moneyed motivations, special interests, and resistance to Obama’s leadership. Both parties have become hyper-partisan over recent decades, and congresspeople have stopped socializing together. I can’t do anything about or shed any useful light on those things, however, so I’m focusing on the one area where I can offer useful perspectives.

  • Jim

    While reading your post (which seems quite insightful by the way), I was reminded of President Bush’s “Faith-Based” initiatives. I think it was specifically linked to the statement about reassuring conservatives that the abstract won’t detract from the local. It seems to me that the program was an attempt to get the best of both and reassure conservatives about expanded government programs.

    Just made me think. I thought it was a great example of what you were writing about. Thanks for the post.

  • pjmerc

    Oops. so sorry that religious groups can’t keep up with the devastation created by failed government programs. If our economy hadn’t been ruined by the government, more people would be off the dole and become actually able to take care of themselves. But now we have the worst of scenarios for a government- it’s called crony capitalism….which hurts everyone but the politicians and the corporations that pay them. And that includes insurance companies.

    As a libertarian, I take great offense at the Obamacare monstrosity. If you knew exactly how much just the premiums will put most private insurance policies out of reach of lower and many middle income people, you wouldn’t say that the Affordable Care act was so affordable. And what happens then? They can’t buy insurance, so they get fined….oh you say that the fine will be ameliorated when you do your taxes, if you don’t make enough money….and how long will that go on? If people can’t afford the insurance, will the fines just become meaningless because no one can pay them?. Will everyone then be pushed on to some type of government healthcare- some form of Medicaid? So then, the taxes go up for everyone to pay for the millions more people on government medical care. What happens when there isn’t enough money? Will it be like in Illinois, where the state’s backlog on payments to medical providers is up to a year late? What happens when doctors leave because they don’t get paid?
    When there isn’t enough money in a government “care” system, care gets rationed. The elderly will suffer first, then the terminal patients, and you can just work your way up the ladder from there.
    As to your assertion that religious groups don’t cover everyone, just where do you get that information? As far as I am aware there are “religious” groups helping the homeless, the hungry, the elderly, gays, children, victims of domestic violence, the dying etc. So where exactly do you get your information on the church’s failure to care for people? If you think that they don’t help gays- if the gay person is homeless, hungry, dying, a victim of violence, elderly etc. they get help.

  • Tom Paine

    Is this really true or is it that they fear that they will end up paying for the healthcare of someone they think is lazy, shiftless, and a non-contributor to society. I am not saying I agree with such thinking but I would argue that most social conservatives think that this is like communism to them and it will not make poor people want to work harder which is their assessment of much of the problems in our society. They say people want it all but don’t want to work for it.

  • connorwood

    > there are “religious” groups helping the homeless, the hungry, the elderly, gays, children, victims of domestic violence, the dying

    I agree. The data are very clear that, in the US, religious groups and religious people do more volunteering and charity work than nonreligious people, and this is a fact that I wish more progressives would face up to. The only catch is that, historically, religious groups tend to care MOSTLY (not entirely) for their own members. The result is that some people fall through the cracks – to get care from a small community, you need to be integrated into that community in some way. People who aren’t integrated get left out.

  • Loren Sickles

    As an additional commentary on the perceived divisions in America I would recommend Bill Bishop’s book “The Big Sort.”

  • Loren Sickles

    Another article that I believe sheds some light on the issue you are addressing is one by Jonathan Haidt & Jesse Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize.” – Social Justice Research, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 2007.

  • justinwhitaker

    Interesting analysis, Connor. While I agree with what you’re saying, I think three additional points should be added.

    1. Republicans/conservatives seem to be okay with Obamacare when it’s not called Obamacare (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/23/1233305/-Kentuckians-Hate-Obamacare-But-Love-It-By-Another-Name). I think a fair amount of the dislike for the law is simply a dislike of Obama. Conservatives have had no problem increasing spending and building faceless distant federal programs when a Republican was in the White House. (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s/)

    2. If the growth of large impersonal social welfare programs had a causal role in the loss of societal cohesion, as you suggest may be the case, then countries like Canada, the UK, and Norway would be literally falling apart.

    3. Religion does offer reasons for cosmopolitanism; universal claims about reaching beyond your own narrow ideas of community, etc. Could it be that Republicans tend to ignore these while Democrats cling to/appreciate them more?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Good stuff. This is an interesting expansion on Jonathan Haidt’s ideas of different moral categories. Liberals and conservatives clash on moral issues, he says, because they define morality differently.

    I’ve written more here:
    Why we disagree on moral issues

  • connorwood

    Thanks for your insightful comments, Justin. I think you’re right to point out that much of the resistance is simply resistance to Obama. But more some conservatives, like those who call themselves “paleoconservatives” and Wendell Berry-style religious traditionalists, have been pretty resistant to federal expansion regardless of who’s at the helm. (I should have pointed out in this article that I was talking more about these groups than about libertarian-style, übercapitalist “fiscal conservatives, incidentally.)

    Also, I think that the social fabric of a lot of Western nations may actually be less healthy than WHO and UN stats suggest, as indicated by high rates of mental illness, psychotropic medication use, and suicide. I don’t know about other people, but I think that high suicide rates are a pretty good indicator that something isn’t quite right with your society. The UK, Norway, France, and other countries with big safety nets do much worse on this metric than religious countries like Costa Rica, the Philippines, and even Haiti.

    Finally, you’re completely right about the cosmopolitan strains within religions. The “axial” religions – Judaism, Vedantic Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. – are all identifiable by their universalistic claims about human nature and its relationship to the divine. And some religious practices – such as the Muslim Hajj – actually seem to make people more cosmopolitan and accepting of outsiders: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2013/07/religion-is-it-always-tribal/#more-714

  • http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ ValPas

    pjmerc, I’m sorry, but failed government programs didn’t ruin the economy (unless you want to include unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). It was “private enterprise,” unrestrained by government regulations, that brought the economy to its knees, and a government bailout of those very same villains that prevented a total collapse. Learn some history instead of cant.

  • http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ ValPas

    And as for your assertion that religious groups cover everyone, sure they do. Like they covered the impoverished blacks in the south and prevented lynchings that went on for decades. Wake up!

  • http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ ValPas

    Good article, as always, and it offers a different, rather more sympathetic way of looking at what seems like sheer pigheadedness on the part of ultra-right wing conservatives. You may have hit on something, but I think you may be giving them more credit than they are due.
    For the most part, they are afraid. They are afraid that if others get some monetary break, they will lose part of what they have. They see all transactions as zero-sum, with someone winning and someone else losing. They can’t envision the win-win of increased prosperity when everyone can get a reasonable part of the pie and is pitching in to make it a bigger one.
    I will certainly agree that small communities – specifically church communities – are the most congenial to the human psyche and that church people are healthier and live longer than non-church people, on average. And I agree that our contemporary, big-city culture is very hard on the psyche, as reflected in the amount of money spent on psychiatrists and anti-depressant drugs in big cities. Our brains didn’t evolve to fit into our contemporary culture; they’re suited for a cohort of somewhere between 50 and 200 individuals with whom we can interact regularly and whom we can come to know and trust – a church, for example. Or how about an elks club? Or a bowling league?
    When you say that local groups have let people fall through the cracks, that is an understatement. “Out-group” members have been actively persecuted by many of these “good people” in local communities. In our country, this is most obvious in the history of the South, with blacks being actively deprived of resources, oppressed, and even killed by upstanding churchmen. Similar phenomena occur throughout the globe, of course: in the feuds between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East, between Christians and Muslims in the Balkans, between Catholics and Protestants during the reformation, and so on.
    What conservatives (those who are change-averse) don’t realize is that, as more people become vested in a culture, by both producing and receiving its fruits, the more successful that culture becomes. The United States of America started on that road to increased inclusion more than two centuries ago, and it became highly successful. Why, now, have so many decided that it’s moral to exclude a large portion of the population from the fruits of our still very affluent society?

  • AxelDC

    Ironically, the forces that conservatives favor are ripping apart these very communities. Corporations close plants and move jobs. People have to leave their families to find work because their local community’s economy has been decimated. Globalization means mobility. Sure, your pastor in Smallville may be nice, but who do you know in Metropolis? People are becoming more isolated for economic necessity than anything to do with ideology or religious doctrines.

  • AxelDC

    Mormons brag all the time about their church welfare programs, but try getting help if you are not Mormon, or if you are gay Mormon or an atheist Mormon. They will help you, but only if you conform to their social norms.

  • Jay

    Excellent article Connor! In regards to the above comment, I’m 100% with you on your second paragraph. How one defines “quality of life” sets up who is going to get to the top and who is not, and the methodologies created by the WHO and UN don’t really seem to place much emphasis on the psychological well being of the population. I suppose they simply assume that people in lower ranked countries will have higher levels of psychological problems, but I’m doubtful this is actually the case. It is ironic that countries like the Netherlands that have increasing rates of assisted suicide keep getting top nods as countries with high “quality of life.”

    And yes, being a Roman Catholic who does believe that health care reform is needed and that overall what’s going on is good with what Obama’s doing (the contraception stuff is a whole other can of worms), I definitely do have some of the reservations that have been expressed in this article.

  • JasonMankey

    The first version of what has become “Obamacare” was created by the right-wing think tank the Heritage Institute, and first enacted into law by Republican governor Mitt Romney in MA. It’s essentially a Republican health care plan from the 1990′s and is a free market system designed at creating more affordable health care for all.

    The current GOP hatred of Obamacare is not so much about the legislation as it is about opposing everything proposed/endorsed/sponsored by President Obama. We had a referendum on Obamacare back in 2012 which the President won by getting re-elected. It’s a shame that Tea Party Republicans somehow missed the memo.

    The current hatred many feel for the law is near insanity. Most of the law hasn’t even been enacted yet. It’s like saying “This Thanksgiving dinner sucks” because you had an appetizer that wasn’t quite up to snuff an hour before supper time. Opponents of the law have done a great job demonizing something that only barely exists.

  • stanz2reason

    Terrific article Connor. Efforts to promote understanding the other side are worthwhile, though I share similar sentiments expressed above of giving conservatives more credit then they deserve with regards to their stubborn opposition. You’d have a tough time convincing me that that the Ted Cruz’s are expressing fear rather than sewing & capitalizing on it.

    You make an interesting point here with regards to varying metrics of judging the strength of a social fabric (incidents of suicide & mental illness) and such things should certainly be considered. Looking at the WHO suicide numbers though (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide_rates/en/) it’s difficult to discern any pattern, at least not one that I could pinpoint as accounting for the large variance among countries. In addition, while I have no grounds to question the results outright, a number of countries on the low end appear, at least to me, as those most likely to improperly report or categorize suicides.

  • connorwood

    Thanks for your critiques and compliments, stanz2reason. Here’s a good table from Gallup that spells out the relationship between national religiosity and suicide rates: http://www.gallup.com/poll/108625/more-religious-countries-lower-suicide-rates.aspx

    Another line of research on the epidemiology of suicide has established pretty clearly that personal religious practice – going to church, temple, mosque, etc. regularly – is preventative against suicide and most mental disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23420279

    I’d recommend poking around PubMed for other studies. The findings regarding suicide seem to be very consistent across studies, while findings for disorders like schizophrenia are less so.

  • connorwood

    Donalbain, I’ve had to delete your comment. Please do not make ad hominem attacks on anyone at Science On Religion, including libertarians. Thanks.

  • Donalbain

    Indeed. We have tried the libertarian idea in the past. It doesnt work. When we left the care of the poor to churches and private charity, people died of hunger. But some people read Dickens and think of it as a How-To guide for running a society.

  • gimpi1

    I understand the objection, but much of the impersonalization of life happened in the industrial revolution. That ship has sailed.
    And, frankly, no church can provide modern health care as a charity. The cost is too great, the burden too big. If we want to care for the sick, we have plenty of first-world templates that work, and none of them rely on market forces or private charity.

  • gimpi1

    Frankly, most people fall through the cracks.

  • stanz2reason

    The human psychological aspect is fascinating. I can’t imagine the difficulties in trying to account for the countless cultural variables at work. Glad there’s people looking into this. Seems like something worth studying.

  • connorwood

    > much of the impersonalization of life happened in the industrial revolution

    A good point, gimpi1. I do believe, though, that continued, and justified, resistance to that continued impersonalization informs a lot of fundamentalist and religious (they are not the same thing) objections to everything from scientific cosmology to the advance of the welfare state.

    In other words, I often consider the opinions of religious groups and traditionalists to be barometers for the depersonalization of everyday life. Since depersonalization actually is an undesirable thing, I consider their rejections of it to be valid, although I don’t extend this courtesy to, say, rejecting scientific claims or to virulently exclusivist behavior toward outgroups.

  • CommonSense1957

    Good piece — however, I question why Republicans/conservations are comfortable with large corporations having influence over their lives. They seem to have no problem with that.

  • Steven T Abell

    This is a good start. There is a lot more to it. For example, medical care cost sharing in this country was, for a long time, the province of fraternal organizations. There are advantages to this that have nothing to do with strange hats and secret handshakes. The people covered by such an organization know each other, and rather well. This makes it easier to see the where the money goes. It also makes it easier to see where the money *doesn’t* go. If someone is living stupid, the brothers take that someone aside and tell him to shape up. If he doesn’t shape up, the organization might not back him up when the time comes, and everyone knows it. Is this coercive social control? Yes. Is it obnoxious or inappropriate? Maybe not. Are people outside the norm included? Maybe not. It isn’t a panacea, but it worked pretty well. Another positive aspect of this is that there really are choices. If a local organization is not working well, the members can appeal to the umbrella organization for help. If the services provided just don’t cut it, people can leave and do something different. Universal government-based systems aren’t like this. They can be wasteful, inefficient, ineffective, and any number of other bad things, and getting them to change can be impossible even though no one likes them. This *tends to be the outcome* of large bureaucracies. Politicians get elected by saying they’re going to fix all this, and then they find that all they can do is make cover-your-ass PR statements until they are replaced by the next guy, who can’t do anything either. Once in place, these things are practically impossible to uproot. Once again, there are problems with local systems, as you mention, some of them significant. But such systems are not cast in stone and enforced by the IRS. The system we have had for the last several decades is a mess and needs to change. Then why do I resist Obamacare? Because I want something that works better than what we have now, and Obamacare isn’t it.

  • connorwood

    Dueyftw, I’ve unfortunately had to delete your comment. Do not refer to anyone as “idiots” in the comments at Science On Religion. Thanks.

  • J_Bob

    Part of the equation is the government is able to pay for all these benefits?

    If not, it runs the risk, as is happening now, money must be borrowed to pay for these benefits.

    Just look at your 1040 tax preparation booklet, & see how much the Federal government debt is ramping up. Hence the interest payments are also increasing, forcing increased debt, & is unsustainable.

  • Rajesh

    Wonderful Blog. This society’s 80% wealth is controlled by 20% people and most of those 20% people do not want to help rest 80% people. Rich are getting richer and also getting powerful where as poor are still poor and perhaps very little rights in most countries including India.

  • Rai

    I appreciate you trying to understand why conservatives are against obamacare, conner. However you hit on exactly 0 of the issues with it that actually have with it, we have issues with the financial aspect of things. The majority of the article was just speculating over how bible belt towns run. (Lets remember that their are conservatives all over this country) and as someone who lives in the bible belt I can tell you that my town does not run around the church’s) My main issue is that Nothing is actually free, someone somewhere has to pay for it. In this case its doctors, they get paid almost nothing if obamacare comes into action and I know tons of doctors and the majority are just retiring now or moving on to other jobs, and god knows we NEED doctors.

  • dueyftw

    Sorry, I should have used ‘people who is not looking at whole picture’.

    It will be so nice that insurance companies will have to take everyone, no matter the cost. But in the long run who is going to pay for the (TV ad) “Rate Suckers”? (people who need 5K or more a day)

    Currently the regulations of AHCA are 7 feet tall and are going to be administrated by the IRS. Anyone who thinks AHCA regulations (more than twice as long in words than WAR and Peace) administrated by the IRS is a good Idea? Please explain the logic to me.

  • isabelladangelo

    You have missed the point. The reason many conservatives are against Obamacare isn’t that they are against some sort of Health Care at all – it’s because Obamacare is forcing people to pay for procedures that many religions – not just Catholicism- deem morally reprehensible. It’s also about the IRS being in control of your finances and your health care records – really, what this is about is the exact same argument this country has been fighting since day 1; Big Gov’t versus limited Gov’t. Progressives believed they were in their moral right with Prohibition too.

  • Kristen inDallas

    This is an interesting perspective… but I find myself wondering if you think conservatives are the only ones who oppose Obamacare? (Or if you are referring specifically to Conservative politicians). Just for some further persspective their are liberals and independents who dislike Obamacare for totally different reasons than those you mention (myself included). I do think that if the govt is capable of providing healthcare to it’s poorest it should do so, and I would have been in support of a single-payer system OR simply a broadening of Medicaid/Medicare to cover more people with better quality services. I can’t however get on board with a system that mandates consumers to purchase a product they may not want while simultaneously cutting into their negotiating power. I would be against any legislation that props up a particular industry while consumer prices skyrocket. People with ideologies anywhere from tea-party to occupy wall street, may find themselves wary of entrenched politicians getting too cozy with industry interests.
    That said — the only form of govt. shutdown I would support would be one where no member of Congress gets a paycheck untill they figure it out…

  • connorwood

    > the only form of govt. shutdown I would support would be one where no member of Congress gets a paycheck untill they figure it out

    I speak only for myself here and not for any of the organizations with which I’m affiliated; but I couldn’t agree more!

  • Kev

    Think the Republican leaders are just fearful of Obama winning support from the people? Because once all the people realize their lives improve from his act…amen for Republican leaders. Just another selfish political move by your so-called “public servants” and “caring patriots” who will sooner see you starve to death outside in a freezing blizzard than budge from their multi-million dollar living rooms.

  • Kyle Johnson

    Talk about Darwinism to the Nth degree. I don’t believe we should be living in a society that holds the lives of others hostage for motivation.

  • Karma Weathers

    So many flaws in this idea. To think that having healthcare would cause a systemic breakdown of people caring for each other (which makes sense in theory) you’d have to first think that people are even caring for each other’s health in the first place. I don’t see anyone donating money to pay for people’s healthcare say at church out of tithing. If someone is sick at church you know what they do? Pray about it. Last time I checked that costs $0. On occasion you have a jar at the gas station where people are collecting change for a little blonde child from someone’s church who’s parents got laid off at the wrong time when a kid ended up with leukemia, while their income for the previous year prevents them from qualifying for medicaid for that year. So what if the child was black or Latino. I’ve seen that jar. It stays empty.

    To think that conservatives believe healthcare would damage a community’s substance for cohesiveness, I would have to believe the following factors:

    1) this is the only reason people need one another
    2) the lack of healthcare in this country is holding people together at all, or even producing a cause for community togetherness
    3) the same people having a fit about Obama-care are even helping people right now that need it the most or have their best interests at heart.
    4) a negative reason….. an actual hunger and terrible need for something is the only thing that is keeping a group of people together.
    5) and for healthcare to be a corrosive entity, you would have to believe that there are no positive reasons a community comes together in the first place.

    I see nothing but fear for no reason and ignorance based lies to put it mildly. The thing is, it’s so transparent. Sometimes I don’t think they are even trying when they come up with some of the things they say. What exactly are conservatives wanting to conserve? The only thing going right in this country is capitalism. They want to conserve big business so they are paid well as spokesmen for them. The forked tongue strikes again!
    Conservatives like to say healthcare will destroy our country but it will drive costs down, and force more responsibility on insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and the entire medical field as a whole. I cannot see how that’s a bad thing, except for those that are in it for money alone and not for helping people. That’s what it boils down to. The money.

  • pizzaman1975

    You hit the nail on the head Karma. I live in Massachusetts and we have had Obamacare here for the last few years. Our states economy is thriving as far as i can see and I don’t see any difference whatsoever in my community. I’m 37 and I own 2 small restaurants and live in a blue collar neighborhood. The vast majority of my family, neighbors, and friends seem financially better off now than they were 10 years ago. On the weekends(actually starting thurs.) restaurants,theaters,malls,etc. are PACKED!!! highways are jammed at rush hour(even with these gas prices,lol), posts on facebook constantly of vaca pics and shiny new cars. Plenty of Landscaping crews are seen working daily so plenty of folks are doing well enough to pay someone else to mow the grass!!! So this healthcare system hasn’t destroyed us yet!!!

  • Moshe

    Oh, G-d, this is so useful! From this perspective, I agree with the fear the conservatives have. At the same time, I think that this fear is already materialized, Obamacare or not and the local churches/synagogues/mosques/etc. have not been up to supporting everyone that’s falling through the cracks for a long time. In any case, this is so incredibly helpful!

  • Matt Davis

    Romneycare was very similar to Obamacare, but none of the conservatives minded then. Also, ask a conservative if s/he thinks the individual constituent parts of Obamacare are a good thing, chances are s/he’ll say yes – it’s only when you put it all together and call it Obamacare that they dislike it. It’s partly dislike of Obama that’s driving this.

  • R Vogel

    “Personal relationship webs are filled with holes”

    I think this is being over generous. From my many discussion with my very conservative family and friends, I was raised in a conservative Evangelical church, they are not holes but purposeful exclusions. The biggest issue with public support with those I converse is that they feel they cannot control who gets the support, and ‘unworthy’ people might get it. Look at the efforts to tie benefits to drug tests – because someone with a drug problem doesn’t DESERVE support in their opinion. It is tribalism plain and simple, and they don’t want their ‘hard earned’ resources to go to someone outside of their group.

    “The problem is that, by and large, the people progressives are arguing with don’t exist.”
    Oh how I wish this were true, but sadly my experience both personal and professional speaks against this. Even with the substantial tax benefits that giving to charities provides, outside of giving to one’s own church (which I do not consider charity whatever the IRS says) is extraordinarily low. But by some incredible leap of logic if we cut programs and reduce taxes, reducing the tax benefits as well, people will suddenly give more? Why do people who can afford to shop elsewhere shop at Wal-mart even though Wal-mart’s predatory practices has put myriad small businesses out of business, pays their employees a paltry wage with little to no access to benefits? Because they can GET MORE at Wal-Mart. I remember the irony of an interview many years back with a woman whose spouse had lost his job when a major clothing manufacturer closed their plant. The interview took place in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where the woman was about to do some shopping?!

  • Surprise123

    I’d like more debate around empirical data purporting that religious people sacrifice more time, more energy, more money for NON-RELIGIOUS causes than non-religious people. Do religious people volunteer more at non-profits unrelated to their religion? Are they employed more at non-profits unrelated to their religion at wages lower than they might find in the for-profit sector? Also, I’d love to know how this so-called data about the sacrificial behavior of religious vs. religious people is collected. Is it collected via IRS reported charity donations? If so, what about people who don’t report their donations to non-profits? Is it collected through sociological surveys? If so, do those surveys accurately reflect reality, or just people’s misremembered view of how many hours and how much money they donate? Also, does the data also reflect online donations of time and knowledge to Wikipedia, and other websites meant simply to educate or inform the public?

  • ken33

    The government can’t pay for the health coverage, honestly Obama is just digging us into more debt. Our government needs to be cutting back spending, not adding to the trillions of dollars in the hole we already are.

  • arzona jack

    Cut back? Okay. Stop tax cuts for “job creators”who create nothing but more poverty with their lousey wages. Stop tax giveaways to oil companies. Stpo spending money on weapon systems even the military says they do not need. Stop sending billions to Israel,only to have them slap us in the face every chance they get

  • Truthmonger

    No corporation has control over ME… what is YOUR deal? Perhaps you should stop supporting any corporation you dislike by not spending your money on what the produce?? Hmmm…. there’s a thought!

  • Truthmonger

    If you are left “out” as you put it… how is that MY fault?? It is NOT. The entire problem with people and our society is we continue to have a system set up where people cannot succeed FREELY and we baby and coddle those that refuse to be accountable for their actions. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. PERIOD. If someone earns starvation and death then the odds are good that’s what will happen to them. Don’t demand that I bail them out because I earned what I have!

  • Truthmonger

    Yes… the money all right. PEOPLE like YOU taking MY money and giving it to those that neither earned it nor deserve it. END OF STORY. You are Communism 101 in motion and you don’t even know it.

  • Truthmonger

    That’s the problem with people who are not smart enough to think the facts through and look into the future… they do NOT rely on logic!

  • connorwood

    Truthmonger, you’ll need to edit your comment to remove all insults (“delusional”) and profanities (“get off my…”]), or I’ll have to delete it. See our comments policy (above). Thanks.

  • connorwood

    Truthmonger, I’ve had to delete your comment. Do not make ad hominem attacks or insults at Science On Religion. Thanks.

  • connorwood

    Truthmonger, I’ve had to delete your comment. Do not call other people “sheep” on Science On Religion. Thanks.

  • Truthmonger

    Using the word delusional is opinion and word choice… not an insult. “Get off my balls” needs to be stated to drive home the point. It’s your article… delete if you so choose but I’d expect free speech to be in favor and take priority rather than what is PC. If I had meant to seriously insult him, believe me, you would have already deleted it.

  • Truthmonger

    Yes… I knew it was coming. You sir… need to take a course on how to not be politically correct. Sheep MUST be called sheep… least they fail to recognize such. I call my kids a liar if that’s what they do to me… LIE. Pandering to the politically correct crowd in order to not hurt the so called feelings or sensibilities of anyone else is part of the entire problem we now have in America. Too many people are in fact SHEEP. The sooner they stop crying, get a spine and grow up the better. Don’t tell me this hasn’t crossed your mind at least once a week for the last decade. If it hasn’t? I would suggest you leave your office or home and get out into the real world.

  • JasonMankey

    So much of your rant is unsubstantiated nonsense. Since Obama has become President taxes for the vast majority of Americans have actually decreased.

    Again, I’m not sure you even understand Obamacare. You already pay for the uninsured. If someone goes to the hospital and can’t pay their bill what they can’t just doesn’t magically disappear. It’s picked up by taxpayers and others paying into the healthcare system. The idea behind the ACA is to get rid of the freeloaders.

    How has your freedom been compromised by the ACA? Unless you previously didn’t have healthcare (which would likely mean you are stealing the money that I pay into the system and in taxes) the only way the ACA could compromise your freedom would be by requiring you to purchase it. “Freedom” isn’t an abstract that means “anything Obama does is destroying my freedom.” For the word and concept to have meaning it can’t simply be an outrage word stuck into political discourse for no true reason. In a world where we have to buy car and home insurance, requiring health insurance seems reasonable.

    As a friend of mine once said “I survived Bush you will survive Obama.” It’s going to be the same way Truthmonger. I’m sorry for your anger, but the sky is not really falling.

  • connorwood

    I have seen more of the real world than most people should ever have to. And it’s taught me that being kind to people is the only way to go. I’m sorry you don’t agree, but you are not allowed to insult people here. Further transgression of this policy will get you banned permanently.


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