Ross Douthat’s utopia exists, in Haiti

If only “the government” would get out of the way, then private charities could step in, step up, and fix all of our problems.

This is not a serious suggestion, but it’s a popular one, perennially put forward by people who insist we should take them seriously. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat offers a recent version of this in a recent column titled, tellingly, “Government and Its Rivals.”

“Rivals,” you see, because it’s a competition. If X helps a poor person, then no one else can. All responsibility is exclusive and competitive, etc.

The first and largest problem for Douthat and others arguing this is that the facts and numbers are easy to find and they all run counter to the theory. The scope of private charity is not adequate. Nor has it ever been.

Before Social Security, private charities worked hard to provide a small measure of economic security to a small percentage of America’s elderly poor. But the massive reduction in poverty among America’s elderly came about through Social Security, not through private charity. After the establishment of Social Security, of course, private charities have continued to assist the elderly and — contra Douthat — the existence of Social Security has leveraged their effectiveness, not diminished their efforts.

That’s the second problem for those calling for the total privatization of the public safety net — they are contradicted by the vast majority of those who are actually working in the very private charities they praise. From the top leadership to the foot soldiers in the trenches, the people who are doing the hard work of those private charities overwhelmingly wish to see more and more vigorous public support, not less, and certainly not none. They do not view themselves as “rivals” of the government.

This has also always been the case. (Of the many distortions in Marvin Olasky’s seminally dishonest The Tragedy of American Compassion, one of the worst was the way he surgically removed the voices of the 19th- and early-20th-century charitable workers he praises. For an antidote to Olasky’s influential revisionism, see Norris Magnuson’s Salvation in the Slums: Evangelical Social Work 1865-1920. Magnuson consults the same primary sources as Olasky, but actually quotes from them. The contrast is revealing.)

The third problem is more theoretical and abstract, resulting from a basic misunderstanding of subsidiarity that inverts and perverts its meaning. This is where Douthat goes off the rails, but, again, he is not the first or the only person to do so. Subsidiarity is based on solidarity and on the foundational idea of universal, mutual and complementary responsibility. The notion that public and private actors are, necessarily, “rivals” rejects the possibility of solidarity and mutual responsibility, twisting it into something competitive and exclusive. Helping the poor is not a zero-sum contest between public and private actors.

That distortion leads Douthat to confuse cause and effect. He imagines that “government” is usurping the role of civil society, when what is actually the case is that government, as the responsible agent of last resort, has been compelled to do more due to the abdication of responsibility on the part of a civil society increasingly shaped and weakened by a musical-chairs, Randian individualism that denies the universal responsibility of solidarity.

But my main point in response to Douthat’s confused talk of “rivalry” is to point out again the fourth problem for him and for everyone who embraces this theory that privatized charity would thrive and succeed if only it were freed from government interference and government “competition.”

We needn’t discuss that idea as a mere theory. It has been tried and implemented for decades in an experiment that is national in scope. The results are evident for all to see, to measure and to contemplate.

This is how Haiti works. If you wish to see a world in which thousands of vibrant private charities are hard at work with no government interference, support or competition, then just look at Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

The utopia that Ross Douthat dreams of has been made real in Haiti. The blueprint he sketches has been built there in a nation mostly ungoverned save by the work of NGOs. Look there and you will see what Ross Douthat wishes for America.

See also: Booman Tribune: “Romney’s Giant Blunder,” which takes a more cynical view of the idea of a “rivalry” between public and private assistance to the vulnerable.

Added: And also Natalie Burris on “Should Government Promote Family Values? Whose Family Values?“:

Many Republicans and Christians claim the church, rather than government, should be the one to help the poor. These folks argue that government should stay out of providing social services, and don’t want to see their tax dollars used for such purposes. But when it comes to “values,” many conservatives do not have a problem with government promoting a certain family model using millions of dollars in federal funds.

Which one is it? If you want government to stay out of the church’s role in caring for the poor, wouldn’t you also want government to step aside so the church can foster healthy relationships, including marriage and fatherhood?

 

  • Anonymous

    You make an excellent point about Haiti which I will be using with the other nincompoops who insist that the government is always standing in the way of real progress on every issue, including serving the poor.

    I worked at a charity that distributed food to the elderly and for a lot of those folks that food made a huge difference for them every month. Some of the clients had to make desperate choices between buying groceries and paying for their prescriptions, (don’t get me started on the Medicare donut hole) or even their rent. Their social security check did not go far enough so the organization I worked for picked up the slack, at least as far as food was concerned.

    Hull House in Chicago is closing its doors after serving the poor for one hundred years due to lack of funding. Since he seems to think that charities will just magically take care of every social problem, what does Douthat suggest that the poor do when institutions they relied on no longer exist?
     

  • Albanaeon

    Don’t you know?  Those people in Haiti *obviously* couldn’t get libertopia to work, because they are bla… errr blah people.  Here in America we’ve got millenia of experience with real liberty and could easily handle the freedom that other people not as “advanced” as us could never understand.

    /pure sarcasm… at least on my part.  Some other people I know would be perfect serious and really think they aren’t being obviously and ridiculously racist.

  • Anonymous

    The part that stuns me, after a moment’s reflection, is that the second half of Douthat’s article disproves the first. He postulates that, in the absence of government intervention, private services will step in and provide the necessary services. Then he goes on to describe a situation where the private services don’t *want* to provide a necessary service (contraception), and he denounces the government for forcing them to offer them anyway.

    Which leads to a problem that Douthat fails to address: even if private sources do fill in for services not provided by the government, they can discriminate in ways that the government can’t. But, since Douthat, as far as he is concerned, will never have to rely upon charity, he doesn’t have to worry about those sorts of issues.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    From across the Atlantic, I watched the perfect storm build up around Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood – both of which have parallels over here, but neither of which provide core services. And it occurred to me very forcibly that this kind of time-wasting and destructive fighting is exactly what the Tories will leave us open to if they succeed in taking our NHS away.

    I work in the third sector. I’m very aware of how much infighting can go on between charities ostensibly on the same side. The last thing we want is an unsystematic system like that running something as important as healthcare. *clings to the NHS*

  • Lori

     
    The utopia that Ross Douthat dreams of has been made real in Haiti. The blueprint he sketches has been built there in a nation mostly ungoverned save by the work of NGOs. Look there and you will see what Ross Douthat wishes for America.  

    You are missing an important, though rarely explicitly stated, part of the thinking of people like Douthat—what has happened to Haiti (or Somalia) would never happen in America because we’re not like Those People. What has created suffering and horror there would create paradise here because unlike us, Those People are, ya know [nudge, nudge, wink, wink]. It’s not anything racist and don’t you dare suggest that it is. It’s just obvious that Those People are, unlike us, barely civilized and just can’t handle freedom. Their failures have no bearing on a discussion of policy in the US. 

    Having written that I now need to go take another shower. Or get a drink. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Canadian here *waves to EdinburghEye*

    You seem to have it worse than we do when it comes to right-wing governments trying to chip at the national health program. The very fact that the Canadian federal government only provides the money and the ground rules and that the health system is provincially administered is probably what is putting sand in the wheels of the attempts by right-wing governments here to weaken Medicare, since if (for example) Alberta wanted to make drastic changes the likelihood would be that due to reciprocal provincial health agreements Albertans would just start coming to BC or Saskatchewan to get access to insured services not covered in Alberta, which would cause a huge fuss interprovincially.

    So, from a fellow Commonwealthian, here’s the best of luck to keeping your health care the way it should be: single-payer and free from idiotic attempts to “improve” it in the name of ideological purity.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, but Fred, you clearly don’t understand that whatever poverty remains in a given society after private charity does its work is that society’s natural level of poverty. It’s all part of the Esoteric Order of the Dollar’s axiomatic feedback loop.

    Axiom 1 states that Private Anything is better than Public Everything; therefore, whatever state the world finds itself in after everything has been privatized, however bad, is by definition “better,” and any concrete examples of badness can simply be explained away by either minimizing the badness or preferably, by claiming that the Bad is actually a Good.

    For instance, the limitations faced by private charities in Haiti, far from being a tragedy because of the millions left to rot, will make them be more selective if who they help and how, and thus ensure that only the Truly Deserving Needy receive aid. See how through the Magic of the Market I have transmuted the Bad that is mass poverty into the Good that is punishing the parasites for their poor life choices?

    This logic works on everything. For instance, if we privatized* all public schools in the U.S., any students denied admission or expelled from those schools for any reason are definitionally ineducable, and the Bad that is being a high school dropout is now the Good of becoming a low-wage laborer. And if such students should find themselves in a soft labor market and turn to crime, then they’ll be arrested, imprisoned, and put to work anyway — in taxpayer-funded, privately profitable prisons, natch.

    *That is, hand control over to private hands. Tax dollars will still flow from the state, into the school, and up into management’s pockets. Remember, if you pay legislators to call it a “voucher,” it’s no longer a hand-out — it’s Free Enterprise.

  • Daughter

    The problem is, that very situation has, does and will happen again with white people in America.

    I remember reading Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God many years ago, a “Conservative Book of the Month Club” selection, chronicling his journey from being an atheist and co-founder of NARAL, to being a pro-life Catholic.

    What I found very interesting was Nathanson’s father’s story. He was one of 10 children in a family in which the father died from scarlet fever around the turn of the 20th century. His poor widowed mother got some charitable help, but not enough to support her family, so she had to parcel out the kids to relatives. According to Nathanson, bitterness about the breakup of his family  and the dearth of charitable support they received led Nathanson’s father to hate God and religion and to support abortion as a way to prevent women like his mother from having so many kids; he would go on to teach these values to his son.

    As I read the book, I kept wondering how many Conservative book of the month readers would pick up on the fact that in an era before the social safety net, charity was insufficient, and the lack thereof pushed a man to adopt values they claim to abhor.

  • Anonymous

    But, per my earlier comment, since private is always better, if private charities don’t want to provide Service X, then the Market has decided that Service X is not Good, no matter how many people could have been helped. QED.

  • Anonymous

    Since he seems to think that charities will just magically take care of every social problem, what does Douthat suggest that the poor do when institutions they relied on no longer exist?

    Go off quietly and die so they won’t bother their betters.

    I think I’ll be joining Lori in getting that drink now.

  • Anonymous

    Ross Douthat

    That guy.  That fucking guy.  Goddamn it.

  • Daughter

    I have worked in charitable fundraising, and what Fred said about charities appreciating government involvement and wishing for more is so true. Not to mention, government funding for programs often goes directly to nonprofits. The government may fund, say, Head Start programs, but they often do so by giving the money directly to locally-run nonprofits to operate.This is significant for two reasons: 1) the criticism of gov’t funding as unresponsive to local needs and issues is untrue, since independent, on-the-ground agenices are often running gov’t funded programs; and 2) many local charities would go out of business without gov’t funding.

    I have also blogged about the false idea that charity can replace gov’t funding, based on my knowledge of the challenges of fundraising. Basically, people like to give to: 1) urgent needs that have an immediate solution (for example, rescue, clothe or feed people who’ve been struck by a natural disaster); 2) issues that directly affect them (one of the reasons for Komen’s previous popularity: many people have known someone affected by breast cancer); and 3) issues with very appealing victims, which is why charities helping children and animals are very popular.

    Those motives are natural and understandable, but the problem is, many community needs don’t fit them so readily.  Many needs (e.g., poverty) are ongoing and have complex causes that are not easily solvable. Some needs don’t affect enough people to generate popular support (e.g., prisoner re-entry). Others have less than appealing victims (e.g., mental illness). That’s why it’s absolutely essential that there be governmental commitment to these issues; otherwise, they might rarely or never be addressed.

  • Robert McClellan

     

    Ross Douthat’s utopia:

    OVER THE HILL TO THE POOR HOUSE

    By Will Carleton

    Over the hill to the poor-house—I can’t quite make it clear!
    Over the hill to the poor-house—it seems so horrid queer!
    Many a step I’ve taken a-toilin’ to and fro,
    But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.

    What is the use of heapin’ on me a pauper’s shame?
    Am I lazy or crazy? Am I blind or lame?
    True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout:
    But charity ain’t no favor, if one can live without.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Albanaeon:

    Don’t you know?  Those people in Haiti *obviously* couldn’t get libertopia to work, because they are bla… errr blah people.

    Lori:

    You are missing an important, though rarely explicitly stated, part of the thinking of people like Douthat—what has happened to Haiti (or Somalia) would never happen in America because we’re not like Those People. What has created suffering and horror there would create paradise here because unlike us, Those People are, ya know [nudge, nudge, wink, wink].

    Yes. I saw numerous conservative columnists saying exactly this in the wake of the earthquake. The most common phrase they used was “culture of poverty.” Haiti is such an economic disaster, you see, because they have a “culture of poverty.” Their culture just happens to be one where people enjoy sitting around in abject poverty, you see. So there’s no sense feeling bad for them or trying to help them or suggesting that maybe top-down corruption and cronyism isn’t the best way to run a government. It’s the same culture of poverty they have in American ghettos, which is why we shouldn’t bother with food stamps, you see. But it’s sheer coincidence that all the groups I, the conservative columnist, accuse of having a “culture of poverty” are largely black, of course.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    In addition, there are plenty of charities whose work, in part or whole, involves helping people apply for and gain access to government services. Contrary to conservative fantasy, welfare doesn’t involve government trucks driving through low-income neighborhoods tossing free money at everyone. It’s difficult enough for my middle-class ass to get to the post office or DMV when I need to. For a lower-class person, who may be working multiple jobs*, and may or may not have a car, and likely has kids who can’t exactly be put up in a ritzy daycare, trying to access government services can be an enormous hassle. And applying for food stamps or other forms of welfare is way harder and more complicated than going to the post office or DMV.

    That’s an issue that the government should address, if only we had the political will to do so. But it also demonstrates the interrelationship between private charity and government. Government picks up where private charity is inadequate, and private charity picks up where government is inadequate. These realities are more complex than conservatives tend to be able to grasp.

    *Not that a lower-class person working one job is likely to be spending the rest of their time sitting around eating Cheetos.

  • Anonymous

    Which one is it? If you want government to stay out of the church’s role in caring for the poor, wouldn’t you also want government to step aside so the church can foster healthy relationships, including marriage and fatherhood?

    This would be more interesting if Natalie Burris was pointing out an instance where Republicans were consistent in their principles.

  • Anonymous

    But, since Douthat, as far as he is concerned, will never have to rely
    upon charity, he doesn’t have to worry about those sorts of issues.

    Bingo. That’s one of the critical problems with a lot of these social justice issues. For Douthat, and Romney, and Paul, and virtually all of our other politicians, they will never have to actually to deal with the implications of their ideas personally. They talk about abortion and dominionism and poverty and welfare and how we should do it this way or that way but to them it’s all theoretical, like solving a Rubix cube or playing Sim City. If they get it right, that’s great. If not, who cares? It’s not like they’re going to have to deal with the repercussions, right?

    (A little while ago, Fred posted a link about the welfare drug-testing bill that was withdrawn a little while ago because it was also to be applied to legislators. It’s easy to sit at home and say, “Well, this is a good idea because it keeps our money from being given to drug addicts”. After all, you don’t have to actually think about how it would feel to have your privacy trampled on by the state on a set timetable like that.)

    I wish there was a way to replicate that effect in other ways. Try to make politicians think about the impact of their policies not just from their own perspective (will this get me elected? will it get my donors to like me more?) from the perspective of the people they are affecting.

  • Dmoore970

    On this issue I always raise the comment made by some rabbi, that charity has two purposes, to provide for the poor and to teach us to be generous.  Christians and Jews both recognize both purposes, but Jew focus more on providing for the poor and Christians focus more on teaching us to be generous.

    A lot of conservatives and libertarians I read seem to have left providing for the poor out of the equation altogether and think that charity is solely about teaching us to be generous.  I think part of what is needed is to get providing for the poor back into the picture at all.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    For Douthat, and Romney, and Paul, and virtually all of our other politicians, they will never have to actually to deal with the implications of their ideas personally.

    Reminds me of a point often made about John McCain back in the 2008 campaign: John McCain has been the beneficiary of government-provided healthcare for essentially his entire adult life. He entered the Naval Academy at age 18, served in the Navy until he was 45, and at age 47 he entered Congress, which he’s been a member of with no break up to the present day. In the Navy and in Congress he had healthcare provided to him, free of charge, by the US Government.

    McCain has no idea what it’s like to have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your medications or a necessary surgery, and he has no idea what it’s like to have no contingency if you fall ill or get in an accident. And yet he felt pretty comfortable standing up in front of the nation, in front of millions of people who live with that every day, and denouncing the follies of government healthcare. Because no matter how much he tears apart any effort at government-provided healthcare, he’s not going to lose his.

  • Daughter

    There is the Walk a Mile Project, which pairs state legislators with welfare recipients for a month. The legislators learn about the difficulties of living on the limited funds that welfare provides and other challenges of pulling oneself out of that situation, and welfare recipients learn about some of the difficulties in trying to make decisions regarding public policy. I’m not sure if the program is still active.

  • Anonymous

    I have nothing constructive to add, so I’ll just note that I always read his name at first glance at Ross Douchehat. Fitting really.

  • rizzo

    I was arguing with a guy a few weeks ago who thought the whole country could subsist on a network of charity hospitals.  He thought that since there were charity hospitals in the 19th century(he thought they covered the whole country somehow), that such a system would work today.  That man was an idiot.

  • Anonymous

    That’s reminiscent of the reviews I’ve read of Charles Murray’s recent book (him of _The Bell Curve_ fame), in which he asserts (apparently) that the decline of blue collar prosperity is largely due to moral problems.

    That’s fine: debatable, but it’s a factual claim.

    The real problem is his solution — presented in a recent editorial he wrote for the WSJ (does NOT appear to be behind a paywall). The rich — he argues — should “spontaneously, voluntarily” leave their enclaves and integrate with the rest of the US so that they can spread their superior morals. What would possibly motivate the rich to do so? Well, there are all these experiences they’re missing out on by not interacting with the rest of the population.

    Nothing else: no moral argument, no argument from patriotism. Just the idea that one might increase one’s children’s experiences by exposing them to people they might otherwise not encounter.

  • Anonymous

    McCain has no idea what it’s like to have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your medications or a necessary surgery, and he has no idea what it’s like to have no contingency if you fall ill or get in an accident.

    As a twenty-something, I think that creating Medicare may have been a massive mistake. And that’s because of the above problem: most elderly people have no idea what it’s like to worry about health insurance. Medicare, for all its flaws, guarantees a lot of coverage — and so they have the luxury of arguing against universal health care. I think that, had we not created Medicare, we’d almost certainly have universal health coverage by now.

  • Daughter

    That reminds me of the words of Shane Clairborne (one of the “New Monastics”) toward Christians who shirk helping the poor by citing Jesus’ words, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them whenever you want.”

    Clairborne says, “That presumes the poor are actually with you. Are they? Are they your friends and neighbors? Do you have them into your homes? Because if they were, you would help them–your heart would move you to do so.”

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    The rich — he argues — should “spontaneously, voluntarily” leave their enclaves and integrate with the rest of the US

    No fucking thank you. You can live in your damn enclaves all day long. The day you grow up and pay a reasonable rate of taxes, and there isn’t anybody starving in the streets, I won’t even begrudge you for it.

    And that’s because of the above problem: most elderly people have no idea what it’s like to worry about health insurance.

    Well, McCain is a particularly egregious example. Many elderly people did and do know what it’s like to have to worry about such things. But certainly growing up without such concerns is a luxury that far more Baby Boomers experienced than young folks today. And the mindset you’re describing – “I got mine, fuck those damn kids” – is certainly a large part of the reason for that.

  • Lori

     
    The problem is, that very situation has, does and will happen again with white people in America.   

     

    But that’s un-possible. 

    The thing that consistently irritates me the most about smug internet Libertarians is that I’ve never met one who seemed to have any accurate understanding of history. They all act like their ideas have never been tried before. In fact, I’ve had many of them say it straight out. The ideas would work, and they could prove it if people would just try them. The problem being that none of those internet Libertarians was actually suggesting anything new. It’s all stuff that has happened before, with results so lousy that people formed government programs to do something about it.

  • Daughter

    Sorry, I’m very skeptical of the claim, “If only we hadn’t done something good for some people and just let everything get worse and worse for everyone, then people would have risen up and created the change everyone needs.”

    It’s not that I don’t think there aren’t ugly unintended consequences of partial measures. Consider how many white people don’t recognize the white privilege they have as a result of their parents and grandparents being able to benefit from New Deal policies that systematically excluded blacks until the 1960s. But I don’t think, “Let everyone suffer in the meantime” is good policy, nor do I think that, “if everyone suffers, they’ll all unify to do what’s good for everyone” is realistic.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I’m very skeptical of the claim, “If only we hadn’t done something good for some people and just let everything get worse and worse for everyone, then people would have risen up and created the change everyone needs.” 

    The exact claim is, we did something for a selective group of people who:

    (1) have far more spare time than the average person,
    (2) are more politically involved and more likely to vote, and
    (3) never leave that group.

    In other words, we gave guaranteed health insurance to a group of people who have no risk of losing it and, in fact, have actively fought against extending it to everyone else. It’s not that “we should have let things get worse and worse,” it’s that we shouldn’t have given it to the group of people most likely to be disinclined to extend that benefit to everyone else.

  • Lori

     
    Reminds me of a point often made about John McCain back in the 2008 campaign: John McCain has been the beneficiary of government-provided healthcare for essentially his entire adult life. He entered the Naval Academy at age 18, served in the Navy until he was 45, and at age 47 he entered Congress, which he’s been a member of with no break up to the present day. In the Navy and in Congress he had healthcare provided to him, free of charge, by the US Government. 

     

    Don’t forget the years before McCain turned 18. As the dependent of a career Navy officer he had government healthcare literally from conception. His grandfather was also career Navy, so John was at least the 2nd generation to have lifelong government healthcare. He simply has no real frame of reference for what it’s like to have no option but to deal with the vagaries of private healthcare in the US. 

    I’m sure that he uses the private system (the 2nd Mrs McCain’s money doesn’t just buy too many houses to count). However, if all that lovely money disappeared tomorrow he’d still never have to scramble for private care for his many pre-existing conditions the way the rest of the plebs do. IOW, when it comes to complaining about government healthcare he really, really needs to STFU unless he’s advocating allowing other people access to the kind of take-it-as-a-given care that at least 3 generations of his family have enjoyed. 

  • Lori

     
    The rich — he argues — should “spontaneously, voluntarily” leave their enclaves and integrate with the rest of the US so that they can spread their superior morals.  

     

    You’d think he’s never met any rich folks. I have. Some of them are quite wonderful. Others are scum with no morals whatsoever. The amount of money they have really isn’t related to how good they are. The rich are like people that way.

  • Daughter

    But it’s possible that that’s an outcome that couldn’t have been predicted. Before Social Security, seniors had the highest poverty rates in the U.S.; today, it’s children. Before Medicare, seniors had the worst health care, because insurers didn’t want to cover them. Which means that a lot of them probably didn’t live long after retirement, and weren’t as powerful a voting block as they were today. Since no one had a crystal ball to see how this would play out, someone promoting Medicare at the time of its enactment might have thought that seniors would be so grateful they’d want to extend it to everyone. (And perhaps seniors of the time were. It’s today’s seniors who take it for granted).

    But my other point still stands: should we have consigned seniors to continue to have the worst poverty rates and health care in the country, even if we had known?

  • Anonymous

    But the rich are different than you and me!

  • Anonymous

    But my other point still stands: should we have consigned seniors to continue to have the worst poverty rates and health care in the country, even if we had known?

    No. But the first people we should have extended it to shouldn’t have been seniors: it should have been children.

    Because, once you’ve grown up with something, it’s a natural extension to expect it when you’re an adult. If you’re given something at a certain age, however, you start to think you earned it.

  • PurpleGirl

     Actually McCain had been the beneficiary of government health care HIS WHOLE LIFE. Remember he was born while his father was still in active Naval service; he went from being a dependent covered by father’s service to being in the Naval Academy and then his own years of active duty. When he retired from the Navy, he had access to the VA system for the short time before he became a senator. He’s had government provide health care literally from his cradle to his expected grave.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The irony of it all is that LBJ figured he could push Medicare for seniors, and then use that as a beachhead to expand it to the rest of the population.

    Also, Ross Asshat, am I right? :P

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The irony of it all is that LBJ figured he could push Medicare for seniors, and then use that as a beachhead to expand it to the rest of the population.

    Also, Ross Asshat, am I right? :P

  • Daughter

    We did extend it to children (poor children, at least); Medicaid was enacted at the same time as Medicare. There was likely a consensus that most middle class families already had health insurance (since unions were stronger) and thus could meet their children’s health care needs. Again, I’m not sure people could have predicted that health care costs would skyrocket as much as they have, or that unions would be torn down the way they have, or that lack of health care would become an issue for working, middle class families.

  • Tricksterson

    Being a former drinker of the Objectivist Kool-Aid the basic idea is that if you can’t save yourself and can’t persuade anyone to help you then what happens to you doesn’t matter.  If you die, you die.

  • Tricksterson

    If that happens i wonder how many Scots will change their vote to the SNP?

  • Anonymous

    We did extend it to children (poor children, at least); Medicaid was enacted at the same time as Medicare.

    But that’s the problem. Social Security was explicitly designed (IIRC) to not have a wage cap, because if it did, the wealthy would get no benefit from it.

    And I’m not arguing that there were plenty of factors the people alive back then couldn’t predict — what I’m arguing is that in hindsight, what the government did was a massive mistake, because it set up the disaster we have today.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, they have more money.

    Hemingway to your Fitzgerald.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     

    Fred posted a link about the welfare drug-testing bill that was
    withdrawn a little while ago because it was also to be applied to
    legislators. It’s easy to sit at home and say, “Well, this is a good
    idea because it keeps our money from being given to drug addicts”. After
    all, you don’t have to actually think about how it would feel to have
    your privacy trampled on by the state on a set timetable like that.

    Most Republicans would be DELIGHTED to hand over their urine.  It’s their sacred duty in St. Ronnie’s Jihad Against Some Drugs and All Hippies.  :-P

  • http://victor-undergo.blogspot.com/ Victor

    Hey Fred, “IT” has been awhile since “I” commented here so “I” will start off by saying that I agree with you when you say that this is how Haiti works. If you wish to see a world in which thousands of vibrant private charities are hard at work with no government interference, support or competition, then just look at Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
     
    “I” also agree when you say that the utopia that Doingthat, “I” mean Dothat or is “IT” Dewthat? Anyway! Well that dream has been made real in Haiti. The blueprint sketches there has been built in a nation mostly ungoverned save by the work of  this guy they call “Jesus” and His imaginary angel CELLS but we’re going to change all of that! Right Fred?
     
    Listen Fred! Some of our cells have been following ya for quiet a while NOW and know that this is just a front to Under mind U>S minorities and ask yourself, Should Government Promote Family Values? Whose Family Values?  As we’ve also seen with welfare’s history, marriage promotion programs are merely a more explicit form of imposing a white normative view of the “traditional” family: a married heterosexual couple with biological children, without any regard to economic and racial factors. One marriage program went so far as to refuse benefits if the wife’s children were not biologically the husband’s.7
     
    I wish “I” could spend more “Time” here but most of Victor’s 7% cells won’t go alone with U>S cause he says that others have less than appealing victims (e.g., mental illness) so that’s why it’s absolutely essential that there be governmental commitment to these issues; otherwise, they might rarely or never be addressed if you get my drift? 
     
    At this time the alien gods are not prepared to give “IT” a spiritual Arm if you know what “I” mean? We honestly tried Fred, we said, Level with U>S Victor, what’s wrong with comments like,  That guy. That fucking guy. Goddamn it.
     
    “I” really did tell him that there was nothing wrong with “IT” Victor!  What’s more, what’s  wrong with ‘evil and let evil’ be but wouldn’t you know “IT” Fred, this so called wholy her than thou Victor, NOW has an answer for every ions and  tells U>S (usual sinners) that we have lived backward long enough and we should not ‘live and let live’ backward any longer so in other words, U>S should not Douthat and between you and the rest of our cells, I mean, these 93% cells that we still own of this body are Fed UP with this Victor and we should put him Under before his imaginary 7% “Jesus cells” get wise to U>S if you know what “I” mean?
     
    High sinner vic! You’re not trying to high Jack Fred’s post are ya if ya know what’s “Good” for ya sinner vic?
     
    OH NO Victor! “I” would never do that and as a matter of fact we were just telling Fred and his readers how you’re always Under the gun and how you’re so Under paid if you know what “I” mean?
     
    Me, myself and i think that my soul and spirit have an idea of “IT” but having written all of this, I also think that “I” now need to go take another shower. Or get a drink. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right sinner vic?
     
    If you don’t mind Victor, I think I’ll be joining  ya in getting that drink NOW!
     
    Hey sinner vic! The last “Time” me, myself and i checked, “IT” was still a free country.  http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2012/02/archbishop-broglio-and-the-resulting-imbroglio/#comments
     
    Go Figure! :)
     
    Peace
     
    SHALOM

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The rich — he argues — should “spontaneously, voluntarily” leave their
    enclaves and integrate with the rest of the US so that they can spread
    their superior morals. What would possibly motivate the rich to do so?
    Well, there are all these experiences they’re missing out on by not
    interacting with the rest of the population.

    He’s trying to bring back recreational slumming? 

    What’s next, will he be claiming the touch of a CEO can cure scrofula?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The rich — he argues — should “spontaneously, voluntarily” leave their
    enclaves and integrate with the rest of the US so that they can spread
    their superior morals. What would possibly motivate the rich to do so?
    Well, there are all these experiences they’re missing out on by not
    interacting with the rest of the population.

    He’s trying to bring back recreational slumming? 

    What’s next, will he be claiming the touch of a CEO can cure scrofula?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that’s the inevitable retort.

    The ridiculous part is, the textbook I had for a class that covered Fitzgerald portrayed Fitzgerald’s belief that the rich were genuinely different as some sort of tragedy.

    In the light of modern events, it seems more delusional than heartbreaking. And, I suspect, people would have thought the exact same thing during the Great Depression.

  • Anonymous

    WTF?

  • Lori

     
    But the rich are different than you and me!  

    I love Fitzgerald as much as the next person, probably more, actually. He was wrong about that though, sort of like Tolstoy on happy vs unhappy families. Great lines in books, poor representation of reality. 

    As an aside, this is at least the 4th time in the last week or so that Gatsby has come up in conversation. I think that may be a sign that it’s time for a re-read. 

  • Anonymous

    He’s trying to bring back recreational slumming?

    Oh, no, it’s supposed to *benefit* the *children* of the rich. (He also — seriously — suggests that rich people sell their children on the benefits of taking jobs that require manual labor. Or go into the military. [1])

    [1] This is the most ridiculous part of the entire article, IMHO. Given the modern distribution of wealth in the US, I’d definitely do my best to ensure my children get as many chances to get ahead as they can. I have no reason to believe that any other decent parent — wealthy or poor — would do otherwise. Sacrificing my own comfort is one thing, but sacrificing my children’s future by suggesting they go into working-class jobs or jobs that could easily kill them?


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