There are occasions when I hear such a ridiculous argument advanced that I feel compelled to speak up about it. Don’t get me wrong–both liberals and conservatives have their ideologues who simply push forth sophist litanies which do nothing to advance debate, but are specifically designed to obscure and misinform.
One such occasion was this evening, when Representative Paul Ryan, R-WIS, strode up to the podium on the floor the House, and proceeded to regurgitate a talking point by the Republican party and their apparatchiks in the Tea Party (note that not all of the Tea Party has been subverted by the GOP, just most of it–I am also amused by the formation of the anti-Tea Party, the Coffee Party). That point? Well, of course the watered down healthcare reform bill was evil, as it was an affront to the values of our founding fathers by virtue of it’s socialist nature: by providing government involvement in healthcare, you, in effect, threaten the free market ideals by which this nation was built.
Of course, that’s hogwash. To understand how ludicrous this assertion is, just sit back and think about what that line of thought asserts: that any involvement of the government into a market threatens those markets by taking over them–and we all know that the government is incompetent to run anything. Really? First of all, even our own markets aren’t free of the government…government oversight is a recognized necessity in order to enforce the ground rules (witness what happened with Enron when the government failed to do so, or even more sadly, the banking fiasco that lead to our current recession). The fact is, government plays a critical and necessary role in regulating systems and structures necessary to the daily functioning of our society. Imagine if government were NOT involved in our judicial system? What is the alternative? Have courts run by corporations? I think not.
Speaking of which, there’s one rather significant example of how the government can and does run something very competently–and it’s something the Republicans would be wise to consider: our nation’s defense. The military, my dear hyperbolic-fear-inducing friends, is the very definition of a government run agency. And, oh my, we are even TAXED to support this institution. Gods forbid. The US Military must foreshadow the imminent fall of this nation–and it’s ideals. Except, of course, that’s ludicrous. Is Washington arrogant in having the world’s pre-eminent military? Does Washington know better when it comes to the military? Well, it seems so. Back in the days of state militias, we did not have the world’s leading military, did we? In fact, ask anyone in the Pentagon if going back to a state militia force structure would be preferable to what we have today and you’d be greeted with disbelief (not to mention it would be in violation of the US Constitution).
The irony of it all? Well, our military hospitals are widely considered to be some of the best in the world. Walter Reed is the hospital of the President of the United States, afterall. In fact, after a disgraceful period in which VA Hospitals were considered subpar, they have experienced a remarkable turn around and are now regarded as some of the top hospitals in the nation. And guess what, my anti-Healthcare reform friends? They are government run.
All of this is not news to those who oppose this bill. In fact, they are acutely aware of it (as they are the same folks who typically support the Military-Defense industry). So, knowing this, one can only conclude that they are simply being, at the most generous, disingenuous, or more likely, purposefully misleading. Their greatest fear? That this bill will go into effect, and that Americans might realize that the bill is actually good for them and not good for the insurance and healthcare corporations which profit off the pain and sufferings of our fellow countrymen.