September 13, 2011

Tea Party Highlights

Did you watch the Tea Party GOP debate last night? I didn't even know it was going on, so imagine my surprise when I opened my blog roll to find more offensive things posted in the past few hours than I usually get in a week. I thought I'd share some highlights and try to figure out what they mean in terms of policy... One much-played clip from last night is this one, where Representative Ron Paul implies and the rest of the crowd frankly states that society should just let uninsured people die:


 Here's the quote:
Blitzer: Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy, 30-year-old man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, "You know what, I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it." Something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? 
Paul: In a society that you accept welfare-ism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of it. 
Blitzer: Well, what do you want? 
Paul: He should do whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would be have a major medical policy. But not forced— 
Blitzer: But he doesn't have that. And he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays? 
Paul: That's what freedom is all about. Taking your own risks.
I will give him props for being internally consistent with his vaguely distressing philosophy, though he shied away from actually saying we should let the man die. I guess my follow-up question to him would be that, if the government doesn't have a stake in its citizens welfare in the form of emergency medical care, what responsibility does it have to them? If people should be entirely responsible for themselves, should the government, say, help fund hospitals or medical research, as it does now? There's a lot of ways the government is indirectly involved in supporting people's health, from requiring nutrition labels on food to offering free flu vaccines to students, and that seems to be generally in line with the mandate in the Constitution that Congress "support the general welfare." But in Paul believes that people without insurance shouldn't receive any care, what does he think about the role of government in health more generally?

 Meanwhile, Rick Perry thinks we should "free up" Wall Street, even though a bipartisan committee concluded that doing so was what led to the financial crisis in 2008. I don't know much about finance, to be honest, or what it is Wall Street does except look at those numbers on the big screen and run around looking panicked. However, I've gathered from the past few years of economy implosion that it involves playing lots of high-stakes games with other people's money. So I gather that what Rick Perry wants to do is take away the rules to the game. Which is sort of like giving a bunch of 2-year-olds the board game Life and expecting them to play properly and not choke on the tiny plastic cars.

 And finally, Rick Santorum misspoke and said something about the "illegal" vote before correcting himself - he meant the "Latino" vote. My reaction to that was as follows: "Wow, what a douche."

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