Obamacare - Healthcare

Healthcare – Why Must We Always Straw-Man The Other Side?

When it comes to having an honest discussion about a seriously important topic, especially health care, it’s pretty much inevitable that neither side will listen to the other, and will resort to ad hominem attacks and straw men.

Healthcare and Straw Manning The Other Side

Two days ago, on Wednesday, the state of Virginia agreed to implement a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and as a result, nearly 400,000 people will get healthcare. According to Paul Krugman in his essay for the New York Times, Virginians clearly support the expansion of Medicaid.

Last year, Virginians voted for Ralph Northam, a Democrat, to be the governor of the state, and his campaign revolved around healthcare.

Paul Krugman and Healthcare

Krugman states that the “will of the people” on health care is obvious. However, Republicans this year are looking for ways to abolish the Affordable Care Act, as per usual.

So, why do Republicans want to repeal the ACA when for the Democratic Party, it’s a winning issue for them? In Krugman’s opinion, the Republicans are going after the health-care act because they either have to end it now or never.

He believes that once people vote in the ACA, they’ll realize how wonderful it is to have health care, and then they’ll never be able to repeal it.

It’s A Lot Easier To Demonize Something Before Its Implementation Than After

When looking at history, generally, before we expand the influence of the government, particularly the social safety net, everyone attacks it and demonizes it using all sorts of reasoning.

Some people state more government intervention will destroy rights and freedoms, be too expensive, and cause all kinds of disasters within the United States’ system.

And it’s a common argument for people who are left-of-center to believe that racial resentment is part of the reason why conservatives oppose government programs, even though it probably plays a much smaller role if it’s even an explanation at all.

However, it’s true that the expansion of social security benefits is something that people get used to, and it ingrains itself into the fabric of life so much so that people don’t want it repealed.

Once the government implements the change, everyone realizes that it won’t destroy the economy or whatever else they claim it will do. When Franklin Roosevelt created the Social Security Act, he said that he “welcomed” Republican hatred.

And back in 2005, George W Bush tried to privatize it but it didn’t end up working. He learned that it’s extremely hard to privatize and change things when they’ve been in practice for so long and people realize they’re not that bad.

It’s The Same Old Story Over And Over Again

And it’s the same story over and over again. Whenever we try and implement changes, people worry that it will crash the system, lead to high prices, and so on and so forth.

However, rather than demonizing people who are genuinely worried about the future, it’s better to understand their concerns.

Conservatives Are Cautious About Changes Because Experience and Time Often Validates Traditions And Norms

Traditions and norms are often validated across time. Or, in other words, with experience, we understand that something may be good or bad.

For instance – and this is totally unrelated to economic problems but is merely an example to illustrate a point – civilizations in the past, including the Spaniards, the Ottomans, the Romans, and the Iberians, used to have homosexual relations with young kids and that was considered to be the norm.

India - Healthcare

But as time went on, society began to realize that it isn’t a good idea for such a thing to happen, because children are actually vulnerable in the first 20-years of their life.

The average child’s brain doesn’t even stop developing until they’re around their mid-twenties and possibly into their thirties.

For these reasons, among many others, experience and knowledge across time validated the idea that it’s actually not good to have sexual relationships with people who aren’t mature enough to handle them yet.

This historical example is meant to illustrate the fact that conservatives are typically more cautious about changing the system, not because of “racism, sexism, xenophobia,” or whatever ad hominem attack you can throw at them, but because history and experience validate institutions and traditions as useful for society across time.

Sometimes Gradual Rather Than Sudden Changes Are Better

Conservatives are typically far more careful about changing the system. They understand that it’s better to make gradual changes, rather than sudden irreversible changes that may be for the worse.

When the government pushed for Medicare, it went through a similar phase. Ronald Reagan decried it as “socialism” and that it would “invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country.”

Today, nearly everyone supports Medicare. And many people in the United States now believe that the American government has a responsibility to give its citizens health care according to Pew Research.

Attack The Other Side’s Argument’s Rather Than The Caricature Of It

Either way, people on the opposing side of the political spectrum always like to strawman the other side for the sake of making them look stupid and calling the integrity of their views into question.

Many conservatives just don’t like being told what to do by a government entity outside of their control. They’re not interested in having government bureaucrats take their income, and then decide what to do with it.

Conservatives believe that people should be allowed to do what they want with their money and purchase health care in the free market, rather than have bureaucrats decide for them.

And conservatives believe there are often very real and negative consequences of government programs.

High Prices Of The Affordable Care Act

According to TownHall, insurance premiums can only be cheaper if every healthy and young American participates in the Affordable Care Act.

“The community rating provision of Obamacare means that the government will force young people to pay significantly higher premiums under the ACA than they would under an actuarially based insurance system.”

And, most young adults only need to have catastrophic insurance, whereas the ACA asks for comprehensive and therefore more expensive coverage. Reportedly, young people pay more for health care under Obamacare as a result of this.

The problem is that insurance companies require applicants to have the same premium prices regardless of any preexisting medical conditions.

Because young people will only buy the premiums unless they’re sick, that means that for the most part, the primary purchasers of premiums will be the elderly and sick. So the price of premiums will increase.

And when the premiums for older and sick people increase, they have less incentive to purchase them, and then on and on the cycle goes until the insurance companies go bankrupt because no one is buying the inflated and expensive premiums.

Price Controls Often Don’t Work

Also, the Affordable Care Act imposes price controls to reduce costs, and government mandated prices don’t have a good track record historically.

Soviet - Healthcare

Price controls like what happens in socialist and communist societies typically lead to black markets and corruption.

The attempt to control prices in food, housing, and other industries in the United States, often fail and produce unintended consequences.

There is also the issue with the economy. Gov’t regulations like the ACA disincentivize corporations and businesses to expand their business beyond 49 employees because they then have to purchase a health insurance policy for the entire business.

Once the business has over fifty employees, they need a policy, so, therefore, businesses won’t be as interested in expanding their company. Not as many jobs are available then because of expensive health care costs.

Gov’t Programs Incentivize Businesses To Hire Part-Time Rather Than Full-Time Workers

Another problem with it is that government regulations often incentivize businesses to hire part-time workers rather than full-time workers.

And the reasoning for that is, full-time employees need health insurance by law, whereas part-time employees don’t.

What ends up happening is that a business simply hires a bunch of people for part-time employment, because they don’t have to pay for a health insurance policy. And this part of the reason why so many businesses only have part-time workers these days.

It’s because the business is trying to avoid hiring as many full-time workers as possible. It costs them too much money to pay for a health insurance policy. And individuals then have to have 3 part-time jobs, where they still don’t get coverage, because they’re not full-time at any of them.

Have An Honest Discussion

For some, it will simply be cheaper to pay the fine. the company will make up for the cost by increasing the price for their service or commodity. And if it has to come out of the profit, the business won’t have enough money to expand the company.

Nevertheless, it seems like it’s a part of human nature to not have honest discussions about problems.

Because of the person’s desire to not look stupid, and because of their desire to want to appear smarter than the other, they straw-man the other person’s claims, for the sake of making themselves look good.

There’s a classic quote from JA Schumpeter, which goes, roughly, “We don’t fight for or against the arguments and beliefs made by others, but for the caricatures of their arguments and beliefs.”

image sources

  • Paul Krugman and Healthcare: TownHallFinance.com
  • India – Healthcare: Pinterest.com
  • Soviet – Healthcare: rs-svu.org
  • Obamacare – Healthcare: TheHuffingtonPost.com

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