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Jul 03 2012

Everything is the Death of Freedom

Perhaps the most ubiquitous argument coming out of the right wing in response to the Supreme Court upholding the insurance mandate goes something like this: If the government can force us to buy health insurance, they can force us to do anything! Freedom is dead! Bruce Bartlett offers an obvious response on his Facebook page:

A government with the power to force us to buy health insurance can also force restaurants to serve black people.

And in fact, hasn’t this been the standard argument all along? There is a long history of this kind of right wing hysteria, going way, way back. The same argument was made against social security and medicare — if the government can force us to pay a tax to provide for retirement and health care, they can force us to do anything. The rhetoric was absolutely identical to the rhetoric used by conservatives and Tea Partiers today. To hear them tell it, social security and medicare was a communist idea that was all but a surrender to the Soviet Union and would turn America into a social nightmare. It hasn’t, of course.

Look at the arguments against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. If the government can force us to serve black people, or ride with them on the bus, or to let Jews into our stores, they can force us to do anything! It destroys religious freedom! It will turn America into a communist country! Guess what? They’re now making the exact same argument against the same protections for gay people — all while pretending that they didn’t really mean it 50 years ago, that they’re all in favor of equality for those people, but this time it’s really true that we’re on the verge of dictatorship if we treat gay people equally.

On Planet Wingnuttia, we are perpetually on the brink of losing our freedom. Each new step toward equality, each new advancement in taking care of those who need it the most, is the lynchpin that destroys the republic and turns us into a dictatorship. And every time they’ve been wrong. Every. Single. Time. And that does nothing to keep them from making the same arguments all over again, disappearing their past predictions down the memory hole.

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  1. 1
    tubi

    One of my fb friends posted one of those cartoon thingies that read (paraphrasing):

    “The government can force you to buy anything it says and tax you if you refuse” said no founding fathers ever.

    I replied:

    “Negroes = 3/5 of a white person” said all founding fathers at some point.

    Things change, usually for the better. She hasn’t replied back yet.

  2. 2
    ArtK

    I first noticed this tendency with the overwrought response to any form of regulation. Suggest a 1 MPG improvement in gas mileage and suddenly we’re faced with total collapse of the economy.

    Often, regulation gets turned into another opportunity to make money. Sarbanes-Oxley was supposed to destroy the financial industry by overburdening them with record keeping and compliance activities. Instead, it’s been a boost to the computer industry supplying software and hardware to help with compliance.

    More often than not, the complaints boil down to a 3yo throwing a tantrum, screaming “I don’ wanna” when mommy says it’s time for bed.

  3. 3
    matty1

    tubi,

    I don’t disagree with your wider point but feel like being pedantic.

    I don’t think the 3/5 clause meant an individual negro had 3/5 the rights or anything as individual white man. Rather it meant that you could count 3 out of 5 slaves when working out the population of state for certain purposes.

  4. 4
    d cwilson

    I don’t think the 3/5 clause meant an individual negro had 3/5 the rights or anything as individual white man.

    You’re right. They had even less rights than that.

    Rather it meant that you could count 3 out of 5 slaves when working out the population of state for certain purposes.

    It was mainly for tax purposes. Originally, federal taxes were levyed in proportion to each state’s population. Naturally, the southern states wanted their slaves counted for the purpose of determining the number of representatives in the House, but not counted for the purpose of how much taxes they would have to pay.

    Kind of like how today, the southern states gobble up as much federal money as they can get while fighting to make sure they pay less than 90 cents in federal taxes for every dollar they get in federal funding.

  5. 5
    d cwilson

    To repeat my point from yesterday, only a wingnut would have no problem with indefinite detention or illegal wiretapping, but cry tyranny because more people will have access to health coverage.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    If the government can force us to buy health insurance, they can force us to do anything! Freedom is dead!

    Reminds me of this old rhyme :

    America is a free land,
    Free without a doubt,
    If you haven’t any money,
    Then you’re free to go without.
    - No idea who the author is.

    Oddly enough, such people (unlike those in real Totalitrarian states – anyone remember East Germany? Or know about North Korea?) are free to leave the nation if they so desire.

    Also, y’know, doesn’t the US Supreme Court and its Constititution and its Congress still act as something of a check /balance over in the States? Aren’t there still elections happening there?

    (I do vaguely recall something about one going on right now even – although that’s had very little publicity and seems to have been kept very quiet and low-key and gone largely unoticed, right?)

  7. 7
    ohioobserver

    I was watching the first episode of “The Newsroom” the other night — that moment at the beginning when the panel was asked what makes America the greatest country, and the conservative pundit answers “Freedom, and freedom. And let’s keep it that way.”

    I have heard the right use the word freedom like this in real life, and I realize they are having an Inigo Montoya moment — they keep using that word, and I don’t think it means what they think it means.

    On planet Wingnuttia, freedom means that you can run roughshod over other’s rights in the name of profit and the “free market”. But actions on the part of those they victimize (like forming unions or campaigning for “socialized medicine”) “destroys freedom”.

    In my world, and the world of most rational people, freedom means the power to determine actions to order one’s life, without the threat of excessive circumstance (such as a catastrophic illness) beyond one’s control disrupting that order.

  8. 8
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @matty1:

    As I learned it, the Southern delegates wanted slaves to be counted the same as free men for census purposes so as to inflate Southern representation in Congress and the Electoral College. In effect this would have given slaveowners more than one vote each, since they would be exercising not only their own votes but also the virtual votes of their slaves. Northerners wanted not to count slaves at all for representational purposes (if they weren’t being allowed to vote, why should the South be represented as if they were – and as if they would have voted the same way as their masters?). 3/5 was a compromise between these two sides.

  9. 9
    jamessweet

    I made a similar point on Facebook… that the fact that a law is constitutional does not imply that it is good policy, and conversely the fact that a law is bad policy does not imply that it is constitutional.

    The federal government has every right to make the interstate sale of carrots a capital offense. They won’t, because that would be Stupid, but there is nothing unconstitutional about it.

    That this precedent would theoretically allow the government to pass terrible laws is not an argument against its constitutionality per se.

  10. 10
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    ^ That rhyme was in an Aussie kids limerick / jokes book and dates back to at least the 1980-’s if that’s any help.

  11. 11
    dingojack

    “A government that can force you to buy health insurance – can force employers not to use children as labour!” – George Washington.

    From: More Things I Just Made Up. Lord High Poo-Bah of History, Emeritus Profressor of Everything Oxbrige Unversity (England), HRH Barton* (the Great) & etc.
    Dingo
    —–
    * Or at least that’s what I imagine he might, possibly, write as a quote (or if not, he’s thinking it he is….)

  12. 12
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @10. Um that was @6 natch.

    @8. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne : what, you mean the slaves couldn’t vote themselves for whoever they wanted? /sarc.

  13. 13
    Robert B.

    Protip: The government can force us to do anything. They have all these tanks and bombs and stuff.

    You can trust them or not, but you can’t pretend there’s a magic line we can cross that suddenly makes them capable of oppression. The government has the same practical capabilities now as it had last week.

  14. 14
    sunsangnim

    They just assume that the US is the most “free” country in the world, so any change to the system means that we are less free. But consider how health care is done in other countries. Here in Korea, I’m in the national health care system. I can go to any doctor or hospital I want to, anywhere in Korea. Can you do that in the US? I know for a fact you can’t. When I lived in the US, I went to the wrong (the closest) hospital for emergency treatment. My insurance company denied coverage because I was out of network. As a result, the x-ray alone cost $900. In Korea, it’s $12 for an x-ray. When my British friend arrived here, he was upset that he had to pay anything at all. I don’t understand why Americans don’t realize how bad they are being fucked by the for-profit system. The status quo in the US is indefensible.

    I have a friend here who quit his job and started a business. Now he’s a job creator. How many entrepreneurs in the US are afraid to take that leap because they know they will lose their coverage? That’s an argument that should resonate with conservatives. Instead, they’re totally fine with the completely irrational system that ties insurance to employment. If they really think that the individual mandate is an evil socialist plot to destroy their freedom, they should vote for the guy who first implemented it in Massachusetts.

  15. 15
    kermit.

    sunsangnim, not only that, but people here in the US have been tied to a job even if they had a better offer elsewhere (or had other personal reasons to move), if they have a preexisting condition. If I am supporting somebody’s illness anyway, either through insurance premiums or taxes, it is not profitable for me for that person to be stuck in a dead-end job or have his or her family suffer needlessly.

    And the mere complexity you describe is costly and time-consuming.

  16. 16
    keithb

    jamessweet:
    I think capital punishmunt for trafficing in carrots might run afoul of the “cruel and unusual punishment clause”, and therefore be unconstitutional.

  17. 17
    baal

    I’m not so sure the south hasn’t re-instated the 3/5 person clause.

    They run a number of for-profit prisons that are disproportionally black (and Hispanic). They then count them in the State population for FEDGOV census purposes.

    quick google-fu:
    http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/news/2012/06/21/scotus-conference/

    Also, d cwilson, thanks for your comments. You always post useful, interesting or thoughtful comments.

  18. 18
    Blondin

    A government with the power to force us to buy health insurance can also force restaurants to serve black people.

    Shades of “Soylent Green”! I would rather they served broccoli than black people.

  19. 19
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Instead, they’re totally fine with the completely irrational system that ties insurance to employment.

    Oh, it makes perfect sense to them. If you’re unemployed, you don’t deserve health care. Simple as that.

  20. 20
    jeevmon

    Hercules @ 8 -

    That’s about right. Now, an interesting modernization of that rule is that the Census counts prisoners as residents of the places they are incarcerated, not the places they came from, which inflates the voting clout of the non-incarcerated people who reside in the often rural areas where these prisons are located.

  21. 21
    arakasi

    The Supreme Court has ruled that since I am a male over 18, the federal government has the Constitutional right to remove me from my home and job and force me into service where I may well be killed, even though I have committed no crime. During this time, my movements would be severely curtailed and I would be subject to severe penalties, including prison time, for a failure to follow orders.

    Compared to that, being required to have health insurance is pretty small potatoes

  22. 22
    w00dview

    only a wingnut would have no problem with indefinite detention or illegal wiretapping, but cry tyranny because more people will have access to health coverage.

    When you put it like that, it really is a fucked up mindset, isn’t it? Wingnuts are really picky when they spout off about freedom. It is only freedom when it applies to the rich and powerful. Give the downtrodden any leverage and you re as bad as North Korea. When that is the mindset of one of the most powerful political parties in the US, no wonder you have a plethora of social, economic and environmental problems.

  23. 23
    dinamalar

    See, this is the BS lots of Obama Loving Liberals spew,
    You Democrat Loving are not real progressives, you just Democrat just like why rednecks are republicans.

    ” A government with the power to force us to buy health insurance can also force restaurants to serve black people. ”

    A government should force us to serve black people because equality and humanity takes the precedence, where as a government with the power to force us to buy health insurance from a private company instead of not even trying to provide ” single payer system / medicare for all “, a government still leave another 20 millions without insurance but still makes the way for rapacious insurance company to make profits.

    I do not care to pay penalty or tax, knowing the money I pay will be going to the government which in someway will pay/benefit the fellow people for common cause.

    But with this stupid Obameny care, you can say whatever you want like, better than before, another few million will be covered, can’t deny preconditions, but you callous coward liberals, not even gave a single try for Single Payer System.
    A real progressive will not give up even before the fight, but you coward democrat would/did.

    It really bothers me when I do not need big medical care from 20s to late 30′s, but you stupid government force me to pay not just for fellow people but make those insurance companies ceo’s cfo’s all other O’s to make millions and millions in bonus and profit.

    Try Medicare for all, or just freaking shut up you coward Democrat Liberals.

  24. 24
    tubi

    Try Medicare for all…

    Pretty sure many of us would be fine with that, I know I would. I remember screaming at my TV in 2009 and using words like spineless and chickenshit a lot.

  25. 25
    oranje

    @sunsangnim

    I did make the leap and start my own business. And now I have to be very careful what I do, watch my health, etc. as I have no coverage. It’s fun trying to live in a bubble! (No, not really.)

  26. 26
    slc1

    Re dinamaler @ #23

    where as a government with the power to force us to buy health insurance from a private company instead of not even trying to provide ” single payer system / medicare for all “, a government still leave another 20 millions without insurance but still makes the way for rapacious insurance company to make profits

    Of course, that same government can force us to buy liability insurance from a private company in order to obtain a driver’s license.

  27. 27
    kagerato

    [keithb]: I think capital punishmunt for trafficing in carrots might run afoul of the “cruel and unusual punishment clause”, and therefore be unconstitutional.

    Now, it’s pretty obvious to me that it would. But can we get any significant court to rule that?

    We’re talking about a country that apparently didn’t (doesn’t?) believe torture constituted cruel and unusual punishment, even when used against people not yet convicted of any crime. There’s also the whole summary execution by military drone part, which might be considered a punishment for living in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Do you see any limitation in the Bill of Rights that describes how it doesn’t apply to foreigners, or those deemed “unworthy”, or even declared enemies of the United States? I don’t.

  28. 28
    Modusoperandi

    dinamalar “But with this stupid Obameny care, you can say whatever you want like, better than before, another few million will be covered, can’t deny preconditions, but you callous coward liberals, not even gave a single try for Single Payer System.
    A real progressive will not give up even before the fight, but you coward democrat would/did.”

    Yeah! Take that, terribly compromised plan that passed with the minimum number of votes!

  29. 29
    dinamalar

    @ slc1:

    Of course, that same government can force us to buy liability insurance from a private company in order to obtain a driver’s license.

    That’s nice try, slcl. But not good enough. I know how insurance works, I know how insurance compensation works. In the automobile and other most insurances, 80% of people in the Insurance pool are paying for the rest 20% of people in the same Insurance pool.

    For that same government to force you to buy liability insurance from a private company in order to obtain a driver’s license you have to drive an automobile in the public premises.

    That same government won’t force you to drive or buy an automobile, so you will have to buy an automobile so the 20% on the insurance pool won’t suffer ignominiously.
    But still you have an option not to buy liability and not to drive an automobile, but drive a motorcycle. Or, don’t drive an automobile from 20s to 30′s, don’t buy insurance, drive after 30′s , then buy it.

    But in Obamaney care you do not have option, being just living person you have to pay penalty.

    But don’t tell me how you gonna pay and bring the cost down, in that case you shouldn’t support Obameny care, you should support public option, just like your government give you a public transport option, and not force you to buy liability.

    You Obamaphilic coward looser liberal democrat sucks and a shame for real progressives.

  30. 30
    Modusoperandi

    dinamalar, exactly. They’re totally different. For one thing, if you don’t have a car but need to take a ride in one or you’ll die, you can’t take a cab and have the company spread the cost around its paying customers or bill the state.
    I don’t know what I just said, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it was it even if it supports the literally literal of your argument, metaphorically it does the opposite.

  31. 31
    Modusoperandi

    dinamalar, I mentioned this before, but we (and, as always, I speak for all of us) do support a Public Option (better, Single Payer), but this part coming up is critical, so pay attention: Obamacare with a Public Option would not have passed Congress.

  32. 32
    Chris from Europe

    That same government won’t force you to drive or buy an automobile,

    That is as much true as that you have to have insurance under the PPACA.

  33. 33
    Chris from Europe

    And if you don’t understand: Many people can’t avoid having a car without more negative consequences than the mandate tax.

  34. 34
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    A government without the power to force you to do anything is no government. A corporation with the power to force things is just good business. Right wing governments forcing people to comply with whatever – also A OK.

  35. 35
    meg

    @sunsangnim

    With you – what is this idea that the US is the only country that is ‘free’? Where did that come from?

    Do they really still think that the UK is under a royal tyranny? Or that western Europe is a socialist dictatorship?

    If anyone’s interested in how the rest of the world sees what’s going on, check out an Aussie show called ‘Planet America’ – last Friday’s ep spent a lot of time on the Supreme Court Decision.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/abcnews24/201207/programs/NU1188H022D2012-07-06T180000.htm

  36. 36
    jnorris

    What I don’t understand is how can the Right Wing Nuts keep quiet on the Supreme Court ruling those Death Panels constitutional. Didn’t everyone of them, including the ‘journalists’ at Fox News, agree with Sarah Palin that Obamacare would establish Death Panels? Or did I miss that memory hole directive.

  37. 37
    Noadi

    @33 As someone with a visual impairment that keeps me from getting a drivers license: absolutely! The consequences of this are that getting or keeping a job in an area with no public transportation was virtually impossible (I got lucky, my skills make it possible to work from home). Unless you live in a city with a good public transportation system, and that number is declining not increasing, driving is not optional if you want to make a living thus car insurance is a mandatory expense.

    I would LOVE a true single payer system, PPACA doesn’t go nearly far enough. I still have no idea where my health care will come from for the immediate future or where I will fall when the expanded medicare and subsidy/exchange provisions kick in. All I know is that currently I could not afford individual health insurance since it would cost around 1/3 of my current monthly income which just isn’t feasible and I make too much to be covered by medicaid right now. I’m terrified every time I get a cold and breaking my ankle a couple years ago took me a year to pay all the bills off even though the emergency room visit was covered by the hospital’s free care (but the orthopedist to make sure I regained full use of my ankle wasn’t). The current system just cannot continue.

  38. 38
    sunsangnim

    Meg, read my post. I don’t believe that the US is the only free country. I was saying that’s what “they” –the extreme right wing/Tea Party/Fox News, etc.–believe. I was actually making the opposite point, which is that I have more options in Korea than I did in the US. Also, I tried to watch a video clip of that show and it didn’t work because of my location.

  39. 39
    meg

    Sorry Sunsangnim if I’ve confused you – I was agreeing with you!

    What I don’t get is the right-wing attitude that seems to suggest the US is the only ‘free’ country. I’m in Oz, and like you, think we’re fine thank you very much, despite having a ‘medicare levy’ (you earn over a certain amount and don’t have private insurance by the time you’re 30, you pay extra tax) for a few years now. And still not a tyranny. In fact, we’ve got a democracy that’s so awesome, we get bugger all done . . .

    Korea sounds better than here – I’ve got an MRI next week, and will have to pay some of it – no insurance covers the condition it’s for, but medicare will cover a certain amount. The provider will then choose how much over that they charge. It will be more than $12!

    You might enjoy that link I gave – they try to explain how/why America works the way it does – and one of the hosts is a well-known local comedian/political satirist with a real interest in American politics, so it’s entertaining and enlightening.

  40. 40
    dinamalar

    Modusoperandi :

    Obamacare with a Public Option would not have passed Congress.

    <strong? You Pay Attention : Its not first time I read/heard saying this BS from you or any other loser democrat, and I know it won’t be last time for you loser democrat saying this.

    Progressives and true liberals elected a leader to fight for a cause, fight for progressive cause, a moral cause, which this deserted leader never put fight, neither those sleazy blue dog democrats.

    Who you speaking for ? Those Rethulgicans ? You don’t get to decide whether it would have been passed or not, let those sleazy immoral rethulgicans decide that on their own. Why are you speaking for them ? Can’t they speak for themselves ?
    Are you mouth piece for sleazy rethulgicans ? If not why the heck are you loser democrats keep saying it wouldn’t have passed ?

    After hearing this BS for long time, it makes the doubt stronger that whether you coward democrats really wanted to pass single payer/public option ? All you are same as rethulgican corporate servants.

    What Obama did ?
    Iraq ? Nope, Bush already signed the deal.
    Indefinite detention ? Yes
    Torture ? NO, instead replaced with just mass drone killing which also Bush idea too.
    Stifling Occupy Movements with his homeland security.
    Punishing whistle-blowers.
    Wall Street Supporter ? Ofcourse YES.
    No action against wall street crime.
    All his administration are filled with wall street cronies.

    2010 was not the rise of TeaParty, since democrats gaveup on progressives, so people stayed home.
    You people still bolstering how you gave up on Progressives.
    Shame on you.

  41. 41
    Modusoperandi

    dinamalar, here’s a glass. It’s full of chill the fuck out.

    Note 1: The ACA barely passed. A public option wouldn’t have raised that number. It would’ve dropped it. And what does that get you, other than the old status quo?
    Note 2: I’m not a “coward democrat”. I’m a foreigner. By American standards, that makes me a communist. We, here in the country I’m from, have Universal Healthcare. I, also in the same country, want you to have the same, versus the terribly cobbled together mess of employer provided, Medicare, Medicaid, VA, etc, that you’ve got now. I’m not just on your side: I’m probably well to the Left of you. Losing your shit here because you and yours can’t manage to elect better Democrats…well, that just gets under my hide. Also, it chaps it. Then I get a rash. Then I’m scratching when that girl I like walks by, and it totally ruins my chances with her. Congratulations, you’ve ruined my perfect future. I hope you’re proud of yourself. Jerk.

  42. 42
    meg

    awards Modus one internets.

    Seriously dude – never figured you for a dirty foreigner like me :)

  43. 43
    AJS

    You already have to buy motor insurance if you want to drive a vehicle on the streets, on pain of a fine (which is still less than the amount you could have ended up being liable for, if you had a crash while uninsured).

    How is this fundamentally different from having to buy health insurance if you want to walk out on the streets?

  44. 44
    katie

    AJS @43, that’s pretty simple. The ACA also sets up subsidies and other ways to help people pay for their health insurance and expands Medicaid coverage. No one subsidizes my auto insurance – if I’m too poor to pay for it I don’t drive.

  45. 45
    iangould

    “I’m not a “coward democrat”. I’m a foreigner. By American standards, that makes me a communist. We, here in the country I’m from, have Universal Healthcare. I, also in the same country, want you to have the same, versus the terribly cobbled together mess of employer provided, Medicare, Medicaid, VA, etc, that you’ve got now.”

    Many Americans across the politicial spectrum seem to believe that foreigners hate or envy you. Not only is this not the case but increasingly our main feeling towards you is one of pity.

  46. 46
    dogmeat

    Katie@44,

    Sorry, but I know of a number of people who drive illegally w/o insurance. What do they do when they get into an accident that they can’t pay? I know of two who declared bankrucy to avoid paying. Here in AZ it is also quite difficult to function without a car, the public transit isn’t very good and the cities are seriou sprawls.

  1. 47
    Happy Fourth: On Secession and Armed Insurrection

    [...] insurrection must start.As Ed recently pointed out, for the right wing I grew up ensconsed in, everything is the death of freedom.On Planet Wingnuttia, we are perpetually on the brink of losing our freedom. Each new step toward [...]

  2. 48
    clases gratis informatica

    clases gratis informatica…

    [...]Everything is the Death of Freedom | Dispatches from the Culture Wars[...]…

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