We aren’t giving the internet enough credit, or we’re giving people too much credit?


I found this on the internet (!), and had to share.

Yes, it’s obvious. The United States is an anomalous mess, and when you compare it to other countries, it’s hard to believe people still think we are and have been the greatest country on Earth. The catch is, though, that people aren’t rational. The operative phrase is “our country”, where anyone criticizing any aspect of what is ours are attacking us and insulting our personal shambles, and instead of thinking that we could improve by taking those criticisms to heart, we embrace our flaws as evidence of our greatness.

And it’s killing us.

It’s hard to believe, but a large percentage of the US population would rather sicken and die than challenge the system that fastens insurance company parasites on us from the day we’re born. That would rather fatten CEOs and corporations than see a fair work load for the middle class. That would rather maintain systems of inequity than help our brothers and sisters prosper.

So, yes, the internet should make us aware of better alternatives. It’s too bad that so many of us would rather watch Fox News and be told how great we are.

Comments

  1. simonhadley says

    I’ve had the health care conversation with so many people and it always baffles me how they would rather spend $500+ per month on insurance with a huge deductible that MIGHT cover them instead of spending $50-$100 a month in taxes on insurance with no deductibles that WILL cover them. They are totally convinced that any kind of government healthcare is pure evil and will only lead to Soviet style communism. When I point out to them that the military enjoys these kinds of benefits they stutter, hem-and-haw, parse and do whatever mental gymnastics they can to say, “Well that’s different!” Uh, how so? They really have no idea what it is they are arguing against. How do you get through to them?

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    So, yes, the internet should make us aware of better alternatives.

    It also made us aware of a lot of worse alternatives: i.e. white supremacy, creationism, vaccine denial, climate change denial, alternative medicine. Granted, these cancers have been with us before the World Wide Web, but at least we only had FCC-controlled broadcasters rather than the unrestricted mess of bunkum and bigotry that we have today

    So nice we got rid of those “elitist” media gatekeepers and let the people–people who are too stupid, greedy, and bigoted to wipe their own asses, much less govern themselves–spew whatever shit they want online. /eyeroll

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    simonhadley @ 1

    They are totally convinced that any kind of government healthcare is pure evil and will only lead to Soviet style communism.

    I wonder where they got that idea? (cough Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, right-wing websites cough)

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    Addendum @ simonhadley

    “Well that’s different!” Uh, how so?

    Let me guess: “Those brave fightin’ men [note they rarely acknowledge the women in the armed forces] EARNED that health care by puttin’ their lives on the line for freedom! What have YOU lazy lib-rul snowflakes done to deserve health care? You wanna doctor, YOU earn the money to pay for it.”

  5. willj says

    Yeah, you get to 40 years of age and realize you haven’t lived. You’ve been a cubicle-bound slave to some CEO all your life. You see shiny images of the rich and famous to goad you on, so your goal in life is become like Trump, and fight and scratch and cheat and lie your way to some meager retirement stash. Then you die, without ever having smelled the roses. Isn’t capitalism great?

    I have relatives in Germany, and in many ways, their lives have been so much better than mine. Security, health care, free education, time off, travel, culture, etc.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    willj @ 5

    Yeah, you get to 40 years of age and realize you haven’t lived. You’ve been a cubicle-bound slave to some CEO all your life. You see shiny images of the rich and famous to goad you on, so your goal in life is become like Trump, and fight and scratch and cheat and lie your way to some meager retirement stash. Then you die, without ever having smelled the roses. Isn’t capitalism great?

    Hey! Have you been reading my journal! Stay out of my room!

  7. barbaz says

    starfleetdude @ 6
    Though, for completeness, the reason for this is that the German Welfare System has been cut to “boost the economy” and it worked exactly as well as you’d expect. Check “Agenda 2010” on Wikipedia.

  8. lumipuna says

    Re military health insurance

    If people oppose tax funded insurance, the why do they accept workplace insurance?

    I understand wealthy Americans generally don’t want tax funded anything (to exaggerate a little), because they know they pay more taxes than the average citizen – but then how is workplace insurance funded? Is it like a tax in terms of reducing your net salary? Does this question even make sense?

    (I’m not either American or insurance expert)

  9. F.O. says

    I have six weeks of holidays.
    I did a job interview for a remote job with a US company.
    When we started discussing work conditions, they said there were two weeks of holidays per year.
    I repressed then need to laugh in their face and said “thanks but no thanks” as politely as possible.

    In other news, last month my son was born and I’ve spent one month at home with 80% of my salary.
    I have 8 months more like that I can take whenever I want before my son is.. 8? 12? I don’t remember.
    And everybody else gets it.

    I pay high taxes, it’s how I pay for civilization.

  10. F.O. says

    Indeed EU countries have their deal of problems (just not those that Fox tells about) every country has their local flavor of xenophobic authoritarians and a lot of blood on our hands, there is a lot to improve.

    But going the way of the US wouldn’t seem like an improvement.

    (Hey! Italy just relaxed the rules about semi-automatic weapons! Whooohooo. -_- )

  11. aziraphale says

    Well, other countries don’t have quite the same standard of living as the US. I remember, long ago, arguing with a US person that he didn’t need 2 cars and a truck (in the context of CO2). Oh yes, he said. One for commuting, one for long distances, and a truck to haul his fishing boat to the lake at weekends.

    I don’t know anyone in the UK who lives like that. But on balance I think I’m happier with my one car and free health care.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    lumipuna @ 9

    If people oppose tax funded insurance, the why do they accept workplace insurance?

    Because, in their minds, in order to get workplace insurance, you have to work. The one thing these bigots hate is the idea that the long-term unemployed or the “welfare cases” will get to sponge off the system while they work and slave for everything they have. They resent the notion that they also have to pay for the “freeloading” poor via taxes.

    In the average American’s mind if you don’t “earn” it, you don’t deserve to have it–even if not having it kills you.

  13. Larry Clapp says

    simonhadley @ 1

    They are totally convinced that any kind of government healthcare is pure evil and will only lead to Soviet style communism. When I point out to them that the military enjoys these kinds of benefits they stutter, hem-and-haw, parse and do whatever mental gymnastics they can to say, “Well that’s different!”

    Data point: A good friend that I’ve had this conversation with didn’t take the “that’s different” route. He wrote convincingly and at length, with links, on how military health care is highly suboptimal, and in particular how VA care for veterans is pretty horrible. His stance is not that government healthcare is evil or can’t work, it’s merely that when WE (the USA) have tried it, WE (the USA) have sucked at it. If other countries do it, that’s fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve demonstrably sucked at it, so far.

    This was more or less in response to me pointing to said other countries as an existence proof that socialized medicine can work. Sure, he agrees, it can, but here, when we’ve actually tried it, it doesn’t.

    I didn’t/don’t know enough about the ACA to rebut any of his points (assuming such rebuttal points even existed), and frankly found his argument pretty convincing.

  14. starfleetdude says

    In the average American’s mind if you don’t “earn” it, you don’t deserve to have it–even if not having it kills you.

    Add to this the fact that people generally aren’t allowed to die in the streets in the U.S. – that’s what ERs are there for, right? That this is paid for by other patients is part of the reason why U.S. health care costs more. Medicaid does help cover the indigent along with some state health programs that treat the poor, and these are funded by taxes. Americans don’t generally get that whether or not someone “deserves” health care, they generally get it anyway and it does get paid for. It would be better to rationalize health care in the U.S. by at least having a welfare program funded by taxes that covers the poor. That’s what the Affordable Care Act did in part by increasing Medicaid funding that was paid for by a tax on incomes over $250K.

  15. curbyrdogma says

    “Work hard and be successful and retire at 65…” LOL, that’s what our overlords want us to think and do. It’s just as likely that all that “working hard” leads to developing various chronic conditions related to stress and lack of exercise (if you’re in a white collar job), which leads to health issues and expenses leading to such, and then being “let go” before you reach the age of 65 because you’re no longer fresh and energetic and useful to the company.

    In realtity, “success” also has a lot to do with networking, who you know, luck, personal appeal, “emotional IQ”, and being market-savvy (ask any monetized YouTuber who makes a “living” reviewing movies, video games and products. …Or any Trump cabinet member)

  16. hunter says

    The United States is rich and powerful (in terms of military strength). To many people, that constitutes “greatness”. Never mind that most of our people don’t participate in the wealth and other benefits of a decent society.

  17. Akira MacKenzie says

    curbyrdogma @ 17

    In realtity, “success” also has a lot to do with networking, who you know, luck, personal appeal, “emotional IQ”, and being market-savvy…

    Don’t forget good old fashioned fraud and larceny.

  18. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The US spends more on medical care with worse results than any other industrialized country.

    We have some of the worst airlines in the world–whether your metric is on-time performance, service or price.

    Our roads–once the finest national transport system on the planet–are falling apart

    Our electoral system is a shambles. There are literally people in government calling for civil war.

    Our educational system is falling apart–with the wealthy literally buying their way into elite schools and urban and rural schools falling apart. Teachers are having to dip into their already inadequate compensation to buy supplies for impoverished students.

    Nearly 200 people a day are dying of opiate overdoses–and Republicans are opposing increased expenditures on the drugs that could save their lives.

    Environmental health is going backwards rapidly.

    I got your American Exceptionalism right here!

  19. lumipuna says

    Akira MacKenzie:

    Because, in their minds, in order to get workplace insurance, you have to work. The one thing these bigots hate is the idea that the long-term unemployed or the “welfare cases” will get to sponge off the system while they work and slave for everything they have. They resent the notion that they also have to pay for the “freeloading” poor via taxes.

    OK, so basically a vague mental distinction between people who pay some taxes vs. people who don’t. No distinction between low salary vs. CEO salary. Plus what starfleetdude said.

    Thanks.

  20. drew says

    The more desperate people are, the more likely they are to seek out simple “truths.” The more likely they are to follow authority figures who seem to have the answers. The more likely they are to band together into xenophobic tribes with shared delusions of otherness. The more it looks like a scarcity economy the more likely people are to fight for “what’s theirs” and hoard whatever they have. That’s just how people behave.

    The more our jobs abuse us, the less we feel we have, the more desperate we are . . . the more susceptible to the simple answers and the authority of that labor system. It’s a great con, really.

    People who feel secure and feel they have enough don’t do that. They are much more likely to openly share and to accept “other” people and explore the possibilities of life. Maslow, worn out as he may be, had something to say about this.

  21. thirdmill301 says

    Y’all fail to appreciate the simple reality that the American motto is “nobody can tell me what to do.” Progressive policies will never be popular in the United States because they require that people be told what to do. It’s that simple. Freedom is considered a higher value than long life, happiness, available medical care or financial security. And that’s not going to change.

    All the other bad things about American polity — the systemic racism, the anti-democratic Constitution, the stacked deck that favors those who already have wealth and power — all exist, but even if those bad things all disappeared tomorrow we would still be left with a population whose motto is “you can’t tell me what to do.”

  22. consciousness razor says

    Y’all fail to appreciate the simple reality that the American motto is “nobody can tell me what to do.”

    In reality, that’s not the correct translation of “E pluribus unum.”

    Progressive policies will never be popular in the United States because they require that people be told what to do. It’s that simple.

    What if it’s not that simple?

    You might be mistaken that about their unpopularity. And even if you weren’t mistaken about that, there might also be more to the story. That’s how simple it is, and that isn’t simple.

    Freedom is considered a higher value than long life, happiness, available medical care or financial security.

    Not by the people I know. You are thoroughly mistaken about what they find valuable. That should make me less surprised if it turns out that you’re mistaken about other things.

    Of course, I don’t know hundreds of millions of people scattered all over the map. Do you? It’s possible that you don’t.

    And that’s not going to change.

    But it might change, assuming you were correct so that it would need to change for progressive policies to become popular. However, since I wasn’t assuming that, there is no point in making such predictions.

  23. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Akira MacKenzie wrote:

    They resent the notion that they also have to pay for the “freeloading” poor via taxes.

    And who is and isn’t a freeloader is often racially coded. LBJ had it right when he said that a certain percentage of people will empty their wallet for you if you gave them someone to feel superior to. Although this is heavily and most obviously used by the modern Republican party, the modern Democratic party isn’t above using it, either. You can hear it when they talk about flyover country.

  24. VolcanoMan says

    @thirdmill301

    “Nobody can tell me what to do” may in fact be the American motto, but unfortunately, the current system ABSOLUTELY flies in the face of that motto. People are told what to do all the time, ESPECIALLY the working classes who outnumber everyone and who could really make America great (again) if they united. The very definition of having a job (being a wage slave) is that you submit yourself to be told what to do by someone. You do the work for them, you make the products and/or provide the services, but the majority of the value you create goes to other people. And even if you get promoted, you’re just doing someone else’s bidding, in addition to telling OTHER people what to do.

    The standard libertarian answer to this is that you can always choose another job or become self-employed, or even choose not to engage in the system at all. I won’t even bother to oppose this last claim in any serious way – capitalism is not a choice, anymore than breathing oxygen is a choice. Also, any job is going to entail submitting to someone’s will; and taking matters into your own hands and working for yourself is only possible if you already have capital, $30,000 minimum. Considering that the majority of American middle-class members survive paycheque-to-paycheque, and have less than $1,000 in savings…that’s not a choice most people can make.

    So people are already allowing others to direct their actions. How is the current system any worse than one in which basic needs (food, healthy environment, medical care and pharmaceuticals) are provided to everyone without exception, and you put in maybe HALF of the work (max) that you do currently, under better conditions, to keep your society functioning smoothly, getting the rest of the week to participate in whatever hobbies and leisure activities you find pleasurable? How is the current system, where even success is failure (people who have been told all of their lives that more STUFF will make them happy tend to have mental breakdowns when they work hard to earn the stuff, only to find that they’re miserable anyway!), and where the majority of the unhappy people in the upper classes did not actually earn their wealth in the first place better than the alternative?

    America is in a toxic spiral of self-destruction…the signs are everywhere…from the opioid crisis to the incarceration rate to the alt-right and Trump himself. How to save a country, (and a world…America leads the way after all!) that seems intent on not dealing with the REAL issues that are causing so much pain and suffering?

  25. says

    It isn’t all roses in Germany with respect to poverty these days.

    Top 10 Facts About Poverty In Germany

    This person doesn’t even get to the worst of it, which is the complete disenfranchisement of EU migrants who are unemployed or in illegal exploitative jobs. Many of them are Roma, a discriminated against minority, but their existence at the margins is completely invisible to most.
    But still, the great average has less things to worry about.
    Just as an anecdote, when my MIL got diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, the financial “hardship” was that the wig paid for by health insurance looked like roadkill and a good one cost 500 bucks.
    Also, healthcare is hitched to your salary so people who earn little pay little.

  26. chrislawson says

    “…the system that fastens insurance company parasites on us from the day we’re born…”

    Even worse: the current US corporate model insists that any insurance CEO who doesn’t maximally parasitise the community is failing their moral duty to shareholders.

  27. OptimalCynic says

    “They are totally convinced that any kind of government healthcare is pure evil and will only lead to Soviet style communism.”

    Which is ridiculous, because most of the ultra-capitalist countries in the world have government funded healthcare. Denmark, for instance.

  28. thirdmill says

    consciousness razor, no. 25, you’re right that I don’t know millions of people, but I do follow election results, and they are at least as good a predictor as the people you know. A conservative commentator summed up American philosophy pretty well when he said: “People who say that you shouldn’t tell racist jokes may be right, but people who say you can’t tell racist jokes should be given a one-way ticket to the moon. This is America; I can tell whatever jokes I find funny.” In other words, don’t tell me what to do.

    volcanoman, no. 26, I didn’t say that their belief system is rational or holds up to logic; just that it is what they believe. And yes, it’s full of contradictions, and it fails to appreciate that the free market can be every bit as oppressive and tyrannical, and sometimes worse, than government. But government is widely seen as telling people what to do and in their minds needs to be suppressed for that reason.

    I once made the point, on an e-list mostly populated by libertarians, that if not for regulation, big corporations would screw people over worse than they already do, and it makes no sense to me for the so-called little people to unilaterally disarm by giving up the protection of the one institution that has the ability to protect them from big corporations, namely the government. What I mostly got in response was that government cannot be trusted because it has the power to make people do things by force. Which is another way of saying you can’t tell me what to do.

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