June 24, 2012

∴ Poll: Americans Oppose Health Law But Like Provisions

Patricia Zengerle, writing for Reuters:

"Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama's healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand."

(Via MSNBC.com.)

This poll result reminds me of the lyrics from Johnny Cash's "The Wanderer:"

I stopped outside a church house where the citizens like to sit. they say they want the kingdom but they don't want God in it.

The results say more about the US electorate than they do about the 2010 health care reform law. They say that Americans are, in large number, politically inept, easily swayed by emotions stirred by well-placed propaganda and what passes for political argument.

The results echo people's non-thinking responses to efforts at Social Security and Medicare reform. People despise "government programs," but will fight tooth and nail to keep politician's hands off their benefits from those two single payer, government mandated programs. Those programs aren't among the third rail of politics for nothing.

It's always amazed and amused me to hear the very people who are most benefited by a government program passionately argue against its kind, or against the politics that put it in place. Under-educated, under-employed and often poor citizens are often most opposed to government intervention into their lives, but reap the greatest reward from it.

Whole states finding themselves near the bottom of the economic heap both receive the greatest share of Federal transfer payments and cry loudest about the welfare state.

The American body politic, 2012: we want the benefits of a health care safety net, but don't want to be identified with wanting it; we enjoy public financial assistance, but despise the social welfare mindset that enabled it; we jeer political incumbents, but won't vote out our own representative for fear of losing his or her well-connected leverage.

Having a health care safety net not only says that we, as a body politic, will not tolerate the indecency of medical neglect visited upon those least able to pay. It says that we, as participants in a market-based economy, recognize that public payment for basic preventive care reduces our long-term public medical outlays, and that we're wise enough to put good money to work for long-term societal benefit.

We are so very fortunate that the American worker is at the top of world productivity (though we want to break the only tool he has to fight for himself), that we still employ the finest system of higher education in the world, that we can still spark the mightiest engine of prosperity the world has ever known, because when those are no longer the case our politics will make our country a backwater of idiocy.

What we are losing in all of this red state, blue state foolishness is de Tocqueville's apocryphal "good." Men and women who fought a war against totalitarianism came home to work harder still to build an America that became the envy of the world. They didn't begrudge the next guy a leg up. Indeed, they voted for it. They were the greatest generation because they GAVE OF THEMSELVES without measure. They were, in a word, good.

We are, I fear, increasingly un-good, unwise, downright ignorant. We have forgotten the lessons of our own past, to our peril.