Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking On Right Wing Mythologies

Are there still rational conservatives? Yes, you can sometimes see them on TV: they have a look of astonishment, they chuckle as if they're not hearing right, then their jaw drops open followed by a bout of spluttering until they can't help themselves and say, "You can't be serious..." to some right wing talking head. Of course they then worry about getting a call from Rush Limbaugh or some other right wing enforcer. It is an unfortunate fact that rational conservatives have allowed themselves to be shoved aside by the right wingers who clearly are dominating the Republican Party these days.

I'm always astounded at the mythologies on the far right. Sarah Palin's admirers, for example, look at her as if she's some sort of savior. I noted some months ago that she probably quit her job as governor of Alaska in order to avoid ethics problems and otherwise cash in. And that's exactly what she's doing.

Why is it so hard for so many Americans to recognize that Sarah Palin likes two things: attention and money? For her, governing Alaska was obviously a bit of a bother. So she quit. Nevertheless, she is taken seriously by the far right as a potential candidate for president. Why? Largely because she effectively feeds their mythologies and is never particularly bothered by facts .

One of the more shameless charges made by Sarah Palin was the fiction that death panels would be the result of passing health care reform. The reality for some time has been that if you do not have health insurance and you have a health problem, the odds of your survival are already diminished without any panel of any sort being convened. Health insurance companies used to be focused on providing service. Now they're focused on money. That of course is something Sarah Palin can understand.

Given all the politics that has gone on, Sarah Palin is a mere sideshow compared to all the other mythology surrounding health care reform. And the right wingers conveniently ignore who is supplying much of that mythology: insurance companies and others making obscene profits. Naturally any number of lobbyists, pundits and political consultants are trotting out slick conservative arguments, many of which were used against Medicare in one form or another more than forty years ago. Fortunately those arguments did not succeed in the 1960s. We can only hope those arguments will not succeed in the current environment.

S.W. Anderson of Oh!Pinion does a terrific job of addressing some of this. Here's just one part of his response to a right wing commenter trotting out a familiar and misleading argument about moral hazard:
Did Social Security cause people to quit saving/investing on their own for retirement? If you think so, explain the explosive growth in mutual funds and 401k’s over the last 25 years. Has the fact Medicare gives most of the 65-and-older set a chance to buy health insurance they can begin to afford ruined insurance companies’ chances to make money off these people? Hardly, as all the supplementary and Medicare Advantage plans make clear.

Give his post a read.

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