Monday, July 30, 2012

There Ain't No Free Health Care

Look, I'm all in for some sort of government-sponsored universal health care.  We may (and perhaps should) dicker over particulars,  but I think ObamaCare is a fine start and I'm glad the Supreme Court thought so too.

But I do so wish that people who should know better (I'm talking to you, little Kevin Drum) keep calling it free health care (KD: "free, universal healthcare funded through the tax system").

Once again from the top, kiddies: if it is tax supported, it is not free.   Somebody is paying for it,  Maybe even you.   I'm not entirely certain why we are so diffident about saying so; my best guess is that the crazies have so hijacked the debate that any embrace of the T-word in any context anywhere  is like endorsing one of those ick-factor examples Jonathan Haidt and his pals like to dream up for their (fiendish) morality experiments.

There are all kinds of reasons why we should talk about taxes.  "Fairness up" is one; it's important to know that a guy who wants to be president walks away with one of the lowest overall tax rates in captivity.  "Fairness down"  is another; it is equally important to know that a good bit of taxation takes money from the relatively less well off to make life easier for th cosseted and comforted.
But in this context, a more important reason is that to talk about "free" health care makes us looks like idiots.  It makes us sound like we don't know that stuff costs money.  "Hey, I never meant that!" says a hypothetical Kevin and of course he did not mean it.  But he doesn't want to have to waste time and money explaining an irrelevancy.   In brief, don't make life easier for the wingnuts.  They've got it easy enough already.

Afterthought: I think I have probably outed myself as a type-four conservative--on Vagabond Scholar's chart, the ones in the blue box in the southeast corner.  As VS says,  folks in this cohort  "make up the smallest portion by far" off his four-way analysis.

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