There’s a certain fellow I often run into at the gym, a very pleasant, intelligent guy. A week or two ago, in the locker room after our respective workouts, we somehow struck up a conversation about Edward Snowden and the NSA. My friend’s opinion was that Snowden’s revelations are proof we need to “shrink the size of government.”
“Well, I’m a liberal,” I said. “I believe in government spending and safety net programs—like food stamps and unemployment compensation. And I’m a big fan of Obamacare.”
My friend chuckled. “I really don’t think the government is qualified to take over one sixth of our whole economy.”
This was my I-wanna-run-screaming-for-the-hills moment.
I’m okay with reasonable disagreement—all for it, in fact. But unthinking stupidity depresses me.
Native stupidity is all right. People are endowed with varying degrees of reasoning power and intellect; I accept that. Also, people have different ways of thinking. I don’t even believe intelligence can really be measured on a linear scale, like IQ.
But what I find inexcusable is that so many people in our society simply neglect to use their brains.
I’m sure my gym buddy is far from the only one quoting the Republican meme about the government takeover of one sixth of the economy. If it was not an effective political message, the Republicans wouldn’t keep repeating it.
But what I don’t get is—does anybody who swallows that line ever stop to think about what a government takeover of healthcare might actually look like?
Is the government socializing all the hospitals? Replacing all private hospitals with new government-run facilities? Are there new government officials in everybody’s doctor’s office? Have new government medical schools been established? Do you now have to go to government-trained doctors and nurses to get care?
I mean, you don’t even have to read the fine print, much less read between the lines to see that the “government takeover of one-sixth of the economy” is horseshit: All you have to do is open your eyes and check.
But maybe the government is taking over healthcare insurance, which is still a pretty big deal.
Except—again—are all the insurance companies now being socialized? Last I checked, under Obamacare, my policy was issued by Blue Shield, not Big Brother.
Blue Shield, Humana, Blue Cross . . . they all offered slightly different policies with slightly different terms. But they are pretty similar! So maybe they’re all a front now for one big government entity . . . ? Maybe they’ve all secretly been merged?
Does anybody really believe this??
Here again, critical thinking skills would come in handy. People do not even have to read the news carefully to understand that whatever Obamacare is or is not—and regardless of whether it’s a good or a bad thing—it is clearly, indisputably not a government “takeover” of the health insurance industry, much less the entire health care industry of the United States.
To put it in the most general terms possible, the Affordable Care Act is a law that has changed the rules of how the health insurance industry works, by imposing certain requirements on insurers—as well as on the public (to buy insurance).
I could go on and on about why I like Obamacare. But the point is, before the discussion even begins, people have to agree on what they’re talking about. Right?
Unless people don’t really care about communicating. Or thinking.