I’m sick. I don’t get sick much. Somehow I still don’t quite believe I will ever get really sick but the statistics say there is a 100% chance I will die of something. So that means it’s either a violent end, or one day I get really sick.
Statistics also say over 70% of my readers are American, and some other statistics say that one-seventh of them do not have health insurance.
I’m making this statistic up, but for those without health coverage, probably a good 50% of their fellow Americans believe that their lack of health insurance is deserved. If they get sick they deserve no medical attention, because they didn’t tend their own garden well enough.
In America, you’re free to seek and acquire everything you need. Somehow, many people think this means the same as: if you don’t have everything you need, then you don’t deserve everything you need. No health insurance? Didn’t work hard enough. Simple.
My sinuses are blocking some of my brain right now so maybe I’m oversimpifying it, but isn’t that the basic philosophy, for many, many people?
The population contains two hundred million self-professed followers of Christ and most of them believe that it is absurd to pay a dime for someone else to see a doctor.
Makes me think of a joke:
How many Ayn Rand objectivists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None. The market will sort it out.
I generally don’t talk about single political issues here. And I’m not right now. This post isn’t about health care. Or Capitalism. It’s about something way bigger, as always.
There is a terrible notion out there that is relatively common: that haves deserve to be haves, and have-nots deserve to be have-nots. It sounds sensible if you don’t really think about it.
If you do think about it you’ll quickly realize that it means, to begin with, that the disadvantaged (for whatever reason) deserve less, are worth less, and that there is no justice until they have less. If someone gets to see a doctor without paying for it, for example, then they are getting away with something.
It implies that the mythical quality of “strength of character” is all that separates the haves from the have-nots, and that this quality is all the disadvantaged are truly missing, and that rightly they are to be blamed for that.
It presumes that being poor in a nation with a free market economy can only be a moral failing — rather than an inevitable product of the system, rather than a social condition whose existence is necessary in order for other people to be rich. Being poor can only arise from some kind of choice to be not good enough, as the popular “get off your ass” sentiment goes. Many people really do believe this.
If you get into an argument about this, all the rebuttals you’ll face can be boiled down to this:
Why should *I* be forced to help someone else?
Because you’re better off if other people aren’t suffering so much.
Even if you truly cannot see a reason why the suffering of another person is relevant to you, there’s still an ice-cold pragmatic reason to redistribute wealth, if you need one.
No matter which way you dice it, you’re better off if you live in a society that does not create large numbers of destitute people as a part of its nature. Even if they don’t live next to you.
Crime, distrust, self-destruction, poverty and other conditions we all hate grow directly out of lives that are missing something vital. Education. Health. Self-respect and the respect of society.
Even the richest are better off if they are made to be slightly less rich in order to reduce the number of poor and destitute. Not even to be kind, necessarily, but just to live in a society that is unwilling to bear the enormous social problems created by a huge, incurably destitute lower class.
And such a society cannot exist without an obligation (not a suggestion) for the haves to contribute to the quality of the lives of the have-nots, even if it is more than they might “deserve.”
Nobody is able to create by themselves all that they feel they deserve. Even those who live at the top of the pile.