Part of my relative silence lately has been due to simple overload. There is so much I want to say that picking and choosing becomes difficult. Also, I have been reluctant to allow this blog to be dominated by health care or climate change debates, yet those seem to be the two subjects dominating the portions of the news that I would normally comment on. Oh well, you play the hand you're dealt, right?
I'm pulling from comment sections again today, but I'm not going to use direct quotes. As you should easily see, there won't be any need. Instead, I am distilling questions and comments that are seen constantly among the various blogs and news comments but which are, themselves, a considerable distance away from being honest. I'll distill the question into its most common form and then try to give it an answer.
"If you are opposed to socialized medicine, why don't you refuse to accept Medicare?"
You mean these people should refuse to accept services for which they have already paid in full? You do realize, of course, that Medicare is essentially an insurance program that uses the strength of government to force you to pay premiums for decades before you are even allowed to use it. Of course you do. If you have ever received a paycheck, you have seen these forced premium payments for yourself. The people who are using Medicare have spent all or most of their lives expecting that this is how it would be because this was the only choice they were allowed. They planned accordingly and now your brilliant suggestion is that they fix someone else's problem by ditching their lives' plans at the last minute and just accepting that the money which was taken from them for years has disappeared into a black hole instead of coming back to them in any useful manner. I have a hard time believing that anyone uttering this particular question doesn't fully understand what they are suggesting.
"If you oppose health care reform for fiscal reasons, why didn't you oppose the unnecessary Iraq war for those same reasons?"
This one is wrong on so many levels. First of all, it assumes that everyone who is fiscally opposed to the current health care reform ideas was for the Iraq war, which is demonstrably false. There is a large number of fiscally conservative Libertarians who screamed bloody murder about the waste and uselessness of the Iraq war and who are also less than pleased with the current round of waste. I have no doubt that there are many Republicans and Independents who fall into the same camp. More importantly, though, this question assumes that everyone shares the belief that the Iraq war was unnecessary - a belief that even a semi-bright child can easily see is not shared - and, even more importantly, it assumes that everyone shared that belief from the beginning. Shall we do a reminder list of the people on the Left who supported the Iraq war at the beginning? Those people who supported the Iraq war did so precisely because they believed it was necessary, negating the entire "logic" of this question.
"Where were you for the last eight years when Bush was spending so much?"
Where were you, living under a rock? There were fiscally conservative Republicans howling against Bush's spending policies every single day! Just because they weren't the majority or the loudest voices doesn't mean you get to claim they weren't there. Are there more of them now? Of course there are! In case you hadn't noticed, spending has gone up exponentially. Those who were uneasy about Bush's spending - but not enough so to make a big stink - could easily be pushed over the line by doubling and trippling the spending. There is nothing sinister or inherently partisan about this. It's pretty normal. Most of us behave in the exact same way in our every day lives. We might wince at certain household expenses but decide not to make an issue just yet, and then hit the roof when the household budget goes through the roof. Can you honestly try to claim that this is unusual behavior?
"If you're so anti-socialism then we should make sure the police and fire departments never come to your aid since they are government funded."
Pure hyperbole, and stupid hyperbole at that. Can you even imagine a Republican anarchist? Because I can't and, for the record, there is nothing in Libertarian principles that would support this idea either. Socialism is the economic theory of public ownership of the means of production and allocation of resources. Defense - including domestic defense, ie. law enforcement and fire brigades - is not a part of the socialism theory. It isn't even covered. One has nothing to do with the other. Defense and how it is handled would be covered under political theory, not economic theory - yes, for those of you who don't know any better, you actually do have to be able to juggle multiple theories at the same time in order to successfully have this conversation - and most fiscal conservatives subscribe to political theories that do include defense as a natural and proper function of government.
I could go on like this all day, but I think you get the idea. I'll let you chew on these for a while and maybe we'll come back to this idea another time. If you see similar questions or statements that don't quite seem to make sense, feel free to send them along and maybe we'll include them next time.