Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Nature of Opposition to Some Things

As a preface to this essay I state that my assertions do not cover all "conservatives," but only most of them. I have friends and relatives who voted for Republicans in the last Presidential Election and who would probably classify themselves as conservatives in the present popular meaning of the term. I believe that at least some of these friends and relatives are people of principle and do not vote for merely selfish concerns.

But many people do. Not only conservatives but many "moderates" and "liberals" also make political choices based on what they perceive as economic advantage to themselves. It's this "selfish" voting that is the target of my following essay.

Consider the vocal opposition to the recently enacted health care law. Why are the opponents against it? A few of them, persons who incline toward socialism like me, don't like it because it is complicated and because it leave the big insurance companies in charge of the system. We socialists prefer a much simpler plan: provide good medical care to all residents as a matter of right or public good. Tax everyone fairly to pay for this care. That's the way we provide police protection and fire protection and street repair and garbage collection and all the other services that government provides. The rest of the opponents oppose the new plan, if you can call it that, because they don't like the way it is paid for, or, because they happen to worship the belief in "small government." Actually, the belief in small government is motivated by economic considerations: small government equals low taxes.

Nobody claims that our present system of health care provides equal care to everyone. It provides the best care in the world for those who can pay. As to the rest, well, too bad. In effect, the successful people are saying to the others, "I've got mine, so screw you."

It has occurred to me that this attitude is behind most "conservative" opposition to any reform that promises to provide equality or fairness to an oppressed class of resident. One example is the opposition to reform and liberalization of our immigration laws to allow more immigration, a path for "illegal" immigrants to become legal and the right to apply for citizenship, and the like. Apparently a majority of the American public approves of the law recently enacted in Arizona to encourage the police to round up illegal immigrants, sequester them, and have them turned over to the federal agency that ships them to Mexico - correction, to the country they came from. Many legal immigrants favor the Arizona law and approaches like that of Arizona. They've made it, so screw the newcomers.

This attitude of smug contempt for those less fortunate is pervasive among voters and is not confined to conservatives. It is especially prevalent during hard times, when unemployment is high, jobs are scarce, and the social net isn't covering all those in need.


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