You “don’t want socialism” – but you do

This past weekend, I had one of those impromptu conversations with someone which ended up covering many of the points that make realize the incredible disconnection between people’s political beliefs and their daily reality.  The man saw the Obama sticker on my car, and launched into a diatribe about the President being a “socialist.”    As it turns out, the man is disabled, on disability, and receives his health care through Medicaid with an added insurance option which he can pay for when he uses it ($300 a month).    I pointed out to him that, besides the President not being a “socialist”  in the sense he meant it, he was actually benefiting from socialist programs.   Defensively, he stated that he had “paid taxes for it” during his working life, and he could always get private insurance if he wanted to.    Realistically,  the taxes he paid didn’t come close to paying for what he was now receiving.

It’s that which irritates me, and makes me despair a little.  Here’s a man who is now dependent on payments from a government social program.  His healthcare paid for by tax dollars, and his contribution a fraction of what it would cost for private insurance if any insurance company would take him on.   Which, I guarantee you, they wouldn’t.     As I thought about it, I realized that he’d driven on socialist roads (the federal, state, and local governments paid for them) to get up here, and the reason he was here was to spend time in one of the largest state parks in the country  – of which 50% is owned by the state.      In other words, this gentleman was benefiting from social programs, which enabled him to continue to stay in his home, live independently, have healthcare, and enjoy a low-cost vacation.  That’s “socialism.”  But he didn’t see it.

Neither do many people.  Ever travel  by air?  The airports were constructed with government money, and are often owned by governments.  The ability to fly safely depends on government employees.  Think private industry would do better?  Get ready to pay a lot, and have fewer airports.  Seriously.  You might also want to consider just how important access to air travel is for many businesses, so you’d see some areas gaining while the odds are very good that yours would lose.

It’s why I say there’s a disconnect in people’s thinking.  They may say they don’t want socialism.  Until you start asking them about the  government program they’re benefiting from, or if they know how the government is subsidizing them.  Then it’s “not socialism.”  Yes it is.  You may not want socialism, but you really do.  You just don’t want to admit it, or do without.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “You “don’t want socialism” – but you do

  1. They’re just people who think what they’re told to think. They’re told that efforts to make health insurance more affordable is bad so they’re against it. They’re told that government regulation is an intrusion into the free market so they’re against reforming the problems that led to the destruction of our economy. They’re told that now deficits are bad, so even though the Bush administration ran deficits so big, they doubled the national debt, these people are only now concerned about it. Bush trashing the Constitution was okay, but now that there’s a question about the Constitutionality of requiring people to buy health insurance, so now we “need to get back to our Constitution.”

    These people only think what they’re told to think. If Glenn Beck told them to be against popcorn, they’d stop eating it.

    • He did come across as a typical Fox News viewer. :) What struck me about the conversation was the complete disconnect between their political views and what government programs and services they are benefiting from.

      Even more amazing to me was that person’s belief that they could get private health insurance, and that it wouldn’t cost them more than what they are paying. I happen to know what I pay, and since I’m younger and a lot healthier than he was, I know he wasn’t even in the ballpark when it came to costs. I also know, from the experience of others, that getting private health insurance with the condition he had is a non-starter. Not going to happen.

      People think the “free market” will help them, or make it cheaper and better. The reality is that it might for some things, but for others that will only apply if you’re young, healthy,and (or) rich.

  2. I’d be more than happy to do without in a lot of area, but we’ve gone down that road of discussion before.

    And you keep saying the government “paid for” this or that. Lets remember where the government got the money in the first place.

    • Yes, the government got the money from us and from businesses. :) That’s called “socializing the cost.” Interesting thing I saw recently was that roads (even toll roads) do not “pay for themselves” – they have to be subsidized via taxes.

      • “Interesting thing I saw recently was that roads (even toll roads) do not “pay for themselves” – they have to be subsidized via taxes.”

        Do you have a link, I’d be interested in reading about it?

        • I thought I’d saved it, since I remembered one of our discussions – but I guess not. It was about the screams regarding subsidies for high-speed rail, and as the author pointed out, virtually all forms of transportation receive government subsidies of one type or another.

          • Okay, I’ll do some google searches and see if I can come across it or similar articles.

            As an aside, what do you think would be the outcome to travel in the US if we developed high speed rail lines regionally and nationally?

  3. In the posting you wrote that the person said to you that, “he could always get private insurance if he wanted to.”

    Now that tells me that if true (which I think as you do – he likely can’t) he’s decided that it’s easier to take a handout than provide for himself.

    An attitude all to prevalent in our society today IMHO.

    • True. Hence my pointing out the disconnection. His “reason” for doing it was that he only has to pay the fee when he uses the service, not on a monthly basis. That the fee itself is actually ridiculously low is something he doesn’t know, or want to know. I know what I pay under my group insurance plan, and what it would cost me under COBRA if I lost my job – and it’s quite a bit more than what he’s paying.

      • Agreed, when we looked at COBRA for a short period after my wife changed employers it was a number that easily made a decision for us to do without insurance until her new insurance started.

  4. As an aside, what do you think would be the outcome to travel in the US if we developed high speed rail lines regionally and nationally?

    I think it’s a necessary thing, but I don’t know the outcomes for the long-term. Few people could have foreseen the massive shifts in population and the economy made by the construction of the Interstate Highway System. The article was a response to the numerous “OMG!!! It’ll have to have subsidies!!!” articles that were running around. The point being that every major transportation mode in this country (and the world) is subsidized. For example, an airline ticket does not have a charge for air traffic control built into it. The interstates in many of the western states were not paid for by the state governments themselves – and the amount they pay in taxes does not cover the maintenance and operation costs of those roads.

    If I wanted to be strictly against subsidies, I’d tell (for example) Montana “you’ll get back only what you pay in taxes.” I guarantee you that the road budget there would drop like a stone, or the state tax rate would skyrocket.