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.