Material Deprivation

Have we written about this before? Are we reading about anything else? Chait at NY Mag sets the context for the healthcare debate – you know, the one we’re going to have, again.

Opponents of the law have endlessly invoked “socialism.” Nothing in the Affordable Care Act or any part of President Obama’s challenges the basic dynamics of market capitalism. All sides accept that some of us should continue to enjoy vastly greater comforts and pleasures than others. If you don’t work as hard as Mitt Romney has, or were born less smart, or to worse parents, or enjoyed worse schools, or invested your skills in an industry that collapsed, or suffered any other misfortune, then you will be punished for this. Your television may be low-definition, or you might not be able to heat or cool your home as comfortably as you would like; you may clothe your children in discarded garments from the Salvation Army.

This is not in dispute. What is being disputed is whether the punishments to the losers in the market system should include, in addition to these other things, a denial of access to non-emergency medical treatment. The Republican position is that it should. They may not want a woman to have to suffer an untreated broken ankle for lack of affordable treatment. Likewise, I don’t want people to be denied nice televisions or other luxuries. I just don’t think high-definition television or nice clothing are goods that society owes to one and all. That is how Republicans think about health care.

This is why it’s vital to bring yourself face-to face with the implications of mass uninsurance — not as emotional manipulation, but to force you to decide what forms of material deprivation ought to be morally acceptable.

Can this Supreme Court case be about anything else? No, it can’t. These are the terms. This is the reason there was an Affordable Care Act, and an individual mandate. And the reason there will have to be another debate and another law if this one is indeed struck down. Republicans will try to elide this debate, but there isn’t any other debate. The other aspects of the situation are beyond question. This is what they’re holding out on. Damn, green makes some people really mean.

Via.

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