June 29, 2012

I support the asshole tax

A few years back, I mentioned in casual conversation how the health care debate, and the particular oddity of America being the one first-world nation that loathes the idea of universal coverage, as an example of America's bizarre culture. Basically, I suggested this: Americans have a pathological fear and hatred of someone "having it off better than them." This is why we hate unions, health care, Affirmative Action and illegal immigrants, and blindly support regressive taxes because we dream of ourselves magically becoming multi-millionaires someday.

The entire history of opposition to progressive change in America is based on thinking that someone who isn't you is having their life improved. And I'm sure it goes without saying that the history of opposition to progressive change just happens to go hand in hand with said progressive change being related to improving the lives of people who aren't white, aren't male and aren't rich, or at the very least in elite social circles.

America has the most dysfunctional sense of reward ever. We idolize the rich, regardless of how they earned their riches and in many cases in spite of it. We'll watch a TV show about useless idiots or a rich asshole firing people or a random person becoming a millionaire because they are good at spinning a wheel or remembering aspects of pop culture. But we'll turn around and be furious that we might all have to start contributing to a system that betters another person's ability to take care of themselves when they're sick because that's not "fair." We have a very long way to go in getting over the latest elitism and racism that permeates America's bitterness toward "others."

The health care debate seemed to be a perfect storm for the right-wing classes because it let them rage against those alleged undeserving while also fulfilling their other passions of pissing off liberals and hurting people for their own amusement. The remainder--the ones who are tweeting things like "this is the death of our noble Constitution" and didn't have to ignore graduating college to plausibly write that and actually believe this are simply crazy and/or stupid. Bobby Jindal and other Republican governors are now claiming they want to "defend their states' rights" by simply refusing to implement their state exchanges, which means that they are flat out saying they plan to let the Federal Government take control of their state's health care, in the name of state's rights. America is now a bunch of semi-smart people pretending to be stupid to convince even stupider people that helping people is an awful idea.

In the end, with all its flaws--and don't get me wrong, there are many--that is really the purpose of the health care bill. Yes, it's a tax or a mandate or a penalty or whatever the hell you choose to call it. The point is, yes, it disrupts America's gross selfishness and irresponsibility by forcing Americans to actually be responsible for itself. The reason this was done, despite glowing libertarian rhetoric to the contrary, is because America has proven over the last few decades that it is utterly incapable of doing this voluntarily. We deserve to pay. We've been assholes about this.

They can be any combination of racist, selfish, and/or stupid, but the point is these people--the friends, Facebook acquaintances, family members, civic leaders, libertarian halves of comic magician duos-- who are now explaining that it's a gross disservice to them to have to be forced to contribute to the collective bettering of America--and when I say "bettering" I am not talking of Communist platitudes but am referring to making it easier to not die, possibly painfully, likely losing every cent you have in the process-- these people are all assholes. And if the end result of the health care bill is that they have to pay a fine because they were assholes who couldn't find a better way to not be assholes, then I have no problems whatsoever if I have to pay a little more to implement this process. Hell, I'll throw in an extra twenty.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:01 PM