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11/22/2008
WILL NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE KILL CONSERVATISM?

Every once and a while, even smart people say or write stuff that makes them look stupid.

Why, even I myself have fallen victim to these little intellectual hiccups. You don’t write on a blog everyday for 4 years and not, on occasion, come up with some really, really lights out, eye poppingly, drop dead clueless, monumentally ignorant stuff. Any blogger or writer who tells you differently is either a liar or so full of himself that the power of their egos would probably light up Chicago. It is an occupational hazard and is impossible to avoid. (I can’t think of anything offhand but I’m sure there are some intrepid commenters out there who would help me out.)

Of course, there are some bloggers and writers out there who make a career of writing brainless, fatuous, jaw droppingly doltish stuff. Village idiots like TBogg or the folks at Sadly No have taken bathroom humor, playground taunts, and pre-teen sex jokes to a level unseen by most adults. I would add the pathologically bigoted writings of Debbie Schlussel and just about everything written by Robert Kagan as examples on the right of writers who make a living penning witless missives, dopey treatises, and uninformed balderdash.

But even very smart, very witty people can fall victim to the Stupid Virus. Take the delightful CNBC host and commentator James Pethokoukis, who also writes a money blog for US News and World Report. He really caught a virulent form of the disease with his post entitled “How Tom Daschle might kill conservatism.”

The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. “Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that’s it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail.”

And it turns out that the fearsome harbinger of free-market doom is the mild-mannered ex-U.S. senator with the little, red glasses, Tom Daschle. He’ll be the guy shepherding President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan through Congress via his probable role as secretary of health and human services. At the core of Daschle’s thinking on the subject is the creation of a “Federal Health Board that would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board” and ensure “harmonization across public programs of health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency.” (Forget secretary of state, Hillary Clinton should shoot for chairman of Fed Health and run one seventh of the U.S. economy.) And the subject of that “harmonization” would be a $100 billion to $150 billion a year plan that would let individuals (and small businesses) buy insurance from private companies or from a government plan.

Daschle and the Obamacrats certainly have the momentum: a near-landslide presidential election victory, at least 58 Democratic votes in the Senate, and a nasty recession that will make many Americans yearn for economic security. Already the health insurance companies seem set back on their heels. The industry’s trade organization now says it would accept new rules requiring them to cover pre-existing conditions as long as there was a universal mandate for all Americans to have health insurance. On top of all that, Obama clearly wants to make healthcare reform a priority in his first term, as evidenced by the selection of a heavy hitter like Daschle. And even if he wasn’t interested, Congress sure is, with Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy readying a plan in the Senate. A few observations:

1) Passage would be a political gamechanger. Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of “Marxist thought,” puts it: “After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.”

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: “Blocking Obama’s health plan is key to the GOP’s survival.”

I’ll go even further and say that passing Obamacare would turn the US from from being the world’s only superpower into a second class backwater with little more influence than France on the world stage. This may happen anyway thanks to the financial meltdown and the subsequent $2 trillion and rising in bailouts. Let’s face it; trillion dollar deficits and half a trillion dollar defense budgets are an impossibility. They cannot exist in the same universe. You can’t cut entitlements in a deep recession and since there is only around $35 billion in real discretionary spending to be cut, something has got to give somewhere. With Democrats in charge, it will be the defense budget.

But would Obamacare “kill” conservatism? That’s something of a nutty idea considering that it comes from an analysis given in a journal devoted to that wildly successful political philosophy known as Marxism. In a deterministic world where we are all happy little Commie robots, we would “vote our interests” and cast our ballot for the politician who promised us the most goodies. Democrats and liberals have been whining for years that Americans in flyover country have been hypnotized or fooled by Republicans into actually voting against politicians who will give them everything necessary to make their lives easier.

But determinism is dead, killed by the reality that people simply don’t act the way the Marxists say we should act. If they did, I guarantee you the old Soviet Union would still be with us while the United States would have gone the way of the Dodo bird. In the aggregate, people do not make decisions for themselves or their families based on what is best for their “class” or even care much about how their lives might be improved at the margins by voting for big government liberals. It has never been that way in America when voting for president and is only partly true when voting for Congressmen and Senators.

A study done earlier this year and published in the Journal of Leadership Studies revealed some of the real reasons people choose one presidential candidate over the other - and it ain’t because one of them will shower them with gifts from the government:

An article to be published in the new Journal of Leadership Studies (Wiley Periodicals, Inc.) on February 28th discusses results of researching and analyzing data from the seven most recent U.S. presidential elections comparing Democratic and Republican Party candidates who were successful in securing votes. The analysis reveals what tipped the scales with voters and how perceptions of leader intelligence, feelings of pride and hope, as well as feelings of fear and anger, were found to impact the decision process, rather than the issues that candidates present.

Researchers M. David Albritton, Sharon L. Oswald and Joseph S. Anderson used data from the National Election Studies (NES) division of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan to expand upon previous work on voter attitudes, perceptions of leaders, and voter support. They found perceived intelligence, inspirational qualities, and charisma to be key factors in the formation of voter opinion. Instead of the varying positions on issues, voter’s perceptions of these key traits are found to be predictors of whether or not that voter will consider a leader to be of high quality.

How a candidate’s charisma as well as how fear plays into a voter’s evaluation was also examined. Intuitively perhaps, fear played a negative role toward a candidate. Individuals who generated stronger feelings of voter fear were considered “lower quality leaders.” However, fear also helped shape positive behaviors toward a rival candidate. Surprisingly, charisma, traditionally considered an asset, was often viewed negatively when framed in the context of manipulating others toward personal gain.

The vote for president is the most personal political decision most Americans make. Political pros have known for decades, thanks to several landmark social psychology studies, what goes into the decision making process of citizens when they choose a president. First, as with any politician, it is likability that is most translatable into votes. Next comes shared values or comfortability. The third is fear of the alternative. Ideology plays into the comfortability index while positions on the issues and campaign promises are almost always way down the list.

Voting for other federal offices is not quite as personal but for House members especially, it is not national issues as much as it is local concerns that determine competitive races - a dwindling number thanks to finely honed redistricting techniques. More than anything, what will keep Democrats in power will be how the new Congressional district lines will be drawn following the 2010 census.

The Senate is a different story but is still an electoral body dominated by incumbents thanks to their massive advantage in fundraising, name recognition, and their ability to build a sophisticated political ground game over their 6 year term. Here again, likability and shared values mean more than any specific issues.

In the kind of deterministic construct offered by those who believe that Obamacare and other proposed social programs will kill conservatism because people will be so overjoyed that government will offer them “security” that they will vote for big government liberals for the foreseeable future fail to understand that first, we are a different people than the Europeans despite what many on the left who have abandoned the idea of American exceptionalism are telling us; and second, such twaddle reveals a lack of understanding of basic political psychology.

America has been gradually adapting itself to the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege. I would say to my conservative friends that politically - and realistically - we have probably lost this argument. The issue plays to the people’s basic sense of fairness and despite their misgivings about government run boondoggles, would support some kind of national health insurance that guaranteed everyone’s access to at least minimal care.

But I would say to my friends on the left that this doesn’t mean Americans will support the kind of massive intrusion being planned by Kennedy-Baucus or the Obama Administration - especially after conservatives get through informing the public of just what it means to have mandates, “Federal Health Boards” and other cockamamie ideas that limit freedom and choices. There are alternatives - some free market options as well as a mix of government-industry proposals - that would accomplish the goal without having government get on the slippery slope of eventually controlling the entire health care industry.

But even if Kennedy-Baucus were to pass - highly unlikely at this point - would that mean the “death of conservatism?” If Marxism couldn’t be killed off by it’s massive, world wide failures it is extremely difficult to see how conservatism could be executed by the passage of a government program - especially one that would be amenable to alteration once its deficiencies were exposed by its application to the real world. Conservatives may not be able to get rid of national health insurance. But there is no doubt that they will be able to run against its failures by proposing sensible alternatives and reforms.

Conservatism is a philosophy. I have had many arguments with my conservative friends over how to make this philosophy into a real world, governing ideal in a 21st century industrialized democracy. I am unsure if on some level, that “governing ideal” hasn’t run its course and lost its way. Making conservative principles and a conservative approach to issues relevant again will take a careful study of where we went wrong and some fresh ideas of how to translate the principles and values of conservatism into concrete, programmatic proposals that can compete in the great American marketplace of ideas once again.

By: Rick Moran at 11:43 am
39 Responses to “WILL NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE KILL CONSERVATISM?”
  1. 1
    David Said:
    12:51 pm 

    I hate to be reductionistic, but it’s too tempting to resist. I think I’m with those conservatives that believe not that we were too conservative or put RINOs up as candidates, but rather because we failed to translate conservative ideas into real policy proposals.

    Reagan did this, the Contract with America did it (though in a ham-handing less sophisticated way). In both of these cases we said affirmatively, “This is what it means to be conservative.” That’s a stark contrast to some quarters comfortability with conservative simply meaning we are less-liberal than the democrats or “if you keep voting for us we’ll eventually get around to getting Roe v Wade off the books.”

    Buckley might have sound-bited perfectly with “standing athwart history crying stop.” But we’ve started to see ourselves as simply leaving the parking brake on. We’re just a drag on the march of modernism (which is essentially a concession that modernism has already won). A check and balance so the best modernistic ideas will rise to the top.

    We have to reclaim, refocus and retool. We need to educate ourselves on our anthropology, our history and our shared interpretation of virtue. Take a quick trip to the library to read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Plato’s Republic, some Aquinas, Luther, Adam Smith, etc and then look at the world around us and say, “If Constantine, Charlemagne and Queen Elizabeth were in the room how would they advise us.” In fact, they ARE in the room.

    Out of such an exploration come such ideas as Gingrich’s silly, but at least rhetorically useful “Let’s get rid of adolescence” article. That’s an impossibility, but it could inform many useful reforms in how America manages it’s unmanageable youth. It might also mean deliberately staying out of power for the purpose of focusing not on “getting elected” but “educating the electorate”.

    Rovian permanent majority was a farce because it focused on a short-term strategy (in fact, how could it have succeeded?). We need a multi-generational approach to this problem. You don’t turn an aircraft carrier around on a dime.

    Personally, I think we will ultimately fail, not because of any tactical error or failure of ideas or being wrong, but because a fundamental aspect of being conservative is living life. True conservatives are too busy with real life to take the time necessary to wield the ship of state. But I’d like to see us at least try.

    “…because we failed to translate conservative ideas into real policy proposals.”

    Couldn’t agree more. My point was that there is a lack of specific policy proposals - the result of a disconnect between conservative principles and an ideal of conservative governance.

    ed.

  2. 2
    Jim Said:
    1:29 pm 

    Thank you, Rick.

    As a nation we are still making too many assumptions about the shape of an Obama administration based on too much supposition and too little information. The fact that Obama has not been transparent and has shapeshifted doesn’t help, I know. Add to that the natural cast of punditry and Chicken Littleism and you have a recipe for what you are seeing across the board - fevered rhetoric. I didn’t think it was possible but Obama managed to turn this election into a referendum on Bush and was largely effecive at marginalizing McCain - who seems to have helped Obama by becoming Captain Bailout. Of course having $700 million would help elect Randy Rodent. I have Obama supporter friends and EVERY conversation still turns from Obama to Bush. As if he was on the ballot. It is WAY too premature to hold a wake for conservative values. We need to do two things: work to develop sound economic proposals to help solve this mess - which, like it or not, is a creation of all Americans (though the Dems had a big hand in it) AND decide how we want to approach 2010 with a consistent message and sound candidates.

    Jim

  3. 3
    MarkJ Said:
    1:47 pm 

    “America has been gradually adapting itself to the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege. I would say to my conservative friends that politically – and realistically – we have probably lost this argument. The issue plays to the people’s basic sense of fairness and despite their misgivings about government run boondoggles, would support some kind of national health insurance that guaranteed everyone’s access to at least minimal care.”

    The problem with national health insurance is that, in my mind, it carries within it the seeds of its own destruction; it becomes a victim of its own “success” (however one may define that). One look at Europe confirms this: aging native populations, the best and brightest fleeing to other shores, crumbling tax bases due to either a) below-replacement birth rates or, conversely, b) influxes of baby-popping immigrants who see little need to keep supporting natives they’re likely going to supplant in a few decades anyway, etc.

    The dirty little secret, of course, is that all those well-heeled voters who touched the screen for Obama don’t, and won’t, have any intention of rubbing elbows with the gun- and bible-clinging provincials when it comes to health care. Steven Spielberg waiting in line for treatment at a community ObamaCare clinic? Dream on. He’ll keep his own private doctors on retainer or, better yet, just create a private health care network along with his studio good-time buddies. For being such a supposedly smart guy, Obama seems totally oblivious to the fact that there was even “private medicine” in the old Soviet Union, which was based on…bribery. If you wanted decent care, you had to pay to play.

    Yeah, that’s the dirty little secret: “progressives” have been whining for years about the alleged “two-tier” health system in this country. Problem is, that’s precisely what ObamaCare will ensure: one tier for the super-rich, another for what’s left of the middle-class, and even a third tier for the poor.

    But why the f*** should Congress care? They’ve already got theirs, and many of them are so old–the average age of Senators is around 62!–they won’t live to see the worst results of their legislation.

  4. 4
    P. Aaron Said:
    2:45 pm 

    Another “dirty little secret” of nationalized health care is that the people who are all for it are the most selfish greedy people around. They’ll happily get it and the lion’s share of all scope and level of services.

    Within 15-25 years budgetary issues will cause government to ration care overall. There will be no attempts to make Americans live healthier lives, basic care will just start to go away as it becomes less possible to fund. Just like Social Security or Medicare, or your own municipalities troubles budgeting for their own infrastructure. Hell look at public schools; they’re all budgetary nightmares.

    But those that clamor for it now don’t care about the future. They’ll be gone, and they’ll enjoy the best of it right until the end. Talk about greedy, I can’t imagine a worse thing to do to the youth. Sending them to war to fight for freedom is a difficult but arguable decision. Shackling them to a never ending-escalating financial burden seems unconscionable.

  5. 5
    McAdder Said:
    3:46 pm 

    It will neuter conservatives. That’s the implied goal of the reform. The conservatives in Europe are rather more housebroken and less inclined to follow the dogmatic domestic and foreign policy excesses of someone like George W. Bush. That the GOP could have been gifted 12 years of control in the congress and 8 years of the executive yet still leave the nation in ruins should be a demonstrable proof of the failure of conservative policy. That he could have free reign to reform after 9/11 and still ultimately fail suggests the ideas he was obsessed by were wrong. Bush didn’t fail conservatism conservatism failed all by itself.

    You are quite wrong about the fleeing elsewhere point MarkJ. Ireland has a National Health Service (since the 60s) and they actually started increasing population for the first time since records began. And they have gone on to be a wealthy nation that still maintains a very low tax base.

  6. 6
    JWS Said:
    4:46 pm 

    “…Making conservative principles and a conservative approach to issues relevant again will take a careful study of where we went wrong and some fresh ideas of how to translate the principles and values of conservatism into concrete, programmatic proposals that can compete in the great American marketplace of ideas once again.”

    With all due respect,this is why our “movement” is in such trouble. Conservatism IS relevant already. There is nothing new to propose. Whether they realize it or not, liberals live by conservative principles too. That is what must be made clear-that you can scream for socialist/ marxist idiots like Barry until the cows come home but hey, look! YOU have a 401K too! YOU drive a car too! Etc, etc. The solution is not to make any new proposals or offers (to woo young voters, for instance), other than that conservatism will “give” you lower taxes, less government, and a strong military so that you will be safe and free to do with your life what you want. Conservatism is not about giving anyone anything other than their freedom. Packaging such a thing is absurd. Lets make what most everyone is already doing in their daily lives “relevant again”?? Yup, that 12-sided wheel is much smoother than the old 8-sided one. What about the original wheel, you ask? That is sooooo passe….

  7. 7
    Jibreel Riley Said:
    7:07 pm 

    Just say you’ll be double paying for illegal to get heath care, that will awake the masses!

  8. 8
    Brent Said:
    7:33 pm 

    “especially after conservatives get through informing the public of just what it means to have mandates,… ”

    How do you propose conservatives do that? Chris Mathews and the rest of the MSM are on board the Obama train to help make it a sucess.

    Alot of conservatives are talking about our failures. And the MSM’s failures. I haven’t seen any conservative discuss what a serious problem the bent MSM is for us in future elections. They control the narrative.

    The MSM just covered for a guy who attends a racist black power church for cryin’ out loud.

  9. 9
    JM Hanes Said:
    7:39 pm 

    Assuming, as you suggest that the game is over with respect to whether or not healthcare is a right, it looks to me like there’s only one consequential difference between you and Pethokoukis. He thinks that “Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail.” You simply assert that despite buying into healthcare as a fairness proposition, when conservatives get through explaining that Kennedy-Baucus means bigger government, those same voters will rise up to reject it because they’re Americans, after all, not Europeans.

    I’d say the jury on who is going to look stupid, and who is not, is still decidedly out.

  10. 10
    mark30339 Said:
    9:14 pm 

    So the circular firing squad continues. Rick’s post at American Thinker was far more constructive (see http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/11/3_very_smart_young_conservativ.html), but way too short. With respect to health care, single provider care is still a distance away. A great compromise is in Tennessee, see http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/11/3_very_smart_young_conservativ.html

  11. 11
    mark30339 Said:
    9:16 pm 

    Sorry, the TN health insurance plan is at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122731243742249447.html

  12. 12
    Texas RN Said:
    9:17 pm 

    In your assessment there is one other component you need to consider: nurses and unions.

    The unions have tried forever to get control of the nurses. The union bosses know nurses are the majority workforce, yet nurses are less than a tenth of the membership of the largest healthcare union. With the exception of California, nursing staff everywhere have overwhelmingly rejected unions.

    However, there is a new tool about to be added to the arsenal of the union goons. A new way to intimidate nurses… The Orwellianly named “Employee Free Choice Act”. Once the unions can further intimidate the nurses by stripping them of their American right to a secret ballot I fear that enough will crumple and vote “yes” in a card check program. Now try to imagine your health care employees being managed by the UAW or another union of their ilk.

    Control the nurses you and control the whole healthcare system. And once the unions can suckle at the endless teat of the government sponsored national healthcare system they will drain our treasury dry. Your healthcare will be de facto controlled by the spawn of the incestuous relationship of the unions and the democrats. Conservatism will take a long time to triumph over that animal.

  13. 13
    gokart-mozart Said:
    9:38 pm 

    I was a medical student in London in 1976. In March, my landlady came to me with a hard lump in her neck, almost certainly a cancer. She told me she had been given an appointment to see the consultant who ran my Department - for October! In October, she might well be dead. Certainly, any chance of cure would be long gone.

    I thought to reassure her. “Come ’round with me tomorrow. I’ll get you in to see him right away, and we’ll do what we can”.

    She looked like I slapped her in the face. “OH, NO! That wouldn’t be right!”

    How many Americans react as she did will determine the success or failure of the socialist dream. My bet is, not too many will, and it won’t ever work.

  14. 14
    still liberal Said:
    10:39 pm 

    Instead of HOW conservative philosophy be translated into successful governing policy, the question might better be CAN conservative philosophy be translated into successful governing policy? Ask yourself, where has conservative ideals held power successfully for more than three or four decades? It hasn’t.

    Karl Marx wrote beautiful philosophy. What better than a utopia where everyone got what they needed and contributed what they could. Sweeter than speckled puppies and John Denver tunes! However, communism turned out to be a complete and total disaster as a political operating system. It’s idealism was far above any practical human implementation and easily highjacked by ill intended thugs. Could conservatism suffer from the same lack of practical implementation problems as communism?

    The first few years of the Reagan conservative revolution was a great success by anyone’s standards. It devolved into a muddle and mess as the practicalities of running a modern government could not be contained by the small and less costly model government envisioned by conservative philosophy. Speading democracy through force and unconstrained, unregulated big business did not fare much better. Beautiful ideals and sturdy sounding philosophy, but very poor policy and even worse outcomes. Not to mention also easily highjacked by ill intended thugs.

    While far from perfect, there is a reason why liberal thought has driven Western culture since the Enlightenment and usually with great success. Government is ultimately about results that work for the times in which policies are implemented, not ideological purity.

  15. 15
    Andrew Said:
    10:45 pm 

    Conservatives need to exert a LOT more control of who represents them in the MSM. There are a lot of pseudo-conservatives out there who are either untalented or simply serve up counter-conservative opinions for MSM talking points. David Brooks and most of the “conservatives” on MSNBC come to mind as this type of useful idiot for the Left. Notice all of the lavish coverage received by “conservatives” who bash Palin? I am not saying Mr. Pethokoukis falls into this category, but honestly I never heard of him until the firestorm this article created. Where is Mark Steyn in the national dialogue? Where is Michelle Malkin? Where is Ed Morrissey or anyone else you turn to for insight? Conservatives should really work harder to banish the Brooks of the world and promote the Steyns. Until then, the Left’s caricature of conservatism will be the political reality in the minds of the American people, even the well read.

  16. 16
    ChandlerEpp.com Pinged With:
    11:17 pm 

    [...] It’s Wishful Thinking… by Rick Moran (Right Wing Nut [...]

  17. 17
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:36 am 

    National Health certainly killed conservatism in the UK. Which is why Margaret Thatcher never became Prime Minister.

  18. 18
    Deagle Said:
    1:59 am 

    Well, I would have to say your right about the Daschle comment, but really, it will not be the effort of one President or one administration that destroys the American economy. It will continue to be the slow expansion of the Federal government with increasing support of all those that want more (and that support continues to increase with time - hey, we can just vote it/them in…) that will do us in. In the end, health care may just become the ultimate topping on this cake.

    If not this administration, maybe the next one or two for sure…

  19. 19
    Jason S Said:
    3:07 am 

    There is no need at all to assume that we’ve lost the argument over “whether or not health care is a right.” The only reason why it looks this way right now is because the question has never been expressed properly to the masses.

    The correct question is not “should we have the right to free health care?” - it is “should we have the right to demand that others pay for our health care?”

    The two questions amount to the same, yet it is only the second version which properly exposes the full implication of a “yes” answer.

    Politics should not just be about pandering to whichever irrational, thoughtless and immoral whims happen to dominate the popular mindset at any one time - it should also be about promoting an ideology in such a way that the popular mindset changes.

    Let’s face it, the only reason why so many people think that free health care is a “right” is because they’ve been persuaded to think that. Popular opinion doesn’t just come out of thin air.

    It is easier to promote the ideas of socialism to the masses than it is to promote the reasons why such ideas are wrong. This is because they appeal to our shallowest emotions - emotions like “caring” and “sharing.”

    When it comes to promoting the idea that health care is a right to TV viewers who want quick, easy to digest soundbites, all you have to do is pull a few easy-to-reach heartstrings. But to argue the opposite, you have to start from first principles and work your way up. It’s necessary to talk about the nature of rights themselves, where they come from, what they are and what they’re not.

    Few people have really thought about the nature of man’s rights - and virtually nobody in the media is likely to discuss the subject. This is something that needs to be rectified.

    Rights flow naturally from the basic metaphysics of man’s existence. There is one fundamental right - the right to life - and all other rights are derived from this. The next important right is the right to property.

    Rights are not something which can be “granted” by the state - everyone has them no matter who they are or where they were born. A woman in Iran has the same rights as a woman in America - the difference is that America respects and protects the rights of women more than Iran. New “rights” cannot come into existence - we have the same rights now as did cavemen.

    So when someone tries to tell you that there is a “right to health care,” and they aren’t swayed by the question: “at whose expense?”, then ask them this:

    Back when we were living in caves with no doctors or hospitals or medicine, who was abrogating your “right to health care?”

    It is IMPERATIVE that we never stop fighting for rational principles. This country is becoming awash in a sea of irrationalism and above all else, we have to keep the flame of reason burning. The left seems to realize that this is a war of ideas which will be won by persuasion, yet the right seems of late to think that public opinion is a beyond any sphere of influence - a complex shifting system like a climate which has to be adapted to.

    It’s not. It’s malleable. It’s not impervious to reason. We just have to start arguing consistently and effectively.

  20. 20
    Jason S Said:
    3:40 am 

    The view of McAdder above represent the irrational, disingenuous and thoughtless mindset that we need to start fighting with everything we’ve got.

    He claims that the country is “in ruins.” This is the kind of shrill, melodramatic emotionalism which is poisoning popular opinion. We are not “in ruins,” we are suffering some problems with our economy which are largely the fault of liberal politics, not conservatism. That is not to say that Bush is an authentic conservatism, because he’s not. In fact conservatives who are prepared to defend the free market without hypocrisy are few and far between these days, since most seem to support a degree of statism incompatible with true conservatism. But let’s not beat around the bush here - our economic woes are not and have never been caused by “unfettered capitalism,” they have been in every case, from the crash of ‘29 to the present slump, been caused by government intervention in the economy. The popular slack-jawed liberal claim that “conservatism tanked the economy” is false and must be countered at every available opportunity.

    We also need to stop cutting the crap and defend the Iraq War. We were absolutely right to impose regime change and to eliminate Saddam Hussein. Liberals think they can rewrite history, ignore the behavior of Saddam and act like he wasn’t a threat - even after going on record saying that he was a grave threat who needed to go, for a decade before the war. They only began to oppose the idea of regime change after it became politically beneficial for them to do so. The conduct of the Democrats throughout this war has been nothing short of disgraceful and we need to start calling it by its true name - treason. For all that the left likes to throw around the slogan “Bush lied,” it is actually they who lied and they’ve done it consistently over the last five years. It’s time to set the record straight.

    Not only that, it was recently pointed out that more Iraqis died under Clinton as a result of sanctions than died under Bush. Half a million Iraqi kids died and Madeline Albright said it was “worth it.” Worth it for what exactly? Nothing changed. Saddam was still a threat. At least Bush installed democracy in two Middle Eastern countries. What did Clinton do? The conduct of the Iraq war is not above criticism - but the reasons for going to war in the first place were sound and Bush will in time be seen as a far better President than Clinton. Europe can hoot and bray and whine about America’s “unchecked power” but the fact remains that America has its role whether it wants it or not - and Europe will still depend heavily on the security that America gives it for years to come.

    By the way McAdder - the “free” health care service in Ireland suffers from much the same problems as “free” health care everywhere else. Fundamentally, the problem is that when you have a free health care service, people abuse it. A study a few years ago in Ireland showed that recidivism within the health service was inversely proportional to the amount those patients paid into it. Those who are not so sick and could easily treat themselves nonetheless claim their “free” health care over and over again for the most trivial of ailments, to the detriment of those who are genuinely and seriously ill.

    Originating from Britain, I know all about socialized medicine. NHS hospitals are dangerously underfunded. The BBC reported recently that some renal wards suffered from “3rd world conditions.” People are often denied treatment by the state bean counters, or put on waiting lists that in some cases lead to treatable cancer turning to terminal cancer in the time it takes to get seen to. If you read the British press regularly you will often see stories about sick people who are denied some kind of new treatment which is only available in America (the NHS refuses to pay for it), and so in order to save their life they make public appeals for funds to fly them over the pond. I don’t hear of many Americans flying to Europe for treatment.

  21. 21
    Frederick Davies Said:
    6:52 am 

    As someone living in the UK (and suffering under the NHS), I am afraid that you are wrong; that GOP strategist is right in that if people get used to government running their healthcare, the possibility of small-government Conservatism ever doing anything worth voting for is over. Other forms of Conservatism may survive and thrive under nationalized healthcare, but any attempts to reduce the size of government will be over. It is not a question of determinism or voter self-interest, it is just that the Left will always have the possibility of accusing anyone trying to reduce the size of government of trying to cut public services (like they do here in the UK), and that is a fear tactic that works. Even Margaret Thatcher only temporarily managed to stop the growth of government here in the UK, and it took a complete economic catastrophe like the 1970’s for it to happen; reducing it was even beyond her.

  22. 22
    Roy E Said:
    8:01 am 

    Nationalized Health Care will only kill good good health care.

    Compromising principles in the mistaken notion that it will win elections as a response to the entitlement mentality programed into our children by our failing education system that is killing conservatism.

  23. 23
    Ed Said:
    9:28 am 

    “If they did, I guarantee you the old Soviet Union would still be with us while the United States would have gone the way of the Dodo bird.”

    The US will become the Soviet Union with Obama and a filibuster proof senate. And like in the Soviet Union, it will take about 70 years of hell before the people wake up and revolt. And after that another 20-30 years to get back to where we are today.

  24. 24
    elfman Said:
    9:52 am 

    So the premise of this article is really that national healthcare won’t “kill” Conservatism because it will at least stay as viable as Marxism. If this article wasn’t so informative, I’d be mad as hell that it took until almost the last sentence to discover that.

    This is the first I’ve read of Rick Moran. He seems to be brilliant guy, excellent writing and research, but likes to hear himself talk too much. His frequent and sometimes lengthily departures aren’t as entertaining as he thinks they are. He needs and editor.

    This is a blog, not a newspaper. Yes, my ramblings are often too long and not very well organized - probably why after 4 years I have yet to crack an average of 3000 daily readers. But frankly, my blog is much more for me than for you - it helps flesh out my thinking and allows me to examine the pros and cons of an issue.

    And sorry, but I was not saying conservatism will stay at least as viable as Marxism. You missed the point that National Health insurance won’t kill conservatism because there will be conservative alternatives - free market or mixed proposals - that the voter might consider once it becomes clear what a mess Obamacare will make of the health care system. If the goal is to provide health insurance and a minimal level of care for all - and I think that is where the voting public is right now - the goal of conservatives should be to seek solutions based on conservative principles and not nannystatism.

    This is what I mean by bringing the conservative governing ideal into the 21st century; not abandoning our principles but becoming relevant to the voters by offering a clear choice between what the liberals are going to do for the next 4 years and what a government based on conservative principles can accomplish.

    ed.

  25. 25
    elfman Said:
    9:58 am 

    “The correct question is not “should we have the right to free health care?” – it is “should we have the right to demand that others pay for our health care?” - Jason S

    BINGO! Thank you Jason!

    Succinctly put, It would almost fit on a bumper sticker.

  26. 26
    shaun Said:
    11:27 am 

    Rick:

    Terrific post.

    Texas RN:

    Unions will never control nurses as hospital managers already have a death grip on most of them. And they’re not letting go, with a big assist from government in too many states, until the profession is brought to its knees.

    Like here:

    http://kikoshouse.blogspot.com/2008/10/nj-hospitals-crisis-charles-cullen-was.html

  27. 27
    Hyperion Said:
    12:10 pm 

    two comments…

    first: #25 how is Jason’s remark worthy of “Bingo”? how can universal health care (UHC) be free? someone must pay. one can’t propose UHC without addressing who will pay. i’m thinking “others” will pay. (that would be all of us. oh, noes!)

    second: to the extent that your argument is about “what will happen to conservatism if folks demand AND get UHC?”, this is at the core of “conservatism” current problems. if it’s all about ideology, you will fail. got it?

    this is another RM 1000 word screed with no discussion of WHY people want UHC: it’s lack is destroying businesses (like GM) and individuals (who get bankrupted by major illness) and the nation (which suffers the consequences of poor prenatal care, for example). it costs TOO much for what it delivers. but you guy want to argue about ideological purity. classic oggedy-boogedy.

    Please drop the ridiculous notion that people get “bankrupted” by major illness. Every single stat I’ve seen shows that 98% of people who declare bankruptcy do so because they are getting a divocrce or because they lost their job. It has nothing whatsoever to do with health care - nothing.

    Why traffic in that kind of dishonesty?

    ed.

  28. 28
    Hyperion Said:
    1:37 pm 

    hmm..something ate my original response to your edit of my #27 comment.

    i found this easily.

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/bankruptcy_study.html

    it directly refutes your contention about the role medical bills play in bankruptcy. notice carefully that i have presented a FACT to address your unsupported (and apparently FALSE) allegation. and yet i do not accuse you of being dishonest.

  29. 29
    mannning Said:
    5:53 pm 

    I believe that Moran is correct in saying that conservatism has not been translated from high level principle down to fine-grained issues and solutions that everyone can sign up to. This is a hard road for most people to navigate by themselves. Many of the icons of conservatism are quite difficult reads–viz. Buckley, Kirk, Strauss–and even more difficult to translate into actionable words. After agreeing with their root pronouncements, you ar left with the necessity of applying them to everyday situations, usually in the face of opposition that sets up verbal barriers to clear thinking in a conservative manner.

    To say the obvious: we need translators that are respected, gifted with eloquence, and able to reduce matters into simple propositions from a conservative view. I am thinking of Reagan, Thatcher, and perhaps Lincoln as models.

    I suggest that there are possibly a thousand or more “determining propositions” that operate way down the chain of thought at the level of individual adherents of conservatism, yet they have articulated perhaps just a hundred or so of these propositions for themselves. This leaves the chain of reasoning with considerable gaps in the logic, which creates intractable puzzles for the busy person to solve.

    We need to find people that can grasp the principles and fill the gaps in argumentation for conservatism for everyone to understand, or else…

  30. 30
    Jason S Said:
    11:48 pm 

    Hyperion Said:
    12:10 pm

    two comments…

    first: #25 how is Jason’s remark worthy of “Bingo”? how can universal health care (UHC) be free? someone must pay. one can’t propose UHC without addressing who will pay. i’m thinking “others” will pay. (that would be all of us. oh, noes!)

    Are you aware of the percentage of Americans who don’t pay taxes? If UHC is funded by income tax, then yes, a large number of people will receive “free health care” at the expense of those who do pay taxes.

    I think we’re also missing the point here. The excessive cost of health care is usually cited as justification for UHC - which acts to completely bypass THE fundamental question of “why is health care so expensive in the first place?”

    In other words, wouldn’t it be better to take steps to encourage the lowering of health care costs, instead of using the situation to add yet another unwelcome layer of enforced collectivization upon us?

    The reason why health care costs so much in America is because there are so many mandates and regulations imposed upon the industry, it has no chance of benefiting from the same forces of free competition which have made virtually every other aspect of technology affordable and accessible to us.

    Even the poorest households in the U.S. have T.V.’s, DVDs, refrigerators and microwaves. Most have a lot more. I have no doubt that this would not be the case if the market for consumer appliances had been subject to the same level of bureaucratic restrictions over the last 50 years. The truth is, we do not have freedom of choice when it comes to health care coverage. It is not a free consumer market. If it were, health care would be a lot more affordable.

    There is also the issue that no matter how cheap health care is, there are still those who will choose, of their own free will, to maintain warped priorities throughout their lives - budgeting for cigarettes, booze, drugs, video games and other non-essentials without budgeting for their own health. This should be of no concern to the state or anyone else. Similarly, if someone smokes, drinks to excess or abuses drugs, they should pay higher premiums. Will such people be made to pay a higher rate of tax should UHC come into existence? I doubt it. There is nothing “fair” about socialization of any kind.

    One more point - another factor in the cost of health care in the U.S. as opposed to elsewhere is the level of research and development which goes on here. Seriously - what percentage of new medical innovation do you suppose comes out of Canada, Britain or France as opposed to the U.S.? I’ll give you a clue - it’s very very small.

  31. 31
    Jason S Said:
    11:49 pm 

    For some reason the comment of Hyperion which I reproduced above in my post didn’t come out in italics as planned. My comments start at “Are you aware of the percentage of Americans..”

  32. 32
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    11:03 am 

    Heh, Jason, I think there are ways of quoting others and using italics in this blog, but there are no instructions for how you can format a comment. I did it once on accident. Anyone know what formatting options are available here?

  33. 33
    Hyperion Said:
    11:13 am 

    jason s wrote: what percentage of new medical innovation do you suppose comes out of Canada, Britain or France as opposed to the U.S.? I’ll give you a clue – it’s very very small.

    substitute the word “financial” for the word “medical” above.

    and good luck trying to make the argument that what the US needs now is LESS regulation because a really free market would cure our horrible health care system. your timing is VERY bad.

  34. 34
    John Lofton, Recovering Republican Said:
    3:26 pm 

    Forget “conservatism,” please. It has been Godless and thus irrelevant. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    [Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It .is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

    Recovering Republican

    JLof@aol.com

  35. 35
    mannning Said:
    9:08 pm 

    Godless? Secular? Creampocky!

  36. 36
    Jason S Said:
    2:57 am 

    Chuck:

    If this text is in italics, then it means you can just use the standard HTML “i” tags.

    And if this is blockquoted, it means the “blockquote” tag can be used.

  37. 37
    Jason S Said:
    2:59 am 

    Hyperion #33:

    Given that the current financial crisis was not caused by deregulation then what exactly is your point?

    It was, in fact, caused primarily by the actions of the Fed in lowering the interest rate far below its natural level by pumping lots of easy money into the banking system.

  38. 38
    Jason S Said:
    3:03 am 

    Sorry for the multiple posts but this makes excellent reading for anyone interested in the reasons why deregulation was not responsible for the meltdown and why we have nothing which resembles a laissez-faire system:

    http://georgereisman.com/blog/2008/10/myth-that-laissez-faire-is-responsible.html

  39. 39
    Vivian Said:
    4:27 pm 

    I’d like to see conservative leaders framing the debate over health care and everything else a trade-off–educate Americans to see every policy proposal as a trade-off between individual freedom and security, so that the voter understands just how they are giving up freedom and future benefit for short-term security. I don’t think OUR leaders understand the trade-offs, so they can’t possibly explain them to American voters.

    It’s an uphill battle, and as long as the MSM runs the country, and Americans keep their children in propaganda machines we call “public schools”, I don’t see a lot of hope. We need a handful of wealthy conservatives (are there any left?) to purchase a media outlet, and run it in order to have a venue for truth. Fox News is better than nothing, but it isn’t much. Greta Van Susteren’s show is not educative, and O’Reilly is inconsistent and unable to be the vessel for informing the public as to the tradeoffs. Although I like Sean Hannity, he doesn’t seem able to make his case well, and with the constant shouting matches on the show, the audience is not hearing a coherent message. Conservatism has yet to be articulated clearly on television within the constraints of a commercial format. Reagan is the only person I remember who could make the right points, and do it on TV.

    The idiot who blames Reagan for blowing it in the latter term fails to recognize as so many Americans do that the President does not control Congress, cannot force idiots in his own party to do the right thing, and has no influence with those not in his party. It’s easy and ignorant to hold Presidents accountable for every government action which occurs during his terms.

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