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29 June 2012 @ 10:20 am
I think I just realized something  
So I follow Joe Bethancourt on Facebook, because I like his music and am willing to overlook his politics. And he posts lots of things about, "What part of my property do you think you have the right to steal?" in response to the Affordable Care Act.

I haven't been able to formulate an answer.

I think I've figured it out. From my perspective, he's asking the wrong question, and that's why I can't answer it.

The question *I* ask is, "We live in a society that conveys many advantages. How can we most fairly distribute those advantages while not constraining personal incentive and creativity?"

I have no problem with people who invent really cool things, or provide really cool services, being fabulously wealthy. I have no problem with the idea that a job requiring 25 years of training pays more than a job that doesn't require that kind of investment.

I do have a problem with a society and culture that treats people who do the day-to-day work of maintaining the infrastructure (by which I mean both public infrastructure like road builders and forest rangers and police and teachers and firefighters, and private infrastructure like custodians and secretaries and house builders and factory workers) -- or who are unable to work because of disability, or who are able to work but cannot find a job because the economy is broken -- as disposable and worthless.
browngirl on June 29th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Needless to say, I agree with you.

Why is it that people who are all up in arms about their property being 'stolen' so their fellow citizens don't die early of eminently preventable diseases (which has a societal cost) don't care about the billions of dollars the military goes through, for instance? For the price of refitting one of the aircraft carriers left to rust, we could insure *so* many people. But anyway.

Increasingly I find it harder and harder to 'agree to disagree' with people who support policies that I know would adversely affect me and people like me, with people whose politics indicate that they think people like me are subhuman and disposable. I will try to emulate your openmindedness.

*sighs and hugs you*
Janet Miles, CAP-OM: yeah_rightjanetmiles on June 29th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
Well, to be fair, it's a kind of selfishness, more than open-mindedness. I won't buy Orson Scott Card's books, for example, because his views on homosexuality appall me, and I can live without the books.

I like Bethancourt's music too much to give it up, so I overlook his politics, which offend me.
(no subject) - griffen on June 29th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janetmiles on June 29th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - browngirl on June 29th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - griffen on June 29th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - browngirl on June 30th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - griffen on June 30th, 2012 07:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
what doesn't kill me better runcarlyinrome on June 29th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)

Jon Reidcrossfire on June 29th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
You can't formulate an answer because he is begging the question.

I've found two useful responses, one calm and helpful, and the other...not so much.

The calm and helpful one is to simply ignore the bait and point out how this is going to benefit us all, by providing access to health care to everyone. I can even throw in anecdotes about people living with chronic illnesses who will now be able to get insurance for the first time in years, and will have a chance at a reasonable standard of living because they'll no longer be buried in debt and have to live from one medical emergency to another. (You probably know at least a few people with chronic illnesses who are in a similar situation.)

The not so much one is an all-purpose response to the "I'm being FORCED TO PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT I DON'T WANT" whinge (which is really at the core of what Mr. Bethancourt is saying) and is basically stolen almost verbatim from someone on ontd-political:

Hi, I'd like to talk to you about war, capital punishment, abstinence-pushing in public education, the salaries of politicians who are actively trying to limit my civil rights, the level of enforcement of speed limits on freeways, big agriculture subsidies, airport security theatre, the practice of paying police officers while they are under suspension for brutality, deadly negligence, framing people, et cetera.

In other words, WELCOME TO AMERICA, you privileged, ignorant piece of shit.

amaebiamaebi on June 29th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
I want a Like button.
(no subject) - griffen on June 29th, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wildrider on June 30th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hitchhiker on June 30th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
drewkittydrewkitty on June 29th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure which distresses me more - that human beings are treated as fungible and disposable, or the illusion that they are worth more because they are for the moment useful.

Both have their costs. "Work harder: millions on welfare depend on you!" Is just as barbed and nasty as "Get a job!"
amaebiamaebi on June 29th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
"Reserve army of the unemployed."
(no subject) - janetmiles on July 1st, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Barbrahirah on June 29th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)

I once described the basic difference between US liberals and conservatives as being that one operates upon the fear that someone, somewhere, is getting less than they need, while the other operates on the fear that someone, somewhere, is getting more than they deserve. I got a lot of outraged commentary by conservatives on my flist who protested they were not like that at ALL...and then went on to give examples that to my mind, completely proved my point. :/
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on June 29th, 2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
I once described the basic difference between US liberals and conservatives as being that one operates upon the fear that someone, somewhere, is getting less than they need, while the other operates on the fear that someone, somewhere, is getting more than they deserve.

This. Exactly.
Peter Engdornbeast on June 29th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
I wonder if Joe's priced out the thefts?

Using emergency rooms as healthcare is supposed to be more expensive in base price, as well as lost productivity, the price of emergency fixes as compared with preventative medicine, and I don't know what else. It's just that he doesn't notice his pocket being picked for $20, as opposed to somebody openly stealing $10. (Numbers have been pulled out of my ass.)
Gnome: Snowedongnomentum on June 29th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
I never thought Obamacare would make it. I'm extremely happy that it did - the vast majority of my friends in the US have experienced severe financial hardship, severe medical hardship, or - increasingly - both, at the hands of the previous system.

I am fortunate enough to live in a country where, for longer than I have been alive, every man, woman and child is entitled to free healthcare whatever their ailment. However, the system is being massively threatened by our current government - The Conservative party (our equivalent of the Republicans), aided by the so called 'Liberal Democrats', who are behaving neither liberally nor democratically.

Please, please let this be your system moving closer to ours, without ours moving closer to yours...
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on June 29th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
Please, please let this be your system moving closer to ours, without ours moving closer to yours...

From your keyboard to deity's/ies' visual input system.
(no subject) - gnomentum on June 29th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Renaissance Manunixronin on June 29th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
My problem with the whole issue is that, in the finest traditions of Congress, it is a broad, overreaching bill that treats the symptoms at massive cost (and at massive profit to the medical insurance industry) without ever actually addressing, or even recognizing, the underlying problem. In fact, in many ways it makes the underlying problem worse. You cannot improve the availability and affordability of health care to the patient by standing in between the patient and the doctor siphoning off ever more money.

(It also demonstrates once again how vague and unclear is Congress's understanding of the legal limits on its power — or maybe that they simply don't care whether they have the legal authority or not, they'll try it regardless and see if they get away with it. But that, too, is nothing new.)
Johnjohnpalmer on June 29th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
I would rather have gone to a single payer system, but an insurance company can certainly increase availability of health insurance (through obvious means) and can provide intelligent negotiations (increasing affordability) that an individual has neither the ability (due to lack of medical training) nor the bargaining power to provide.

"You cannot improve the availability and affordability of health care..." is not obviously true, and I strongly suspect is entirely false. Is there any place in the world where there's just medical consumers, and doctors and other service and product providers, who provide better affordability and availability with no one "siphoning off ever more money"?
(no subject) - gnomentum on June 29th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - johnpalmer on June 29th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gnomentum on July 1st, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - unixronin on June 29th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
amaebi: Economicsamaebi on June 29th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
There's also a tendency for people to act as if [the one true] property rights [system] were like Planck's constant instead of being a social invention supported, defended, and tinkered with through governments. And that there have been many versions.
Johnjohnpalmer on June 29th, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)

"What part of my property do you think you have a right to steal?"

"You mean, there's this social compact that we'll all band together to protect your property - and if that compact didn't exist, it would only be yours for as long as no one bigger and stronger than you wanted it enough to take it. And you're saying that, in return for us having to honor your property and expend our resources if your property is in danger, you want to know if we think we have the right to receive something of value for you, in return for the service you're demanding we provide? Or are you talking about actual, you know, theft, which doesn't even exist without that pre-existing social compact called 'property'?"

(The correct answer to "I'm not demanding anything!" is "I'm coming to take everything you own; you can try to stop me but you can't call the police if you can't, and if the police catch me by random chance, you have to say that it's not your property - if you do, you've just made an implicit demand for us to take action against me - the same demand I referenced above.")

Cat Sitting Stillcatsittingstill on June 29th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yes this. Exactly.

Taxes aren't stealing. Taxes are everyone paying a share for services that benefit everyone. And if you're not using one of them, like unemployment, then you are certainly using another, like the roads or the police.

The idea that there is a social compact that we should all work together to keep your property safe but we *shouldn't* all work together to help someone with a broken leg would be laughable if it weren't so repugnant.
Shadow/Brookekengr on June 29th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
Actually, if he already *has* health insurance, then it doesn't really affect him.

If he *doesn't*, given the "you can't turn people down for pre-existing conditions" part of the law, then when he'd *get* insurance (because of a need, obviously), then *he'd* be stealing from the insurance companies because they'd have not gotten the premiums he'd have been paying before then, which would help offset the extra costs he'd be saddling them with *because* of the pre-existing condition.

That's the thing, to make the "must accept people with pre-existing conditions" work, you *must* either require everyone to get insurance *or* you must have the government as the payer of the premiums.

I somehow think he'd like that second option less.

Me, I'd prefer it, because low income folks *are* in a bind. If I hadn't managed to luck out and get far enough up the waiting list to get on the Oregon Health Plan, I'd be studying the rules about exceptions to the fines *very* carefully because I'd not be able to pay for insurance (not given the premiums I last saw when I *could* afford it)

And if he wants to drop the "must accept pre-existing conditions" rule, well, that *does* fall under the willfully ignoring social responsibilities bit.
griffen on June 29th, 2012 10:17 pm (UTC)
I stopped following him when I discovered just how right-wing he was. There are certain things I can't put up with in people; that's one of them.

I like your question better.
Xiphias Gladiusxiphias on June 30th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
Speaking entirely theoretically:

I've spent a fair bit of time thinking about this. The conclusion I've come to is that "property, outside of personal estate, is a legal right, not an unalienable right."

The question that he's asking, "What part of my property do you think you have the right to steal?" makes a number of assumptions about the nature of property, the most basic of which is that "property" and the control of property, is, itself, a right which is abrogated by taxation.

As far as I can tell, this is basically the idea that Libertarians have: all forms of property are inalienable rights.

Communism, in its purest form, believes the opposite: there is no such thing as a right to property.

Both of these extremes feel wrong to me.

Looking into the nature of "property" over history, there are actually several categories. Starting in the 19th century, we develop the idea of "intellectual property," for instance. While patents existed prior to that, they were seen as simply a legal structure which granted legal rights, not inalienable, human rights. The concept of "you stole my idea" wasn't as developed or formulated as it later became.

Then we've got "real estate". In many times and places in human history, the idea of "owning land" could really be seen more as "licensing land." Within a lot of the American Indian tribes around New England, you didn't purchase land, per se -- you licensed the right to use land in specific ways -- travel rights, hunting rights, farming rights, settlement rights. The existing settled tribes could sublease and license the use of the land, but you didn't, exactly, BUY it.

English common law, honestly, has had concepts that are similar: rights-of-way, entailments, and so forth.

Then your third category of property is "personal estate", or "movables" -- stuff that you can carry away.

And in different legal systems, each of these are treated in different manners. Some people count them as more similar, some as more different. Can you sell a lease, for instance? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

And so it's not clear to what extent "property" is an actual, genuine "right", and to what extent it's a concept that we, as a society, create because it's useful.

The SECOND issue is that there is a notion that your taxes are a fee that you pay to live within a society. I feel that, if you don't want to pay that fee, you don't have to live in the society.

As it turns out, "The United States" owns all the property, jointly, within the boundaries of "The United States", and living within those borders is a privilege reserved for those people who want to pay the ongoing fees to do so, which fees are assigned in a manner determined by the society as a whole.

You don't like it, you're free to live elsewhere. That's one of the fundamental differences between a free society and a society of subjects/serfs -- we have the right to go other places if we don't like the current one.

There exist lots of societies in this world which ask for a lower fee to be part of them. And lots of societies that ask for higher fees.

As it turns out, all the societies which ask for lower fees are hellholes of one sort or another, but that's not the point. Well, okay, it IS the point, I guess. But still, Benthacourt is free to join one of those societies if he doesn't like the fee structure which we set up in THIS society.
Kats: Saguarowildrider on June 30th, 2012 01:05 am (UTC)
That is a remarkable response. *applause*
(no subject) - xiphias on June 30th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Tom the Alien Cattomtac on June 30th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
First of all, I like your ideas. Our country's or society's organized mission has to include the job of caring for all of its members, partly because the whole human race is strengthened in its diversity. No one is disposable or worthless, their very selves are valuable (even though there seems to be an overpopulation everywhere.

Second, I share the confusion of questions like that, because it is English used to take the original issue, sneak up under its wake, come up alongside, and torpedo it in a blindside attack. I am upset that our means of communication is used in such a false way. ("He is asking the wrong question and that's why I can't answer it.") . . . He was supposed to be discussing what government should do about health care and health care costs, instead he expresses anger about taxes in a way that implies it is -> your <- fault, and this ties in the old question "When is it permissible for a group of people to do what one person can not?"

Put another way, necessarily, if he thinks the ACA is way too expensive, it would be valid to say so, not valid for him to bring up red herrings.

Lastly, I get distressed when I see a democracy where the citizens can not, NOT, discuss the issues; a democracy where every issue is "discussed" with rhetoric and deceptions going bombast and going nuclear.