Cover the uninsured week continues (mostly by chance here at THCB), as I don’t hold much hope in changing anyone’s mind in our current political impasse and imbecility. You might want to check out the huge number of comments to yesterday’s post — particularly one from Don Johnson that veers close to Lord of the Flies territory in terms of "you’re poor, sick and stupid? Well you should have got educated and gotten rich". However, I don’t really have the stomach to tear into the conservatives on this issue any more. They’re at once morally wrong, economically illogical, and seem to have mythical interpretations of the facts. On the other hand, The Industry Veteran does have the stomach for it:
Your colloquy with Don Johnson reminds us that for conservatives, the chimera of the market is an article of religious faith. Never mind that what they call a
market lacks many of the necessary elements required for labeling some activity
a market. As long as their perfervid perceptual grid can label a phenomenon as
non-government and afford someone the opportunity to make a pile of dough,
conservatives will slap the sacrosanct market label on it. Now if substantial
government activity, such as buying, selling and deciding who else can
participate proves necessary to the existence of this putative market, that
doesn’t bother these Thomist marketers. Whatever they deign as a market is
virtue, the rest is sin.
If logical rigor has nothing to do with what
they call a market, and if they remain untroubled by the fact that US health
care possesses the shortcomings of markets and non-markets, it is only fair to
ask what is the sine qua non whose presence calls forth the blessed
appellation of "market" upon some shabby activity. I maintain that for America’s
medievally fixated conservatives, profit-making is this indispensable quality.
If the system in question is one that most observers might call communism,
organized crime or government-managed capitalism, that matters not a fig to Mr.
Johnson and his erstwhile colleagues at the Wall Street Journal‘s
editorial page. Henrik Hertzberg recently referred to the Journal as
the church newsletter of the non-evangelical right wing and Mr. Johnson is at
least a deacon in that deranged parish. Profit-making provides their road to
Now profit-making is the caloric of this pre-modern
thought process. It is an ethereal fluid whose presence and quantity can be
judged only by the enlightened clergy. This means if friends of Mr. Johnson and
his fellow seers judge that profits in some system flow to people who lack their
favor (e.g., commissars or made men) while remaining beyond the reach of people
in whom Johnson sees the divine light (e.g., Pfizer, Amgen or Medco), then the
activity loses its market designation. Even if the divinely inspired Pfizer and
Amgen possess many of the same compelling powers as the netherworld government,
their presence hallows the activity into market status.
As people with a
religiously closed mind, Johnson and his compatriots are beyond the reach of
rational argument. Evidence and logic cannot persuade them. They transvalue
values to make good into evil, sin into virtue. Quite frankly, I don’t think
they justify the time or effort required to rebut their nonsense.