I hope you are ready for the best reading experience of your lives: this week’s Takedown promises to deliver the five best sentences you will ever read. This is technically true, if you have never read any other sentences and never intend to; otherwise, it’s your standard issue crapdate.
These sentences, I guess, beat out: “Congratulations, you’re a millionaire!” and “The cancer has all been eliminated,” and “Your book has been accepted for publishing,” and “Yes, the salted caramel chocolate molten lava superduper cake comes in an extra-large size,” and “The Affordable Care Act passed.” Oh wait, the opposite of that. Even if you buy into this bullshit (and it is bullshit, we’ll get to that in a minute), these sentences are… just sentences. With Yoda-fied syntax and weird comma placement.
Because the language is dry and philosophizing, it might not be at first apparent what the crapdate is trying to say, but let me boil it down: government is bad, legislation is bad, Ayn Rand should be queen of the universe, Democrats hate rich people, and Obama is an illegal immigrant communist fascist Muslim Satan.
Here’s the problem (apart from the bullshittery) of such statements: economics is so complicated that it is nearly impossible to prove one economic philosophy as true and another as false. People study economic trends for their entire lives and come out with wildly different beliefs about what works and what doesn’t work. Making a blanket statement like “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity” might make the crapdate poster appear like they know what they are talking about, but in fact just the opposite is true: economics without attention to nuances is idiocy.
Aside from this, the crapdate is attempting to show that America is on the brink of failure because of small changes in legislation. In American society, nobody is trying to “legislate the wealthy out of prosperity.” Actually, we tax far less than most other developed countries:
So while the crapdate poster is assuming that a tiny increase in taxes means the “end of any nation,” it is clear that much, much higher taxes are being paid by other nations that are doing just fine. And yet, these types of crapdates are popping up all over the place. The end is nigh! Socialism aka apocalypse! I’m moving to Canada (a better option for them would be Chile or Mexico)!
The ACA, and its stubborn refusal to ignore the poor and sick, has provoked these types of crapdates, and is the most concrete example of an increase in government intervention. People who believe that increased government is always bad are taking this chance to point out all of the flaws with any sort of legislation, and are doing so by spouting off important sounding sentences, academic language, and weird syntax. But what happens when we look at the facts?
It’s tough to create the perfect economic studies because there are so many variables: how do you know if government-issued health care is the reason that person A is doing better than person B; maybe it’s the fact that person A eats more carrots. Or person A comes from a long line of healthy people. Or person A never smoked. Or or or or or.
But. In 2008, Oreg0n didn’t have enough money to give everybody Medicaid that wanted it, so they did a lottery. And bam! 10,000 people were randomly chosen to get government health care, 80,000 were not, and Harvard professor of health economics Katherine Baicker seized the opportunity. Planet Money did a great podcast on the study, with all sorts of details, and it’s well worth investing five minutes of listening. Spoiler alert: people who received the Medicaid were dramatically better off than people who did not. They were healthier, they were happier, they were less likely to have to take out loans for other needs, their credit scores were better; in short, the people who got the government aid were in the position where they could better their lives. Those without Medicaid faced increased challenges in all areas of their lives, and were less likely to be able to pull themselves up out of poverty. By not providing the aid, the government in effect sheared off their bootstraps.
So those “best sentences” might make a crapdate poster feel smug, but they just don’t line up with the facts. You can legislate somebody out of poverty. More importantly, you can legislate them into poverty by not taking action when action is needed. The poor and the sick face huge barriers to prosperity, and suggesting that government assistance hurts them is just being blind to the facts.
It’s not about “half the people” thinking that they can get by without working, and the other half having no incentive to work because the government robs them blind. Without support, people die. They can’t eat, they can’t get health care, they can’t get housing; how are they supposed to get jobs? And when those in poverty face bigger and bigger obstacles, when hunger and sickness become overwhelming, the people who have the most to worry about are those at the top who are so afraid of giving up one percent more of their income. The fastest path to revolution is by ignoring those in need; hungry and sick people will find a way to get their needs met. This type of legislation, this “taking care of” the “half” of the people who cannot take care of themselves, allows the rich to live peacefully. Inequalities lead to revolution, and revolution is not kind to those at the top.
You may not be able to multiply wealth by dividing it, but you can certainly maintain a peaceful society by reducing inequalities. You can destroy wealth by hoarding it.
Don’t forget, the people that the crapdate poster is so afraid of “taking care of” are people. And when legislation such as the ACA is passed, it means that society is concerned about “taking care” ofâ€¦ society. The nation is not comprised of only those who are fortunate enough to be rich, but is made up of all echelons of society. Stop taking care of society, and watch it dissolve. And that is the definition of the beginning of the end of any nation.