Colette, where’s my swooning couch…
Posted June 29, 2012on:
Morning Widdershin friends — here’s hoping your Friday is a great one!
To be honest, I’m just a little hacked off today. Since prayer hasn’t seemed to replenish my ever thinning pate of mouse fur hair that people charitably refer to as, well, “mouse fur,” yesterday I was watching the teevee machine and I was tuned into that intriguing infomercial “Alyssa Milano Uses Wen Hair Care,” and after that the nice teevee man had promised me shocking, I’m telling you shocking, tips on reducing belly fat when all manner of healthcare broke out. If you are anything like me, I needed a swooning couch straight out a Colette novel before the battling bobbleheads were eight minutes into their coverage.
Here you had CNN and Fox who couldn’t break eggs on their collective faces fast enough by reporting and bannering “Healthcare Act Unconstitutional” based upon reporters who were actually standing out front of the Supreme Court moving their lips as they silently read. While MSNBC got it right, they cut away to some guy who had found a $20 crumbled up in an old leisure suit, registered his name as a website, and breathlessly began an audition to be hired as a Romney spokesmorman.
The real journalistic croque-en-bouche was CNN cutting to a reporter in a Stockton, California coffee shop talking to a bunch of 80-something dyspeptics about healthcare. These codgers had last been happy when they hadn’t soiled themselves the last time they’d broken wind — beyond that who knows when a smile had crossed their scowling faces. And you ask, “Why was CNN chatting up these guys before their coffee kicked in?” Best I can tell, CNN had a satellite truck and a reporter in Stockton with little to do because covering a municipal bankruptcy is akin to covering a Manitoba molasses race in the dead of winter.
So what’s any different here than any ordinary day’s news cycle — wait for it — wait for it — nothing, absolutely ze-freaking-ro nothing. We have entered the sweatbox of philosopher Leszek Kolakowski’s Law of Infinite Cornucopia, “There is never a shortage of arguments to support any doctrine one wants to believe for whatever reason.”
All this is bound up in the simplest of psychological constructs, we as humans want to belong to a group, therefore we engage in “motivated reasoning.” Motivated reasoning is a political science concept that basically says a person will refine any argument without regard to facts in order to conform to the shtick of one’s tribe. We can’t help it — we want to belong and therefore, we “go a little crazy,” but tell ourselves like the Matchbox Twenty song, “we aren’t crazy, we’re just a little unwell.”
This healthcare-apoloosa is a perfect example of motivated reasoning since just about everyone hates Obamacare, but confusingly upwards of even 80% of Republicans and Independents support major portions of the Act. Nope, I haven’t mis-typed or suddenly gone unwell — here’s a great article about what happens when people are asked about something they actually understand.
We have traveled a long and winding road to get where we are today. From President Nixon introducing employer mandated coverage in the late 60’s to the conservative Heritage Foundation coming up with the individual mandate in 1989 to the Clintons’ hybrid employer/employee plan in 1994 to the Affordable Care Act — it has been a tortured journey. A journey that is far from over, but a journey where we are coming to a fork in the road.
This year’s election will offer two directions — either continuing to hobble along the path of the Affordable Care Act or the reduction or elimination of healthcare to an estimated 50 million Americans by whatever “Repeal and Replace” turns out to be. The estimated fifty million is the product of eliminating 31 million people from gaining coverage through ACA and the additional 14-19 million who would lose coverage by the Romney Medicaid state block grant and cap proposal.
Healthcare is an issue, when stripped away of all the “motivated reasoning,” that is understandable and concise. Michael Cannon sums it up nicely — Cannon is the director of health-care policy at the conservative Cato Institute and has formed the Anti-Universal Coverage Club, whose members, “reject the idea that government should ensure that all individuals have health insurance.” Survival of the fittest is an argument after all — although it runs headlong into creationism, but I digress. Ezra Klein asks the question in this great article.
Of one thing I am sure, with insurance premiums having risen 100% in the last ten years, something has got to give.
America has been working this issue for almost 50 years — it’s time it was settled. As the silly season of political hyperbole gushes forth and will be beamed into our homes by the billions unleashed by Citizens United, we will get to watch all those who are following the admonition of Colette, “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”
This is an “all skate” open thread.
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