Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why do liberals favor a single-payer health plan, the so-called 'public option'? And by liberals, I don't mean them as a group but rather as individuals?

People tend to support programs that they believe will provide them with a financial or emotional benefit. People who pay lots of taxes tend to support tax cuts, people who send their kids to public schools tend to support spending on public schools and people who live in fear of dying in a terrorist attack tend to support military action against terrorists.

Conversely, people tend to oppose programs they believe will adversely affect them on an individual basis. Fewer people would support military action if they were tagged for duty on the front lines. Fewer people would support parole for violent criminals if those criminals were housed next door. Fewer people would support higher welfare spending if their taxes were increased. Fewer people would support cutbacks in local government spending if it meant shutting down the fire stations next to their homes.

There are some people who are willing to sacrifice something on an individual basis in order to achieve a social goal, such as a rich guy who is willing to pay more in tax so the government has more money to spend on drug rehabilitation programs, but these people are few and far between... in the battle between preserving one's pocketbook and safety on one hand and some vague social program on the other, the former trumps the latter pretty much 99 times out of 100.

So the fact that so many liberals are in favor of the public plan (in fact, liberals are the only group in favor of it), so much so that they've threatened to withdraw their support for Obamacare if Obama drops government run health care, makes me wonder what their logic is in thinking that they individually will benefit (or, at the least, won't suffer) if such a plan is put into place.

Let's look at the two aspects of any health insurance program, government run or not: coverage and cost.

As for coverage, maybe the liberals are drinking the kool-aid that Obama is peddling and they think that they won't lose their current employer-provided health care coverage? Perhaps they not only think they won't lose their existing coverage but the existence of a government run program will lead to their getting a better deal from their existing health insurance provider? Or is it that they know they'd lose their current private coverage but are so enamored with the wonders of government that they think that government provided coverage will be better for them than whatever it is that they now have? Or perhaps they think that good liberals such as themselves will receive a pass to jump straight to the front of the line, bypassing all the conservatives and other opponents who, by their opposition, prove they're less deserving of care?

Or do they know that the coverage they end up will be less than what they have now, but are willing to martyr themselves and their families so that all the poor folks currently lacking health insurance can finally get it?

As to the cost of the program, if they're drinking the kool-aid regarding their being able to keep their existing coverage, then maybe it's not too far-fetched to think that they've taken a second swallow and believe Obama when he says that the government run program won't be a drain on the budget, that the costs of providing coverage to all of the uninsured can be financed just by eliminating fraud and waste and from the wallets of greedy corrupt insurance executives?

Or do they accept that government run health care, like any government run program will be a huge drain - to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year - but believe that someone else )i.e., 'the rich', with the rich being defined as someone other than themselves?) will pick up the tab?

I can't be sure, but I think the answer might have something to do with their being liberal. Liberals, by definition, don't view themselves as bound by such things as logic and reality, they live in an alternate universe where such things like rationing and cost controls and unbridled demand just don't exist.

Or perhaps the simple answer (and there's always a simple answer) is that they haven't bothered to get into the details of the plan and learn how it will negatively impact them and their families... to a good liberal, the fact that this program is opposed by conservatives is reason #1 for them to support it.