The notion fueling the Republicans right now is that government makes too many intrusions into our private lives. We’re forced to pay taxes, to obey regulations, to tolerate nose piercings in the workplace and allow all kinds of weird behavior so that we don’t get accused of “discriminating.” Republicans say that they’d prefer to take their own lumps, rather than buy into society’s silly liberal coddling. Republicans want to pay as they go. I’ll take care of my own retirement, thank you very much. I’ll educate my own children, if it’s all the same to you, and I’ll operate on my own appendix, if you really don’t mind.
This renewed quest for individualism is why Obama’s health care plans hit such a sore point with Republicans. They don’t want to admit it, but one’s private health choices have a huge public impact. The heavy smoker, the hard drinker and the Big Mac inhaler all cost taxpayers money. The two-pack-a-day folks on chemo and waiting for a new lung in hospital hallways are not living in world of private cause and effect. The “cost of treating America’s obese, Twinkie-fed diabetics will find its way onto everyone’s tax bill. Even if they’re on private health plans, such costs trickle across to everyone. So unless you live on a private island, you don’t get to be stupid in a vacuum. Your health choices affect everyone’s pocketbook. That’s why the “rugged individualist” Republican posturing is so silly. You can’t live a life cut off from society’s pursestrings, even if you want to. Someone who makes bad health choices and spends the last decades of his life in and out of hospitals, will be living on the public dole. Why? Because such mammoth expenses are by nature, spread out. Even if you hate government, such expenses are shared, because no private entity is going to completely foot that bill. So if you suddenly start sweating and clutch your chest in public, no one’s going to let you die in the street, even if you tell the EMT that you hate Obamacare. If you collapse in the mall from an abdominal aneurism, you’ll get treated, and your plea to spare taxpayers the burden of your excesses will fall on deaf ears. Even if you think it’s just dandy that that Tennessee family whose house burned to the ground while the private fire company sat and watched, no one’s going to let you writhe in pain where you fell. It’s called living in a “civilization,’ and although Republicans are desperately trying to dismantle it, we still live in one.