White Coat Underground

Why am I politically liberal? Is it because liberal ideals conform to my own sense of morals about how a just society should function? According to some, that idea is laughably wrong. Let me share with you an exchange from facebook:

Me: The michigan house passed the doctor tax. Time to write and call your state senator to remind them that taxing the person providing the service you need is really freakin’ stupid.

Conservative friend: You’ve gotta LOVE those Democrats in Lansing…just keep taxing and spending and taxing and spending….If this fucking thing passes the senate and governor, I think I’m getting the hell out of Dodge. In fact, I think all doctors in Michigan should STOP taking Medicaid, just out of protest.

Random dude who thinks he knows me:
If you voted Democrat, suck it up and pay the taxes. You deserve it!

CF: I agree! But what about the Republicans? Can we just opt NOT to pay the taxes?

RDWTHKM: I couldn’t agree more. Taxes have become the ruination of our country. Unfortunately, too many people have too little common sense to understand how detrimental taxes are to our country.

CF: And the worst part was last November, on the evening of the election, watching all of those sheep cheering in the streets because they get to pay higher taxes! It’s like I could almost hear them shouting, “YEA! Obama won!! Now the government can take MORE of my hard-earned money and spend it frivolously on more useless entitlement programs! … HOORAY!!!” …

I’ll never understand how anyone voted for Obama. He was not Bush; and I think that is all that mattered to those voters. Common sense dicates you don’t vote for someone with as many skeletons in his closet as Obama. You can call him a socialist, a big government radical, an anti-war demagogue, either way, he is bad for America, bad for liberty, bad for freedom and most certainly bad for the unalienable right of the pursuit of happiness.

Me: And every time he smiles, Baby Jesus weeps. I also heard that he sacrifices goats in the Roosevelt Room. Prove that its not true.

CF: And that, my friends, sums up why a liberal is a liberal. They fear that all things conservative equal a vote for baby Jesus and those evil evangelicals. So, they’d rather pay a few extra thousand (or tens of thousands) per year in entitlements to keep that Jesus-y stuff out of the White House…

RDWTHKM: I’ve come to realize that because doctors require so much schooling, their liberal professors have way too much time to indoctrinate them into the false premises of Liberalism. I’m still hopeful that these unbelievably intelligent people will forget that thier professors are kooks, and someday will wise up to the ways of the world. Just because you can heal a broken arm doesn’t mean you know how to heal a broken economy. Taxes are for fools. Any by the way, when you resort to Baby Jesus and the Roosevelt room, its usually a strong indication that your rhetoric is more powerful than your ideas.

Where does one even start with this?

CF, with whom I disagree on many if not all political issues, understands something fundamental: this is ideologic. I really am willing to pay more taxes in my worldview, but not endlessly.  I agree more with the ideology of the left than the right, but I’m not stupid enough to support every policy of the left.  My worldview is not about taxes however, it is about social justice, which includes the traditional American separation of church and state. Taxes happen to be one of the facts of living in a civilized nation. Taxation that is too high or applied unfairly is bad, and where to draw that line is a good place to start arguing. Marx understood (sic) that everything is economic. I think that’s wrong, but apparently conservatives agree with him.

Now, Random Dumbass Dude, he’s a piece of work. Because I believe in a different set of principles, I must have been brainwashed by the academic commissariat. Or maybe I’m dumb, because “anyone with common sense” wouldn’t vote for Obama. Taxes are for fools, dontchaknow.

No, Dumbass, taxes are for people who live in a civilized nation. We have a representative democracy to decide if and how much we should pay for the shared services we require. Do you think that the wars that you apparently support (and that Obama doesn’t?) are going to pay for themselves?

I don’t agree with CF, but I see where he’s coming from. He is all about economics. I’m not, but I get it. Dumbass though, he represents the fundamental problem with American politics. He doesn’t have an ideology beyond the nano-economic. Anyone who disagrees with his twisted version of America is an idiot. Well, at least we agree on one thing: there are a lot of idiots out there.


  1. #1 Russell
    October 8, 2009

    Let’s see… would I pay a few thousand a year to keep our Constitution out of the hands of the religious right? Hell, yeah. Freedom isn’t free. If that’s the price, I’ll pay it.

  2. #2 Colin
    October 8, 2009

    “Dumbass though, he represents the fundamental problem with American politics. Anyone who disagrees with [him] is an idiot.”

    I know people in all four corners of the Nolan chart that are like this. Agree or shut up. It’s sad really.

    In another post you replied to me “It hasn’t passed yet!” but now it’s passed the house…

  3. #3 PalMD
    October 8, 2009

    Yeah, I wrote my state senator, but haven’t heard anything yet. I have to try her office.

  4. #4 Philip H
    October 8, 2009

    I love the Conservatives are Marxists idea. There’s one that would deflate their “Obama is turning the country Socialist” meme. And you are correct – economics do play a big part.

  5. #5 Colin
    October 8, 2009

    Republicans are stereotypically pro-business and business folk/rich/”capital class” are stereotypically Republican.

    Marx believed the working class would rise up against the bourgeoisie/”capital class” and take over means of production. I guess I don’t see how the pro-business folk would be in favor of losing their capital.

  6. #6 jimspice
    October 8, 2009

    My in-a-nutshell summary would be “liberals are naive, conservatives are mean.” Of course, I’d immediately start backtracking and replace “are” with “tend to be.”

  7. #7 bob koepp
    October 8, 2009

    Colin has a point. Instead of saying “conservatives are marxists,” the point would be more clearly made by saying “conservatives are economic determinists.”

  8. #8 Colin
    October 8, 2009

    That said, where do I sit?

    The economics of expanding socialized medicine has me deeply concerned (the fed. govt. itself says SS+medicare+medicaid will exceed the GDP in a decade); I hate the status quo with insurance companies (pre-existing conditions, etc.); and I don’t like my health insurance being tied to employment (lack of fluidity to change jobs).

    Why can’t I be concerned about the “social justice” and the fiscal ability to pay for it? Where is the social justice if it literally bankrupts our country?

    Why must the left hate me for caring/asking about the finances and, simultaneously, the right hate me for wanting the public option and more regulating an industry that bankrupts people for getting sick?

  9. #9 Katharine
    October 8, 2009

    PalMD, there is one central tenet of human existence you’re forgetting: no matter what group you’re talking about, there will always be a certain percentage of them who are total idiots. The Republicans, for example, have a greater amount of idiots than the Democrats, but both have more than a few dumbasses .

    (For reference, I’m more liberal than most Democrats.)

    Case in point – the Alan Grayson/Joe Wilson fiasco. While I personally think they’re two peas in a pod, each side seems to stand behind their own while ignoring the fact that their own acted like the other.

  10. #10 Moderately Unbalanced Squid
    October 8, 2009

    @ Colin

    The economics of expanding socialized medicine has me deeply concerned (the fed. govt. itself says SS+medicare+medicaid will exceed the GDP in a decade)

    Methinks you significantly exaggerate.

    At this rate, Medicaid growth is projected to slightly exceed growth in overall health care expenditures, which is projected by CMS actuaries and economists to increase by 6.7 percent per year over the next 10 years, or over twice the rate of general inflation. Additionally, Medicaid’s share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to reach about three percent in 2017. The combined share of GDP spending for Medicare and Medicaid is projected to be 6.9 percent by 2017.

    From: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2008pres/10/20081017a.html

    Social Security outlays are expected to reach $1.1 trillion in pessimistic projections (see this chart: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/101xx/doc10100/SSABPresentation.pdf)

    In case you were wondering, in 2008, the U.S. GDP was about $14.4 trillion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States,) and the decrease due to the current recession is about 0.5 percent annually. In 2017/2018 we can expect the GDP to be significantly larger.

    U.S. real gross domestic product decreased at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008,(preliminary estimate). In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.8 percent. (November 25, 2008)

    From: http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lesson=811&page=teacher

    The sad thing is, you’ve got a point, but it’s hard to take that point seriously when you make stuff up that has a math FAIL in it. It takes about 5 minutes to look stuff up with Google. My advice is to use it.

  11. #11 Jared
    October 8, 2009

    Well, Jared is very liberal, and he would very much like a single-payer public healthcare system. However, his (pretty substantiated) belief that the majority of elected officials are incompetent self-serving assholes gets in the way of him supporting most of the bills which are proposed. Additionally, most of the bills I’ve seen propose FINES for people who can’t afford health insurance. Excuse me, but if you can’t pay for a service, why are you expected to pay money for being unable to afford a service? Doesn’t that just make it more difficult for you to pay for said service?

    In any event, I’m more likely to move to a country with a healthcare system which works (say, Sweden) in the not so distant future (say a decade or so).

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    October 8, 2009

    Why am I a Liberal? Some of it is family history:in the 1920’s both pairs of my grandparents were in business- voted republican,did very well;one had money in the market, the other in banks.Something happened around 1930 that caused all 4 of them to change their minds and party.I think it was economic reality.While neither family became impoverished,they began to look at our society in a different way. Growing up,I heard stories about the Depression as I simultaneously was exposed to supply-side economics and the Laffer curve,via TV.If my parents were religious, they might have labeled Reagan the Anti-Christ.Though it wasn’t my major,I studied some economics in college and beyond.I’ve come to view conservative economic ideas as promoting an impossible system, prone to fiasco, causing harm on a societal level.Oh, and then there are the moral issues.

  13. #13 catgirl
    October 8, 2009

    I’m liberal because I understand basic reality. I’m willing to pay taxes, because that’s the price I pay for living in a functioning society. I personally benefit from nearly all the taxes I pay. It seems to me that a lot of extreme conservatives just don’t understand that basic point. For example, when the government provides free education for every citizen, I benefit in so many ways, even if I go to a private school and never have any kids. Education reduces crime. That benefits me by making it less likely that I’ll be a victim, and also saves money in court and law enforcement costs. Education increases our entire standard of living. Many people who receive a good education will get a better job than if they didn’t have that education. That means they will be better consumers, which will increase my job security. I use education as an example because very few people, even the most extreme conservatives, would not even think of getting rid of this socialist government program.

    I also support a lot of other government programs the benefit society, because a benefit to society is a benefit to me, even I don’t personally participate in that program. I just don’t understand it when people say that liberals are naive, because it seems that a lot of conservatives are truly naive about how they benefit from paying taxes. I’m sure this is the minority, but I’ve even known some who don’t realize that we need to pay taxes for stuff they use every single day, like roads and police.

    Maybe these people think I’m naive because the government is inefficient. I’m not naive about that, and I certainly don’t agree with everything that various levels of government spend our money on. More importantly, I realize that refusing to pay taxes is certainly not the solution to government problems. I have never agreed with the Iraq war, but I still have to pay my taxes. I could claim that I shouldn’t have to pay since I never voted for Bush, but I’m not a toddler anymore and I also realize that not paying my taxes wouldn’t make the war go away.

    I’ve heard some conservatives argue that nearly all the programs the government provides could be replaced with private programs. I think it’s naive to think that corporations will do a better, cheaper job of everything. History and reality have shown this view to be false. Thinks work best for society when I have a mix of private and government involvement, like free public schools available to all children and having private schools available at the same time. We don’t have to get rid of public schools to make private schools work.

  14. #14 Pliny-the-in-Between
    October 8, 2009

    The anti-tax rhetoric in this country is typical of one of the problems we face – the simplistic all or none response to any issue. The issue in Michigan isn’t whether taxes are a necessary inconvenience associated with any government that has work to do, but whether a particular tax is a good idea or not. If a person really believes that no tax is just or worthwhile then they should stop availing themselves of fire and police protection, roads, rails, defense, Social Security – the list is endless. Many people who oppose taxes seem to feel that services to them are ok and any services they don’t directly receive are socialist.

    The Michigan law is just a stupid idea – it isn’t socialist ideology. Most people who support it probably don’t realize that the average clinician already takes care of a significant number of patients without payment. And these gratis services aren’t tax deductible in any meaningful way.

    I suppose the best approach is to ask them to pull their heads out of their talking points memo and discuss the specific issue and its merits.

  15. #15 PalMD
    October 8, 2009

    One of my favorite libertarian memes is the “privatize it all” idea. Can you imagine privatization of, say, law enforcement? We’d be back to protection rackets in five minutes.

  16. #16 JThompson
    October 8, 2009

    @PalMD: Or better yet, the idea that the government is artificially inflating the cost of medical treatment by using force to eliminate competition for doctors.
    Which, best I can tell, means we should let anyone that wants to be a doctor call themselves a doctor, education or not.

    Cause that’s what I want, a guy in a dirty NASCAR t-shirt reading my X-Ray for a broken bone. “That thing right there, I don’t think it oughta look like that. I’m gonna give you a prescription for terbinafine, that should clear it up.”

  17. #17 Katharine
    October 11, 2009

    I’m a liberal because I have a functioning brain and grasp on logic and reality combined with a sense of compassion.

    I don’t think much more needs to be said than that.

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