Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is decency the first casualty of the health-care debate?

I don't think I have anything new to add to the health-care debate. Wait: "self-centered, amoral, and unrealistic."

That wasn't me. That was someone I have never met who disagrees with me on this issue presuming to describe me based on my opinion. She went on to call someone else a "bad Jew" based on his membership in or support of a political group with which she disagrees.

I guess that's how she settles arguments: instead of making a coherent argument, she calls people names and lampoons their positions by (1) naming other government programs we presumably favor (public parks, which have nothing to do with health care; and (2) mentioning the Iraq war, which, in the health-care debate, makes very little sense.

Remember how Steve Carrell's character in The Office, Michael Scott, responds when he gets upset? He loudly repeats what the other person is saying, as if he were six years old. I guess for people like the name-caller mentioned above, it's not enough to state one's case. In fact, why bother with intelligent debate? Skip right to the name-calling and judgment about the character of one's debate opponents.

I enjoy engaging in political debate. It's a shame that not all participants can disagree and remain friends. Two examples:

"Please write to your Illinois legislators and demand a massive income tax increase that will further cripple the economy!"

"But an income tax increase will just hurt those the governor claims to be helping."

"You better hope you'll never need the services my government-funded organization provides!"

(She removed me as a Facebook Friend.) She took my opposition to an Illinois income tax increase as an attack on her livelihood and her clients. Of course it was never intended as such, but her job may be a casualty of the state's attempt to rein in costs, if it ever comes to that.

"We need a massive, government-controlled socialized Marxist health care system with skyrocketing costs, death panels and long lines to see doctors! It's a crisis that needs to be fixed immediately! We're going to pay for it with massive tax increases! It will work just as well as Medicare!"

"Our health care system works remarkably well. There are serious problems with a government takeover. The uninsured could be covered for a fraction of the cost of the president's plan."

"You better hope you never get sick! I bet you have health care!"

If I could ran tax increase bills through the Illinois legislature like former Gov. Big Jim "Taxaholic" Thompson or House Speaker "It's My Money!" Mike Madigan, or block them with my bare hands, I could understand tax increase advocates being very, very upset with me. If I could do the same in Washington, I could understand Big Government health care advocates being very upset with me. But I have no such power. Since we're just private citizens having a debate, is it possible to keep such debates to a civil tone?


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