I Me Me Mine

I was reading Athenae’s post about the RedState Morans, and it all circled around back to a theme I’d been thinking about for some time.

We all have the “As long as I get mine” gene. I know that. There are situations where I would be all for saving the women and children first ’cause I have boobies and I’m kinda short. But when First Drafters raised $700 to send a soldier we’ve never met a bunch of cool stuff, well, it was a good reminder that we aren’t always slaves to our baser instincts.

How many of those teabaggers screaming about socialized medicine look at Jerry’s kids and say, “You’re on your own, kid”? I’m serious. I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of folks on that side of the great health care divide that do donate to charities like that. Why is it so different when it’s the government acting as the go-between? I get that poor people don’t always look like moon-faced cherubs in wheelchairs, which is why the poster child got invented in the first place. But jeez, are we really that shallow as a nation? (Don’t answer that–it’s too depressing…) Why is it we can be so generous on an individual level, but somehow collectively we turn into Mr. Potter?

I mean, if every American chipped in $20 a month, that’d cover80% of the plan the President wants. (July 2008 Census count of American population = 304,059,724, multiply that by $240, and you get nearly $73 billion a year. The President wants a plan that costs$900 billion over ten years.) I could manage that, and I’d be happy to chip in $20 a month for a couple of good friends who are without coverage right now and can’t afford it. $60 a month to get guaranteed health coverage, no questions asked? Hell, yeah!

In World War II, we went on rationing. We had to give up a lot of comforts as a nation so that we could fight and win that war. And when it was framed in that way–that this was your patriotic duty–people did it. Sure, there was grumbling, sure there were people who tried to get around it, but by and large, people did it. And there was the expectation that if you didn’t go along with it, you were a slacker, you were helping the enemy, you were a bad person. I know the good old days were never that good (just watch a Preston Sturges movie and you’ll see that), but at least then patriotism actually meant supporting something that was for the good of the whole freakin’ country. When did that mentality get turned on its head? When did we start demonizing the guy who wants to help everybody else?

I think the problem is the “everybody else” part. That’s a little daunting. So put it in simple terms. What would you do to help somebody you know who needs health insurance but can’t get it? Would you give $20 a month? $40? More?

In case you want an ear worm, here’s thetitle track.

12 thoughts on “I Me Me Mine

  1. Jude says:

    Hows about this: Would you be willing to pay $20 or $40 per month for yourown coverage? ‘Cause, no doubt, that’s less than you’re paying now. Tell people that shit.
    The Dems need to start informing people of how much they’ll be saving with, say, a public option (or single payer, or whatever other universal system you want to deal with). “You will save $3000 per year” is pretty good, but “You will only pay $40 per month” is even better. “Ten bucks a week” would do, as well. I haven’t really seen anyone pushing the savings aspect of this. It’s being presented as an expense, rather than a windfall. And that’s just stupid. “Deficit neutral?” Nobody gives a fuck about that. “More money for you, and less for Blue Cross” is a goddamn winner every time.
    If you’ve got employer-based coverage, sure you’re not paying directly, but that’s money that could go to wages, or pensions, or other benefits. Employers save money, employees could see higher wages, and insurance companies wither on the vine.
    Are the health-care-for-all salespeople really this bad? This ain’t exactly selling a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves. This is selling ice water in Death Valley. This shit sells itself. Unless, of course, you manage to completely fuck up the sales pitch.

  2. Jude says:

    The point of that rambling bullshit above is: Use people’s selfishness to your advantage. That’s what good social psychologists (amateur and professional) do.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    Jude is right on the point.
    Unfortunately, the dems have never been able to clearly sell the idea that you get something for your taxes. And by banding together as a city / state / nation a lot of small things can add up quickly (and isn’t that the very basis of Pharmor “power buying” and how Walmart / Sams / Costco get low prices?)
    I like having a good fire department. In addition to making it much less likely my house will burn down, I save a small fortune on fire insurance. I like having good roads (without them, you couldn’t get things to their market). etc.

  4. a couple of points:
    i want health *care* not health “insurance.” for profit insurance companies ARE the problem. take out the middleman, make health care a regulated activity primarily run by government, and a lot of the “problem” of health care costs go away. that’s supported by the example of fact, history, math, science, economics…single payer is literally and simply the best way to go, if money is the main concern. i get annoyed that a lot of people won’t even mention that fact, as they discuss health care reform.
    secondly, i already pay “20$ a month,” and much, much more. what do i get for it? nothing. by taking out the middleman of for profit insurance companies, no one need pay more for health care than they do now, and many will pay less, because we ALL pay for health care, everyone’s health care, whether we admit it or not. if you have insurance, you pay more than 20$ in the form of higher premiums. the premiums are higher because your insurer has to pay higher rates for services from providers. those providers have to increase the cost of their services because people who don’t have insurance must be treated regardless of ability or lack thereof to pay. there are many, and a growing number of, people without adequate/any insurance. but the insured pay for that, even as the uninsured pay in the form of bankruptcy and liquidation and the destruction of more productive careers/earnings over their lifetimes due to the impact of declaring bankruptcy causes.
    finally: i note you link to a speech, and not a specific policy/legislative draft. speeches don’t get turned into law; policy proposals and legislative outlines do. define “public option.” explain who receives the 900B, for what, when and how. tell me what parts of the MaxTax plan will be included in “the President’s plan.” i’m sorry, but there is no definitive “plan” yet, just a lot of outlines of bills that still have to make it to a floor vote or thru various committees or otherwise be worked over in backroom conferences, in which lobbyists will be present but people like me will not. on the orders of the administration, i’ll add. i want to be wrong, but i think the final plan, assuming anything is passed, will be a complete horror and nightmare to the poor and to working families. more or less what MaxTax has outlined, but “kinder, and gentler.”
    there are 100 ways i can think of right now to “pay for universal single payer.” funny how we never talk about “how” “we” are paying for all these wars, the bailouts, the growth and extension (yes, even under this administration!) of the security/prison/”intelligence” complex, etc. the only time “paying for it” matters is when poor, brown, or black people may get a benefit, a benefit most of them have already paid for, as a simple consequence of being poor, brown or black.
    i don’t mean to go all nukulaar on you, but the problem i have with posts like these is that they start from a position of discredited, compromised ideology and propose to give up even more from there. if the administration/party had been *smart* they would’ve begun from a total “communistic” position of “free ponies and chocolates and totally free health care for everyone in the world, where doctors are paid millions and all profit from the system is distributed in the form of free candy for all hispanic and black children when not applied to prison budgets for indicted bankers and insurance company executives.” you *know* republicans would have (and indeed on most issues, have and continue to do) started from an equally absurd outline if they had been in charge of the progress of this debate.
    but no. “our” dems regularly and continually kick out single payer advos, invite and review lobbying interest’s “input” into the issue, and guzzle down millions of dollars a day in industry-sponsored Hookers and Blow. what do we have to compete with that? apparently, as far as “our” Dems are concerned: nothing. Bowers recently asked, paraphrasing, “does the Left matter? do we have any political power in this debate?” and my answer is, “no.” not so long as we fail to focus on our only real wedge into affecting change on this and many other issues. those are: primary challenges from the Left, and campaign/lobbying reform.
    and forgive me if i’m missing your point, which i guess could also be “we already all pay $60/mo to the government and that should be put into a common fund for complete and total health care for us all with no for profit agents involved.” i’m totally down with that sort of plan, assuming you can agree with me that we’re already all paying the Fed gov’t that 60$/mo and it simply needs to be redirected in budgetary outline.

  5. evil is evil says:

    “In World War II, we went on rationing. We had to give up a lot of comforts as a nation so that we could fight and win that war. And when it was framed in that way–that this was your patriotic duty–people did it”
    Not be a concern troll, but this is a poor sample.
    There have been enough studies made to show that the rationing was a propaganda device to make the people feel that they were part of the war effort. I believe that the head of rationing board made flat statement to that effect after the war.
    The only known item that needed to be rationed was natural rubber. The rest had surpluses above and beyond the requirements of the military and to feed the British Isles.

  6. As long as I get mine
    I’ve long held the fundamental crisis in the United States today is one of rampant, unrestrained and shamelessSELFISHNESS.
    It is not always that way. The mandated rationing programs of WWII come to mind (whether or not its a good sample for today) — the people were not rioting in the streets about their meager portions of gas, meat and sugar. (They did riot about race tho’.) Instead, they pitched in. And the side benefit of everyone pitching in? The impetus to end the war AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if only to return to having butter with every breakfast!
    The surfeit of SELFLESSNESS in this country is simply staggering. We’ve become so innured to it these days that simple acts of sharing seem rare while the robber baron treatment 99.9% of the Citizens receive at the hands of the 0.1% garners hardly a yawn. Many have found their own little bands of selfless folks (taking care of leinie’s boy and his comrades comes to mind), but unfortunately for all of us, these little bands are not making a grand, national difference.
    It did not have to be this way. There was a window that opened briefly at the south end of Manhattan on a Sept morn some 8 yrs ago. But, our leaders told us to go shopping and travel to Disneyworld, instead of pitching together selflessly. (And ironically, telling us that while thousands selflessly compromised their health on the Pile trying to find what was left to give families some closure.)
    Unless, and until, our Citizen’s can once again find their inner, SELFLESS personality, it will not get better. And if you’re expecting the top 0.1% to lead the way, it will never happen.
    SP

  7. BuggyQ says:

    Sorry for posting and running–I got waylaid by work. So here are my belated responses to the various comments. Thanks, everybody!
    First, evil is evil, I think the rationing example is still on point, simply because people accepted it because it was “the patriotic thing to do”–necessary or not.
    And chidyke, I think my main point is it shouldn’t be this hard to sell a full-on universal single-payer plan, let alone this 1/167th of a loaf plan. I’m right there with ya that we should be getting far more than this. I was simply riffing off the idea of what people are willing to pay for, who they’re willing to help in normal, everyday circumstances.
    Which brings me to SP. I actually think you’re wrong, at least as far as the (if I may use the galactically hackneyed phrase) “silent majority.” I don’t think there’s a lack of selflessness, it’s just misdirected. Which was kind of my point about the rationing example. There’s a case where the majority of Americans were fine with helping out. You could use any number of other situations–the FDR era, for one–where that was the case. People give like crazy when it’s their neighbor’s kid, or their teacher, or a friend of a friend. The problem with the health care issue is just that it seems too big. Which is why I went for the super-simplistic divvying up of the President’s glib $900 billion figure. Put it in those terms, and I think people would go for far more than what they’re currently talking about. It just feels like everybody went in thinking “Oh, we’ll never get anybody to go for a single-payer plan, so let’s just put together this…” without thinking about what they could really get people to support if they framed it the right way. (Not to mention bringing all the lobbyists in to the mix…add shit to a fantastic souffle recipe, and it’ll still be shit souffle.)

  8. pansypoo says:

    step by step, inch by inch, maybe we can oust them.

  9. Tommy T says:

    Us We Ours.
    Tommy

  10. Sandman says:

    We’re selfish because we’ve been told since 1980 that selfishness–or the “rugged individualism” of John Wayne–is what made this country great in the first place. It’s all a bunch of propaganda bullshit. Twenty percent of the population are people like the good citizens of Left Blogsylvania–liberal, progressive, socialist, willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Twenty percent of the population are batshit right-wingers who think Sarah Palin will appoint JEE-zus as her vice president and wipe out all the brown people and homosexuals. The sixty left in the middle are, for the most part, sheep who believe what they see and hear on TV and radio. And all they’ve heard for 30 years now is: Government is bad, lazy poor (brown) people take ALL your tax money, foreigners are scary and dangerous, rich white daddy will take care of you. Give me a year, just one year, with a cable channel with the coverage of Faux notNews, and I could get a majority of Americans demanding single-payer health care. We sacrificed in WWII because media were in lock-step with the government in promoting the singular message that we were fighting for our way of life. Today, we’ve been convinced that serving our most base and selfish instincts is what’s best for everyone. It doesn’t take a master’s degree in critical thinking to see through that pile of horse apples.

  11. BuggyQ,
    I don’t think there’s a lack of selflessness, it’s just misdirected. Perhaps. You raise the very good point that I overlook in my vast generalization regarding the inherent selfishness on display daily in our society. We do have a habit, often silently, of taking care of folks on a more local level. And even occasionally, during a supreme tragedy (think Sept 11th or Katrina or tsunami), we try to collect help and pass it on to those in the most desperate need.
    I guess from where I sit, the problem is that we think too local, or perhaps too familial (i take care of mine). And we don’t thinknationally that ALL OF US SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER.
    Perhaps it is a reaction to too many of the pious trying to look after the rest of us by saving our souls from damnation? Or simply because, as Sandman notes, we’ve been trained to be the lone cowboy/girl who does it all on our own? Whatever the reason, I still see far less selflessness than selfishness. And most definitely among the elites, to whom much more is given than ever expected.
    Can it change? Will it change? In my dark and most pessimistic mood, I don’t see such change occurring before we ALL discover what a mean, miserable life it is down on the rocks, and decide collectively, to work together again, selflessly.
    SP

  12. BuggyQ,
    I don’t think there’s a lack of selflessness, it’s just misdirected. Perhaps. You raise the very good point that I overlook in my vast generalization regarding the inherent selfishness on display daily in our society. We do have a habit, often silently, of taking care of folks on a more local level. And even occasionally, during a supreme tragedy (think Sept 11th or Katrina or tsunami), we try to collect help and pass it on to those in the most desperate need.
    I guess from where I sit, the problem is that we think too local, or perhaps too familial (i take care of mine). And we don’t thinknationally that ALL OF US SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER.
    Perhaps it is a reaction to too many of the pious trying to look after the rest of us by saving our souls from damnation? Or simply because, as Sandman notes, we’ve been trained to be the lone cowboy/girl who does it all on our own? Whatever the reason, I still see far less selflessness than selfishness. And most definitely among the elites, to whom much more is given than ever expected.
    Can it change? Will it change? In my dark and most pessimistic mood, I don’t see such change occurring before we ALL discover what a mean, miserable life it is down on the rocks, and decide collectively, to work together again, selflessly.
    SP

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