Thursday, March 05, 2009

Weird Science

What's this?:
[GOP Rep.] WAMP: Listen, health care a privilege. […]

MSNBC: Well, it’s a privilege? Health care? I mean if you have cancer right now, do you see it as a privilege to get treatment?

WAMP: I was just about to say, for some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right.
Now, if you've been exposed to any schooling in your life, you might have been under the impression that "rights" were distinguished from "privileges", often to the point of direct opposition. For example, we don't talk about the privilege of free speech, and to construe it as such would be offensive to many.

That said, it's a typical GOP logic: belief in small, unobtrusive government, unless you happen to have an unplanned pregnancy. Belief in the sanctity of individual rights, unless you'd like to call your family back in Peshawar without hearing a click on the line. Belief in fiscal responsibility on every matter except the most expensive one, military spending.

So yes, health care exists in some kind of Schroedinger's Cat-box in the GOP imagination where it can be both a right and a privilege. Odd.


Anonymous said...

Republicans do actually talk about the "privilege of free speech" - witness how they want to take free speech away from people who do things they disagree with (flag burning, for example).

Understanding the GOP mindset works quite well if you take everything you know about "rights" and call them "privileges". It explains why they will argue that torture is okay sometimes (not "human rights" but "human privileges" that can be revoked if you don't deserve them), it explains why they will argue that abortion should be outlawed even as their own children have had to have one (abortion is a "privilege" that is reserved only for good kids who make a bad mistake, not the sluts who normally get them).

In fact the only inalienable right that I've been able to pin modern American conservatives down on is the right to own a firearm. And even THAT is usually a privilege reserved for some people - notably NOT poor black kids in the cities who really have no right to weapons at all.


Chet Scoville said...

To expand on NonyNony's point, the basic GOP belief is that people are subservient to institutions. Whatever claims they make about individual freedom, that is in fact their central belief: that people are and ought to be subservient to government intrusion, to corporate control, to religious leadership, to military discipline, and so on. In this case, people are to be subservient to insurance companies.