“If you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in — if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, OK? Just like how people — transparent — lack of transparency is a huge advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”
These are the words of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It’s all reported at cnn.com [see “Third video emerges of Obamacare architect insulting voters,” cnn.com 11/12/14], as well as other sources including FoxNews.com and dailycaller.com.
On Tuesday, Gruber went on MSNBC to offer a mea culpa. “I was speaking off the cuff and I spoke inappropriately, and I regret making those comments,” he said. Evidently he really believes people are stupid to think they would actually buy such a faux apology, particularly on a network with no known opposition to anything Obama-related.
But then more videos emerged. Megyn Kelley on Fox News showed another excerpt of a Gruber lecture, this from Washington University at St. Louis in 2013, where he said “they proposed it and that passed, because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” He’s referring here to the fact that Obamacare was sold as a reform of the (non-existent) free market for health insurance and medical care, while in fact it is the completion of socialized medicine, by disrupting the market enough that nearly everyone will ultimately end up on Medicare or Medicaid (as is already transpiring.)
It’s reasonable to be outraged by Gruber’s arrogance and hostility — but it’s not reasonable to be surprised.
If you think about it, Gruber’s words and attitudes make both logical and psychological sense. Consider what socialized medicine — as well as government control more generally — actually is. Socialism means the substitution of individual human judgment and responsibility with government control. The most common themes you’ll hear in defense of such laws is, “People cannot be expected to buy their own health insurance in a free market,” or, “That’s pie-in-the-sky to think people can take care of themselves and be responsible for themselves. That may have been true at one time, but certainly not in today’s complex and sophisticated world.”
I cannot count the number of times I have heard or read these dismissals of free market economics — or even tiny steps in the direction of a free market — from people who support government monstrosities like Obamacare and Medicare as well, for that matter. It’s the same with Social Security. “People cannot be counted on to plan retirement for themselves. The government must manage this for them.”
In fact, Obama and his supporters have their eye on controlling the semi-private IRA accounts the government first permitted back in the 1970s as a partial offset to government controls. Even this tiny level of private property is too much for apostles of wealth management and redistribution to handle. It makes them hostile, angry, upset, worried or whatever their particular unpleasant emotions happen to be. The underlying premise for all of these emotions is the same: “People cannot take care of themselves. I must step in and do it for them!”
People like Obama and this MIT professor simply cannot stand — and refuse to believe — that people are both able and willing to take responsibility for themselves.
Even some with my own anti-Obama/pro-free market political and philosophical point-of-view will say, “People are stupid. Look how most of these idiots voted for Obama twice. That’s proof of how stupid the world is.” Well, if you believe that, then how can you possibly support freedom and individual rights? To say that people choose not to take care of themselves is one thing; to imply that they cannot is different. It’s contradictory to support individual rights, self-responsibility and private markets if you don’t think anyone is intelligent enough to function the way such principles and systems require.
Psychologically, people are actually less stupid when left to be responsible for themselves, than when having things done for them. My Master’s degree is in social work. The social work profession is one of the strongest proponents of Obama’s policies and the gigantic welfare-entitlement state as we know it. Yet one of the first things I learned in graduate school for social work was the topic of empowerment. Empowerment is defined as making sure your clients (in social work practice) are encouraged and even required to do as much as possible for themselves. “Don’t make calls for them, don’t initiate doctor’s appointments for them. The more they do for themselves, the better off and more mentally stable they will become.” Somehow, this piece of wisdom gets lost on the road from everyday life and clinical practice to things such as health care reform, welfare and the role of government in people’s lives. It’s a glaring contradiction.
When parents shove their kids out of the nest, those grown kids usually do a lot better than expected. The fear is that their twenty or thirty-year-old kids will end up homeless. Absent a rare mental or brain disorder, or an extreme drug addiction, this is very unlikely to happen. When the great majority of people are left to fend for themselves, it forces them to call up potentialities and cognitive capacities that were there all along, and were merely dormant from disuse. People talk about “adrenaline” and the shock of facing reality as difficult and painful at first, but ultimately empowering. No, this is not absolutely always true, but it’s true much more often than people ever give themselves (or their loved ones) the chance to find out.
And the federal government is the biggest offender of all. That’s because the federal government has coercion, power and money on its side — gigantic trillions of dollars of money, although most of it is borrowed or (in monetary terms) fiat currency unbacked by anything. But it’s still quite powerful, at least for now.
The entire Huge Government Big Mommy/Big Daddy transfer-of-wealth entitlement state as we know it is founded on the idea that, “People are too stupid to take care of themselves.” What business do any of us who support even some elements of these policies have acting surprised, outraged or offended when one of the architects of those policies is simply saying what he honestly thinks — and indeed, has to be thinking in order to dream up those policies in the first place?
Of course the architects of Obamacare, including The Man in the White House himself, believe that most Americans are stupid. If they didn’t believe this, they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.
The ugly truth? Power-hungry politicians and surprisingly unenlightened MIT social science intellectuals need us to believe that we cannot fend for ourselves without government programs. Because unless most of us believe we’re helpless without them, these moronic power-grabbers would be out of a job and without any sense of meaning or purpose (however fallaciously founded) in their lives.
Before you conclude you’re helpless and therefore need all this government support, think twice about the kind of people whose support you’re accepting. Think hard about what they really think about you, and probably themselves for that matter.
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