Quite the Choice

Posted on 29. Nov, 2009 by in Uncategorized

“‘But I don’t want to burn my flag…’ THEN DON’T” – Bill Hicks

American life involves choices. George Carlin defined these choices as paper or plastic, cash or credit, Democrat or Republican.

In reality, it’s much funnier and much scarier than Carlin’s pithy summation.

For example, the right to bear arms so famously guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution is for the purpose of maintaining a militia, being necessary to the free state. The framers didn’t envision the United States maintaining a professional military, so they wanted the citizenry armed to defend their newly-created society. Section III of Article III of that same Constitution defines treason as levying war against the United States. As John Brown discovered after he took on the country’s professional military at Harper’s Ferry over a societal issue, when a citizen militia’s right to bear arms is weighed against national interest, the militia bears its arms into a hangman’s noose.

Which means that the choice isn’t cash or credit, two methods that achieve the same result – it’s more like Socrates’ choice of exile or hemlock. An individual can either choose not to bear arms with few negative consequences, given that most all personal security in the United States is provided by professional paramilitary or military organizations. Or they can exercise their legal right to possess weapons and risk provoking the ire of society, to say nothing of their personal safety. One is sensible, safe, and inconsequential; the other the choice of a zealot, with predictably radical consequences.

The left has largely let gun control alone since 1994, which makes sense. Those that feel strongly in favor of gun control run up against that pesky Second Amendment, a broad-based culture that likes firearms and the need of middle-aged white men for a quick method of dispatching themselves (fun fact: the death rate for firearms is weighted thusly – young black men get murdered at roughly half the rate that middle-aged white men commit suicide). Best to just make the choice to not exercise your Constitutional right than set off an opposition determined to martyr itself for the cause.

Fortunately, there is no section or amendment in the Bill of Rights that guarantees the right of the people to deny themselves medical treatment because they do not wish to pay for it. And just as progressives have learned to let the gun issue lie since there’s no way they can actually win the debate, so too will the current opponents of health care reform. Because they don’t have a leg to stand on.

The only people who don’t find health care in the United States to be fundamentally screwy are those with large pools of wealth with which to fund their care. It may be true that people from around the world travel to the United States to receive the best care the world has to offer, but when Yakuza bosses are bribing their way into a liver transplant at UCLA while 46 million Americans remain uninsured, should the worldwide appeal of a system from a huge number of Americans is removed be held up as a good thing? Isn’t that akin to telling someone in a rat-infested shithole in Brooklyn that New York’s real estate is the best in the world because some sultan just bought a townhouse on the East Side for $50 million? ‘Look, everything’s great! Not that you’ll ever benefit!”

A rather important aspect of the health care plan that seems to go unmentioned by conservatives is the flip side of the choice made by liberals on gun control – there is still a choice available to not carry insurance. Just as anyone who might think that men who fought wars with smooth-bore muskets that could be fired three times per minute might not necessarily want an entire populace empowered to tote AR-15s wherever they Goddam well please has gotten used to the fact that the best, easiest choice is simply not to tote one themselves, so will those who believe that perfectly healthy 25 year-olds shouldn’t have to help fund health care for those more in need get used to the fact that once health care passes, there will still be a choice open to them – paying for the opportunity to be insured but not getting the insurance on moral grounds.

Then again, hemlock drinkers need medical attention.

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