Here are summaries of three recent opinion pieces that impressed me.
1. In the NY Times Charles J. Sykes, a former Wisconsin talk show host, wrote “If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must be Doing Something Right.” Despite the misleading title, the piece was saying that the conservative GOP is gone, leaving in its place a party with nothing to offer except opposition to those who oppose Trump. He concludes,
In many ways anti-anti-Trumpism mirrors Donald Trump himself, because at its core there are no fixed values, no respect for constitutional government or ideas of personal character, only a free-floating nihilism cloaked in insult, mockery and bombast.
2. On the website Medium is “What liberals get wrong about the Republican approach to health insurance,” by someone named Taylor Williamson. He points out that liberals and conservatives do NOT share the same goals for a health system. These goals, he notes, “are clearly ideological; they are based on a set of values and ideals that underpin the right to health.” Liberals view good health care as a right, so they want better, fairer, more efficient and more responsive healthcare, plus risk protection, goals embodied, albeit imperfectly, in Obamacare.
But conservatives do not believe in a right to health. Rather, they advocate conservative principles of free markets, less government regulation, and more personal responsibility. So they want people to pay for their own health care or insurance. Insurers should be able to charge premiums that reflect the buyer’s risk. Obamacare, by contrast, subsidizes health insurance. It forbids insurers from charging older people for the true insurance risk they entail, while requiring insurers to overcharge younger, healthier people.
Conservatives want a free market in health insurance, providing maximum choice and flexibility. They oppose Obamacare’s regulation of insurance terms, and its other mandates and restrictions as well. Conservatives think “People should know, and purchase, their needed level of insurance.” Miscalculation is their problem, not ours.
Citizens should get the healthcare they can buy, “no more and no less.” The freedom conservatives seek is access to whatever you want to buy, not for everyone to have access to good care. Indeed, although liberals point to data showing that healthcare in the US is, on average, worse than in other developed countries, conservatives point to data showing that for the richest people it’s the best available anywhere.
Williamson’s helpful conclusion:
Republican willingness to trade health equity and financial protection for reduced regulation, increased flexibility, and high-end quality stem from an ideology that promotes personal responsibility, free markets, and reduced government intervention over equity, access, and risk protection. Pretending that Republicans lawmakers care about the same things that Democrats do, is a fundamental error.
3. Thomas Friedman’ column in the NY Times of May 16 points out that the problem with Trump is basically a problem of craven Republicans, and will not be resolved by demonstrations, Saturday Night Live skits, or other self-indulgent entertainments. Rather, the only solution is to throw the rascals out, a matter of hard work in organizing, choosing candidates, and helping them through work and finance. He says that the only choice is chicken or fish, a phrase I think he should have changed to “fish or cut bait.” It’s purely a power struggle, a matter of either fighting or surrendering; there exists no third way.