The Free Agent is still trying to understand her demonification on the web. After all, if someone who just wants to provide for herself and isn’t asking anything of you is your enemy, you’ve got a lot of enemies. She was able to sort the invective into three categories, the first two, arguments ad hominum, in other words, “I disagree with you because of who I perceive you to be”, a logical fallacy FA learned back in debate class, but the third has a seed of truth that troubles her. Since we now appear to live in a country where Red/Blue is as big a rift as Blue/Gray once was, we might as well get used to handling these arguments.
Line of Unreasoning number one says anyone who doesn’t want their access to health care managed by politicians is an elitist who doesn’t care about the suffering of others. The first may be true, the Free Agent is at the moment, in fact, sporting an alumni T-shirt from her junior college, but the latter is not only unsupportable, but irrelevant, and it clouds the debate. FA actually believes all sides of this issue want what is best not only for themselves but others, we disagree on strategy, not values. Let me be unmistakable: I believe President Obama is trying to help me, I just don’t agree that it is his job to help me specifically, nor do I think the steps he is taking will do me anything but harm. The Free Agent likes to steer these conversations away from who is good and who is evil, toward the likely consequence of the proposal at hand. She would rather live in a world of evil people who had no authority over her than a one of benevolent dictators.
Line of Unreasoning number two appears to be just the opposite: opponents to political health care are “mole people” who are fighting progress. (This is another yellow flag for impoverished arguments—when one group and its polar opposite both oppose you.) Progress (like “change”) is an irrelevant term. Challenge the image of progress as a well whose spigot is in Washington. The last century of medical history could not possibly show more progress toward better health outcomes. Government intervention impedes improvements in outcomes, and a brief look at the fine work the FDA does to keep new drugs off the market will illustrates the point beautifully.
The third kind of name-hurling troubles the Free Agent more because she feels there is a grain of truth in it—there is a troubling undercurrent of injustice in the idea that a person could die of a treatable disease for lack of money. She hopes her readers will challenge her in an illuminating way, but she grudgingly admits, she thinks there might be a level of entitlement. The recent debate was never about this–it was always about lavishing everyone with gold-plated insurance policies–but something in the fact that in a Libertarian world, a convicted killer would get treatment for his cancer and someone on the outside would not, in the absence of charity, feels wrong. Oh, the Free Agent’s fingers found it difficult to type those words, but there it is. Is it worthwhile to create an entitlement to what she calls humanitarian health care? Because an unjust society is not a long-lived society.