Money gets a bad rap from some people, because it's supposed to be the instrument of greed. Wanting more money is said to be crass. Indeed, in our modern political culture, wanting to keep your own money is treated as "greed." The noble and virtuous demands of the collective, as interpreted by a priesthood of politicians, completely trumps individual self-interest.
But it's easy to be greedy without demanding money. The ObamaCare debate provides a great example of this. We are incessantly told that the needs of the people President Obama believes will benefit from his health-care scheme outweigh the needs of everyone else. The relative size of these two groups doesn't change argument, even when Obama tacitly admits - as he did during his speech yesterday - that only 15 percent or less of the populace stands to benefit from the program. Higher premiums, exploding out-of-pocket costs, lost coverage, and enormous levels of inconvenience visited upon the rest of us are of absolutely zero concern to the President. He didn't even mention those people in his speech. He never does. He has nothing to say to them, and evidently no one in the mainstream media intends to ask tough questions on their behalf.
The President's political team is having a very hard time finding any happy ObamaCare purchasers - none of his human props at yesterday's Rose Garden event had actually bought a policy. This seems like a significant data point, over three weeks into the launch of a multi-trillion-dollar program with a $500 million website whose use is mandated upon a formerly free population by law, with the IRS standing by to enforce stiff fines against the disobedient.
But let us stipulate that some happy customers will eventually come forward and declare themselves happy with the cost, deductible, benefits, and restrictions of the policies they have purchased. Why is their satisfaction supposed to completely outweigh the higher prices and poor service encountered by millions of others? Are they not greedy for insisting on benefits for themselves, without concern for the price paid by others? They're pursuing their own naked self-interest in a way that damages the lives of other people, and they're worse than most of the people liberal culture routinely characterizes as greedy or selfish, because they are using huge amounts of compulsive force to get what they want. Nobody on the fuzzy end of this lollipop is allowed to say "no."
Last Sunday, blogger Matt Walsh solicited testimonials from those who feel shortchanged by ObamaCare. He reports receiving hundreds of emails within 24 hours. (Those who got a raw deal from ObamaCare certainly seem to be much easier to find than ordinary Americans who endorse it!) Walsh summarized his review of the responses as follows:
This is about people. People with kids, and bills, and health problems. This is about people who can no longer afford their health coverage, their mortgages, their lifesaving medication. This is about doctors and nurses leaving medicine behind, driven away by destructive bureaucratic interference. This is about moms and dads losing their jobs so that their employers can compensate for the financial burden of Obamacare. This is about people without insurance because of Obamacare, now being fined for not having insurance because of Obamacare. This is about business owners driven to the edge of bankruptcy. This is real. We heard a lot of fantasies about what Obamacare was “supposed” to accomplish, now it’s time to talk about what it’s actually doing.
So when they say you are “heartless” for opposing Obamacare, show them why it’s heartless to support it.
Walsh has published dozens of the responses he received, with plans to post more as he finds time to read them all. Some of them talk about disruptions in their work and personal lives caused by ObamaCare's endless maze of mandates, while others lay out hard numbers about the higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs awaiting them because of the "Affordable Care Act." A few examples from the latter group:
We are losing our current health insurance at the end of this year. My husband’s employer is getting rid of it due to Obamacare. Our insurance currently covers my husband, myself, and our two daughters. My husband’s employer is having to replace our current insurance with a policy that is $400 more a month and an added $3000 deductible. The worst of it is that it will now cost him $100 more a month to cover me, his WIFE! Disgusting.
My current health insurance policy for my family of four is $375/month. The cheapest I can find for relatively similar coverage is $784/month. I can “save” money by going with a high deductible plan and pay $630/month. How is that saving? I can’t afford health insurance at these prices, and my employer doesn’t provide insurance
There are many, many more of these stories at Matt's blog. Are we to understand these people don't matter? Their higher costs and damaged lives are irrelevant, as long as a few of President Obama's favored constituents get something they like? But don't you dare call those people greedy or selfish!
Furthermore, we are supposed to disapprove of "divisive" politics. What could be more divisive than pitting people against each other in a gladiatorial contest to see who can claim victory and cut benefit trophies from the hides of the losers? How are the people suffering under ObamaCare supposed to feel when the White House finally manages to put together a few chipper testimonials from satisfied Obama voters? This is a generation-spanning formula for conflict and division... in which one side is supposed to meekly submit, or face the wrath of the Ruling Class for daring to resist. The sheep will be castigated as selfish for wishing to keep their wool.
Statism thrives by spreading the belief that selfishness is sanctified through the application of compulsive force. The State decides which ambitions are valid, and which can be discarded. "Greed" is re-defined as resistance to these judgments. Selfishness becomes a virtue by official proclamation, while independence is viewed as theft. No one may refuse demands that have been politically consecrated.
In truth, self-interest only becomes truly destructive when compulsive force is involved. In a lawful, minimal government where every individual's right to property is equally respected, and all forms of theft are outlawed, self-interest is pursued mainly through hard work and persuasion. Everyone enjoys the fruits of voluntary commerce, which includes the sale of our labor at mutually agreeable prices. It's not a utopian state, and it takes much effort to preserve - there will always be robust debate about the needs of society, and the mandated cost of providing for those needs. But generally speaking, it is a constructive environment, in which ambition fuels the growth of general wealth.
And it is an environment in which the dignity of all citizens finds roughly equal official respect. They might waste some energy insulting each other's dignity in various ways, but at least no one is told he must submit to the morally superior demands of a preferred dependency class... or that his survival can only be ensured through parasitic dependency on people better able to provide for themselves and their families. How can you respect someone's human dignity without having full respect for their ambitions, and their ability to fulfill them?
Instead, ObamaCare is one of many arenas in which we are told to squabble and steal from one another, in a battle no one can fight alone. You've got to organize politically and win elections to gain the power you need to extract desired benefits from your vanquished enemies. President Obama spoke explicitly in those terms when he chided his Republican critics for not winning enough elections to prevail in the shutdown conflict. We are not allowed to withdraw our consent from what the Ruling Class imposes upon us, unless we band together and win enough election battles over the coming years to change the Ruling Class.
And if you're not happy with the way the commissars of ObamaCare are treating you... well, you missed your only chance to escape from the system in the last election. You know, the one in which Barack Obama and his allies relentlessly lied to you about what would happen when their health-care scheme went live. But even if you're looking at thousands of dollars per year in inflated premiums... even if you lost the health care coverage Obama swore you would be able to keep... you are not permitted to express the smallest bit of righteous anger at the people who are using a political victory to raid your paycheck.
Such feelings would challenge the right of the Ruling Class to sanctify greed, in a process that also bleeds away the freedom conferred through cash prizes. Accepting the notion of money as the vile symbol of greed concedes the freedom we gain by spending our fortunes as we see fit, and also allows greed to be concealed by hiding the dollar signs. The "prize" in these political contests is scrip - benefits which the Ruling Class can re-evaluate whenever it wishes, or even take back for use as a prize in future contests. The only permanent winners are the overlords of the arena.