Why do conservatives hate Obamacare?

This conversation happened on my most recent airplane trip.

This conversation happened on my most recent airplane trip.

me: So, are you going on a trip, or going home?

him: I’m flying home! Well, I’ve been working up in Chicago for the last 10 months, but my wife and family are in Dallas. So I’m going back to my real home.

me: Well, that sounds nice.

him: It is! How about you?

me: I’m heading home, too. What kind of work has you away from your family for 10 months?

him: I’m a sales manager for redacted insurance.

me: I’ve heard of them.

him: Yeah. They’ve been having a problem with sales up in Chicago, so they sent me up there to fix it. (laughs)

me: You’re mister fix-it! That’s cool.

—–[a while later]—–

me: So, has the new Affordable Care Act affected your company at all?

him: Obamacare? Yeah, it’s been great for us. I mean, it’s a terrible, terrible law. I don’t like it personally, but it’s been good for our company.

me: Well, that’s good. [pause] So, you obviously know a lot about the insurance industry, and how it works. If you don’t mind me asking, why are you personally against the new laws?

him: I just don’t like the government getting into things. The government shouldn’t be controlling people’s lives.

—–[a while later]—–

me: So the reason you don’t like Obamacare is just… I mean, it’s not about how it works?

him: Well, it doesn’t work, does it? It’s going to screw over a lot of people. The only people really being helped by the law are the people who couldn’t afford insurance at all before.

me: That’s who it’s supposed to help, though, right?

him: Yeah, but at the expense of the rest of us.

me: Well, it’s complicated. Insurance is complicated.

him: You bet. I agree with that.

me: Don’t you think, once things settle down… I mean, isn’t it possible that the number of people it helps ends up being a lot more than the people it hurts?

him: I guess it’s possible. But still, that’s not what the government is for. I don’t like the government telling people what to do.

—–[a while later]—–

him: The government screws up everything. Of course they’re gonna screw up health insurance. When does the government ever do anything right?

me: I know what you mean. Although… to be fair, it’s not like the private health insurance companies weren’t screwing it up already.

him: Amen to that! You got that right. They’re just looking to make a profit, trying to deny people coverage whenever they can…

me: Yeah. So… when you say the government will screw it up, it’s not like it wasn’t screwed up already.

him: Yeah, but I just don’t like the idea of government getting into things. That’s not what government should be doing.

—–[a while later]—–

him: The same with guns, really. Gun rights are probably the biggest issue I care about. I’m from west Texas. I grew up with guns. The government can’t be telling me what kind of guns I can have, or that I can’t have a gun. That’s why it’s a constitutional right.

me: I don’t think anyone wants to take away all guns.

him: No, but they shouldn’t be putting these restrictions on things. It’s really the same with Obamacare, and with guns. The government just shouldn’t be telling people what they can and can’t buy. That’s not what government is for.

—–[a while later]—–

him: Plus, if someone wants to hurt people, he will. You don’t need to own a plane to fly a plane into a building. If someone wants to shoot a bunch of people, he’ll find way. No matter what the laws are.

me: You’re right, gun regulations won’t stop people who are really… you know, determined. But I think there is one group of people… one situation where gun regulations might reduce gun deaths.

him: What’s that?

me: Stupid people. There’s lots of stupid people out there.

him: Amen! I agree with that.

me: You hear about people, you know, shooting themselves in the foot when they clean their gun. Kids accidentally shooting their little sister, and stuff. If we regulated guns, it might cut back on that kind of thing.

him: I disagree. You can’t cure stupid. He’ll just turn around and stab himself.

me: He probably won’t die from that, though.

him: Maybe. But the main thing is, government just shouldn’t be telling me what I can’t buy. I don’t like government getting into my life.

—–[a while later]—–

me: If you don’t mind me asking, what should government do?

him: What do you mean?

me: Well, you were saying what government shouldn’t be doing. What are the things that government should do?

him: They shouldn’t be telling people how to run their lives. What they can and can’t own.

me: Sure, but what should government do? What’s it for?

him: Well… to protect us. You know, the military and police. And… uh, infrastructure. Roads and bridges and trains and all that.

me: Some people think even those should all be private.

him: I guess some people believe that. But to me, being able to get from place to place… if a state needs a highway, and people need to get around, government should do that. That’s fine. As long as they stay out of my life, and don’t start telling me what I can and can’t do. Government shouldn’t be telling people what to do.

—–[a while later]—–

me: So if you know that private companies screw things up, and you know that government screws things up, isn’t it just, you know, six of one and half-dozen of another?

him: I guess. Why change things if the government will just screw things up too?

me: I think liberals say, “We know private insurance companies screw things up. Maybe government will screw things up, but it’s something new and we might as well try it.” Something new, you know?

him: I just don’t like government.



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  1. Niles Chandler says:

    “I just don’t like the government telling people what to do.”

    Here’s one possible translation: “I don’t like the government knowing a lot more than I know. On the basis of their accumulated knowledge, they create laws and regulations that make me face some potential problems with things that I or my neighbors may do– problems that can impinge on the lives of other people I don’t normally think about. I’d like to imagine that I can simply go ahead and do whatever I want at all times, blissfully unaware of any undesirable consequences of some of those actions. Government reminds me that I have more responsibilities and obligations than I would like.”

    We’ve all heard or read people complaining about “know-it-alls” in government and academia. Why would they use that expression as an insult? Perhaps because the “know-it-alls” are making them face issues and complexities that they don’t want to bother thinking about. That was certainly the case during the Vietnam War when pro-war conservatives spewed venom at collegiate ‘eggheads’.

    Oh, and I love this one: “When does the government ever do anything right?”

    When do people ever make such a sweeping dismissal of any other institution while genuinely believing that they MEAN it? Sure, they might blow off steam at work by making such a remark about their employer, but they know from experience that their company does some things right.

    I think people who are even the least bit self-aware will realize on some semi-conscious level that when they say, “When does the government ever do anything right?”, they’re just bloviating– that such a blanket dismissal has to be way, way exaggerated, because (like all of us) these people DON”T KNOW a lot of what the government does, so how could they possibly have enough information to judge whether ALL of its activities are hopelessly screwed-up?

    (Not to mention the obvious fact that if the government never did ANYTHING right, we would be living in utter chaos right now. And no, Faux News, we aren’t. Not even close. And you know it.)

    You’ll hear self-identified ‘conservatives’ saying, “What has government ever done for me?” And I mean saying, not asking. Somewhere in the back of their minds they understand this is a rhetorical question, not a real one; they don’t want to KNOW what government does for them, because (return to the ‘possible translation’ above).

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