Let Him Die

I’m up a bit ear­li­er than usu­al because I’m train­ing Abra­ham to wake him­self up when he needs to pee dur­ing the night. So, of course, I decide to cog­i­tate upon the recent CNN/Tea Par­ty debate, and in par­tic­u­lar the part where Tea Partiers choose to let some­one my age, who choos­es to be unin­sured and then injured, die. The clip:

And here’s what I’ve thought:

The free­dom of Ron Paul, cur­rent lib­er­tar­i­ans, and the Tea Par­ty is the free­dom of choice. They want the abil­i­ty to not par­tic­i­pate in exist­ing gov­ern­ment for a vari­ety of rea­sons most­ly boil­ing down to the fact that the gov­ern­ment spends their mon­ey in ways they don’t approve of. They don’t real­ly claim this as their goal, instead they just call it “small-gov­ern­ment”, but that’s the out­come they’re aim­ing for. They’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the only way to accom­plish this non-par­tic­i­pa­tion is to get elect­ed and change the stuff they don’t like about gov­ern­ment. It’s a fun­da­men­tal­ist posi­tion. The major log­i­cal hole in this argu­ment is that they want to enforce their choice upon every­one. That’s not lib­er­tar­i­an. Anoth­er log­i­cal hole in the argu­ment is that they’re not doing any­thing on their end to opt-out of the sys­tem right now. The major irony of this argu­ment is that the Tea Par­ty, who doesn’t want to be forced to pur­chase health care, is say­ing “let me die if I get sick or injured and can’t afford to pay.” Anoth­er major irony of this argu­ment is that the choic­es they are fight­ing over are first world prob­lems. The fact that choic­es are even pos­si­ble in these sit­u­a­tions is a reflec­tion of the qual­i­ty of life that has been cre­at­ed by the fact that we live in an Amer­i­ca that has been gov­erned by peo­ple who have con­struct­ed a social con­tract that makes our way of life pos­si­ble.

Hole 1: Some peo­ple want to live in a soci­ety that cares for oth­ers. Some peo­ple want to cre­ate insti­tu­tions and mech­a­nisms that ensure that care is pro­vid­ed for the soci­ety and the indi­vid­u­als with­in it. The applause & out­bursts in that clip show that there is no con­cept of “love thy neigh­bor” and, in fact, no con­cep­tion of even “who is my neigh­bor?” or even “neigh­bor” going on here. This isn’t a polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of auton­o­my & per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty, it is a polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of self­ish­ness, borne out of igno­rance. If it were borne out of knowl­edge you wouldn’t have peo­ple cheer­ing or call­ing for death. (This space reserved for tan­gen­tial dis­cus­sion of the epis­te­mol­o­gy of psy­chol­o­gy, soci­ol­o­gy & anthro­pol­o­gy as it relates to soci­ety & lib­er­tar­i­an­ism).

I’m all for auton­o­my & per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty. I’m also all for social respon­si­bil­i­ty, because I know that orga­niz­ing, pool­ing resources, and work­ing togeth­er for a com­mon goal (build­ing a road, pro­vid­ing health care for all cit­i­zens, lob­by­ing the GOP to change it’s pol­i­cy posi­tions (look­ing at you here, Tea Par­ty)) is more effec­tive than act­ing autonomous­ly. I also know that, as autonomous and per­son­al­ly respon­si­ble as I am, and can be, at some point, I’m not going to be able to get by with­out some help from my friends, the gov­ern­ment, or oth­er social insti­tu­tions.

Hole 2: Opt-out. If these peo­ple don’t want to par­tic­i­pate in the cur­rent social con­tracts, they should opt-out. That’s an easy choice, but hard to prac­tice. Don’t like pay­ing tax­es? Change your tax with­hold­ing to zero and don’t pay tax­es when the time comes. Work for cash, or if fiat cur­ren­cy isn’t your thing, pre­cious met­als. Don’t buy health insur­ance, and when you get sick, don’t seek care from mod­ern med­ical insti­tu­tions. You can always opt-out. If Amer­i­ca won’t let you, move to some­place that will, but don’t com­plain when the qual­i­ty of life blows, because qual­i­ty of life is cre­at­ed and sus­tained through social con­tracts, gov­er­nance, and lov­ing thy neigh­bor.

PS. If you’re rais­ing your kids to be lib­er­tar­i­an, don’t pot­ty train them. You’ll be forc­ing them to abide by a social con­tract for san­i­ta­tion. Give them the free­dom of choice. Plus, you won’t have to wake up in the mid­dle of the night to teach them to wake up and take a piss when they feel the need.