Reluctantly, I must admit to having been recently sucked into the Facebook milieu. Depending on my mood, it can sometimes be an amusing distraction from… whatever it is I need to be distracted from.
Last week, however, I was troubled by a Facebook posting from someone who described himself as an “economic conservative”. In the midst of a discussion on the healthcare debate, said poster started whining about how he sure as hell didn’t want to pay for some other person’s healthcare. After all, HE went to college, worked hard, got a job with benefits and doesn’t need to rely on the government for HIS healthcare.
I replied that I, too, went to college, worked hard and got a job with benefits. Tomorrow, in fact, is my 20th anniversary as a full-time employee at WFUM. But at the end of October, I am scheduled to lose my job through no fault of my own. I and my family will, at that time, lose all healthcare benefits. I pointed out that from my perspective a government-run healthcare option seemed like a pretty damned good idea.
The poster replied that while he was sorry about my job loss, I should have been saving 20% to 40% of my paycheck over the past 20 years and should therefore have plenty of spare cash just lying around on which I should be able to comfortably live.
I didn’t bother responding to that. Apparently, unlike the poster, I live in a world where transmissions go bad, well-pumps go kablooie, roofs need replacing and kids need braces. 20% to 40%? I wish!
The attitude expressed by the poster exemplifies the near-religious belief in the mystical power of the free market economy held by some. In his mind, if you do all the right things, the free market will, in its oh-so-rational way, reward you. If you do stupid things and/or are lazy, you deserve all the bad luck and hard times you get. Conversely, if you’re having a hard time financially, it HAS to be YOUR fault since the all-knowing free market would simply not allow a worthy individual to be bereft of its benefits.
Which is why to people like him people like me must be – to borrow a phrase – an inconvenient truth.
I did, in theory, all the right things. I went to school, was a loyal employee, worked hard, (never having been without a job since age 12) saved what I could, maintained a stellar credit rating and the reward for all my efforts is pending unemployment and the loss of health benefits for me and my family.
But to people like the poster, this still somehow MUST be my fault. To say otherwise would be to admit that unregulated free market capitalism is somehow flawed. And an economic conservative simply COULDN’T allow such blasphemy to enter his mind!
So I suppose this means at the end of October I’ll suddenly be transformed from a longtime hard working taxpayer and educated member of society to a lazy and stupid slacker sponging off the labor of others.
Otherwise, it would mean unregulated free market Capitalism has problems.
And we simply can’t admit that!