Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Paul Krugman: "Dollars, Cents and Republican Sadism." (Pain IS The Point)

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Alan: At bedrock, the deliberate cruelty of American conservatives springs from a philosophical root and a theological root.

Philosophically, American conservatives believe that everyone is individually responsible for their personal wellbeing and that failure to take responsibility -- thus evoking dependence on public coffers -- is such contemptible (and perversely willful) behavior that these ne'r-do-well parasites are rightfully deprived of public assistance. 

And even if only one in a thousand is proved a parasitic scamster, that one is enough to condemn the whole group because nothing less than "perfection" is permissible in the presumed view of The Christian God.

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The theological root of American "conservatism's" cruelty is based on the orthodox Christian belief that the Universe is divinely-ordered so that most people -- including all "infidels" -- end up in Hell.

When I was a boy in the 1950s -- and despite my enduring love for the Mercy sisters who taught me at St. Thomas the Apostle grammar school, and the Basilian priests who taught me at Aquinas Institute and the University of Toronto (where I double-majored in Latin American Studies and Comparative Religions) -- Catholics were taught by the pre-Vatican II "Magisterium" that EVERYONE outside the fold of orthodox Catholicism was destined to eternity-in-Hell except for a limited number of unbaptized infants who would escape The Lake of Unquenchable Fire but who, nevertheless, would be confined -- forever  -- to the gray "consolation prize" of Limbo.

The "logic" goes like this...

Since God Himself has created the world so that nearly every human being (the Book of Revelation exempts 120,000) will endure the deathless fate of perpetually re-inflicted third degree burns charring resurrected bodies down to the bone -- with those same bodies undergoing miraculous regeneration to endure this interminable torture anew -- "the faithful" (most especially those on "the conservative side of the aisle") are convinced that any torment we humans mete out on "this side" of eventual Damnation is NOTHING in comparison to what God has in store.

"Good Christians" are at home with cruelty "in this life" -- and in "the next" -- because their personal "salvation assurance" (which has always impressed me as essentially selfish) depends on the orthodox theological teaching that other humans are going to Hell. 

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I will conclude by noting that The Mercy Sisters taught me (and my fellow "grammar schoolers") that there was no theological reason to believe any human soul would end up in Hell and that we were all called upon by Divine Mercy to pray for the salvation of every soul, "including Adolf Hitler's."

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"Where love rules, there is no will to power, 
and where power predominates, love is lacking
The one is the shadow of the other." 
Carl Jung

The Jung quote above is companion piece to Pat Buchanan's observation below:
Republican presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, the living American who has served longest as a White House senior staff adviser, observed: “The Republican philosophy might be summarized thus: To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and that they do not.” “Where the Right Went Wrong" 

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"Congressional Republicans Couple Unabashed Prostitution With Flabbergasting Stupidity"

Dollars, Cents and Republican Sadism

Paul Krugman

Democrats want to strengthen the social safety net; Republicans want to weaken it. But why?
G.O.P. opposition to programs helping the less fortunate, from food stamps to Medicaid, is usually framed in monetary terms. For example, Senator Orrin Hatch, challenged about Congress’s failure to take action on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a part of Medicaid that covers nearly nine million children — and whose federal funding expired back in September — declared that “the reason CHIP’s having trouble is that we don’t have money anymore.”
But is it really about the money? No, it’s about the cruelty. Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that the suffering imposed by Republican opposition to safety-net programs isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Inflicting pain is the point.
To see what I mean, consider three stories about health care policies.
First, there’s the saga of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of this expansion. But accepting expansion should have been a no-brainer for every state: The federal government would initially pay the full cost, and even in the long run it would pay 90 percent, meanwhile bringing money and jobs into state economies.
Yet 18 states — all of them with Republican-controlled legislatures, governors or both — still haven’t expanded Medicaid. Why?
For a while you could argue that it was about cynical political strategy: Medicaid expansion was a policy of Barack Obama, and Republicans didn’t want to give a Democratic president any policy successes. But that story can’t explain states’ continuing resistance to the idea of providing health coverage to thousands of their own citizens at minimal cost.
No, at this point it’s clear that G.O.P. politicians simply don’t want lower-income families to have access to health care and are actually willing to hurt their own states’ economies to deny them that access.
Second, there’s the issue of work requirements for Medicaid. Some states have been petitioning for years for the right to force Medicaid recipients to take jobs, and this week the Trump administration declared that it would allow them to do so. But what was driving this demand? The reality is that a vast majority of adult Medicaid recipients are in families where at least one adult is working. And a vast majority of those who aren’t working have very good reasons for not being in the labor force: They’re disabled, they’re caregivers to other family members or they’re students. The population of Medicaid recipients who “ought” to be working but aren’t is very small, and the money that states could save by denying them coverage is trivial.
Oh, and of the 10 states reportedly seeking to impose work requirements, six have accepted the A.C.A. Medicaid expansion, which means that most of the money they could save by kicking people off would be federal, not state, dollars. So what’s this about?
The answer, surely, is that it isn’t about saving money, it’s about stigmatizing those who receive government aid, forcing them to jump through hoops to prove their neediness. Again, the pain is the point.
Finally, there’s the case of children’s health insurance. Again, federal funding expired back in September, and millions of children will lose coverage soon if that funding isn’t restored. So what will it cost the Treasury if Congress does what it should have done months ago, and restores funding? The answer, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is — nothing. Or actually less than nothing. In fact, a 10-year extension of CHIP funding would save the government $6 billion.
How is this possible, given the roughly $14 billion a year CHIP currently spends on health? The key point, laid out in a budget office analysis a few months ago, is that many (but not all) families whose children are currently covered by CHIP could alternatively be covered by subsidized private insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.
Private insurance is, however, considerably more expensive than Medicaid, which uses its bargaining power to hold down costs. (The cost of private insurance has gone up even further now that Republicans have repealed the individual mandate, worsening the risk pool.) As a result, subsidies for private insurance would end up costing more than the direct coverage children currently get through CHIP.
And don’t imagine that, because many children thrown off CHIP would find alternative sources of coverage, the kids would be alright. For one thing, a significant number wouldn’t get covered: The number of uninsured kids would rise substantially. Furthermore, private insurance, which often involves large out-of-pocket expenses, is much worse than CHIP for lower-income families.
So Republican foot-dragging on CHIP, like opposition to Medicaid expansion and the demand for work requirements, isn’t about the money, it’s about the cruelty. Making lower-income Americans worse off has become a goal in itself for the modern G.O.P., a goal the party is actually willing to spend money and increase deficits to achieve.

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