Since college, I have been a libertarian. Now I am not as certain of that position as I once was. I haven’t had the time to study the central issues again. But I am still a libertarian.
So I do not like the Affordable Care Act (ACA; a.k.a. Obamacare), since it is an increase in the government’s control and expenditures in the market for healthcare. (Yes, I know that a lot of people claim that a market system just won’t work with healthcare. Maybe that’s true. But I’m not yet convinced by the arguments.) There is a lot in the bill, and it is a complex piece of legislation. I don’t know the details of the bill.
Having said that, let me move on to the main focus of this post. Conservatives are ardently opposed to this bill. I have personally heard a lot of anger and frustration about the ACA. Some have called it communism. Socialism. A big step toward the government running every aspect of our lives.
I think those claims are overstated. (Before you complain, remember…I am opposed to the ACA.)
But regardless of the exaggerations or lack thereof, I want my conservative friends to answer a question: why is the political right comfortable, if not completely supportive, of the government’s control of our education system, but many conservatives are reacting to the ACA as if it signaled the end of the world?
Think about it: the government taxes you to fund the public schools. If you refuse to pay these taxes, you are fined. You have no control over what you kid is taught or tested on, and negligible input into what is taught. Your kid is told what to wear and how to wear his or her hair. You are forced to vaccinate your kids (you should vaccinate your children, by the way). If you don’t want your kid to go to school, you can be arrested. If you want to homeschool your kids, some states don’t allow it. If you do homeschool your child or send them to a private school, you still have to fund the public school. And you don’t even get to choose which public school your kid attends (in most cases).
So why are American conservatives so comfortable with this, but not comfortable with the ACA? As best as I can tell, the intrusions of the ACA are fewer than the intrusions of the public school system.
And, while I’m at it, let me just point out that the majority of conservatives and Republicans support the government has a right (exercised in the past) to force you and/or your sons to join the military and risk your lives fighting a war you oppose.
What economic or political arguments could be given to legitimize all these government intrusions, but make the comparatively minor provisions of the ACA ridiculous and an overstepping of proper boundaries for the government?
What am I missing? It seems blatantly inconsistent to me. (More inconsistent than reading the 2nd Amendment strictly, while allowing the president war powers that cannot meet a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution!)
Join other dedicated readers of Thinking and Believing and subscribe to the email list. You'll receive every new post in your inbox, so you never have to worry about missing a post. Click here to subscribe.
Although I would say a portion of the political right doesn’t like FEDERAL involvement in education and would propose a return to local government control. Also see white flight in order to have better school politics/demographics. Also see Friedman’s voucher idea.
I know some people who oppose federal involvement, but not state involvement, in education. It seems like this is now less popular among Republicans. Ron Paul was widely ridiculed for saying that he would cut the Dept. of Ed.