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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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August 29, 2005

He Who Pays, Controls

Objecting to the previous entry, a reader writes:

I would agree with you that government should stay out of it provided that you agree with the following: when you have your heart attack and stroke, become disabled, then unemployed, lose your health insurance, declare bankruptcy and need medical care that you agree to die rather than apply for Medicaid, because I'll have to pay for you. You, of course, apparently think that Ebola is more likely to get you and that you need protection from that. Get real.

I was not arguing that Ebola is more likely to get me than stroke. I was arguing that Ebola is the kind of disease we need government for—an infectious disease for which the victims are not responsible, and which by its nature has to be dealt with collectively. SARS was also like that. There are many other diseases which may be partly like that.

Obesity is not. Being fat is an individual problem. One may be fat mainly from bad behavior or bad genes, but my fatness is my problem, not yours. My fatness does not cause you to be fat. Therefore, I think, my fatness is none of your business—and, that being so, is none of the government’s business.

The other argument here is about the power inherent in socialism.The writer pays taxes for Medicaid, which pays the doctor bills of the poor. He is saying that I may become poor and become a burden upon the program into which he pays (never mind that I also pay), and therefore he has an interest in how I live, and therefore his government shall give me instructions in right living. I have heard this argument before—about motorcycle helmet laws, antismoking laws, etc. Now this. The people who make it think of themselves as liberals, but it is a profoundly authoritarian argument. Basically it says, “You used to be free to run this aspect of your life, but now we’re paying for it, so you have to accept our management—or, at least, our annoying propaganda.”

I don't want it.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at August 29, 2005 02:35 PM



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