The personal isn't political (always)

Julian Sanchez, who is finally back to blogging after a well-earned rest, weighs in on the silly rhetoric of selfishness:

. . . there are surely some very wealthy libertarians out there. But the folks who find themselves on the wrong end of this sort of rhetoric tend to be pundits, journalists, bloggers, and other folk who like arguing in bars. And the overlap between those groups is, to a first approximation, nil. If I were "selfish," I would be arguing for universal healthcare funded by confiscatory taxes on brackets I'd need Hubble to glimpse. What exactly is our stake in the tax burden on the top one percent supposed to be? A big payout for our loyal hackwork from the Gnomes of Zurich? They really are screwed if their only advocates are money-grubbers so dim as to eschew law or consulting for journalism.

I am frequently told, when I say that I am against single payer, that I wouldn't feel that way if I were uninsured.

But I was uninsured for years, and I was still against national health care.

But you were healthy, I am told. You wouldn't feel that way if you'd been sick and uninsured.

But I was sick, with a couple of expensive chronic diseases. Not like kidney failure or anything, but a pulmonologist and a raft of prescription inhalers can take quite a bite out of the monthly budget.

But you weren't sick and poor, I'm told.

But after taxes, rent, and $1K in student loans, freelancing sure didn't generate a lot of spare cash.

But you weren't poor from birth is the general rejoinder.

. . . and around it goes. Apparently, the only people allowed to comment on health care are uninsured diabetics from East New York . . . which makes any discussion moot, because that sure doesn't describe any of my interlocutors.

There's a weird presumption that the political must be personal. To be sure, class and income and background affect our thinking in subtle ways. But they don't make it impossible to develop, or maintain, a principled belief that runs against one's own immediate self-interest. What's the Matter with Kansas? might more properly have been titled What's the Matter with Thomas Frank?