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Socialism is evil! Venezuela! Communism!


Government, please bail us out! Please help us! Let’s work together to make sure of this and of that… Let’s nationalise private healthcare provision in the short term… Let’s…Let’s…

I’ve heard assaults democratic socialism, social democracies, mixed economies – the lot – over the years from members of the small-government right and from libertarians. Libertarians make me angry. They are fair-weather, economically comfortable libertarians. Economic elitists. But when the shit hits the fan, oh, hello government, please help! The way you can centrally and strategically manage this disaster is just what we need. And the way you can use taxpayers’ money to bail out countless free-market enterprises is just what the doctor ordered. The free market has no ability to manage a disaster, with no central nucleus.

We are entering a period of a downwards economic spiral: People can’t go anywhere so businesses are crippled and have no income but have to continue with outgoings, so they lay people off. These people then require government assistance and cannot themselves afford to spend money. What with businesses not spending money and consumers not spending money, we have a climate of no spending and a huge need for economic stimulus.

Now, since economics and the economy is entangled so carefully with health and healthcare, we have further problems. The whole thing is a vortex draining towards an inevitable economic black hole, and it’s pretty scary.

If ever there was a need for a robust clamour for Medicare-for-all, for socialised medicine, this is it. The time is now. People in the US should be shouting from the rafters.

For the first time in a decade, and no surprise under the present administration’s tenure, the number of medically uninsured in the US has risen. The Census found that 8.5% of the U.S. population went without medical insurance for all of 2018. But it’s the underinsured that are also a huge worry, again moving in the wrong direction. If you want to see a damning assessment on the underinsured figures, see this report. They totalled 29% of the adult population in 2018, the largest growth being from those with job-based plans.

That’s a huge number of people who either cannot see a doctor or who are seriously disincentivised from doing so. The claim is that 40% of Americans couldn’t properly afford a surprise medical bill. You can quibble over that stat all you like, but the point is clear. And it was rammed home by the indomitable Katie Porter in this must-watch performance:

YouTube video

Richard Branson, seriously rich owner/stakeholder of a whole bunch of Virgin businesses, free-marketeer and entrepreneur, has just asked the UK government for a £7.5 billion bailout for his Virgin Atlantic. The travel industry and tourist industry is a dolly step away from imploding. Today’s news cycle has been full of companies realising how close they are to the edge of the chasm.

Everyone will be asking for bailouts, from the zero-hours contracted worked in the gig economy to the newly unemployed, to those on sick leave, from the tiny businesses to the massive corporations and everyone in between – the government are the go-to saviours.

Society and the global economy is a hop, step and jump away from a ctrl, alt +del moment.

And bet your bottom dollar libertarians and small-government free marketeers will be in that queue.

My opinion is that, if these people are at all rational, this should be evidence enough that they should change their minds, their economic and governmental approaches. It’s rather double standards to sit in your inflatable armchair in your pool, sipping a piña colada, when the sun is shining and you are economically safe and sound, shouting at those who can barely afford to survive for lowering themselves to ask for government assistance, and then run to mummy when your pool drains, your cocktail glass runs dry and the sun goes down.

I get angry at a time like this.

I also recognise some deal of irony, or hypocrisy, or something, because, in listening to Martin Lewis (MoneySavingExpert) on radio today, it is apparent that the recourse to a shed load of holidaymakers and other people under financial duress (from companies trying to pull the fast one, refusing to refund, in issues of insurance, in so many matters travel or finance) is to rely on good ole EU regulation. If we had been properly out of the EU by now, we would have so, so many people right royally stuffed. The EU, in their predilection for regulation, have sought to protect consumers in times like these.

Whether those companies decide to flout the rules in these extreme scenarios in order to survive is yet to be seen (indeed, some companies appear to be doing just this, already, if the phone-in was accurate).

Small government right-wingers are ten-a-penny these days, and not just in the US, but here in the UK, too. As long as they remember that we are a society, and working collectively towards a better future shouldn’t just be a behaviour for when your back is against the wall.


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A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...

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