From the Wikipedia entry on fallacy:
“A fallacy is an argument which provides poor reasoning in support of its conclusion. Fallacies differ from other bad arguments in that many people find them psychologically persuasive. That is, people will mistakenly take a fallacious argument to provide good reasons to believe its conclusion. An argument can be fallacious whether or not its conclusion is true.”
From this starting point I’d like to begin with the biggest fallacy that healthcare reform opponents are offering. Something along the lines of this: “The Government can’t run programs well, so we shouldn’t want them to run healthcare.”
This is a fine statement on the surface (despite it being incorrect), but under the current legislation in front of Congress, the only thing that is remotely close to “being run” by the government is the public option; that part of the reform bill that says people can choose from many options but there will be offered a public option as well.
And herein lies the fallacy. The current legislation allows for free-market competition with more consumer-friendly regulations on private industry insurers so that there truly is a free market. If the government can’t run healthcare (or any other program), then why are you afraid of the public option? If the government is so bad, people won’t be jumping all over the public option, but finding the best private insurance they can afford.
Ah, but what if my employer drops healthcare coverage? Then you are free to 1) bargain for a sizable raise; 2) find coverage on your own; 3) quit if employer doesn’t pass health insurance savings onto employees. Companies currently pick up anywhere from 50% to 75% of health insurance costs. That total healthcare cost is hidden from people. Having the ability to competitively shop for insurance means you don’t have to stay working at a job because of the benefits.
The second fallacy that I’m hearing from my ultra-conservative friends (online and off) goes something like this: “Keep your damn hands off my healthcare.”
Aside from the ridiculousness of this stance, there seems to be some notions about the nature of insurance and the nature of societal and group contracts. First, the only way an individual is able to get health insurance in the U.S. under the current system is to be extraordinarily healthy, a good liar (the industry spends a lot to find liars, so you’d have to be really good to not get dinged) or to be included in a group by an employer (where the employer is required by the federal government to include you, regardless of your health history). So let’s say you do have healthcare. By it’s nature, you are already part of a larger group. Which means that your employer has to pony up if a coworker gets sick. But you also have to pony up, because while your employer might pay some of the increased cost over time, so will you. So you are already beholden to those in your group. Their decisions affect you. You are already in a communal state, albeit one masked by the notion that a) you have some kind of choice about the care you receive, although nothing like in single payer or private/public countries; b) you don’t understand how the current system works, don’t want to understand and as a general rule, despise the government you pay taxes to; c) you are a libertarian.
So under the current system, you allow your employer to control your healthcare and dictate costs, which you have zero control over, except to opt-out. You have limited choices under the current system. So keeping “my damn hands off your healthcare” means you continue to exist in a system where you have no say and in many cases become trapped at your job, because you are afraid to leave due to this horrible current system.
It is in the best interests of every single citizen of the United States to be for healthcare reform. While you may disagree with points of legislation, the system desperately needs reform and the conversation should reflect that reality, rather than scare tactics and stupidity.