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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 10, 2014

 
Republicans do not understand what it means to be human

by David Atkins

Republicans are very upset that people who are working just to hold onto health insurance might be willing to quit the labor force because the Affordable Care Act will allow them to. The notion that someone might devote their time to writing poetry instead of droning away at some awful job just to cover an insurance CEO's yacht fee positively incenses them:
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Sunday said Democrats are pushing poetry as an alternative to holding a job.

During an appearance on Fox News, he referred to the results of a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that finds millions of American workers may move away from full-time employment because of benefits offered within ObamaCare.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), say that the law allows workers to alleviate themselves from “job-lock” – staying in a job that’s otherwise unwanted or disliked, simply to collect healthcare benefits.

Media reports say Pelosi fired back at the Republican interpretation of the CBO report – that ObamaCare kills jobs – by saying the workers are now able to leave jobs to “[follow] their aspirations to be a writer; to be self-employed; to start a business.”

Gowdy honed in on the remarks, saying they are part of a larger effort to smooth over flaws with the healthcare reform law and its rollout during an election year.

“What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry,’” Gowdy said. “Well, that’s great until you try and buy your grandkid a birthday present or you try and pay the heating bill.”
Obviously, of course, Mr. Gowdy is a low-information, low-intelligence Congressman. No one who can't buy their grandkids birthday presents or pay their heating bill is going to be able to quit their job because of the Affordable Care Act. But if their healthcare costs are reduced dramatically, they might have the freedom to quit and take on early retirement, and maybe even spend real time with their grandkids instead of making an impulse buy at a big box store.

But concerning their contempt for poetry, the liberal arts and the human freedom to be something more than a cog in a corporate machine, perhaps Republicans might want to listen to a recent advertising campaign by Apple, America's most profitable corporation:



That, of course, is a quote from the famous and extremely popular American film Dead Poet's Society:



For the video-impaired, here it is:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman,

'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here--that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"
It is not inaccurate or extreme to declare that ideological Republicans do not understand what it means to be human. They view human beings as economic units to be plugged at their lowest possible price into a maximally efficient market that provides the greatest possible returns on investment to the wealthy few, with any resulting human resentment and misery dulled by humility before a pleasure-fearing angry God promising rewards to the obedient in the hereafter. It is a dark, meager, shriveled and cramped vision of humanity.

To accept their worldview is to reject the essence of human identity and purpose. If human beings could create a sustainable world of plenty free from violence, war, hunger or want, a world in which human beings were free to devote 24 hours a day to the leisurely pursuit of whatever activities they wished so long as they harmed no one else, conservatives would be terrified.

It's not so much that conservatives don't believe such a world of boundless human potential is possible. It's that they don't want it to be possible.


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