Harold Meyerson points out what many would consider obvious:

>Just outside our nation’s capital, in affluent Montgomery and Fairfax counties, they still build public schools when the number of school-age children rises above the number that the existing schools can accommodate. Beyond question, there are parents in Fairfax and Montgomery who could easily afford to send their kids to private schools but who send them nonetheless to the excellent public schools in their neighborhoods . They thus increase government spending and withhold revenue from the private-school industry, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about that. A free public education is a right, or, if you prefer, an entitlement in America, because the nation long ago decided that an educated population is a national good.

Of course many wouldn’t consider it obvious, say, for instance, George Will:

>Unless facts are allowed to intrude, in which case it will be pointed out that what the Democrats are doing is taking a program aimed at poor children and turning it into a huge ever-expanding middle class entitlement program for, if Governor Spitzer in New York has his way, people, children up to say 25 years old from households with incomes of $82,000. Now, the guy sitting next to you at the bar at the plaza with a mustache sipping a vodka martini may be on that program for poor children.

Outside of knee jerk conservatism (“I don’t trust nothing new”), what principle could one invoke for offering school equally and to all (in principle–no bad school complaints please) but not health, the more basic and necessary condition for vigorous democratic and economic participation? But rather than thinking of reasons not to offer that particular (to my mind) obvious and rational “entitlement” (which is a silly word), can anyone think of another “entitlement” Meyerson’s principle could be understood to justify?

4 thoughts on “Obvious”

  1. I donno, perhaps health care for impoverished children? Welfare? Public assistance? Any nu ber of social programs to help otheres who contribute to the sytem and yet reap less from it; of course Will abhors all these things, flinging the misnomer of “entitlement” at their door in a display of Luntzian doublespeak. Entitlements are unearned; althought the recipeints of welfare, child health care, etc may be poor, they still pay taxes. They pay in, why shouldn’t they get something in return. Yet Will would have even the merest scrap of social goodwill taken away in the name of some bootstrap mentality elitism.

  2. As to Will’s point about the new program considering 25 year olds still eligible, I think he’s really disconnected from the way insurance works when you aren’t rich or an established, salaried employee in a law-abiding corporation. The ages of 21-25 are the hardest time to secure insurance–you’re just out of college, and most people don’t just get hired straightaway into their life calling by the corporation of their dreams. Most college educations are not vocational training in any sense. Most people I know ended up doing internships and working part-time and freelance jobs, none of which paid for insurance. Buying insurance out of pocket isn’t an option for most people either. It’s too expensive. I wonder if George Will realizes how many young people it’s too expensive for, because my guess would be that the plan he’s denouncing involved some demographic research confirming that a disproportionate number of people in their early 20s are uninsured, and that the plan actively sought to remedy this situation. I’d be inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt rather than assume that the Democrat congress was putting forth an idiotic plan with no relationship to the real needs of the people. I haven’t heard any intelligent conservative case against it. Will’s example fails to shock. So what if a young man with a moustache has a fancy drink in a bar? I don’t see how it follows that he’s fleecing the American people if he gets help with his health insurance. Is he treating expensive drinks drunk in a leisurely fashion as a proxy for wastefulness, irresponsibility and thus ineligibility for assistance? (The young man could afford insurance, surely, if only he’d stop buying those vodka martinis–no help for him!).

  3. How about, we’re entitled to a free and independent critical media, something so inherently necessary for a free exchange of ideas and an informed public that is essential to a functioning democracy (or republic, if you will). Instead, we get more deregulation of FCC laws, more corporate mergers that reduce the number of independent media outlets, and a public that can no longer discern fact from fiction, and news from advertising and government press releases (if there’s a difference).

  4. How about being entitled to government assistance in the case of massive natural or financial disaster?

Comments are closed.