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The Voice of New Rochelle: The Bitter Taste of Tea

Libertarian Ron Paul, nothing if not honest, finally said what Tea Partiers knew but didn’t admit, moderates feared but didn’t believe and liberals believed but couldn’t prove. At least now there are clearer choices about what kind of country we could be.

One of the most memorable scenes in the iconic film The Godfather involves the meeting at the Genco Olive Oil Company, when the Don, played by Marlon Brando, admonishes Sonny, his hot-headed son, by saying, “Never tell anyone outside the family what you’re thinking again.” The Don was wise, and Sonny’s impudence almost got his father killed.  

In the case of Ron Paul’s answer to a Wolf Blitzer health-care question during a recent presidential debate, the Texas congressman may have killed the chances of hard-right Republicans to take the White House in 2012.  

That is, unless the country really wants to redefine itself as an “every man for himself” dog-eat-dog society. If, indeed, that is the will of the people, then it is what it is. At least, now, the issue can be faced with clarity and less pretense. 

During the Republican debate last week, CNN’s Blitzer asked Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man whose chose not to purchase heath insurance found himself suddenly in need of six months of intensive care.

Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about—taking your own risks." When Blitzer pushed further, asking if the man should be left to die, many in the Republican audience cheerfully screamed, “Yeah.” 

And so there it was for all to see and admire. For good or ill, the toothpaste of where the far right stands on health care is out of the tube, never to be returned. Sonny was hot for the drug business and got his dad shot; Congressman Paul is hot for letting only the strong survive. 

And so the question is this: Is that the kind of country you want? 

It is fair to say that the government wastes money and does not do too many things well. It is also fair to say that the libertarian streak in all of us disdains the government telling us what to eat, drink, think or speak, or what other personal risks to take. 

In this vain, we are all Tea Partiers. In each of these activities, though, there is a calculation and risk analysis inherent in our freedom to choose, that has little effect on other people and that involves little or no moral judgment on what kind of society we are. 

On the other hand, condemning someone to death when the ability to save his or her life is within our means is another matter altogether. 

Last week, did those passersby leave the burning car on the motorcyclist who wore no helmet and choose a risky mode of transportation because he made a bad choice? Of course not. It would be morally reprehensible to those folks as individuals and us as a society. Why, then, would we let the man who bought no insurance perish? 

The conundrum gets worse. Let’s say we realize that the man must be saved. On still another hand should everyone else have to pay his bill?  After all, the uninsured, both illegal immigrants and the working, are causing hospitals to close and taxes to rise. 

Something has to be done. How we do it will define what and who we are as a people. Thanks to Ron Paul’s Sonny Corleone moment, we know what the far right would like us to be.

dave September 21, 2011 at 10:47 AM
The point is that its not the governments job to pay for it. Anyone can start a salvation army of their own. Don't steal my money in the name of justice.
Tom McFarland September 21, 2011 at 12:32 PM
And here I was thinking the Patch was a good local source of news without rancor or partisan politics where I didn't have to temper my reading and watch out for people driving a political agenda by managing content. Thanks for the correction.
Bob Marrone September 21, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Hi Dave, Thank you for commenting. Your point is well taken. And, so, why not make everyone in the pool of heath care pay for their insurance the same way all in the pool of drivers pay for theirs? Just a thought! Also, are you saying we should just let that person die; is your answer "yeah"? Again, thanks for reading and comment. Bob
Bob Marrone September 21, 2011 at 02:11 PM
HI Tom, Thank you for commenting. First, lets be fair to the Patch and direct your displeasure where it belongs...with me. Second, the patch is what you described, a fair and local distributor of information. However, they too include opinion columns in their publication of which mine is one. So, the opinion is mine. As for the national part of it, I often try to write about what is in the news that our residents are talking about. As for Representative Paul's comments, and particularly the reaction of the audience, my goal was to express my personal opinion about it, and suggest that we are approaching a crossroads about who and what we are. One man's opinion...that's the nature of the column. Anyway, please don't let my opinions effect how you look at the news stories on patch. News must be even handed and fact based, and they do a nice job. Also, thanks again for reading and commenting. also, feel free to email me at Bob@wvox.com. You might be surprised at how your ideas can work your way into a future piece.regards Bob
dave September 21, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Hi Bob, I'm not saying let the person die at all. I'm saying that it's wrong for the government to take personal income for health care. All I'm saying is that IF people really care, and IF they are willing to help people, then those people can donate money and organize non-profit associations, non-profit hospitals...the possibilities are endless. What is wrong with a personal savings account for health care? besides, even people with insurance, that insurance only goes so far. So i would even be sceptical that the Goverment would pay for certain treatments and the quality thereof. and on your thought about car insurance....Why doesn't the government pay for that too? what's the difference?
Bill September 21, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Dave makes a great point, but neglects to mention the reality that some free-loader who can't be bothered paying health insurance will surely show up at the ER if his daughter spikes a fever, and we all get to pay anyhow. That's why St. Vincent's Hospital is gone, and St. Ann's in White Plains, and United in Port Chester, and many more Dave, empty pronouncements are fine; but unless you can promise me that these free-loader tea-baggers will all take their families out in the woods to die, rather than freeloading at the hospital when thew whip comes down; you are simply full of crap. We ALL PAY ANYWAY, so why can't the free-loaders take their own responsibility? Tea bag is just another way of being irresponsible.
Bill September 21, 2011 at 04:20 PM
WAAAAA
Michael Woyton (Editor) September 21, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Bob's weekly column is clearly marked "Opinion." He is not reporting news, but offering his views. We make sure his facts are correct, but the space is offered to him to interpret, analyze and opine. And in case it's not clear, anyone can leave their opinion on his opinion in this comments section.
Marjorie Morales September 21, 2011 at 06:52 PM
SO LONG AS THERE IS SUCH SEVERE INCOME INEQUALITY IN THIS COUNTRY AND UNEMPLOYMENT,THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT INSURED. FOOD ON THE TABLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HEALTH INSURANCE, IN A PINCH, AND IT IS THOSE WHO PERPETUATE THIS UNBALANCE WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE. THOSE PEOPLE WHO WOULD DENY HEALTHCARE AND WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE POOR NOT PURCHASING INSURANCE ARE THE CONTRIBUTERS TO THE INSANITY GRIPPING OUR NATION. WE NEED PULLING TOGETHER NOT PULLING APART TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS.
newrochellesouth September 21, 2011 at 07:37 PM
While Editor Woyton says that the article is checked for facts, that isn't true in this case: Here is the Washington Post's take on the story, including the video. The Crowd did not cheer for letting the man die. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/ron-paul-death-moment-no-audience-reaction/2011/09/14/gIQAlB0bUK_blog.html Also Ron Paul is a libertarian and not really someone that main stream, or even "right wing" Republicans have alot of respect for. He, like so many on the fringe, have some pretty absurd ideas, inlcluding who was responsible for 9/11. Mr. Marrone's article is the classic "strawman" argument. Mr. Marrone also has every right to use that type of argument, regardless of how weak a debating technique it may be.
Michael Woyton (Editor) September 21, 2011 at 07:47 PM
newrochellesouth: Bob Marrone did not write that the crowd cheered. He wrote this: many in the Republican audience cheerfully screamed, “Yeah.” I saw the footage of the Paul moment and felt comfortable with Bob's characterization. Plus, you are using an opinion blog as an example.
MollyK September 21, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ...Newrochellesouth, you're citing The Wash Post as your reliable source? I have one name for you...Janet Cooke. You're killing me. And Tom, just above the title of Marrone's piece is the word "opinion"... his own.
newrochellesouth September 21, 2011 at 08:42 PM
At 38 seconds into the clip MANY in the audience cheer about someone taking responsibility for themselves. At 46 seconds into the clip about 3-4 people said yeah about letting them die. Three - four is not many. That is the way that I saw and heard it. I encourage everyone to watch the clip and decide for themselves.
Tharms September 22, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Great writing! Too bad the facts are so horribly misrepresented.
Rachael Payne September 22, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Those who say the facts have been misrepresented here are only showing their own ignorance of the facts. Those of us who did watch the debate on CNN heard cheering and jeers from far more than 3 or 4 people when it was suggested that the man without insurance should be left to die. The whole incident was ugly; tea partiers aren't doing themselves any favors.
Rick September 22, 2011 at 05:36 PM
This exchange illustrates the simplistic arguments of our times. We seem content that the solution is either government mandated health insurance or letting a man die because he has no insurance. "Last week, did those passersby leave the burning car on the motorcyclist who wore no helmet and choose a risky mode of transportation because he made a bad choice? Of course not." Was it government that flipped the car over? Was government even involved? Just as these selfless people cared for someone in need, we have many ways in which we have voluntarily tended to those in need, either through deed or with money. Jon Huntsman Sr (not the candidate for President, but his father) built the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He used his wealth to give back to society, to combat a disease he personally wanted to beat, as he lost both parents to cancer. St. Jude's hospital was built and continues to operate largely (and possibly exclusively) with private funds. To my knowledge, both organizations have no insurance requirement for patients to be treated. Likewise with Shriner's hospitals. Both MD and MS have private organizations that raise money for research as well as support those afflicted by these diseases. America has a history of taking care of our own - not always everyone, and not always as well as possible, but certainly just as well a government would do and usually better - without government mandates.
Rachael Payne September 22, 2011 at 05:53 PM
"Private America" also has a history of poisoning citizens and polluting our air and water. Individuals like John Hunstman Senior are the exception, not the rule, and don't even compare to helping the population as much as programs like Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security have helped over the past decades. I don't think everything needs to be run by government, but the argument that private charity will take care of the needy is out of touch and has been proven false in past decades.
Marjorie Morales September 22, 2011 at 09:13 PM
@Rick- America has no history of taking care of their own, you are in a fantasy with the Tea Party and GOP. All these people care about is feathering their own nests and to hell with everyone else. They have practically came out and said so repeatedly. Attacking the poor with attempts to cut Medicaid, attacking the elderly with attempts to cut Medicare and Social Security, blocking environmental protection, creating a crisis with the debt ceiling debacle and holding the gov't for ransom and declining to pay their fair share of taxes. These are people you can't trust from here to the front door ! Because you mention a few hospitals who treat without payment requirement does not mean that applies all over the country and your statement about not everyone gets the benefit is unacceptable. What if it was you or your wife or your children who were not treated. You would think very differently then.Apparently you have lived a very sheltered life and have not needed to see the poverty around you. Or perhaps you don care. Either way your argument is poor.

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