Selfish Old People and Obamacare

Narcissistic PeopleI really like Brian Beutler’s writing and analysis. But I don’t remember him ever filling me with awe as he did on Monday, Obamacare Is More Popular Than It Seems — If You Discount These People’s Opinions. He is not pulling punches. Put simply, he argued that we shouldn’t listen to old people when it comes to Obamacare because it has nothing to do with them. “Presumably we’d have no problem ignoring old people if they objected to child tax credits financed by working-age people. We should ignore them in this instance, too.” The polling that shows that people don’t care for Obamacare is tilted negative because old people are so against it, even though they are neither beneficiaries nor tax payers (except the very wealthy ones) for it.

As an example of this, he quoted the following from a detailed Bloomberg poll:

Stone, 83, says she “certainly hopes” the law gets repealed. She blames limits on medical testing in the act for her need to take cholesterol medication for three months this year after her cardiologist wasn’t willing to repeat a seemingly inaccurate but very high reading. “The doctors are very dissatisfied, and many of them are not able to give their patients the attention that they feel that they need because they can’t have too many appointments, too many tests,” said Stone, a retired elementary school principal from Alexander City, Alabama.

This goes along with a lot of literature that indicates that people mostly haven’t a clue about what Obamacare actually is. And that’s especially true of conservatives. Let’s just think about this for a moment. She’s on Medicare, so Obamacare has nothing to do with any limits on her coverage. I question her complaints anyway, but as much as they are indicative of real problems, they are problems with Medicare. Right now, only 36% of senior citizens have a favorable view of Obamacare. But the last time Gallup asked (last January), only 37% were satisfied with Social Security and Medicare. So maybe it is just the case that only about a third of senior citizens are happy about anything at all.

But look at Ms Stone in the quote above. I’m sure she would be appalled at the suggestion that Medicare be repealed. But she is more than willing to take healthcare away from millions of people, for the sole reason that she thinks it would improve the care that she gets under Medicare. It is a truly villainous attitude to have. And narcissistic. Beutler is right, but I will put it more bluntly: we shouldn’t listen to people like this because they are amazingly ignorant and selfish.

There is one substantive bit in the article that we really need to think about: the people who are for full repeal of Obamacare are the same as those who favor “repeal and replace.” So roughly 35% of the people want to repeal and roughly the same amount want to “repeal and replace.” As Beutler put it: “tacking ‘replace’ on to ‘repeal’ doesn’t widen the appeal of the conservative position at all.” I think this shows that Americans are a bit more savvy than they often appear. They understand that when Republicans talk about “repeal and replace,” that they aren’t serious. So what we actually get is roughly 65% of the people wanting to keep Obamacare pretty much the way it is. This is not something you will see reported on Fox News:

Obamacare Options

My image of elderly people is the nice folks at the Unitary church who hold candlelight vigils for world peach. But that is apparently the wrong image. The more typical image is Ms Stone who is of the “Off my lawn you kids” variety. This is not to say that I would take anything away from them. I feel very much that we must respect our elders. And I’ve been tested for subconscious bias and been found to be — contrary to most of this nation — biased somewhat toward the elderly. But Beutler is right: we shouldn’t listen to them on this issue. As it is, most of them probably think Obamacare is bad because Fox News and Mitt Romney told them that Obamacare was stealing from Medicare. The question we need to ask is why people like the thoroughly confused Ms Stone vote so reliably while we youngsters don’t. We can ignore their incoherent arguments, but we can’t ignore their votes.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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