“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
~ Ronald Reagan, Radio Address on Socialized Medicine (1961)
I have been thinking this week about how (and if ever) the emotional arguments can be separated from the logical ones.
The issue we face is revealed in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comment about the issue of “Medicare for All” when, in response to the question of how we pay for it, she said “We just pay for it.” She had no concept or recognition what that really means – to her and to progressives in general, government has unlimited resources (and what resources it doesn’t directly possess, it has first dibs on) and the only reason universal healthcare hasn’t been paid for yet is that evil forces within politics (aka Republicans) would rather give money to the rich than pay to prevent people dying in the streets.
I’m always interested to observe how people debate and make decisions – and as I observe, I relate those processes to my engineering training where there are basically two sets of logical processes – there is Boolean logic and “fuzzy” logic. Boolean logic is traditionally defined as that branch of logic in which the values of the variables are the truth values of true and false, usually denoted 1 and 0 respectively. The idea of “fuzzy” logic was introduced in 1960 by mathematician Lotfi Zadeh when he proposed his “fuzzy set theory”, it is a form of many-valued logic in which the truth value of variables may be any real number between 0 and 1.
I’m sure I will oversimplify my examples – I am trained as a mechanical engineer, not a mathematician. We are more focused on whether the bridge will support a given maximum weight under maximum conditions rather than how well it performs when there are two cars on it vs. when there are 20 semis on it.
Think of Boolean vs. Fuzzy this way – let’s say you go to Home Depot for a can of red paint. The clerk hands you a red paint chip to look at and you say “That’s it, that’s red.” But then he turns to a wall of chips where hundreds of shades of red reside. “Red is red” is Boolean logic, “Red comes in infinite shades” is Fuzzy logic.
While red does come in infinite shades, red is not black. It is not green or blue. Tinted enough with any of those primary colors (as anyone who ever had one of those huge boxes of Crayola’s knows), it becomes another color entirely.
The point I am trying to make is that the commonality between these two forms of reasoning is that both have the same limits. Each has the same boundaries. Boolean thinking is limited to the traditional is (a 1) or is not (a 0) form while “Fuzzy” thinking says there are an infinite range of is/is not between 0 and 1. Boolean thinkers will say “regardless of how many shades there are, red is red”. Fuzzy thinkers will say “Red is not “red”, there are an infinite number of variants before we need worry about the limits”.
In my observations, conservatives tend to be Boolean thinkers and progressives are Fuzzy thinkers.
Conservatives recognize there are limits, progressives do not. Boolean thinkers tend to be more rational, Fuzzy thinkers more emotional.
This is where the discontinuity in our debates come in and I do not know how to reconcile them. “Medicare for All” is a perfect example. Conservatives look at the boundaries described by the Constitution and economic reality and say, “We can’t pay for it” while progressives look at the sick and say, “We can’t afford not to pay for it”. The obvious problem is that there is no agreement on limits.
Conservatives will win this argument on the merits because there is always a limit to resources. In a free society, there is a finite amount of taxation that can be levied on economic activity before that activity stops. History has proven there is a limit to the amount of individual liberty a society will give up before it pushes back.
When something becomes too costly to do, it will stop. Progressivism (in all its forms – socialism, Marxism, communism) can only postpone that reality for a time through coercion – but eventually even coercion and forced confiscation crashes. I’m old enough to remember the old saying from the Soviet era that in factories in the USSR, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” Venezuela has reached the final stages of the futility of government trying to overcome resource scarcity – even their human resources are fleeing. When resources become scarce, no government edict can magically create toilet paper.
We are never going to agree on shades of red – but that red is not green or blue is a distinction a majority of Americans can make. I don’t think we have to agree on what shade is best, but America must at least agree on limits – that point when red is not red any longer (that’s where progressives default to the postmodernist idea that blue is red if I perceive it that way – but that is a discussion for another day).
Occasio-Cortez and her soft-core communist enablers in the Democrat Party say “America is a rich country, we can afford it.” They are comically unaware of Herb Stein’s Law – which states: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”
America can put up with this nonsense for a period of time – until we can’t. Remember that Venezuela was once the richest country on the South American continent – and that isn’t ancient history, it reached that point in 2001. Less than two decades later, socialism without limits made it one of the poorest.
If we can’t agree on the limits, we are headed down the path to Venezuela.