Libertarian Hypocrisy

In the Republican “Tea Party Debate” earlier this week, when Ron Paul was asked whether or not a healthy, uninsured 30-year-old man should be left to die if an unexpected tragedy put him into a coma, he unsurprisingly replied that someone who meets such an unfortunate end without insurance should not get a safety net and therefore, as a consequence of their poor choice and lack of foresight, simply be allowed to die. (A sentiment enthusiastically cheered by the audience of doughy white people, many of whom will be imposing on the healthcare system before too long for one reason or another.)

Well, guess what? It turns out that Kent Snyder, the campaign manager of Ron Paul’s last unsuccessful run for President, died in 2008 from viral pneumonia at the age of 49, leaving an unpaid hospital bill in excess of $400,000… He may have had insurance coverage, but clearly it wasn’t anywhere nearly sufficient to cover the costs of his treatment.

So, how could this fierce libertarian zealot have allowed himself to be so inadequately insured for such an unexpected calamity?

In his response to Wolf Blitzer’s question – as he frequently does when confronted with such real or hypothetical moral dilemmas – Ron Paul wistfully described the good old days when churches, friends and neighbours would simply come to such a person’s aid. And it seems such individuals did in this case – well, sort of… and after the fact.

A fund was created posthumously to raise money to pay off Snyder’s $400,000 hospital tab, but it seems that it quickly ran out of steam at the about the $28,000 mark. Bottom line therefore is that the society of “welfarism” and “socialism” that Ron Paul so contemptuously abhors, most likely ended up absorbing the remaining $372,000 of his former campaign manager’s unpaid medical bills because neither he nor his church, friends or neighbours could fully account for them. Go figure.

This seems to be the problem with the libertarian doctrine… their theoretical notions individual “freedom” often don’t translate well into real world experience. In other words, when the rubber meets the road, it turns out they’re woefully impractical.

Update: Seems former Florida congressman Alan Grayson wasn’t too far off the mark after all with his controversial description of the Republican approach to healthcare as being: 1) Don’t get sick; 2) And if you do get sick… DIE QUICKLY.

Comparing Tea Partiers to the soulless robots in Bladerunner owing to their absence of empathy is classic Grayson.

26 Replies to “Libertarian Hypocrisy”

  1. I’m with him ^^^.

    For a while I stopped in at The Volunteer because there are a couple (two) smart fellas over there, but in the end I felt like I was at a LARP convention.

    The internet has had a devastating effect on policy discussions if only because it has mainstreamed libertarians.

  2. Most of the libertarians I seem to encounter are really little more than nihilistic anarchists with a Lord of the Flies mentality which they pawn off as “individual liberty” or whatever. Apparently, they just want to destroy everything to do with the status quo… which these days is perhaps understandable, but certainly not realistic.

  3. Well, Red, I am a libertarian. Oddly this seems to annoy so-called libertarians, Harpercons and Liberals…

    As I have written, for-profit is not always the answer. At the same time, we should really be getting rid of corporate welfare. Oddly most so-called Libertarians seem opposed to that.

  4. That is a part of freedom, the freedom to take risks of becoming sick and dying is also the same freedom that would allow you to run your life the way you want it and not pay for other people’s choices no matter what they are. It’s sad that politics has become hyperbolic hypotheticals and not a question of fact and logic. So please, keep posting grand reactionary articles without bothering to ask why people are robbing you blind to pay for their problems. This coming from an uninsured person who will know damn well who’s fault it is when I get sick and die. MINE.

  5. “Everyone is against “corporate welfare” except for those giving it and those who are on the receiving end of it.”
    Of course. Now giving that the Harpercons run on the “free market” malarkey, it makes then hypocrites. Not that they, or their supporters would be bothered by that. Their lack of self-awareless is truly infantile.

  6. “(A sentiment enthusiastically cheered by the audience of doughy white people, many of whom will be imposing on the healthcare system before too long for one reason or another.)”

    A health care system they didn’t want, ask for, and whom many were vehemently publicly opposed to.

  7. I’ve tried three times to formulate a response to Frank’s nonsensical response to Red’s post but can’t seem to get past how god-damned stupid his comment is.

  8. Yeah, I’m kind of stumped for a response at the moment.

    I might however point to the fact that Medicare enjoys an overwhelming level of support from the people that utilize it (something like 80+ percent), or the fact that many Teabaggers themselves are adamant about the government “keeping its hands off my Medicare” (which of course is a ridiculous, almost oxymoronic statement), but I suspect “facts” like that might get in the way of his assertion.

  9. Vincent: Believe it or not, I get the whole libertarian thing about individuals having the freedom to make bad decisions and suffer the consequences should things go awry for some reason without then being bailed out by society (tell that to the banks!) but surely there is some need for compassion and empathy…

    In the hypothetical situation posed to Ron Paul he suggested that we (society) should simply let the uninsured man in the coma die – which quite frankly, I have no problem with; not that I would cheer for that particular outcome. But here’s the difficulty I have with that:

    1 Even had the guy taken the precaution of having insurance, it may well not have been sufficient to cover medical bills (Ron Paul’s campaign manager’s medical bills totalled close to half a million dollars). Healthcare costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States – and most of those folks had insurance, but it wasn’t adequate to cover the medical bills incurred.

    2 In reality, Ron Paul’s solution to this (i.e., friends, neighbours and churches pitching in to help) is likewise clearly inadequate to the task (again, as illustrated by the case of his campaign manager’s untimely death from viral pneumonia). When Hurricane Irene was barrelling up the eastern seaboard he likewise suggested that FEMA and all the government preparedness efforts were irrelevant. Instead, he recalled the “good old days” of the Galveston Hurricane at the turn of the last century where the city was destroyed and 90,000 people in the area died. For weeks after they were burning bodies on the beach and had to hand out free whiskey to the distraught men conscripted for the task. Is this really the kind of situation that Ron Paul wants to go back to?

    3 Ron Paul has previously stated (at least when he was fishing for votes amongst the pro-life crowd in rural Iowa) that the preservation of “life” is all-important and the “big government” he reviles has a highly intrusive institutional role to play in preventing abortions. So how is it that in the case of the uninsured man in the coma his life is so casually expendable? Life is all-important, but not if you don’t have insurance coverage… Kind of a double-standard, don’t you think?

  10. I’m reminded of the story from last year where the fire department let a house burn because a $75 was unpaid. IMHO, the prime fault lies with the county government which allowed its residents to opt-out of fire protection; the county government should have paid the $75 and collected it via taxes. Let the flames begin! 😉

    There are some things you shouldn’t be able to opt-out from, beginning with fire service protection. If there were humans inside, would the fire service leave them to burn? (queue tea party cheers here) What if the neighbor who had paid the fire service couldn’t find one of his children, and suspected the child might have been playing inside next door? Surely the fire service would have to go in then. Or would the TEA party suggest that the house be left to burn and the owner held responsible for the possible death after the fact? Definitely ridiculous, even for the tea party (please don’t joke here).

    Pay-per-service fire coverage was abandoned many years ago for good reason. Apparently the free market wasn’t working here.

    Likewise, under the law if an uninsured person appears at an emergency room he/she must be treated even without coverage (and billed for it). But in many cases these bills are noncollectable. But this happens more in certain hospitals than in others, this isn’t uniformly distributed. So those hospitals with higher incidence will bear the cost of more noncollectable services. The for-profit answer seems obvious to me: reduce availability, close down and stop building hospitals in those areas.

    To me, it simply seems there are some things you shouldn’t be allowed to opt-out from: fire, police and emergency service, health care, education, transportation, national defence, environmental protection – most things governments typically provide.

    Allowing opting out just gives some an unfair chance for a free ride.

  11. Libertarianism is a perfect philosophy for a world comprised entirely of young, healthy, single men.

    I recall arguing with one about whether a man who didn’t start saving for his retirement when he was young should be able to look to the state for anything. Back and forth it went until I asked him about the guy who had saved prudently, but was forced to spend it all on saving his child from cancer.

  12. Red: You obviously have never taken the time to read RP’s goals and ethics when it comes to the government. Also, your use of “Tea Baggers” makes you seem unintelligent and truly reactionary with out thinking anything through. Congratulations on being one of the liberal sheep, maybe you and the neoconservatives could have a party because you’re both sides of the same big government coin. Pseudo intellectuals are killing the US faster than the idiots are, thanks. Don’t worry about any thing ever again guys! The government will take care of everything ever!!!…Until they don’t….

    PS. I predict it will take you until the second line to cry ad hominem and declare your victory in true hypocritical fashion, but that’s just because I’m a presumptuous asshole.

  13. Vincent: Far be it for me to disagree with your own admission of being a presumptuous asshole. 🙂

    Sadly, your presumption was incorrect – I wasn’t going to play the ad hom card as that’s kind of a lazy way out. Being called names and deprecated with cheap personal attacks is an expected part of the job, so to speak.

    As to your points… No, I haven’t taken the time to read Ron Paul’s manifesto or whatever, but I have closely followed his appearances on various programs for the past five years or so – certainly enough to get the gist of his positions on various issues (many of which I happen to agree with). I’m also quite familiar with the Austrian School of thought and other influences that shape his opinions about government, etc.

    Sorry for employing the “teabagger” handle. Old habits are hard to break, I guess. It still makes me chuckle that THEY came up with the term utterly oblivious to its humorous sexual connotation. If that makes me seem “unintelligent” and thoughtlessly “reactionary” well so be it, that’s your opinion.

    Not sure how I’m a “liberal sheep” but I do know from experience that many libertarians (especially the egotistical and borderline sociopathic ones) like to proudly and conceitedly imagine themselves as being intellectual mavericks of some kind – heroically independent thinkers with a dead lock on THE TRUTH, whereas everyone else are barely human, blindly herded “sheeple”… It’s a somewhat obnoxious delusion, but as my kids used to say: whatever floats your boat.

  14. “…maybe you and the neoconservatives could have a party because you’re both sides of the same big government coin.”

    You know, I often wonder if a die-hard libertarian ever got dropped into their “perfect” world of no, or next-to-no taxes, (thus next-to-no government) just how long would it take for their utopian daydreams to hit the inevitable solid wall of reality?

    Vincent, you wouldn’t have any money to spend if you lived in a country where the government did not provide roads, schools, hospitals, firemen, police, courts, technical standards for everything from food safety to telecommunications, or a well-regulated banking system so that there’s even such a thing as money.

    Most people in sub-Saharan Africa pay no taxes, but they also do not have bank accounts or savings, and a great many other services. If you study the distribution of wealth and compare take-home incomes, the total wealth of nations, and even the percentage of millionaires as a proportion of the total population, you’ll find out that the world’s richest countries, without exception, are countries with economies in which about half the total wealth flows through various levels of government – sometimes a good deal more than half (Sweden, other Scandinavian countries), sometimes slightly less (US, Canada, Japan).

    Countries in which very little tax revenue is collected by governments are disastrous places in which a tiny minority of rich people lives in armed enclaves, terrified of the masses of desperately poor people; in those countries, neither the rich nor the poor pay taxes, and government officials and politicians secure their incomes through various forms of theft, extortion and influence peddling. The only exceptions to this rule are oil states in which oil revenues from state-owned oil companies replace tax revenues. Those states are, however, nearly all grotesquely corrupt, since the role of their governors is to distribute oil revenues (preferably to friends and family) without the accountability that comes from actually taxing citizens (as distinct from taxing oil wells).

    If these tea-party types ever learned a little about economics, maybe they’d learn their “conservative” anti-tax stance is not conservative at all; as it conserves neither prosperity nor probity. It’s junk neo-liberal economics promoted over the past several decades by ideologues like Friedman and the Austrian School fools who got obsessed with a thoroughly mistaken idea that taxation is automatically theft. It’s a ridiculous doctrine which, regrettably, became a standard part of the right’s catechism of (poorly examined and ill-advised) beliefs.

  15. tofkw:

    Well done. Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on on what most of us know is the obvious. I am not being sarcastic. You are quite correct that liberatarian cranks are ignorant sods.

  16. Here’s an idea. Let’s drop them all into Somalia and leave them to their druthers. Sudan might work. too!

    BUT OF COURSE that is NOT what they mean ! They want to take modern civilisation – that has been built-up over the course of 400 years with the active role of the state – and reduce it to a “night watchman” role, so they can really streatch their muscles and earn what is rightly theirs (and only theirs).

    Most of these idiots would not survive one day in such a State of Nature …

  17. “Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on on what most of us know is the obvious”

    That taxes pay for society? Cripes, I thought this was figured out by the Romans. And yes there are several African nations that sprung to mind when considering good homes for libertarians. Also some great Latin American examples, well until the last decade anyhow. Unfortunately the peasants seem to gained political power in many of them, and have been transforming these former libertarian wonderlands into leftie nanny-states. However Mexico is still minimally taxed, and possesses some of the best government officials that money can buy (outside of the USA of course).

    As for corrupt petro-states, I was pondering recent developments in Libya. Their National Transitional Council is in the process of essentially creating a Libyan society from the ground up, as many of the institutions and infrastructure we take for granted simply didn’t exist under the Gaddafi regime. Even the Libyan army was woefully ill-equipped, as Gaddafi purposely kept them weak in order to prevent a military coup (such as the one he orchestrated in 1969) and instead employed a well-funded private militia for protection.

    Though oil revenue will undoubtedly finance a great proportion of the infrastructure and governmental spending that the NTC faces, (they risk a counter-revolution should they fail) there is no question they will also ask the citizens of Libya for tax increases to help finance it all. Well there goes another libertarian utopia down the toilet.

  18. I rarely use the term “Teabagger”; I generally refer to people like Frank as SKKKrotalMurKKKinPatriotiKKK Front types. Some object to that as they say that it is a sign that I lack a reasonably decent vocabulary and choose to employ ad hominem and invective instead of reason and logic. So be it, I see others employing reason and logic to no avail; this seems to me a complete waste of time. There is also a charge that I am lazy, in my use of the SMPF label. Well, I gotta tell ya, typing “moronic asshole” would be a lot quicker, but I like to take the high road.

    For those who think Ron Paul is always opposed to federal intervention in the wake of a disaster; there’s this:

    “Paul Asks President for Emergency Declaration

    September 21, 2005 Washington, DC: Congressman Ron Paul has joined Texas Governor Rick Perry in requesting a federal state of emergency declaration for the entire state of Texas. Under a federal declaration of emergency, federal assistance in many forms becomes available to the people of Texas. This assistance includes Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, SBA disaster loans, and USDA loans, in addition to assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security in general.

    President Bush declared the emergency today, pledging a stepped-up federal response to what may be the biggest Hurricane ever to hit Texas.

    Paul, in a letter to the president, stressed that all 254 counties in Texas likely will be affected by the hurricane, causing the displacement of thousands or even millions of citizens. Galveston and Brazoria counties in particular may be hard hit, and will need the coordination of federal, state, and local disaster services to ensure the fastest possible recovery”

    and, it came from here (

    I quote it in its entirety as some folks might say I was quote mining if I didn’t.

    This is the same Ron Paul who after Hurricanes Katrina and Irene as well as the recent wildfires in Texas had nothing but contempt for federal intervention, especially that by FEMA. He’s a fucking hypocrite and, quelle sooprise!, a fairweather libertarian.

  19. Saint Paul is also not averse to staking out the dreaded “earmarks” for his district on a routine basis. Not that I blame him for doing so, but it certainly doesn’t jibe with the phony rhetoric of the GOP on this issue, let alone his “libertarian” get-the-government-out-of-our-lives bullshit.

    By the way, has he renounced his government pension (having served in the government he so despises for 21 years he’s probably entitled to a fairly large one) and is he refusing to participate in the medical benefits plan Congress enjoys? These questions might be asked if he was actually a serious candidate, but given his support tends to peak at at 6-10% (despite being AWESOME on the Internets), he gets a pass on the awkward personal questions…

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