Tuesday, July 10, 2012

See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The Case Against Unfair Taxation

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, Philip Absolontion
Mark Kleiman points out that as budgets are slashed across the country, largely to keep tax rates low, the poor get hurt the most.  A. G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, FL, the last remaining TB hospital in Florida, was recently ordered to shut its doors to cut costs and consolidate services elsewhere.  Unfortunately, as the Palm Beach Post reports, this state-level decision was made before a CDC report was released finding that
"3,000 people in the past two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails.
Treatment for TB can be an ordeal. A person with an uncomplicated, active case of TB must take a cocktail of three to four antibiotics — dozens of pills a day — for six months or more. The drugs can cause serious side effects — stomach and liver problems chief among them. But failure to stay on the drugs for the entire treatment period can and often does cause drug resistance.
At that point, a disease that can cost $500 to overcome grows exponentially more costly. The average cost to treat a drug-resistant strain is more than $275,000, requiring up to two years on medications. For this reason, the state pays for public health nurses to go to the home of a person with TB every day to observe them taking their medications.
However, the itinerant homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill people at the core of the Jacksonville TB cluster are almost impossible to keep on their medications. Last year, Duval County sent 11 patients to A.G. Holley under court order. Last week, with A.G. Holley now closed, one was sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The ones who will stay put in Jacksonville are being put up in motels, to make it easier for public health nurses to find them, Duval County health officials said."
Conservative commentariate push-back on Kleiman's post argues that the hospital was a perfect example of unnecessary, wasteful spending.  These people could easily have been treated at regular hospitals.

The treatment of TB had indeed been making the hospital less necessary.  However, lest we assume that the hospital was indeed inefficient, Wikipedia states that,
"With the discovery of drugs to treat tuberculosis patients outside of the hospital setting, the daily census at the hospital by 1971 dropped to less than half of the original 500. By 1976 the beds and staff at A. G. Holley were reduced to serve a maximum of 150 patients. As space became available, other agencies were invited to move onto the complex to utilize the unique environment."

It would be easier to believe that Republicans gave a shit if so much of their identity and political philosophy didn’t rest on principles that excuse them from giving a shit.

To recap:

1. The poor are poor because they lack initiative/common sense and thus choose poverty; people “choose” their lot in life.

2. Taking care of them creates moral hazard that promotes more poverty.

3. Government is less efficient/more corrupt than private markets, i.e. charity.

4. Charity should be left to non-profits and families, not the “nanny state”.

5. The wealthy have earned their wealth by themselves, and thus owe no greater percentage of taxes to anyone.

6. Taxes are often little better than theft, and thus progressive taxation is tantamount to fascism.

7. Redistributive policies are driven by envy and class warfare, not practicality, moral concern, or social responsibility/justice.

8. The problems of the poor aren’t nearly as bad as liberals make them seem.

9. The liberal media present these one-sided stories unfairly.

10. Back in the good old days people took care of themselves.

11. Social programs inevitably lead to serfdom and socialism.

12. Democrats only offer such programs to earn votes from the poor (who probably shouldn’t be voting anyway).

13. Liberals have actually created the social dysfunction we see today with all their hippie sex and feminism, so it’s their fault.

I’m sure I left out plenty. Of course not all Republicans would agree with every item (although Libertarians surely would). But you’d be hard-pressed to find one who didn’t agree with at least half.

If one truly believes these things, then why would one support the state helping the poor at all?  To come out and say these things explicitly on a daily basis would surely expose one as heartless, cruel and well, lacking in common decency.  And so these principles are only heard when conservatives are pressed.  Instead, we hear about cutting taxes, balancing the budget, wasteful spending, limited government, and annoying liberals who whine about the poor, racial discrimination, worker rights, and any other cause that might remind one of the suffering and injustice that exists in society.

Hopefully, one presumes the conservative must feel, maybe if they just stop talking about it the "problems" will simply go away. 

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