The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Over the years, I’ve written often about a distressing characteristic that is exhibited by many ideologues on both the Left and the Right. I call it “moral preening.”

On the Right, activists who espouse “right to life” and “family values” agendas use their version of morality as a justification for imposing their world-view on others. On the Left, those who espouse “social justice” and “anti-war” (as if everyone wasn’t anti-war) agendas using their version of morality to impose their world-view on others.

At the moment, moral preening is being exhibited by those on the Left who are supporting the current version of the House’s health care reform legislation. Taking what they believe to be the moral high ground, they argue that all Americans have the right to health insurance and that this right must be achieved no matter the cost to our country over the long term.

Robert Samuelson comments:
The campaign to pass Obama's health care plan has assumed a false, though understandable, cloak of moral superiority. It's understandable because almost everyone thinks that people in need of essential medical care should get it; ideally, everyone would have health insurance. The pursuit of these worthy goals can easily be projected as a high-minded exercise for the public good.

It's false for two reasons. First, the country has other goals -- including preventing future financial crises and minimizing the crushing effects of high deficits or taxes on the economy and younger Americans -- that "health care reform" would jeopardize. And second, the benefits of "reform" are exaggerated. Sure, many Americans would feel less fearful about losing insurance; but there are cheaper ways to limit insecurity. Meanwhile, improvements in health for today's uninsured would be modest. They already receive substantial medical care. Insurance would help some individuals enormously, but studies find that, on average, gains are moderate. Despite using more health services, people don't automatically become healthier.

The pretense of moral superiority further erodes before all the expedient deceptions used to sell Obama's health care agenda. The president says he won't sign legislation that adds to the deficit. One way to accomplish this is to put costs outside the legislation. So: Doctors have long complained that their Medicare reimbursements are too low; the fix for replacing the present formula would cost $210 billion over a decade, estimates the Congressional Budget Office. That cost was originally in the "health reform" legislation. Now, it's been moved to another bill, but because there's no means to pay for it (higher taxes or spending cuts), deficits would increase.

If the Left and President Obama really do believe that everyone has the right to equivalent health insurance coverage, the least they can do is tell the truth. Tell us the real costs; (2) explain the impact on all of us who pay taxes (that, by the way, does not include everyone who will be covered by the health legislation); (3) describe the long term impact of increasing budget deficits on our economy, our employment numbers, and the young people who will be asked to carry of the burden over the long term; and (3) project the impact of enormous, unsustainable deficits on the value of the dollar, imports and exports, and our economic standing throughout the world.

But doing that makes our President uncomfortable. He, like most on the Left, cloaks himself in moral superiority, so blinded by his social justice ideology that he cannot or will not face the enormous costs associated with what has been proposed. Instead he accuses those who question the wisdom of major new entitlements and their impact on our future as somehow morally bankrupt. It’s a meme that's common among those who morally preen. But you know what, I’m perfectly willing to be accused of being morally bankrupt if my voice and the voice of millions of others stop these callous children from driving us into a bankruptcy of another kind.