I support the healthcare reform in this country. But I almost changed my mind after reading this very unintelligent defense of Obamacare:
This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old. Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live. It’s about the freedom to ignore the injured, walk away from those in peril, to never pick up the phone or eat food that’s been inspected. It’s about the freedom to be left alone. And now we know the court is worried about freedom: the freedom to live like it’s 1804.
I actually want all of these freedoms that are listed here. I don’t care whether food “has been inspected” because I have no idea what that even means, but the freedom not to pick up the phone is mine, and you can’t take it away. And the freedom to be left alone is completely fundamental to my happiness.
I also do not recognize any obligations to anybody other than the ones stipulated by my work contract and my lease agreement. Everything else I do for people is an act of free will and not an obligation of any sort. I take care of my husband when he gets sick or has problems. I support my relatives and friends and always offer them any help I can. But I do not do that out of a sense of obligation. I do it because that’s what I feel like doing at every given moment. If anybody tries to suggest to me that I have to care, help or assist, they will discover very soon exactly where they can shove their expectations.
I obey the laws of the land as part of my social contract with society. That, however, is also an act of free will on my part since I chose to live in this country and have not been forced to do so by anybody.
What the author of this quote fails to realize is that freedom from community and shared responsibility is one of the defining (and, in my opinion, one of the best) characteristics of a modern society. In the pre-modern, deeply patriarchal world, a human being belonged, first and foremost, to his or her family, clan, and community. Those of us who have grown within such a communal model know how incredibly stifling, disempowering and miserable it is. And in the Western world, the reality of 1804 is much closer to that model than the reality of 2012. There is absolutely nothing modern about promoting a return to a system where the rights of an individual are overrun every time in favor of the needs of the community.
I want to remind everybody that women do not tend to fare extremely well in societies where community reigns supreme. Reproductive rights, for instance, can only be defended successfully on the basis of the respect for individual rights, individual bodily integrity, and right to privacy.
I want this country to have a better system of healthcare. But I’m not giving up my right to be left alone with my phone off the hook for the sake of that.