There are dozens of Intro to American Government textbooks on the market and I think I've been given copies of all of them at least twice. The funny thing about having so many entrants in a lucrative and crowded market is that they are all essentially the same. There are only so many ways to explain what a congressional committee is, how the Electoral College works, or why interest groups form.

I haven't done the math, but off the top of my head I'd estimate that 90% of the available textbooks begin with a chapter on the basic question of why organized government exists. This introduces 18 year-olds to basic concepts that Coach was supposed to teach them in high school but didn't – collective action problems, public goods, free riding, and so on. Most of them pick up very quickly an understanding of why getting a large group of people to agree on a single course of action and then stick to the plan is difficult at best, impossible at worst. Even if they don't care about or understand government, I think I get the point across to most of them. I hate to say it, but if they can't grasp this simple concept they might not be the sharpest of knives overall.

And it is those dull knives that come to mind when I see news items about the latest half-assed plan to undermine health care reform by getting literally tens of millions of people to disregard their own self-interest and act collectively to further the ideological goals of FreedomWorks and Koch Industries. The latest brainstorm is to convince young people to opt out of the insurance exchanges (which raises costs by taking the healthiest, least costly members out of the pool) to undermine the law.

This plan would have to improve markedly to qualify as idiotic.

This not only requires young people to live without health insurance for several years while this scheme takes effect, but also to pay a fine for failing to comply with the law. Their motivation to do this – and to ignore the prospect of being insured and the many subsidies available for people with low incomes to buy coverage – will be their intense commitment to Tea Party principles.

The handful of complete knuckleheads who actually follow the lead of people – insured ones, mind you – like Dick Armey and Rush Limbaugh are so deeply misguided that it is only a matter of time before they die (uninsured) from touching a downed power line or when their inebriated friend Scooter mistakes them for a trophy buck and opens fire.

39 thoughts on “GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, BILLY”

  • Under any other circumstance I'd say the ones who came up w this scheme are getting a far different grade of crack than the rest of us—thankfully.

    Unfortunately, we're dealing w people who have armies of rabid supporters and fans who actually will go for this.

  • There is nothing so certain to fail as a plan that begins with beef-saturated businessmen saying to one another "Now all we have to do is get the young people to…" Sorry. No. Young people are very, very stupid indeed, and very, very easy to lie to successfully, but–and this is the important part–only if you are trying to get them to buy something tangible.

    Young people are children, and children like stuff that is material and shiny and that will make other children envious. You, however, are essentially trying to get them to jaywalk in a city with murderous drivers, traffic cops on every block and easy access to footbridges and underpasses. They will get tired of the pain in the ass as soon as they realize there is no payoff.

    You cannot sell them on not getting insurance and being fined by the government so that, in a few years, they will maybe, possibly be able to buy a different kind of insurance. You cannot tart that up and make into the Flavor of the Month, and even if you do, it will be just that: something they'll do for a little while, and then get tired of it, and buy the regular insurance, because fuck it, not being insured is so six months ago, man.

    I applaud your naked villainy, sirs, but must respectfully decline your application to join the Legion of Doom at this time. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • middle seaman says:

    Since when stupid guarantees success? 2000: stupid elected president. Wise considered a liar (no proof, just invention) and too serious (i.e. not stupid). 2008: stupid elected president. Wise considered the enemy of the people, married to a too successful president and a woman.

    We also had stupids: Carter, Reagan and Bush dad.

    Introduction chapter should say: president better be stupid. The only one that wasn't, Big Dawg, is still, 14 years after presidency, blamed for most ills in society.

  • @J. Dryden: I think you have a point, but you're missing the fine print. We're talking about the Creme de la Creme of stupid here, not your average Joe. This is a wonderful evolutionary scheme- use natural selection to weed out the stupidest of the extreme right-wing before they grow up and start making campaign donations. This will, in the long run, lower insurance costs for everyone (and not just health care- car insurance will be cheaper without those bozos on the road, homeowners insurance not having to cover for as much vandalism, etc.)

  • So much fail in that article.

    "I wouldn't say it will drive insurance prices up, but it will make them rise"
    Sounds like:
    "I'm not saying this car is a lemon, but I am saying that it will die shortly after you drive it off my lot"

    Then there's the:
    "Go on Medicaid, a thing that, if I get my way will not exist for very long. Also everyone who uses it is a parasite and don't deserve the right to vote or have nice things or a place to live."
    Or the:
    "In case of an emergency you will incur extreme costs that you won't be able to pay back. But that's what happens if you don't get insured. But definitely don't pay for insurance"

    There's no way he doesn't realize how much of a fucking bag of shit he is

  • Seaman; you really think there was a better choice in 2008? On the one hand, you had a crazy, craven old man grovelling to lick the boots of the people who screwed him over, and the mentally-limited-but-vicious harpy shrew slavering over the notion that she was one push down the stairs of being Pageant Queen of the World…uh, President. On the other, you had someone who at least wasn't evil.

  • I've been watching re-runs of Roseanne, a tv sit-com from the late 1980s/very-early-1990s, featuring a working-class family. You can see the seeds of right-wing screwovers being sown even back then. The difference is that most of us weren't buying into it back then, and now it's all "Murkuh, f*** YEAH" Tea-tardism. In a single generation the right-wing managed to get the sheep to shear themselves.

  • freeportguy says:

    "tens of millions of people to disregard their own self-interest and act collectively to further the ideological goals of FreedomWorks and Koch Industries"

    A number of those simply believe the basic conservative talking points of "Government takeover of health care", "death panels" (as if insurance were not already occupying this role) and "it will bankrupt the US". Heck, you can't fix stupid!

    But from what I've seen and heard, the majority of those are simply ENRAGED at the (wrong) thought that this is simply ANOTHER program that will help BLACK people. Yep, even if it will help THEM too.

  • Seaman: Obama may be a lot of things but stupid is not one of them. And regardless of what you believe, a Hillary presidency–because she, too, is a political pragmatist–would not have looked much different. (A point she will have the opportunity to demonstrate if she decides to run again in 2016.)

  • The dopes who are urging young people to avoid insurance feel that they will do something motivated out of political beliefs, when in fact nobody but a tiny group of people do stuff because of political motivation. However, most of the people who do seem to have talk shows and blogs, because we hear from them a lot. And they assume that everybody is motivated exactly as they are.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    The knuckleheads who decide to do the Koch Brothers bidding on this, are the same sort of moron's whose last words too often are, "Oh yeah? Well hold my beer 'til I get back! 'N WATCH THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Rest In Peace, Redneck.

    Btw – imagine the volume of the screeching and shrieking from Republicans and the MSM, if the Democrats and Liberals had tried to get seniors not to sign onto W's Big Pharma giveaway!
    Why, we might have been called "treasonous traitors!" – again, just like when we opposed W's stupid wars and occupations.

    And yet, on Obamacare, and the Reich-Wings attempts at sabotaging that new law of the land?

    Kind of makes you wonder whether the Reich-Wing's shrieks that we have a Left-leaning MSM are accurate, doesn't it?

  • It's fun to call them stupid, I'll admit. But it's also lazy. If there is any real groundswell of resistance to health insurance reform it is not because of vast numbers of morans who've somehow managed to keep their fingers out of their light sockets (thought those people exist) – it's because of vast numbers of people (in cultural-informational backwaters) who've been told again and again that Obamacare is a boondoggle by O and his insurance company cronies that is so greedy and badly designed that it can cripple small business and send the fragile economy back into the crapper. And to add insult to injury, it'll be used to bribe poor people into voting for the Dems again. I'm not sure what the IQ threshold for believing that story is, but it ain't "sub moron". There are enough grains of truth mixed in to sucker even relatively smart fools.

  • That whole no insurance concept may play well with the ski boat and steroid crew, but I'm thinking that they didn't focus group this with any women of childbearing age. I don't see a whole lot of buying from young women. the significant others of those young women will hold out just long enough to hear the words " you're going to do what?"

  • So the Randroids want "the kids" to engage in deliberate altruism. Damnit, my irony meter just exploded.

  • Scooter won't take long, since, aside from further enriching the rich, his only real interest in life is gun ownership and Standing his Ground.

  • Point of order: I don't think Rush Limbaugh is actually insured. I seem to remember he bragged about paying cash for his recent hospital stay.

  • Acutally Rush makes quite a big deal about NOT having health insurance. Yes, yes I know…he's a filthy rich evil capitalistic GOPer who doesn't need insurance cause he makes money of the backs of the poor yada yada yada…but it's worth mentioning, no? Maybe even illuminating? No? Really?

  • The natural evolution of health care reform would be to make EMTALA laws unnecessary. This statute requires that acute care hospitals treat antone regardless of ability or willingness to pay. A true free market Randian would be calling for the repeal of this law, but these pseudo do not. (Except the ideologically pure Ron Paul).

    If I were a Democratic congressman I would call their bluff: let's repeal the mandate of Obamacare but let's ALSO repeal EMTALA, make it a TRUE free market; if you or your kid doesn't have health insurance then the doctor may NOT see you now.

  • Matt has it.
    The Tea Party's "conservative values" are smaller government with more self-interested social-good.

    And this whole initiative is suggesting that young people self-sacrifice to help achieve those goals, which oughta illustrate what the REAL, OVERRIDING actual objective of the Tea Party is: lower taxes on the wealthy.

  • But, to Ed's point, the startling thing about it is that FreedomWorks is so committed to this objective, that they think they can sell this lunatic "burn your (non-existent) ObamaCare card" plan, that there are enough fools out there.

    [Note: the only person I know promoting this is a relative of mine, whose subsistence exists only because of Union protection and wages, who has been on welfare, benefited from debt amnesty programs arising after the real estate bubble, …who will never, ever be wealthy. She is actively promoting this as a good idea. It may be the first time in my life I've declined to even respond to something like this, since I don't think I have any chance of reasoning with her…]

  • @Dookie:
    If you're rich enough to spend thousands of dollars on heart surgeries and Viagra whenever you feel like it, then, no, it doesn't make any goddamn difference whether or not you have insurance. And you have no business telling anyone else they can't.

    Weak, even for you.

  • In the US we consistently accidentally kill ourselves with firearms about 600 – 800 times per year. A subset of this number involves inebriated trigger squeezers.

    About 150 – 200 'children" are in the larger number (compare to the thousands of children per year who accidentally drown.) But we just have to have more legislation about guns.

    Scooter ain't gonna help much in the kill off….


  • Guns have one purpose: to kill. Nobody on earth can survive without water. What, you'd rather ban water than have some sensible controls on guns?

  • if you or your kid doesn't have health insurance then the doctor may NOT see you now.

    This IS, pretty much, the situation in Texas. Sure, you can go to the emergency room, and if you were shot or in an automobile accident, they will treat you. But they won't treat you for anything else, you will just be referred to a doctor you cannot afford to pay who won't treat you until you pay up front.

    This I know from personal experience: my husband, an adjunct faculty professor, broke his leg. In Texas, no health insurance for any but the tenured profs (who get paid enough not to need it! At least comparatively.) Orthopedic surgeon would not treat him until money was borrowed from the bank to pay in full prior to treatment.

    Texas has also refused to expand Medicaid. Or set up health insurance exchanges.

    I guess my point is: Don't think they wouldn't make the US a dystopia of colossal proportions. Dickensian England really is their dreamscape. The GOP is PROUD of working class Texans dying form lack of access to medical care.

  • Guns have one purpose: to kill. Nobody on earth can survive without water. What, you'd rather ban water than have some sensible controls on guns?

    Also we are already regulating the shit out of water in various ways, from fencing requirements for pools and retention ponds to legal duties on the part of parents to make children wear flotation devices and/or have a minimum amount of competence in swimming should they be in, on or near the water. Pretty sure that annual numbers for drowning by children would be far higher without those regulations.

  • "Texas has also refused to expand Medicaid. Or set up health insurance exchanges".

    And they plan to keep it that way if harelips ever'body on Bear Creek. And if that ain' enough well then we just cripple all them harelips, and make 'em pay for the crippling and the harelippin'!

    Oh, an' BD? What for you worried about 2nd amendment when the real barriers to tyranny, the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, etc. are used as ass-wipe right now? I mean… not much you can do with your pee-shooter when they kin gin up a police record and ruin your credit and put some kiddie porn on your phone…

  • lol. so many ways to get you! the Hurry up and Die Republican Health plan is the best one i've seen so far. at least it is a direct message. That is the Republican way. Hurry up and Die. us little folks better not ever get sick.

    and Obamacare/aka Romneycare is designed to give the money to the Insurance companies, it's called "health Insurance" not health coverage. lol. and business just got a year to avoid dealing with it.

    anything this fucked up is truly a godsend for the Republicans who want to show how bad Government anything can be. and Obama obliges.
    if i didn't know better,….. lol

    at least we go teh sound advice from BB on how guns are killing so many. as if guns had any other purpose, killing, i mean.

    i do think guns may be the best way of health care. just kill us quickly, akd the "Die quickly" REpublican intentions with the "lack" of coverage being the MAIN point of their "plans."

    and we no longer have to wonder we are a 3rd rate Banana Republic. getting rid of the excess "baggage"/ poor people through lack of health care after giving our money to the Rich. way to go Congress. who needs Al Queda/foreign enemies. we got our own elected officials doing better than any furner/muslim taliban ever could.

  • Ever since I realized that US Conservatives are people suffering from learning disabilities, politics started making a lot more sense.

  • @bernard and others

    No! people accidentally killing so few with guns – as compared to so many other things we casually accept – like swimming pools.


  • @//bb: people accept the risks of these "other things" for one simple fact, *primary* purposes.

    Car: primary purpose transport.
    Knife: preparation of food
    Scissors: cutting of cloth or paper
    Lugwrench: changing of a tire
    Crowbar: breaking apart of object eg crates or fences
    Toaster: preparing food
    Swimming pool: non-violent recreation
    Pool cue: non-violent recreation
    Trampoline: non-violent recreation
    Motorcycle: transport
    Jack handle: tool for operating another tool
    Drill: tool
    Hammer: construction tool
    Sledge hammer: tool
    Axe: splitting wood, tree felling
    Shovel: digging holes/trenches

    I could use the above to kill someone, but the manufacture/society expects I would use them for what they're designed to do.

    Bow/arrow: tool for killing
    Cutlass: tool for killing
    Sabre: tool killing
    Katana: tool for killing
    Hand gun: tool for killing
    Rifle: tool for killing

    As you can see, a cutlass is pretty freakin' useless in the domestic kitchen. Nor would I want one for chopping firewood. I guess in a pinch I could use a pistol to drive a nail, but really…?

  • Extremely rich people can pay cash. It's almost a tautological fallacy of statistics for such people to suggest that "everyone" could live like they do. This is the joke Garrison Keillor has made since 1975, about all the kids being "above average." Except they're not making the joke, they're using it as a lie. Hannity's been doing this lately with "just go get a health care saving account." Yeah. Start by depositing at least $500,000.

  • Hannity's been doing this lately with "just go get a health care saving account." Yeah. Start by depositing at least $500,000.

    I've been looking into health care savings accounts. Apparently (and this may just be state law in Florida) you have to be, um, insured before you can get one.

  • @ bb and others

    A gun in the city and a gun in the country are completely different.

    No one can hunt in the city (to close to houses) and the police are just minutes away via 911. Guns are a just problem in the city, while they can be a tool in the country.

  • Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @ sluggo – Guns are a just problem in the city, while they can be a tool in the country.

    Do people really hunt with handguns, which is what people have been saying the "tool for killing" thing about?

  • If you're as rich as Rush Limbaugh, it might make sense not to pay for health insurance, because nothing that could happen to you could bankrupt you. This is particularly true if you have no dependents.

  • I don't know, seems like simple Darwinism at work to me. If you're dumb enough to fall for this, you deserve to suffer the catastrophic consequences.

    That said, you'd have to be College Republican level stupid to fall for it, so it doesn't concern me.

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