Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reciprocity

It will come as a surprise to most Americans under the age of 50, given the trajectory of modern history courses, that in the mid to late 1800's there were two very famous British politicians who dominated their era. William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were, like their contemporary, Abraham Lincoln, accomplished orators. I was reading this article when a quote from Disraeli came to mind.

He said, of Gladstone, "Nothing delights me more than the sight of an unsophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of his own natural verbosity."

From the story;

 "A GOP congressman asked why men should have to pay for maternity care, and this woman’s response is now resonating across the country.

Barbara Rank, 63, wrote to her local newspaper, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, after Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) made the comments at a town hall last Monday.

 Blum said he’d voted in favor of legislation that repeals and replaces major parts of the Affordable Care Act to “get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts on […] such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance.”

Sounds like a pretty crazy regulation to me too. Always has. In fact I wrote about just that aspect of Obamacare years ago. My conclusion was that any system that requires such an artifice to maintain its solvency cannot last for long. Looks like I was right.

Ms. Rank, however, has another take on the subject which is what led me to remember Disraeli's quip.

 " Rank explained how the lawmaker’s comment had caused her to rhetorically ask herself “why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read?”

Because of civic duty and, more importantly, reciprocity. All of us help pay for the bridges you do cross, the sidewalks you do walk on and the library books you do read. Which is why you are asked to help pay for ours, the ones you don't use in the cities you don't live in.

As in Disraeli's observation, she has been carried away with the exuberance of her own natural verbosity.

“Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate?” the retired special education teacher continued. “Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of?”
The answer is, of course, the same as the one above. Reciprocity and civic duty.

I am not sure why she thinks a loop hole, also known less pejoratively as an itemized tax deduction, somehow costs her something.

The story states that Ms. Rank is a retired school teacher. She is only 63. These teachers must have a pretty good pension system. I wonder who pays for that.

Given her former profession I thought I would ask a question in a format she is no doubt familiar with.

Which of these things is not like the others?

A) Parks, B) Roads, C) Bridges, D) Sidewalks, E)  Health insurance and F) Libraries.

Right you are! Gold star smiley faces for all! E is unlike all the others. There is no reciprocal benefit to the 62 year old man forced to pay for maternity coverage. He is simply forced to pay money for something it is entirely impossible for him to use, regardless of where he lives, for the benefit of someone else. It is simply a taking with no benefit.

Not the way America is supposed to work.




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