Saturday, November 07, 2009

Why Are People Opposed to Dem's Health Care Plan?

A. First, and most importantly, not everyone IS opposed. At least 40%, and maybe more, support the Dem plan, with a "public option." So there is quite a bit of support.

B. Second, it could be racism:

Racial Prejudice Predicts Opposition to Obama and his Health Care Reform Plan

Eric Knowles, Brian Lowery & Rebecca Schaumberg, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract: The present study examines the relationship between racial prejudice and reactions to President Barack Obama and his policies. Before the 2008 election, participants' levels of implicit and explicit anti-Black prejudice were measured. Over the following days and months, voting behavior, attitudes toward Obama, and attitudes toward Obama's health care reform plan were assessed. Controlling for explicit prejudice, implicit prejudice predicted a reluctance to vote for Obama, opposition to his health care reform plan, and endorsement of specific concerns about the plan. In an experiment, the association between implicit prejudice and opposition to health care reform replicated when the plan was attributed to Obama, but not to Bill Clinton-suggesting that individuals high in anti-Black prejudice tended to oppose Obama at least in part because they dislike him as a Black person. In sum, our data support the notion that racial prejudice is one factor driving opposition to Obama and his policies.

So, to review: Measure people's level of racism. Check back, and find that racists are likely to oppose President Obama, because of his race. (In other words, people who don't like black people, actually don't like black people. Any other finding would have raised pretty serious questions about the construct validity of the first wave of surveys, I think). Then, go on to conclude that since racists don't like President Obama, then anyone who doesn't like President Obama must be a racist. Anyone who doesn't like Nancy Pelosi is a misogynist. Anyone who doesn't like Harry Reid hates Mormons. And anyone who doesn't like VP Biden probably has a valid reason. To conclude: I eat bread. Catfish eat bread. I am therefore a catfish.

C. Third, they could be "morally disengaged." (NOTE: I think "morally disengaged" means that you disagree with me, and I want to call you a poopie-head, but instead I call you "morally disengaged" instead, since no moral person could possibly disagree with me). (Notice that the definition below involves the "withholding of government assistance," not "taking money at gunpoint from people who earned it, and giving it to other people who did NOT earn, but who happen to have powerful political friends." If that be moral disengagement, give me more of it!)

Moral disengagement and tolerance for health care inequality in Texas

Alfred McAlister, Mind & Society, forthcoming

Abstract: Societies vary in their levels of social inequality and in the degree of popular support for policies that reduce disparities within them. Survey research in Texas, where levels of disparity in health and medical care are relatively high, studied how psychological mechanisms of moral disengagement relate to public support for expanding access to government- subsidized health care. Telephone interviews (N = 1,063) measured agreement with statements expressing tendencies to minimize the effects of inequality, blame its victims and morally justify limits on government help. The interviews also assessed support for general and specific policies to reduce inequality, e.g., through state-subsidized health care for lower income groups, as well as political party affiliation, ideological orientation, gender, age, education and income. Agreement with beliefs expressing moral disengagement was associated with opposition to governmental policies to reduce inequality in children's health care. Beliefs that justify the withholding of government assistance, blame the victims of societal inequality, and minimize perceptions of their suffering were strongly related to variation between and within groups in support for governmental action to reduce inequality.

This is a truly amazing frame for a so-called "study," remarkable. The author...well check him out.

D. Finally, people could think that the health care plan is a bad idea, on the merits. Too expensive, too restrictive on basic freedoms, and likely to reduce, rather than increased, the quality of health care delivery for many people. The problem is that most people, more than 2/3, are pretty happy with their existing coverage. They are not convinced that the alternatives presented to them will be both better and cheaper, and in fact may be NEITHER better NOR cheaper.

My own answer is D, bad idea. What's yours?

(Nod to Kevin L, who never withholds assistance)


Anonymous said...

At first reading, I thought you wrote "anyone who hates Harry Reid hates morons..."

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're saying the authors of the first study committed the converse error, or "affirmed the consequent."

1. If racist, then oppose Obama.
2. Oppose Obama.
3. Therefore, racist!

Is that really what they said? The abstract says racism is "one factor," in which case they're saying racism may be sufficient for opposing Obama, but is not necessary. So people could also oppose the plan just because they think it's a terrible idea.

Tom said...

In answer to Anon#2, your comments here could be explained by your Nazi tendencies...

Why do I bring that up, in the absence of any evidence? Well, ...

Tom said...

Option C says Blah, blah, "the effects of inequality, blame its
victims and morally justify limits on government help."

Morally engaged people think there should be NO LIMIT on "government help"? That explains a lot.

I'm just in a complete funk, thinking about how I was victimized by inequality of basketball skills. I demand compensation! For my lost pro basketball career, I should get $unlimited government help.

Anonymous said...

they forgot to mention the sexists. Clearly my distaste for Obama and Pelosi makes me a racist and a sexist. I dislike Franks as well so I'm probably homophobic. Oh and to the point of anonymous #1, I dislike Reid so I'm probably an anit-moronite. Not an anti-dentite though; love my dental care. I wish they would go ahead and socialize medicine so they don't have private companies to blame in a decade or so when this plan completely fails

Anonymous said...

excuse me, I meant "private companies" not private companies

Dirty Davey said...

And for the record, the connection between "racism" and opposition to social welfare spending is not anything new or surprising. The more that people are willing to see society as divided into "us" and "them", the less likely those people are to support policies they see as providing significant benefits to "them".

Isn't that one of the standard explanations of why social welfare programs are so much smaller and weaker in the US than in Western Europe?

Anonymous said...

This is really not a fair depiction of the race paper. The authors do not claim that anyone opposed to Obama's health care plan must be a racist.

Anonymous said...

Dirty Davey said,"Isn't that one of the standard explanations of why social welfare programs are so much smaller and weaker in the US than in Western Europe?"

No, but the Social welfare programs of Western Europe explains why those countries are so much smaller and weaker than the US.

I'm white and where I come from we have probably 65-70% below the poverty line and 99% of them are white. Am I racist because I don't want to carry them? What they need is an incentive to work, not an incentive to NOT work. I personally know generational welfare recipients, whole families that have never worked and never had too or even desired too. Welfare was meant to be a safety net, not a friggin' hammock!

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health insurance said...

This is really not a fair depiction of the race paper. The authors do not claim that anyone opposed to Obama's health care plan must be a racist.