The fight today against the ideology of President Obama is being waged by those people with the same values and passions as those who waged the fight against slavery in the United States. This can be seen by comparing the arguments made in favor of Obamacare and those made in favor of maintaining slavery in the United States. Upon careful examination, these two situations are eerily similar.
Argument 1: Economic
The main defense made for slavery was based upon economics, very much how social programs today are also defended. Within the Illinois Wesleyan University Constructing the Past series, Kyle Painter’s writes regarding The Pro-Slavery Argument in the Development of the American Methodist Church that “economic disaster” would be the fate of the U.S. if slavery was abolished. It is also stated in a thesis written at the University of Nebraska titled Pro- and Antislavery Arguments and Conflicts (1840-1851), that the economic debates over slavery were prevalent during the time prior to the Civil War. There were an abundance of people who claimed slavery was an economic benefit to everyone who was not, of course, a slave.
Today, not much has changed. We hear health care is not affordable and the crushing weight of health insurance and care will destroy the U.S. economy. Advocates who claim such things believe this correlates to a justification for destroying the principle that each person, and the business they choose to enter, possess the same rights as everyone else.
Somehow it is also reasoned that a person’s right to choose to not pay for health insurance must be sacrificed for the supposed greater good of more affordable health care. We are told that doctors and medical device manufacturers’ profits must be kept at what a politician considers reasonable because the economics of freedom, somehow, simply do not add up. Much like the economics of freedom for slaves somehow did not add up during the early potions of our nation’s history.
Argument 2: Every society on earth has it
Robert Higgs, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, cites in his article titled Ten Reasons Not to Abolish Slavery, one of the main reasons given at the time was every other society on Earth had slavery. This is very much like what we hear today about government controlled health care.
Doug Pibel and Sarah van Gelder of Yes Magazine states that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without nationalized health care in their article Health Care: It’s What Ails Us. So, of course, one must conclude that because all other industrialized nations exploit health care workers’ minds and effort for their own irrational desires, the U.S. should follow.
Argument 3: People can’t take care of themselves
Higgs also cites that prior to the Civil War the belief that if one wants to offer freewill to slaves, the result would be cruelty and destitute for the rest of their lives. This same argument is made by Pibel and van Gelder today. “An estimated 50 million Americans lack medical insurance, and a similar and rapidly growing number are underinsured.”
In other words, Pibel and van Gelder are claiming that people cannot survive on their own today, so it is necessary to take the property (money is property) from one group in order to compensate for those who are either too ignorant or unproductive to provide health insurance on their own.
Upon making these points to a person determined to believe they are advocating for a moral and American position by imposing universal or Obamacare-type health care upon the country, they generally move to the absurd. Much like those who supported slavery so many years ago.
Such arguments as, ‘unrest will ensue without the right of one group to take what they need from another for their health care needs,’ or the idea that free markets in health care will not work as well as the free markets in food distribution and so many other industries. All of these arguments are very similar to those made in favor of slavery.
According to Higgs, pro-slavery advocates claimed “[w]ithout slavery the former slaves would run amuck, stealing, raping, killing, and generally causing mayhem.” Furthermore, they cite that others stated “[t]rying to get rid of slavery is foolishly utopian and impractical.” Both arguments are perfectly parallel to those made today, invoked only when all other arguments have failed.
There is a reason why the mantra “land of the free, home of the brave” is an axiom that underscores the American experiment. In order to be free, one must in fact be brave. One must be willing to work for their earnings. One must respect the equal rights of others. One must fight for principle.
Those people who are willing to stand up for equality under the law and the right of every individual to pick their own destiny, no matter how foolish or unwise, are the newest bread of Americans to fight for freedom and liberty for all. They are the same personalities from yesteryear that stood for what was right, and ended the robbing of dignity and self-worth that slavery stole from people of color in early America. They are the newest American heroes.