For the past few days, I’ve been mulling over the issues of health care and global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) in the context of who opposes the issues. It seems that almost every person who opposes (meaningful) health care reform and who denies global warming is either very conservative and/or very religious (usually both)… and I’ve been trying to figure out the correlation, if there is one.
A friend suggested that it’s because both demographics tend to just follow the “party line,” whether it be delivered from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck or from Republican politicians like John Boehner and Sarah Palin. I think that may be true in some instances, by why did those people start denying climate change in the first place?
I’ve seen climate change deniers cherry pick evidence, offer irrelevant evidence (it snowed early this year!), distort existing evidence, make up evidence, cite faulty studies, and quote scientists in unrelated fields of study… all in an attempt to discredit scientific studies showing that our planet is, indeed, warming, that it is doing so at a far more rapid rate than historical trends would indicate, and that human carbon emissions are very likely having a significant impact on the warming.
I’ve seen people use the same types of tactics in an effort to stop any meaningful health care reform, too. I’ve seen accusations of fascism. I’ve seen absurdities about “rationed” health care and “death squads.” I’ve seen outright lies. I’ve seen alarmist cries of socialism (as if there aren’t tons of government run programs that fall into that category already).
The only connection I can easily make (which doesn’t necessarily make it valid) is that both issues would cost money to solve and both issues would require legislation of some sort… a change in the status quo. Conservatives may want to discredit climate change because they don’t want to have to pay to mitigate it. They don’t want to pay for any changes in our health care system because they don’t want any changes to what they already have. Personally, I think that has a lot to do with it. Opponents are basically saying, “If it’s going to cost me money or change what I’ve got, I want no part of it.”
That connection seems obvious to me.
What seems less obvious is what I’ve been mulling over in the past couple days and I’d love to hear feedback on this.
In the demographic in question, most (not all) are right-wing conservatives and very religious people (frequently, the two go hand-in-hand). I’ve made the claim before that religions (monotheistic religions in particular) are narcissistic by their very nature. Thinking of human beings as a “special creation” of a loving, caring god is the epitome of self-aggrandizing conceit.
Providing affordable health care to everyone in the country (or the world, for that matter) is an altruistic endeavor. For those of us who have good health insurance coverage, wanting to provide coverage for those who cannot afford it or who cannot obtain it puts the focus on something other than ourselves.
Mitigating global warming is something that is good for the entire world, not just our country. Looking at the big picture (again, outside our own self-interests) indicates that taking care of the issue now, regardless of costs involved, will benefit the entire world in the long run. It may cost our country some money. It may cost us money personally. But if we don’t consider just ourselves… if we consider that we’re part of a larger, global community… it seems that the proper course of action is to deal with the problem now.
In both cases, the solutions require us to think of the bigger picture… to think of the well-being of others… to consider the impact on the world, not just ourselves and not just our country. With the religious mindset that a god is watching over us and protecting us because we are very special to him (on a personal or a national level), there’s no need to do that… nor a reason to. Indeed, US Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) says just that.
The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.
I’ve heard someone (who is very religious) say that he struggles with the idea of paying for other peoples’ health care because he already donates 10% of his income to the church, so he’s already doing his part (it wasn’t that cut and dry, but that was the gist of it). I can understand that viewpoint, but it falls directly in the middle of the “I’m special because of my religion” mindset. Why does the altruism end outside the chapel doors? In addition, what makes inside the chapel doors more deserving of financial support?
I also understand the position that the government is notorious for its inefficiency with our tax money. There’s really no argument there, but that’s no excuse for neglecting people. That’s no excuse for refusing to clean up after ourselves. That’s no excuse for ignoring global environmental problems. That’s no excuse for being dishonest, deceitful, and disingenuous about the issues. That’s no excuse for falling back on the claim of divine right.
Let me know what you think.