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Freedom Should Be Reserved for the Wealthy

February 10, 2014

These quotes are absolutely striking, in that they give a clear glimpse into the ideological commitments of the Republican Party. From Sen. Blunt and Rep. Cole, we get the revelation that— for conservatives— the only “work” worth acknowledging is wage labor. To myself, and many others, someone who retires early to volunteer— or leaves a job to care for their children— is still working, they’re just outside the formal labor market. And indeed, their labor is still valuable— it just isn’t compensated with cash.

One of the greatest benefits of wealth is that it can liberate people to pursue happiness. When we tie a basic need for living complete lives of dignity to full time employment, people will find themselves willing to make many sacrifices to ensure this need. In our nation of great wealth with liberty and freedom as core values, it is hard to believe that the GOP would decry the liberating effect of ending the contingency of health care on work.

There is no work rule, regulation, or union that empowers workers more in their relationship with their employers than removing the threat of losing health care from the table. An increasingly libertarian right should be celebrating this as a key victory, rather than celebrate the existing coercive impact that health care has in our lives.

Republicans aren’t as worried as the idle rich, who— I suppose— have earned the right to avoid a life of endless toil. Otherwise— if Republicans really wanted everyone to work as much as possible— they’d support confiscatory tax rates. After all, nothing will drive an investment banker back to the office like the threat of losing 70 percent of her income to Uncle Sam.

Oh yeah, I forgot. For all their claims to loving liberty and freedom, what the GOP really stands for is protecting liberty and freedom for the existing “deserving” wealthy. They will fight tooth and nail to remove estate taxes because inheritance is a legitimate source of liberty. Removing the fear of entering a hospital uninsured after being unable to access preventive care is what deprives folks of “dignity”.