Help the poor, but help in ways that work
by Melvyn L Fein
November 24, 2013 09:59 PM | 1012 views | 7 7 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Obamacare was advertised as a way to make sure all Americans have access to affordable health care. It has become increasingly clear, however, that it is one more way of transferring wealth from the haves to the have-nots. Notice I did not say from the rich to the poor because most of the confiscated assets will come from the middle class.

During his first campaign for president, Barack Obama reluctantly admitted to Joe the Plumber that he found nothing wrong with redistributing resources. It has since become apparent that this is one of his principal objectives.

What has likewise become apparent is that this strategy cannot work. It simply cannot achieve what its architects hope. In my book “Post-Liberalism: The Death of a Dream,” I argue that liberalism not only will not work, but cannot. The Affordable Care Act provides one more example of why.

During a recent debate about Obamacare at KSU’s Marketplace of Ideas Day, I further contended that merely providing the poor with more expensive health insurance will not necessarily improve their health. There is, I said, a difference between making a service available and accomplishing what was intended.

Afterward, a member of the audience chided me for being hard on the poor. I responded that this was so and for a politician would have been poison. But I am not a politician and therefore can afford to voice uncomfortable truths.

The fact that the poor are frequently the authors of their own misery is indeed a painful truth. Liberal sociologists term this “blaming the victim,” but it is no more than looking reality in the eye and calling it by its rightful name.

The poor, because they are poor, see the world differently. Their social situation, not their biology, influences what they believe possible and therefore what they attempt. Given their sundry handicaps, they are frequently fatalistic and consequently either passive or oppositional.

During the debate my opponent suggested that if provided with the proper resources and opportunities, the poor would flock to start new businesses. I scoffed at this then; I scoff at it now. While some of the poor may be entrepreneurial, the vast majority are too disorganized to make such efforts.

With respect to medical care, this orientation manifests itself in several ways. First, the poor, even if they have insurance, often do not seek help. Doctors, whom they regard as of a higher class, make them uncomfortable. As a result, even when they have Medicaid, they tend to stay home.

Second, when they do see a physician, they are inarticulate when explaining their symptoms. Both intimidated by the doctor and generally inartful in expressing themselves, they make poor reporters of their own conditions. But since self-reports are a physician’s primary means of initiating a good diagnosis, understanding what is wrong becomes problematic.

Third, the poor don’t enjoy being pushed around — by anyone, and that includes doctors. As a result, they are less apt to follow medical directions. Perhaps they do not get off their feet when so advised or they refuse to take a prescribed medication. In either event, their health is less likely to improve.

Fourth, the poor often have unhealthy lifestyles. They drink too much, smoke too much, and eat too unwholesomely. Oddly, most do not even exercise sufficiently.

In other words, we can transfer money to upgrade the health insurance of the poor, but we cannot transfer good health. Whatever the intension of liberals, if they refuse to accept these hard facts as facts, they can scarcely arrive at viable solutions. Merely punishing the well-off to compensate for the liabilities of the poor helps no one.

This does not mean, however, that we should be insensitive to the plight of the poor. Rather it means that if we are to help, we must help in ways that work. Simply increasing the dependency of the poor is not one of these. Insisting on shared efforts that promote social mobility is.

Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.

Comments
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East Cobb Senior
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November 27, 2013
At the recent debate on ObamaCare at KSU, I sat and watched Kevin Foley almost go into uncontrollable spasms as you debunked Dr. White and his indefensible defense of “The Affordable Care Act”. At one point I thought of calling 911, as Foley’s spasmodic left to right neck contortions became extreme. He and White are cut out of the same mold, socialist wealth redistributors and societal dependency enablers.

ObamaCare is NOT about affordable healthcare or providing health insurance to the “uninsured. It is all about control of one sixth of our economy, and eventually morphing into a single payer system that will entrap all Americans in the snare of total Government dependency.

Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and “Great Society” debacle gave liberals a new lexicon to describe and identify the “poor”. As a result the left is able to use definitional poverty as a basis to justify their manic obsession with “Social Justice.

Foley accuses Dr. Fein of not providing “data” to substantiate his points about the “poor” and their behavior. I thank Dr. Fein for not boringly regurgitating the many social science studies and statistics that back up the obvious. Foley and his other ultra-liberal minions, who have little regard for anyone who disagrees with their agenda of a socialist utopia with total government control, will always resort to the tactics of intimidation, demonization, character assassination, distortion, hollow rhetoric, lies and inflated hyperbole to justify their unjustifiable position.

Guido Sarducci
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November 27, 2013
Right on East Cobb Senior.
lovetoseekevspaz
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November 29, 2013
I would pay good money to see Kevin Fooley spaz out. Sorry I missed the ObamaCare debate. He has put down Fox News on countless occasions to the point that I'm trying to get them to ask him to be on one of their shows. O'Reilly would shame him so badly that I know Foley would decline the invitation. Gosh, that would be a dream come true to see him torn to shreds!
Kevin Foley
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December 02, 2013
East Cobb Senior - You don't sound very educated. At institutions of higher learning, we learn to support our arguments with facts.

"I thank Dr. Fein for not boringly regurgitating the many social science studies and statistics that back up the obvious."

Uh, no, Fein didn't have any studies or statistics to regurgitate.

You must have mistaken someone else for me. I was the guy laughing as Fein made a fool out of himself in front of Dr. Papp and Dr. Imber.
Kevin Foley
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November 25, 2013
Note that Dr. Fein offers no data to support his four points on why the "orientation" of poor (he means black people) make access to medical care a waste of resources. For a different take on Dr. Fein's performance at the KSU Marketplace of Ideas, see my most recent blog below.
Guido Sarducci
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November 27, 2013
Foley, do you mean the blog wherein you put your own words into Dr. Fein's mouth then proceed to attack him for what he did NOT say?
CobbCoGuy
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November 28, 2013
Ok, MDJ readers, you just read Dr. Fein's column. Go back and read it again. Then, read KF's blog response.

The poor come in all kinds of colors - red, brown, black, white - and nowhere in this piece did Dr. Fein refer to any particular color of the poor.

It was Kevin "he means black people" Foley who injected color.
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