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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Story About SCHIP

Photo by GeckowithCanon

A story about SCHIP (bear with me- it'll all make sense):

In the Fall of 2007, I was working very hard to promote the candidacy of Congressman Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. He was the only candidate in either of the two major parties who campaigned on a consistent platform of reducing the size, role, and influence of the US Federal government- and he had a long, unblemished voting record as a congressman to prove it.

Like many of his supporters, I worked on a grassroots level, taking individual initiative to promote awareness of and support for his campaign. I used creative methods and invested a lot of personal time and money (and as a college junior, I was short on both) without the direction of a central leadership or Dr. Paul's official campaign. On Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2007, I took to the streets dressed up as the Constitution. I made the costume myself with two pieces of white cardboard, some duct tape for shoulder straps, a sharpie marker, and a tea bag to stain it the right color. I asked the local meetup group for several hundred informational handouts and some Ron Paul candy (Hershey's chocolate bars repackaged to say RON PAUL'S RICH ECONOMY with some fun "nutritional facts" about the economy).

Photo by Brittney. All Rights Reserved.

Armed with handouts, candy, and my Constitution costume- and probably looking like the biggest geek ever- I went knocking door to door and "reverse trick-or-treating" by giving people candy (the Ron Paul bars) along with a handout, encouragement to check out Ron Paul's website, and in many cases, a good chuckle over what a dork I was being. So here's where it gets good. I decided to drive out to Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, TN, and do some trick-or-campaigning there. If you're not familiar with middle Tennessee, note that Brentwood is an extremely wealthy area, located in one of the most affluent counties in America. I thought if I could just get one or two of these folks fired up for Ron Paul, it could mean serious donation money for his campaign.

So as I worked my way through a neighborhood of lavish mansions, I came to one particularly nice-looking house with its lights on and gave a knock. A woman came to the door with a smile on her face because of my costume. I handed her the Ron Paul chocolate and handout and encouraged her to check out his campaign website. She smiled again, looked puzzled for just a second, then got angry, "Isn't he a Republican?" Yeah, lady- but he's like, the coolest Republican ever! "Yes, ma'am," I answered. "Well you can tell him I'll vote for him when he votes for SCHIP!" Yeah, I'm sure you don't mind the tax increase to pay for it- you're rich! "Thank you. Have a Happy Halloween," I said to the door as it closed in my face.

And as I walked away from that house, I suddenly realized the awful hypocrisy behind it all. Here this woman was living in a richly furnished, multi-million dollar house, and she wanted to raise taxes on everyone else to make all those greedy people take care of uninsured children. Here's an idea! Why don't you take responsibility for your values and move into a house that is half as lavish and expensive as the one you're in (but still better than what 99% of the rest of us live in), and use the money you'd save to pay the insurance premiums for several poor families? Instead you want the government to tax everyone else (including the poor families that can't afford insurance) to make sure that they are conforming to your moral standards of charity? How illiberal of you! And how hypocritical!

There are people out there like that woman supporting SCHIP who would rather force their values on other people and require by law that others practice the virtue of alms giving, than live up to their own values by being the change they want to see in the world and living with less luxury so others can afford health care. It's just appalling.

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