When my oldest son was in 4th grade, he had a teacher who spoke to the class exclusively in Words to Live By. I don’t know that she really did this. He said she did and we developed a sort of running joke about it, so he may have been exaggerating to amuse his mother. One of the things she said to her students (allegedly) when they were upset about one thing or another was “we don’t play the blame game here.”
In my experience, kids have a real basic sense of fairness and rough justice, in other words, they’re all about apportioning blame. They’re blamers. She effectively shut down 90% of what they natter on about with her ban on blaming. He’d complain: “They did do it (whatever “it” was). Why can’t we blame them?” Why indeed! Good question. Now of course I’d tell him “both sides do it, that’s why” but this was before that.
I read Angry Black Lady’s post on fear of losing health insurance and some of the comments and the whole thing made me really mad, so I’m ready to play the blame game.
Because I think libertarians aren’t hearing nearly enough condemnation for their central role in the radical turn Right at the Supreme Court, I think it’s time to point fingers in that direction:
When Congress passed legislation requiring nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance, Randy E. Barnett, a passionate libertarian who teaches law at Georgetown, argued that the bill was unconstitutional. Many of his colleagues, on both the left and the right, dismissed the idea as ridiculous — and still do.
Professor Barnett, who watched Monday from the spectator seats, was not the first to raise the constitutional critique of the health law, but more than any other legal academic, he is associated with it.
“He’s gotten an amazing amount of attention for an argument that he created out of whole cloth,” said one of his many critics, Douglas Laycock, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School. “Under existing case law this is a very easy case; this is obviously constitutional. I think he’s going to lose eight to one.”
If we’re apportioning blame (and we are! we will!) and 50 million people end up being denied the access to health insurance or Medicaid that was promised when this law passed Congress, I think libertarians and conservatives should share in responsibility for that situation.
I’m not that fond of slippery slope arguments, but libertarians live by them. Really, libertarianism is basically one big slippery slope argument, as far as I can tell. Slippery slopes can run both ways, so
I’d like to call particular attention to this rather alarming facet of Professor Bartlett’s “intellectual project”:
Professor Barnett’s work on the health care law fits into a much broader intellectual project, his defense of economic freedom. He has long argued that the Supreme Court went too far in upholding New Deal economic laws — a position that concerns his liberal critics.
Even a close friend and fellow Georgetown law professor, Lawrence B. Solum, says that Professor Barnett is aware of the “big divide between his views and the views of lots of other people,” and that his political philosophy is “much more radical” than his legal argument in the health care case. Professor Barnett, for his part, insists that if the health law is struck down, it will not “threaten the foundation of the New Deal.” But, he allowed, it would be “a huge symbolic victory for limited government.”
Yeah, well, Professor Barnett, you’re a big slippery-sloper, what with the broccoli and all, so I’m sure you’ll sympathize with “liberal concerns” on the Commerce Clause. No one predicted we’d be hearing an argument you created out of “whole cloth” coming out of the mouths of one of the justices, either, and we did. Your “fringe” idea out of “academia” may have just gone mainstream, so I wouldn’t be running around making broad assurances about the “foundation of the New Deal” if I were you.