Monday, December 10, 2012

Issues v. Principles: Why feelings get in the way

Thankfully we live in a world where current issues are passionately followed, researched and discussed. Information on everything is everywhere at anytime. People are more educated on important facts and figures than at any other point in the history of the world. If our friend Facebook asks a question or has a snide comment we can ask our friend Google the answer and (not sarcastically) become an expert in a short amount of time. This is a positive. We are able to make very well informed decisions with, compared even to just a few years ago, little effort.

The problem or situation that arises is not one of dearth of information but rather so much information that the real question becomes obscured. We look to commentary and rhetoric to pull us to the "right" conclusion relying on human emotions instead of critically investigating an issue looking for the underlying principles and using facts and pre-established ideals to guide our decisions. Health care reform provides a good example of how our feelings/emotions get in the way of what is principally best for society.

Think briefly how the debate on health care has been framed, "but people without health care get cancer and can't pay for the treatment and then they die" or "people without health care go to emergency rooms and clog things up when all they need is a doctors visit, it makes your care worse". Many things are obscured by these viewpoints that frame the discussion as one of "health care"(a service) when what is really being debated is health care INSURANCE (a good).

We see the issue as one of human welfare rather than a decision of whether or not to purchase a good. We see it as helping poor people not die from cancer instead of an individual's choice of where to use their resources (money).

We have allowed our feelings and desire to do good to produce the issue of "health care".

We have cast aside the logic of free agency supporting principles of choice and accountability.

By telling you to buy insurance I remove your agency, your ability to decide for yourself. I say you are too dumb to make the decision for yourself; I need to make it for you.

By telling me to pay for your insurance you revoke my ability to express true charity, you say that I am not capable of finding a worthy cause. You say that I have to be told who is worthy of my attention.