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Some Important Questions Which Went Unanswered

October 7, 2012

John Stewart and Bill O’Reilly had a debate last night. They went through a huge number of issues and overall I think it was an outstanding evening. There were a couple of points that I wish Mr. Stewart had made that he did not. This is not a criticism of Stewart. It was a long evening and they had a lot of things to cover.

Besides, that’s kind of the function of self-important people with blogs, who think that the world cares about their opinion…

Early in the debate Mr. O’Reilly went after “entitlements.” OK, to be fair he was asked a question about them and then he went after them.

(Hey look at that. In the past three paragraphs, I’ve been more honest than Fox has been in the past decade.)

So, yeah, entitlements. At roughly four minutes in (No, I’m not linking to the exactly minute. What the whole thing. It’s worth your time.)  went to one of the Far Right’s most favoritest talking points; how some percentage of the people of the United States receives federal aid. That would, in and of itself be a totally acceptable thing to talk about. The problem with the position O’Reilly took was that it is a lie.

His assertion in that 20% of Americans receive federal aid and they do so because they just don’t want to work. He outright stated “We are spending and enormous amount of money on 20% who, for whatever reason (shrug, smirk) ah “we’re just not gonna cut it. We’re not gonna make a living. We’re not gonna really do anything. We want our stuff.”

That is a lie. Please understand, I don’t mean his opinion is wrong or he misspoke. I’m not saying that. He’s lying.

What is the difference? When you make a mistake or have an opinion that fails logical examination, it is generally something inadvertent. This? It’s just a deliberate lie.

How do I know? It’s a totally unsupportable position. No one can rationally claim that 20% of Americans receive federal and here are their motives. Judge them! Not logical.

Further, it is an unqualified and indisputable fact that most federal aid goes to the elderly, working families, children or the disabled.

Don’t just follow my links. Follow the links in those links. Don’t just believe me. Source what I’m saying. Fact check. Make it happen.

So his assertion is that the people who receive federal aid are just lazy, don’t deserve it, blah, blah, blahdiblah, standard-Far-Right-talking-point is a lie.

Then Stewart went into his bit on Bullshit Mountain and he’s funnier than me so I’m not going to try to match him. He made some good points and was still funnier than most people on their best day. There’s a reason the man keeps winning Emmys.

They got into it over health care pretty much directly after that and O’Reilly doubled down on his anti-anyone who needs help, hate. He asserted that the number of people who are on Stewart talked about arthritis and I think that’s a fair point. Part of the reason disability claims are rising is because the population is aging.

But there’s another reason that he didn’t touch on.

There was a war. You know what happens during a war? People get hurt. You know who helps those people with long term disabilities suffered during a war? Well, yes, the VA but also, SSDI. Those aren’t the same set of benefits and anyone who thinks that many disabled veterans don’t need both needs a reality check, STAT. Anyone who thinks that disabled veterans don’t deserve to get every bit of benefit they can obtain needs to meet me on the playground after school because you and I are going to have a very abrupt chat. Hope your parents have dental.

Nearly 20% of people on disability are veterans.Slightly more than 20% are working full time. And 25% are over the age of 65.

These people need help and it is our obligation as part of society to help them. It is our moral obligation as humans to do so not only because they are fellow humans in need but because when we called on them to risk their lives, to raise the generation of which I am a part, to work and help build the economy they stepped up for us. Who thinks we shouldn’t step up for them?

Skipping an hour of interesting debate we get to 1:05:37 or so wherein some internet viewer asked both hosts “How would you modify the health care system if you were president?”

Excellent question viewer whose name I can’t be bothered to search for.

Stewart made some great points about the single payer system and why it’s better. It’s just better. there are too many brilliant people who have used many, many facts to make this case. Go look them up and read them.

O’Reilly’s answer was pretty much “Privatize!” It was somewhat more complex than that but the basic gist was his belief that we should put health care anywhere but in the hands of the government.

He also lied about single payer systems in Canada and the UK.  I’ll let not USians address that one.

His reasoning was that the government is not competent to run health care in America.

In fact, he specifically stated “You let medical people run it. You don’t let the government run a complicated system.”

Then Stewart asked the most important question of the night. “Why is government able to run a complex organization like the military…” he was interrupted but he was clearly about to ask why O’Reilly considered them competent to run the military but not health care.

The answer he got was “Tradition.” And I did not break into a rousing chorus from Fiddler on the Roof. You should all be proud of me. It was a near thing though.

Again, the gist of O’Reilly’s position is that the government has a long standing tradition of running a military but not of running health care.

That’s not just wrong it’s crazy.

Within the military there is a huge, low cost or totally free, medical system. Having been in the military I can tell you it is far from perfect. That said, if the government runs the military super extra double plus plus perfect, which O’Reilly asserted multiple times, and the military is already running a huge medical system, and it has been doing so since “the military” was the Continental Army, then the government has already proved that it can, in fact, run a huge medical system.

These are facts people. Go out and use these weapons for good.









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