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Your choice of Beveridge

By Owen Paine on Wednesday January 16, 2008 08:56 PM

That infamous left Hegelian, the young Karl Marx -- still in the shadow of his master's dream -- liked to suggest Mighty Clio will never pose us humans a historical task we can't begin to solve right then and there, at that particular moment and inside that particular social formation.

I'll humbly add: yes we can begin the task ... right now... potentially; but mostly we don't and won't want to. It's like an epic return: our fine hero gets almost home straight off in chapter one, but by hook crook or hubris she misses the chance, and soon finds herself on the long arduous outward leg of a much longer circling back. Seems Clio likes to frustrate those with the clearest social vision.

Consider a pal of mine, anonymous at his own request, whom I'll call Mr. S. He sees as if from the mountaintop -- and what do he see? Where as-by-right single-payer for-all health care should come, there's instead the Democrap, Mommy Dearest universal "dummy up bub" mandate.

I must quote S's generalization: it goes a long way toward revealing just what new-deal pale-deal of a Godot we pwogs are waiting for:

"The liberal petit bourgeois, who owns the means to get himself to the means of production owned by the capitalist, cannot for the life of him comprehend the risk aversion of people who have lived in close proximity to the realities of power disparities. It is intuitive to the liberal that pooled risk equates to a shared benefit. And so it does, provided the people in the pool have a means of enforcing the contract to obtain the benefit. Where that power can be taken away or ignored, all risk pooling means is that those most able to deal with being bilked will wind up in a relatively more endurable misery than those with lesser means.

Being unable to recognize this reality, the liberal will be thoughtless in admonitions to join the risk pool, will suffer hurt feelings when the invitation is rejected and will blame the refuseniks for the failure of the scheme, however crackpot it maybe. If the process of obtaining the benefit is sufficiently galling and demeaning... a certain percentage will reject a real benefit, and not just the eternally dangled carrot of neoliberalism.

When the liberal is caught in circumstances where enough people reject the opportunity to join the risk pool, enough so that those who have joined stand to suffer alone, regardless of the existence or absence of a potential benefit, he will become passive aggressive in the same style as a shoplifting schoolboy who is blatantly careless in order to make sure his comrades are dirty. And later justify this by pointing out that after all, he did risk the same punishment he brought on them.

Beveridge's plan has so many obvious, easily detectable flaws,especially when compared to redistributive plans that limit outcomes as a means of correcting power disparities, but it was easily accepted and put in place.

Because it neglected, by design, the most important part of social justice — addressing power disparities directly — it was easy to undermine, stint and finally be turned into a means of punitive control.

Comments (1)


finest "precisely"
of a haute lib-oisie
mind set
i've read in quite some time
beware plebhounds
they'll set u up
for a savage denoument
no smart dog
does two boar hunts...willingly

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