Why Ted Cruz Should sit down and Shut Up: Countries with Social Safety Net Happiest

In a performance that the rest of the world could not even comprehend, a wealthy, Ivy League-educated Texan talked until he was blue in the face to prevent poor children from seeing a doctor.

Political scientist Benjamin Radcliff summarizes decades of survey research on human happiness, and the findings are not in doubt. People report that they are happy and less fearful and less anxious in countries that have a good social safety net. They are also happier in societies that have strong unions.

Ted Cruz exemplifies everything that is wrong with the American elite. He was educated at Princeton and Harvard and is a wealthy senator. He has expensive and good government-supplied health care insurance. He thinks that what is good for his social class, the 1%, is good for everyone. He is blind to the problems of the 99%.

The rich deny to themselves that people die because they cannot afford medicine or doctor visits. They have privilege, and the world beyond the boundaries of that privilege is foggy to them. Higher taxes on the rich, they tell themselves, hurt entrepreneurial activity and investment. Their privilege must be protected to benefit everyone. They are the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Scandinavians, who tax their 1% properly and take care of people’s health and educational and infrastructural needs properly, are actually wealthier than Americans on the whole, per person. Norwegians, Danish and Swedes make more per person per year than Americans. They have perfectly good entrepreneurs. And, they have less inequality, less angst, less sickness.

So Ted Cruz should sit down and shut up, at long last. Because it isn’t actually good for the poor to be without health care insurance. Just as important, it isn’t good for the rest of us to live in a society where we keep 40 million people from having proper health care. It makes us unhappy, anxious, fearful.

It makes us mean and hardhearted.

It makes us like Ted Cruz.

Posted in US politics | 31 Responses | Print |

31 Responses

  1. I think you give them too much credit.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard variations on: “Why should my taxes pay for someone too lazy to go to college so they can get a good job?”

    Cite all the evidence you want; observe that there aren’t enough enough jobs for everyone who graduates with appropriate qualifications; point out that sometimes people get laid off when the company takes a hit that has nothing to do with the workers – it never makes an impact.

    If they’re speaking from ignorance, it’s a voluntary ideologically inspired ignorance.

    • I’m glad I am not the only one who feels that way. The amount of willful ignorance among a certain percentage of Americans is appalling. Its probably one of the most disturbing things about the echo chamber that these folks live in. In the past most of the ideas they advocated were dressed up and not so bluntly stated. There was sort of an agreed upon rule that some things were just reprehensible.

      Now? Anything is game. The more selfish one is the better in teabagger land.

  2. when running for president obama said that he would sign no healthcare law that didn’t have a pubic option, adding “you can take that to the bank.” when he got into office the first thing he did was to hire an health insurance company lawyer, get the insurance companies and drug companies together, and write a law that is a bailout for insurance companies. 33% of america’s healthcare dollar goes to g and a. that won’t change. healthcare costs rising won’t change. bankruptcies because of healthcare costs will not change (see Massachusetts). Obama had the people behind him for a public option–70%–he had a mandate. He sold out the american people. the new healthcare bill has something like 7 agencies that access your private information–equifax or one of the credit companies (owned by the crowns?)–is one of them as is homeland security, social security. is this progressive? no, it’s plutocrats throwing a crumb to the masses, enabliing them to by insurance they can’t afford from insurance companies whose ceos make millions a year. we need medicare for all. supporting this kind of a bill promotes the cult of obama and is counter productive.

    • The public option was killed in the Senate. It was either a bill with no public option or no health care reform at all. If you think that no reform at all was the better choice I’ll respect your opinion if you don’t have any health coverage now. Otherwise you’re willing to remain in comfort while millions of others do without.

    • Gray, brilliant support of Prof Cole’s perspective; great speaking points when we go to our town halls and present Citizens’ Rights.

    • Given that Obamacare was written by health care (sic) industry professionals while on the government payroll and who returned to their corporate homes to become paid “consultants” and “advisors” to Congress Obamacare is more like rigged for the benefit of this industry than the people.

  3. Juan Cole, thanks for your straightforward critique of Ted Cruz.

    Ted Cruz, and his fellow irresponsible ignorants, should read Richard Wilkinson och Kate Pickett: “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”, Allen Lane, London 2009. If he can read, of course.

    If he can read, he could go further with John Rawls, “A Theory of Justice”, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999. Or is this too much to ask?

    Lesson from history:

    Vidkun Quisling was e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y intelligent, but had no judgement. At the Nazi Germany occupation of Norway, 9 April 1940, Quisling, the leader of Nasjonal Samling, with about two per cent of the national vote, seized power through a Nazi-backed coup d’état, and served as Minister President till the end of the war.

    Even though about one hundred of the Norwegian teachers were sent to concetration camps in Germany, the Norwegian school teachers refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the illegitimate Quisling government.

    In a speech at the turning of the war, Quisling said, “It was y-o-u, teachers, who destroyed everything for me!”

    After trail when the WWII was over, Quisling was executed at Akershus Fortress 1945. Highly intelligent, but no judgement. Today, his name means “traitor”.

    Conclusion: intelligence and high education and position doesn’t help. Compassionate deep norms, values, goals, and perspectives does.

    Cheers, Björn Lindgren

    • Well, I’d like to clarify:

      Compassionate deep norms, values, goals, perspectives, and good hypothesis about reality does.

      Cheers, Björn Lindgren

  4. I get the distinct impression Republicans are really bored with all of this talk about health care and the debt ceiling. The reality is…they just hate Obamacare because it was proposed by Obama.

    Their faux outrage seems so staged when they rant about the cost of all things domestic, whether it be AHC or food stamps, medicare, infrastructure repairs, while not blinking an eye that $6 billion a month is being wasted in needless war in Afghanistan. They certainly weren’t interested in the cost of sending missiles into Syria, estimated to cost several hundred million dollars, if all things went well.

    No, issues concerning their constituents just doesn’t seem to get Republican war addicts blood boiling like a pending invasion or bombing of a country that poses no real threat to this nation. Mention war and they are like a staggering punch drunk prize fighter hearing a bell ring.

    To be completely bipartisan let me include Schumer and his neocon democrat cabal in the war addict club also.

  5. Yes, Ted Cruz should shut up.

    But Obamacare is not a social safety net. It was conceived to bail out a failing industry — private health insurance, using public money and mandates on individuals.

    Countries where private insurance plays a role in truly universal health care (e.g., Japan, Germany, Switzerland) have very tight regulation and the private insurers are non-profits. That isn’t what we got from Obama.

    Obamacare creates a monstrosity where private corporations to extract further rents from the public with a public subsidy.

    Think about the sad fact the the US and state governments already spend as much per capita on healthcare that it could fund a Canadian type of single payer. Instead we’re going to subsidizing corporate fat cats.

    Obamacare is a safety net for corporations.

    • Gregg, thankyou for highlighting the reality of the all presented health offerings; the representatives are not ignorant of the facts – they fear for their privileged positions.
      You present important talking points for Citizens to use with neighbours at Community meetings.

  6. A sharp focus on inequality is crucial to understanding many social ills. “[T]here is overwhelming evidence that as inequality grows a country becomes nastier. [R]ates of violent crime and racism tend to be higher where the gap between rich and poor is greater. So firmly established is the link between homicide rates and inequality…that many criminologists regard it as more important than any other environmental factor….[I]n some countries inequality reduces the life expectancy of the poorest by as much as 25%. We are talking about the effects not of absolute poverty but of inequality – which apparently leads to acute anxieties and insecurities, and a chronic lack of social trust.”
    link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  7. It may be, as incongruent as it first appears, that the problems Obamacare will encounter are destined to be the birth pangs of a true national health care. As people realize that they have been hoodwinked by the faux media they will begin asking why we cannot have what other, supposedly lesser, countries already have. Perhaps the worse the launch goes, the sooner the hue and cry will be raised.

  8. “Scandinavians, who tax their 1% properly…”

    Other than Norway, which has a small tax on net wealth, I see no real evidence that this is the case, and I’m not sure that Scandanavia even has a “1%” such as we do.

    Sweden pays a 32% tax for social security, which is matched by the employer. Unless I’m mistaken, all of them have Value Added taxes, which is shared as much proportionally be the poor as by the rich. Generally, these countries all pay far higher taxes at all levels of income than we do, but do not complain because they receive benefits that far exceed what we receive.

    None of which invalidates your point of course, but they don’t do it by “taxing the 1% peoperly,” nor can we do it by “taxing the rich.” The Democratic Party needs to return to being the “tax and spend” party, an approach which I wholeheartedly supported at the time. This current nonsense of trying to claim that we can offer the middle class all of the benefits they want and tax cuts too is unsupportable pandering.

    • “…This current nonsense of trying to claim that we can offer the middle class all of the benefits they want and tax cuts too is unsupportable pandering. ”
      Bill, what you see is not pandering. What you see is unmitigated fear and greed on the part of those who ‘have’; there is not offering of benefits, and there is no offering of taxcuts.
      Even a “small tax” on net [or gross ] wealth would provide for civil amounts of Healthcare.
      Public debate is prescribed.

  9. Don’t blame the Cruz Missile. Blame those who pressed the trigger and set up the relevant system of privilege – the equivalent in another context of the weapons manufacturers. Former Texan A/G Ted, despite his pedigree,is merely the fall guy.

  10. Juan: Will you please do a piece explaining the tax and benefit systems of Sweden and Norway? Thanks, Don

    • Hi Don and Juan,

      The tax system in Sweden, which I used to know, isn’t what it used to be.

      When neo-liberalism swept across the world, Swedish socialdemocrats left their extremely successful interventional economical policy of high taxes and high level of welfare for all.

      Århundradets skattereform (The Tax Reform of the Century)that they launched 1990, was under-financed, and (secretly) a construct of Sven-Olov Lodin, an ecconomist at Federation of Swedish Industries(!).

      When the taxes were lowered, ordinary people didn’t work more, as calculated. But the lower taxes benefitted the already the well-off. And the deficit was payed by the socialdemcrat’s most fagile members and voters, those who rented their flats. In two years, the renting costs rose about 150%. And this was only the beginning…

      The past eight years, the right-wing government has been lowering the taxes with about 100bn SEK, money that is taken away from schools, hospitals, and care for elders, infrastructure, railroads, etc.

      More and more of institutions are privatized, or are run according to “market principles”, i.e. profit only. The profits end up as speculative capital (in the Caribbians.

      What the citizens meet is greedy underfinanzied institutions and authorities taking higher and higher charges.

      Sweden has the fastest increase of inequity and inequality in the western World.

      Prime Minister Reinfeldt has coined a term for those who are marginalized – the sick, unemployed, poor – by his policies: “utanförskap” (“outside-ship”). He does this because “working should pay”.

      Josef Goebbels, the Third Reich propaganda genius, would envy the term “utanförskap”, designed to cover reality.

      Trade unions, the NGOs and the socialdemocrats are stone dead. Kurt Junesjö, former judical advicer at the two greatest trade unions, LO and TCO, said in an interview a few years ago, “They forgot the question of power”.

      Now the public discourse in Sweden is filled with entertainment and a monstrous abuse of “psychology”. People are isolated and marginalized. Chris Hedges would nod.

      There is much more to tell and say. But this is all from Björn’s Magical Box for now.

      Cheers, Björn Lindgren

      • “The past eight years, the right-wing government has been lowering …”

        This helps to explain why Julian Assange didn’t what to have anything more to do with Sweden.

        • Hi Bill,

          Yes, from a high level of welfare, we fall down faster than most countries.

          Now, it is confirmed (Peace reseacher Wilhem Agrell: “Ett krig här och nu. Sveriges väg till väpnad konflikt i Afghanistan”), that neutral Sweden lets its military fight under US command, strategy, and interests in Afghanistan (and Libya). Forget UN mandate, democracy, women, children, narcotics.

          Add to this, a clandistine export of a complete missile factory(!) to Saudi Arabia, organized and financed by state authorites! (The Swedish export of military hardwear has quadrupled in ten years.) Without debate and decision in the riksdag, parliament.

          Now, Sweden is de facto integrated in and member of NATO, which now operates globally together with the military-industrial-Congress-white house-mercenary-terror complex.

          And note: The riksdag, Swedish Parliament, has not decided this.

          – It just…eh… happened!

          Generally, Swedes know and sense much of this, but since the former trust in state, authorities, and trade unions has withered, people are isolated, confused, and afraid, (see my note on “structual violence” and definition by Johan Galtung).

          Cheers, Björn Lindgren

          Politicians, ecconomists, and journalists sit in each others laps.

    • Hi Bjorn

      Thanks so much for what you say. I have lived in Scandinavia (mostly Sweden, but Denmark and Norway as well), at times for long periods, from the 70’s on. It is heartbreaking for me to see how both the Social Democrats and the so called conservative Alliance (actually neo-cons in Scandinavian disguise) have sold out this incredibly beautiful country. The lobbyists and the neo-cons are turning Sweden into a more extremely “Americanzed” nation than America. And the population has been drugged into somnolence by the same use of mind numbing “entertainment” and insidious use of doublethink and doublespeak that we know so well from the US. Very depressing!

      Best … Chiranjit

  11. “So Ted Cruz should sit down and shut up, at long last.”

    Ted Cruz and his ilk are only part of the problem. The other, and probably the larger part, is the majority of voters in electoral districts who vote these people into office.

    At one time Hitler was considered something of a crackpot with his rants in Vienna. If he had never received support from people who fell for his ideology, he wouldn’t have even been a footnote in any history book, including Vienna’s.

    Then there are the many politicians and promoters of the war on Iraq who, by the standards of the Nuremberg principles, are war criminals. Nevertheless, majorities around the United States have sent most of these politicians back to Congress, one to the White House as vice president, and the pundits who promoted the war continue as distinguished guests on TV talk shows. Go figure!

  12. “Ivy League-educated”

    Most of the key players who caused the Iraq war to happen and others who rigged the banking system to implode were “Ivy League-educated.” Obviously, moral philosophy is not a popular course of study for most Ivy-league students.

  13. Ted Cruz is working the MSN profile for getting attention – make lots of right wing noise, and throw in some outrageous (by norms of the sane)positions that synchronize with the feral Obama hatred. Once celebrity status is obtained, Cruz will get immediate praise for any movement towards moderation, e.g. “statesman like”.

    Speaking of cruelty towards the poor, I think the 1% – 99% divide is a good example.About 25% of families have a household income exceeding 100k. About 25% of families have an income less than 30k. Yet the 99% mantra includes both groups. But I think many families in the lower 25% live in desperate ways, while the those in the upper 25% should be having a reasonable to royal existence. The 99% are not in the same boat – some are in yachts, and a lot are in very leaky rowboats.

  14. Cruz may not have government supplied Cadillac health care. Sources say he benefits from the Mercedes Benz health care of his Goldman employed spouse.

  15. @Bjorn Lundgren,
    I have heard that in Sweden all legal gambling casinos are government owned. To your knowledge is this (still)true?
    Gambling brings in a good chunk of change. I know that it is not “progressive”. The poor certianly gamble a higher percentage of their income than the rich. But in the USA you let the super rich in Nevada and Atlantic City get away with large chunks of money that should be harnessed for more deserving causes. I have no problem with casinos on Indian reservations as the indian tribes are in a sense government entities, either independent nations or “departments” of the federal government depending on whether one correctly or incorrectly understands history.
    I do not know exactly how much money is raked in by the casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City but I bet it could make a pretty good dent in to paying for……… well what I mean to say is perhaps the DOD should get all the profits from the Nevada casinos and not a cent more.

  16. Hi Stout Beer,

    Yes, the Swedish owns a gamble monopoly, Svenska spel, which now is threatend by private gamble companies. Svenska spel generate billions to the state. And an unsound culture of money and futile hopes.

    Like Noam Chomsky says, Gambling is extra taxes on the poor. The rich own the gambling companies (and the banks). A clear expression of structural violence.

    Structural violence is systematic exploitation that becomes part of the social order. This systematic exploitation renders personal violence unnecessary.

    Peace researcher Johan Galtung writes, “Personal violence is only for the amateur in dominance; structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns, the professional uses social structure.”

    Structural violence has four basic components: exploitation which is focused on the division of labor with the benefits being asymmetrically distributed, penetration which necessitates the control by the exploiters over the consciousness of the exploited thus resulting in the acquiescence of the oppressed, fragmentation which means that the exploited are separated from each other, and marginalization with the exploiters as a privileged class with their own rules and form of interaction.

    Many years ago, Galtung gave a descriptive reciept of revolution: “Educate the middle class, and give them no work”. This is what happens all over the world right now. The crucial question is, will it be Progressive or Fascist?

    Further Reading: Richard Falk’s articles, “Is this a Global Gandhian Moment?” and “Anarchism without Anarchism: Searching for Progressive Politics” (at his homepage).

    Cheers, Björn Lindgren

    • Björn Lindgren adds,

      Of course the first line of my comment should be “Yes the Swedish state owns a gamble monopoly”.

      Cheers, Björn

  17. How late is to late?
    Will the members of the West St. Louis de Orlando City Park Police understand that positive change begins at work before it is to late for any change to do any good at all.
    I have heard it said that lasting change only occurs through education. But it seems to me if the world has to wait until
    everyone gets educated to change we will always be waiting on the dumbest or most stubborn to figure out what is going wrong.

  18. I it were not for the human suffering involved, this race for the supposed tea-party vote would be humorous. ,

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