Last week at my college, Loretta Weinberg (Jon Corzine's running mate), was scheduled to speak. I went to the auditorium where it was to happen and took my seat. I sat next to a friend of mine, Mike, whose untiring activism in the College Democrats puts me to shame. By sheer coincidence, I was sitting behind someone who I detest, an upperclassman named Ian.
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I have met with Ian in the past. He's a man who the liberals on campus detest strongly. Another friend of mine, Matt (who is president of the local chapter of the International Socialist Organization), does not even refer to Ian by name and always talks about him aloofly like he's some nonentity.
Anyway, my encounters with Ian in the past has not been good and have been awkward at best. We argued over candidates in the presidential election last year and his case for John McCain was utterly ludicrous. When I brought up that John McCain was 72 and had a history of skin cancer and that he had a 1-in-3 chance of passing away over the next four years, I asked him how he would like it if Sarah Palin was president. His response was that Obama was probably more likely to die in his first term because of the possibility assassination or something.
As soon as I sat down, I noticed that Mike and Ian were already discussing something. Shortly after I sat down, Ian suddenly said: "I think that socialized medicine is the worst bill to go through Congress since 1976." My jaw almost dropped at that and I replied, "Worse than the Patriot Act? Worse than FISA? Worse than DOMA?" He didn't reply to that as he was still talking with Mike.
When I entered the conversation with him, I soon found myself wishing I had decided to sit somewhere else. He then painted a whole blue streak in how it would lead to commodity prices rising by 50-60% as business owners adjust their store prices to compensate for higher taxes. He also said that health care should be the responsibility of individuals and the government should play no role.
That's when I started saying: "If you don't like socialized government programs, then why don't you support abolishing the fire department? That way, when your house catches fire, it's nobody's problem except your own. Also, you should also support abolishing the police department. Since you're from New York, you wouldn't live long if the police were abolished. Also, this school is a public college and is subsidized, socialized if you will, by the state. Finally, you should also support abolishing medicare, leaving your elders at the mercy of the insurance companies." I then went on explaining how the impoverished and middle class are being robbed blind by health insurance companies. To which Ian said: "Well...that's capitalism."
I found myself growing mad in how he said that the reason why people are unemployed is because they are lazy and don't do much aside from sitting on the couch, watching TV while smoking pot. That's when I struck back with an explanation in how people ARE looking for work, but there just isn't enough work to go around, especially during a recession. I then asked: "By your logic, since people cannot be well-off like your family is, they should be left to wallow and die?" That's when he said, "Yes." That's when I said, "That's...very disturbing." Then Ian went into explaining how his position is justified, but I was too stunned to listen.
A little bit later on, I explained how people paying their premiums to insurance companies is basically taxation in itself, except a portion of it goes to paying salaries and executive jets and bonuses. Ian replied yet again with: "That's capitalism."
I then discussed with him how in a Democratic nation, we ought to have a right to have the government serve us. To that, he said, "As Winston Churchill said: Democracy is the worst kind of government except for everything that came before it." I grew mad again and explained how Democracy is one of the most benevolent kind of government ever conceived. He replied by explaining how we live in a Democratic-Capitalistic society that makes sure that people can get as wealthy as they can.
On the issue on how the bill should be paid for, I made the case for creating new tax brackets for those that make more than $250,000 a year and those that make more than $1,000,000 a year. That's when he said: "Let me quote Einstein, one of the smartest people in history: You do not tax the wealthy." That's when I found myself fuming again. I said, "First of all, Einstein was a physicist, NOT an economist. Second of all, in Einstein's day, the wealthiest paid much more in taxes than they do now. So what if the wealthiest get their federal income taxes raised by roughly 5%." Ian totally dodged my counterpoint and said: "Your family is upper-middle class, Ethan [that's my name], so if your taxes go up, that means your mother will have to choose whether to buy a new TV or a new pocketbook instead of being able to purchase both." That's when I really got angry and I retorted: "My mother is not some plastic, materialistic airhead like your mother!"
That's basically where the conversation ended. I stood up and went over to sit somewhere else, but before I did, I said calmly to Ian: "Say, Ian, I have a book to recommend to you that depicts what your utopia would be. It's entitled Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; check it out." Mike chimed in, "That's a good book."
The rest of the evening went on without a problem, but this argument still disturbed me for some time. As for the lecture by Loretta Weinberg, it went well. She talked about how he plans to reform election laws in New Jersey to help filter out corrupt politicians and how he plans to invest in green energy. She also said that Corzine will sign a bill legalizing gay marriage in his state the instant it reaches his desk.
Well, that's all I wanted to share with you people tonight. I leave you now with my favorite song by The Beatles: