What Ed Has to Believe
Strolling amidst the crowd of the latest Tea Party, Ed Fitzpatrick reflected as follows:
I’ve got to believe the health-care law is going to do more good than the Iraq war, and I wondered if Tea Party members were concerned that the cost of the war had reached $717.5 billion as of Thursday, according to the National Priorities Project (costofwar.com).
I don’t begrudge Fitzpatrick’s shorthand use of the faith-based statement, “I’ve got to believe”; after all a full year of columns could be penned in defending the belief. Still, it’s worth a question mark.
One could argue the execution of the war, its justifications, and its costs (both expected and actual), but from our current vantage point, it was overall a benefit to the United States and the world. In less than a decade, Iraq has moved from a reckless and brutal tyranny to the second most legitimately democratic governing system in the Middle East, after Israel. In short, cost removed, the action was to the better.
The healthcare legislation, on the other hand (the hand understood by most tea partiers), will make things worse. Costs will continue to go up, and they now come with a government mandate, absorbing taxes, decreasing employment opportunity, limiting innovation, and restricting access to services. That’s a negative consequence.
Even without taking into account, in other words, the difference that the Iraq war will quickly decrease in costs from here into the future, it simply isn’t the case that a negative action “does more good” than a positive action.