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  • Dec 25, 2014
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My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 2:47am

War against Obamacare has deep roots

To most outsiders, the US federal government shutdown and the fight over lifting the debt ceiling must seem crazy and dangerous. At least that's how it looks to me. It appears a small number of tea party right-wing radicals have hijacked that nation's budgetary process and threatened its ability to service its debts purely for their blind ideological fury.

It appears they are undermining the whole democratic process. And, as my fellow columnist Michael Chugani argues in his op-ed today, they are putting democracy in a bad light and make you think twice about it.

Except for jihadists, such American extremists are probably furthest from most liberal-minded people, American or not. So it's fascinating to try to get into their heads to imagine how the more intelligent of them actually think, not as extremists but as human beings.

To this end, I was helped by two Americans, one a University of Hong Kong scholar who points to Henry David Thoreau's notion of the majority of one, and the other a Post editor, who argues the tea party fights are at heart a fight over state rights against systematic and continuous federal incursions throughout US history. Placed in this light, you have to admit the tea partiers have a philosophical case, however misguided or even racist they may be against US President Barack Obama and specially, against Obamacare, which offers near universal health insurance.

"Any man more right than his neighbours constitutes a majority of one already," Thoreau famously wrote in Resistance to Civil Government. In the preceding sentence, he wrote that meant having "God on their side"; and the one before that, he wrote slavery abolitionists - and he was one of them - were already in "a majority of one". The abolitionists happened to have the right cause.

Many tea partiers believe they can sidestep the whole democratic and legislative process to go against Obamacare because it is fundamentally wrong. But what if that headstrong minority, thinking it is right, is actually wrong? The tragedy of Thoreau is that writing against the tyranny of majority government, he failed to see it could just as well degenerate into a tyranny of a minority who thinks they have God on their side.


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Whether states' rights should supercede federal jurisdiction is an entire separate discussion. But how about at least a modicum of intellectual consistency among the tea-baggers (and I use "intellectual" loosely here)? Where is the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid? How about abolishing social security? Why not de-fund and disband the military? Why have federal jurisdiction of anything? In fact, why have "united" states at all? When a "principle" is applied selectively, there is no principle at all. Which aptly describes the tea-baggers.
Tea partiers over-extended by trying to repeal Obamacare at the last minute. Despite the law's unpopularity, Obamacare is now settled law and can only be reformed. A bit more fault on the current impasse, however can be found with the Democrats, particularly Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader and even more so President Obama. These two have sought to use the government shutdown for political advantage and refused to negotiate. The Republicans should try to extract one or two concessions such as eliminating the medical device tax, opposed by the majority of Senate Democrats and/or the Congressional exemption from Obamacare. If Reid and Obama refuse to negotiate even on tha,t the responsibility for the shutdown in the court of public opinion will likely shift to them.
Hong Kong has always been ruled by a majority of one – in politics as well as in commerce. Politically it was inevitable since it was a colony. It was a choice in commerce and it was rather workable to give privilege few in order to booze up the economy. After three decades of economic growth it has become more difficult even without the interference from outside – living becomes expansive. The internal economic stagnation is more of the doing of its earlier success in relying on the majority of one form of economy,
A majority of one is a tricky phenomenon. It has no absolute value but subject to changes by lapse of time of its development. In Hong Kong, politically, people are more educated and politically more sensitive. Economically, the wealth disparity becomes wider with lesser economic opportunity among the general public. All of which is pointing towards that a majority of one in Hong Kong no longer works well.
Obamacare was actually passed into law in 2010. You may also wish to know it is an almost identical copy of a health care law previously passed in Massachusetts by then Governor, that well known socialist, Mitt Romney. Was the Tea Party, named after the Massachusetts Boston Tea Party, up in arms about that?
The greatest battle between state rights and Federal incursions was the American Civil War. The Republican Tea Party has simply chosen Obamacare as an excuse to attempt to subvert the Federal Government. What they really want is a balanced budget, but unless and until the US stops the haemmorraging of capital to cheap labour countries as a result of the deregulation from the 80's onwards, this won't happen. Deregulation of capital markets by the way, was another right wing Republican action.
John Adams
I personally worry that extremists like long hair et al and his bald companion ( Albert whatever) can subterfuge the gradual democratic process in HK .
Mr Lo has got it right today


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