In defense of Individualism in the face of the fantastical

Calls for Medicare-for-all sound good, but...

vol. 1 issue 7


It’s the first issue to include members-only posts. Thank you so incredibly much if you have already become a docu-mental member.

I suppose it’s only fitting that since I began my career with public radio with love and enthusiasm for the medium, now that it is time to run my own little corner of the media universe, I would turn to a membership based model. That means while I am grateful to every single reader I have, it’s the members who will ultimately help make the quality reach the heights I know docu-mental is capable of reaching.

Okay. Ready? Let’s do it.

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photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press


I know Medicare-for-all sounds good, especially when cheered by Uncle Bernie Sanders or the impressive Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez — that’s said with no irony, by the way; she is definitely a force of nature and good for the Dems to have to reckon with so they can get clear about who they are these days — but it’s fantastical.

I think Maryland Congressman John Delaney, who is running for president gets that, even if an AOC-led contingent tried to make him “sashay away” from the spotlight during a stump speech in California earlier this week:

Delaney understands what the Washington Post’s Fact Checker breaks down for us. In the end, as happened with the Affordable Care Act, there will be unintended consequences. With the ACA, one such whoops was the acceleration of hospital mergers, resulting in less access to care in rural communities — which is most of the US. With Medicare-for-all, I think the obvious uh-oh would be that there is a high probability that funds will run out, so some care that is available now, even on a limited basis, likely would not be available for anyone.

What the Maryland Congressman is suggesting instead is that we move to a universal health care system that has a safety net and a private market place. This is an excellent interview by Vox with Delaney on his views.

Meanwhile…speaking of the state v. the citizen…

The erosion of the Individual, capital “i”

Here in DC, and when I travel to other US cities, I take a lot of Ubers. I love to talk politics with my drivers, since they are often on the front lines of everything: the gig economy, immigration, labor negotiations, and as they so often come from autocratic countries, what they invariably tell me is that they came here to the US to be free.

In my informal poll of about 30 drivers in the past year or so is that they are less concerned about the behavior of POTUS, which I find counterintuitive, and they want to work hard and have something to show for that hard work.

I was thinking of this over the week end when I read the op-ed, Is the Individual Obsolete?, drawn from a new book out today by George F. Will, a Pultizer Prize winning columnist at the Washington Post. Will’s writings have always challenged me to think harder and clearer, ever since my days as an eager-to-learn kid in civics class back in the early 80s, when civics were still required to graduate from high school.

That I don’t always agree with Will is irrelevant. Reading him is like adding fresh lemon juice to a glass of water: bracing, but effectively cleansing. I prefer to be a clear thinker than a comforted soul when it comes to understanding my rights and freedoms.

The op-ed is worth a read if you are someone who is muddling through the pressure from the left to abolish private property one way or another, including Medicare-for-all. In the piece, Will states:

Americans have always been torn between two desires: for absence of restraint and for a sense of community.

So perhaps democratic life undermines the prerequisites of democracy. It produces first a toleration of dependency, then a hunger for it, and finally an insistence that dependency is a fundamental right.

What does change for the better is the capacity of certain portions of humanity to improve the legal, institutional and social structures for coping with the constants of human nature. And to do so without diluting America’s foundational commitment to take its bearings from the individual.

The discussion about the rights and roles of The Individual is a part of the Zeitgeist, not just here but in the UK, too. Here is another good link to a civil, informative back-and-forth between an American, Kate Andrews who is the associate director at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and a Brit, feminist writer Sarah Ditum. Each are compelling. The format is also intriguing: each woman explains why they believe the individual or the collective should be in the ascendent, followed by those cheeky moderators making the two women switch sides. It’s like a pleasant debate class!

Tea anyone?