On Health Care, Vaccinations and Republican Mosquitos

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It has been a relatively good few weeks for democratic socialists and liberals in Canada and the ESA in particular. The US supreme court says it’s now OK for gays to wed and they have supported Obamacare, a stepping stone to universal health care. The US is the only industrialized nation without such coverage. Furthermore California has mandated vaccines for all school age children as an attendance prerequisite. Finally in Canada the socialist NDP are ahead in the polls with a federal election only a few months away.

Why do conservatives have such antipathy to such logical and morally just processes as these utilitarian measures noted above?  The partial answer can be found in the primitive ways in which they are neurologically hard wired. Fear based neuropathology is at the core of the conservative CNS as previously noted.

Peering inside the right-wing brain with MRI scans, reveals a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is a small structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals have more gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity. It clamps the limbic system the centre of fear based flight or fight panic. What happens further is that living in fear as a predominant mental state cuts out the operation of the neofrontal cortex, the home of reason and advanced traits like empathy, mercy and altruism.

Consider the logic of the conservative brain on the subject of health coverage: Success in the USA can occur through hard work and effort, so anyone who doesn’t “win”, deserves to be poor and suffer accordingly. And so at the core of all the anti-health care reforms is this single concept: “why should I pay for the healthcare of losers? Why should I pay for people who are ill due to bad choices? After all many diseases result from destructive habits like drinking, overeating or smoking.

People who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform, are those  who think it is socialist, Godless, and a step on the road to a police state. This fear based attitude employs a logical fallacy known as the slippery slope argument which is also applied to anti-abortion thinking. This type of argument is used as a form of fear mongering, a Conservative-Republican speciality in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to employ scare tactics: eg abortion leads to eugenics, vaccination leads to totalitarianism and gay marriage to immoral sexual conduct, debauchery and the decline of civilization.

However, those who use valid reasoning, and do not identify by the slippery slope approach to life find the compromise of middle ground….the Aristotelian mean of democratic socialism. Many Americans of course continue to see this notion as communism.

France has had universal health care since 1945 but remains a republic. Slovenia has mandatory vaccinations and is a parliamentary republic. Denmark has had liberal abortion laws since 1973 and is still a very stable and successful democracy.

The slippery slope argument is at the heart of conservative fear based paranoid thought, permeating all decision-making in the social sphere. It is flawed since our lives are full of slopes and hills and so we must find compromises without conceding the extreme poles.

I conclude with an anecdote from the mid eighties at the height of the AIDS epidemic.Not far from where I lived at the time a fellow planned to open up a gay resort. The locals in a small Central Ontario community were fearful that at the height of mosquito season, the virus would be transmitted to humans with the insect vector like Dengue fever in the tropics. Public health reassurances did not work to deter the fear in this very conservative church going town. I wrote a local newspaper article indicating that mosquito transmission of the AIDS virus was not possible due to the fragility of the virus and other factors. I did say however that since only the female bites and since there were no recordings of homosexual or bisexual behaviour in these insects females, then that reduced the risk to zero.

It seems there are recent concerns however in conservative media, that gay scientists have engineered mosquitos that transmit homosexuality..

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Reasoning does not usually quell a “hot” limbic system, but irreverent humour sometimes does. Lateral thinking catches the right-wing brain off guard. Conservatives in all fairness though are better at dieting then lefties but that is another essay on the topic of free will.

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