Krugman: Conservatism Turns 'Deeply Radical'

Debate cheers over 'freedom to die' prove the point
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2011 7:43 AM CDT
Ron Paul answers a question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer during the recent GOP debate.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(Newser) – The cheers in the last GOP debate during a question about health insurance—should society let a sick person who has opted out of coverage just die?—illustrate a point that Paul Krugman thinks has not been "fully absorbed" yet: "At this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions," he writes in the New York Times. Forget the hypothetical person in the question: Most people (including kids) who don't have coverage go without because their families can't afford it, not because it's a matter of personal freedom.

But the right champions this "freedom to die" philosophy, which "signals an important shift in the nature of American politics," writes Krugman. Compassion is gone. "Modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations—that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the 'common hazards of life' through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid." We'll see in next year's elections whether voters will go along.

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