iPhone remark suggests Chaffetz has no idea what insurance costs

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) addresses the Whos of Whoville.

Congressional Republicans have released their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and it is less than comprehensive. Andy Slavitt, former Acting Adminstrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services under President Obama, described the plan as “basically a $600 billion tax cut funded by gutting Medicaid.” Although its architects claim it will preserve access for the millions of previously uninsured Americans who found coverage under Obamacare, it does away with the subsidies that let them buy it. When it was pointed out to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) during an appearance on CNN’s New Day that “access doesn’t equal coverage,” the congressman implied that people who couldn’t afford insurance were spending irresponsibly. Quote:

You know what? Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.

Chaffetz’s father once owned part of a professional soccer team, so the representative may have a shaky notion of how much individual health insurance costs. Either that, or he’s playing an old card: poor people aren’t poor because of iniquity or an economy that doesn’t serve them, but rather because they spend unwisely. The poor have just as much money as everybody else! Assessment after the jump.

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Friday links! Fantasy of decline edition

Why would they keep trying to cross that aqueduct?

We’ve talked about it before, but it is critically important that you not fall into declinism. The fantasy that American empire has reached its sunset is both conceited and self-fulfilling. We won a war against Nazis during the Great Depression; probably we can get past having too many fat kids and needing to invent a kind of transportation other than the car. The only way we wouldn’t is if we all decided we were at the end of civilization and nothing we did like, matters. That’s how things stop working, and we can choose not to quit. Still, when you imagine the collapse of society into a Hobbesian war of all against all, it is kind of satisfying. The disintegration of Delta airlines, Lil’ Kim having to make the transition to actual whore—these are bitterly comforting ideas. It’s Friday, and our link roundup is split between images of decline and comforting reminders of who will suffer most of it happens. Don’t give in to declinism, though. Maybe just indulge it a little as you imagine Lena Dunham struggling to grow turnips.

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Norberto King, American

The image above comes from A. Ron Galbraith’s Facebook feed, through which he gave it to the world with the caption “let’s get real here, autocorrect.” The autocorrect function on the iPhone and similar touchscreen devices works by trying different permutations of the letters nearest the letters you hit. You can map “Norberto king” to its deliberately-struck neighbors nicely, right up until you get to the O. At that point, autocorrect moves from likely mistakes to wishful thinking. For Apple, a company that has built its reputation on cannily assessing how people use their consumer electronics, to assume that Aaron probably wanted to say “Norberto king” rather than the common intensifier he typed perfectly seems, well, naive. Consider their alternative, though, which is to add “motherfucking” to their autocorrect dictionary. While thousands of Americans like myself would find it easier to send text messages about our dentists and burritos, a small number would be upset. Somewhere in Kansas, a woman mourning the death of her beloved friend Norberto would text a fellow church deacon to ask if he was going to the motherfucking funeral, and that would be it. Our phone autocorrects’ willful insistence that we meant to type “what the duck” is a manifestation of the same phenomenon that makes it okay to shoot fifty people in a PG-13 movie, but not okay to show a boob or a cigarette. Most of us have no problem with boobs or smoking, but the few who do are extremely vocal. Thus does the public tolerance of a society move to the level of its least tolerant members. That’s a curious nuisance for most people, and a life-determining problem if you’re, say, a gay dude who wants to get Norberto King married.