On March 7, 2017, Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah, appeared on CNN to discuss alternatives to his party’s pet bete noir, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which stands in the way of tax cuts for the wealthy super minority in the U.S. that controls at least a good-sized chunk of the society’s money.
“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 want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”
Unfortunately, Chaffetz doesn’t take into account how deeply conspicuous consumption is ingrained in American society or how much it is encouraged outright by entrepreneurs and by the media. He also doesn’t take into account that just because a person whose income falls below the poverty line owns something as snazzy as an iPhone, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s brand new. Everything brand new gets old, sooner or later, computerized devices become obsolete particularly rapidly, and Apple has been known to sell refurbished products with iPhones being no exception. And who can blame them? Lower prices often equal speedy sales and lots of those. In fact, whereas the average premium for an individual health care plan in the United States is just over $235 per month, the two-year installment plan for an iPhone 7 offered by wireless carriers averages $27 per month. That fact alone voids Chaffetz’s callous exaggeration.
In addition, Chaffetz doesn’t seem particularly concerned that the disturbing amount of poverty in the U.S. compared to other developed countries has come about not so much because a generation or two or three made “bad decisions,” but more so as a result of the ripple effects of the Vietnam War and other needless U.S. military interventions in which soldiers were treated less as humans and more so as widgets, only to be neglected postbellum, thus precipitating the overburdening social services infrastructure that has been funded less and less from the Reagan years and going forward and workers’ wages being off track with productivity and inflation since the end of the 1970s, among other similar things.
There also is the fact that communications technology has evolved to the extent that a growing number of jobs require the use of a smartphone for the benefit of efficiency.
Even more egregious and infuriating, Intercept reporter Lee Fang revealed via Twitter that the Friends of Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Congressman’s titular political action committee, used nearly $1,000 worth of money from such donors as Pfizer, Inc. and Goldman Sachs to pay multiple Verizon Wireless bills incurred by the PAC between May and July of 2014. Fang also revealed that a disbursements report from Friends of Jason Chaffetz published by the Federal Election Commission showed that Chaffetz himself spent $738 in campaign dollars at the Apple Store.
Hence, the Republican narrative extolling the virtues of “personal responsibility” and holding people to the impossible ideal thereof has proven to be more so about punishing people for ending up impoverished, regardless of whether it was their fault.
Looks like Jason Chaffetz's PAC — aka his rich donors — pay for his Verizon bill https://t.co/4wWQ1rdqWV
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) March 7, 2017
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