In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap.
I'm not sure how developed Mr. Goleman's sense of irony is. I'm guessing not very.
Also, he doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. Either that, or he's purposely misleading. He seems to imply that the House Republicans wanted to impede the part of ObamaCare that bans insurance companies from charging more for people who have pre-existing conditions. Frankly, I wish it were true because by banning insurance companies from pricing for risk, Obama is essentially taking the remaining insurance elements out of insurance. The whole idea of insurance is to price for risk. Would Mr. Goleman advocate charging the same rates for life insurance for 25 year olds as are charged to 70 year olds?
But the House Republicans, unfortunately, have not challenged this absurd part of ObamaCare. Instead, last week, they pushed two major changes to ObamaCare: delaying the individual mandate for a year and not letting Obama get away with unilaterally having the government subsidize members of Congress and their staffs. That's what the House Republicans wanted to impede. With the latter change, they would have been raising costs of insurance for themselves and their staffs. The part of Goleman's argument not quoted above is that when people have no contact with others, it's hard for them to have empathy. But clearly, the House Republicans do have contacts with themselves and their staffs.
Now to the irony. Which demographic group of people are the clearcut losers from ObamaCare? It's the young, whose rates for insurance will often increase by high double-digit percentages because insurance companies are no longer allowed to fully price for their low risk. Which players in Washington have shown that they don't care much about this? The vast majority of the Senate Democrats, the vast majority of the House Democrats, and President Obama. So staring Goleman in the face is an instance of people--Democrats in Congress and Obama--dismissing inconvenient people--young people--and another group of people who, whatever their motives, want to allow these young people to avoid ObamaCare for another year--House Republicans.
And Goleman totally missed it.
A conjecture: The New York Times series of which this is a part is moderated by that noted advocate of stating the issues accurately, Joe Stiglitz. I bet that Stiglitz had a hand in getting that paragraph added.