The next time a Republican tells you how the states can do everything better than the federal government, this is what that person is talking about. It is also the beau ideal of what Willard Romney means when he talks about doing away with the "entitlement society" so that damaged people can get off their lazy asses and invent the iPod or something. It becomes harder and harder to resist the urge to point out that the basic political and economic philosophy of modern "conservatism" is flatly sociopathic, but the society with which their policies would leave us is a desiccated moonscape of blasted promises and broken citizens, a Dresden of the national soul.
This trend is taxing emergency rooms already overburdened by uninsured patients who wait until ailments become acute before seeking treatment. "These are people without a previous psychiatric history who are coming in and telling us they've lost their jobs, they've lost sometimes their homes, they can't provide for their families, and they are becoming severely depressed," said Dr. Felicia Smith, director of the acute psychiatric service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
In other words, people who had most of what is now fondly remembered as the "American dream" see it all disappear into the pockets of Willard's dinner partners and they come unglued. They might have had psychological problems in their lives that their material success papered over, and now they show up at the ER because it's where you go when you "suddenly" become ill, except that these are not people who drank like fish until their livers quit and then showed up very sick at their local ER. (BTW, if this country did health-care in a fundamentally decent way, those people wouldn't be in as much trouble, either.) These are people who did everything right by every measure that the peddlers of "American exceptionalism" told them mattered.
And, of course, for polite, housebroken, to-the-manor-born sociopathy, we need look no further than to David Brooks, who comes to us this week to inform us that Barack Obama and his administration once again are fundamentally misreading the American people, to whose mysterious land David Brooks takes regular pilgrimages, real and imaginary, before returning to the club room of the Useless Foofs Society, where he sits by the fire and scratches the ears of his Irish settler, Moral Hazard, and blubbers for another brandy to wash the taste of an Applebee's salad bar out of his mouth while the dog, who hates his name, dry-humps the leg of the chair, looks at the tassels on his master's loafers, and hopes his aim is true this time.
(Much more on Brooks after the jump....)