Thursday, August 31, 2017


Remember how hillbilly OxyContin addicts and the lack of attention we callous urban sophisticates devoted to them was one of the big This Is Why Trump Won talking points? It brought all the White Working Class Whisperers to the yard. Recall the post-election Business Insider story called "The revenge of the 'Oxy electorate' helped fuel Trump's election upset" that quoted major WWCW Chris Arnade: "'Wherever I saw strong addiction and strong drug use,' Arnade told Business Insider, he saw support for Trump." "People are literally dying," a "rural sociologist" told Business Insider. "There was such a sense of hopelessness that it makes sense they would vote for massive change."

Arnade's fellow WWCW Salena Zito also chided sissy latte drinking urbanites underconcerned with their rural junkie brethren: "If rural America continues to diminish, all of America will diminish," she wept, "because the countryside is as much a part of American’s identity as New York City’s skyscrapers and Silicon Valley’s sprawling technology campuses." Her solution? Not "subsidies from Washington... they just neutralize that rugged, self-reliant, innovative rural spirit." These proud hayseeds don't want no socialist charity! Zito instead suggested somebody (she never said who -- couldn't be Big Gummint, that's for sure!) "provide incentives that attract entrepreneurs back to invest in their former hometowns..." You know, much in the manner Hillbilly Elegy WWCW J.D. Vance, another longtime weeper over the Trump voters' opioid habits ("Folks aren't going to church, their kids are addicted to drugs"), was lured back to the dinky little hometown about which he complained so profitably in his book -- well, not there exactly, but to hipster burg Columbus, from which maybe he'll take his dogs "Pippin and Casper" out to the boonies for a walk every once in a while.

So up till this week I was still of the impression that liberals were supposed to feel ashamed that our lack of sympathy for the poor, drug-addicted common clay in Oatmeal, Nebraska had driven them into the arms of Trump. But the situation seems to be shifting: Now the opioid problem is not really such a big deal, and to the extent that it is, it's the fault of Obamacare.

Lo, here is Jeffrey Singer at TownHall to command us "Stop the Hysterical Rhetoric About the Opioid Crisis." Singer, who you can see sometimes at libertarian flagship Reason arguing against mandatory vaccination ("Forcibly injecting substances -- attenuated microbes or otherwise -- into someone else's body cannot be justified as an act of self-defense"), tells us here that while "deaths from opioid overdose have been steadily increasing," the majority of those victims "are not patients receiving opioids for pain." Hence they're criminal outliers, hence why should we care -- like all those black people who get shot by cops, it's their own fault.

Or is it? In another recent Singer column, this one at the Cato Institute, he asks, "Is Obamacare Fueling the Opioid Overdose Death Rate?" It's kind of Rube Goldberg reasoning so bear with me: the government does risk adjustment for policies on ACA beneficiaries who aren't cost effective (much as it also does on Medicare Advantage beneficiaries), so "the program systematically underpays," causing insurers to provide as little coverage as they can get away with (a problem for which there is no solution, especially not one called Single Payer) and, finally, worse treatment for addicts, hence death.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also believes the opioid curse is the fault of Obamacare. “Medicaid expansion may be fueling the opioid epidemic in communities across the country," he claims. So, hillbilly heroin addicts, Trump will help you by overturning Obamacare -- which he hasn't managed to do yet, but that's because the sun was in his eyes -- and returning American to the old Pay or Die model, where some lucky people get Hazelden treatment for their addictions and the rest get Joe Clark bootstraps or an early grave.

Why's this happening now? I suspect it's this: though he's been lavishing monosyllabic praise on his herkimer-jerkimer supporters, with his policies Trump's actually been shitting on them -- his alleged big job "wins" at places like Carrier have turned out to be bullshit, and he's going to pay for their beloved Wall with their own tax dollars. And though he's been slinging boob bait as best he can,  cheering for Confederates and Nazis and yelling at the press, his poll numbers suggest even some of the gomers have ceased to buy it and are abandoning him.

So I believe Trump is cutting bait. His grand promises having come to naught, he's denying that they were ever needed in the first place -- if your sons and daughters are on drugs, that's Obama's fault, in any case don't come crying to me about it! He figures he can afford it -- he can always win them back by fanning some more racial flames -- or, if that fails, starting a war.

As for the White Working Class Whisperers, I predict they'll play along, especially since the alternative is finding a new shtick.

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