So Rush Limbaugh has threatened to move to Costa Rica if health care reform passes.
As Brian Docksteader wrote, the irony of this is almost too rich to believe. Given Rush’s well-known proclivities, you have to wonder: Why Costa Rica? If he’s looking for beaches, palm trees, and warm weather, why not head off to Somalia — that free-market paradise that’s implemented every aspect of the conservative political agenda Rush promotes, and in the process proven to the whole world why there’s no government like no government?
Rush would fit in so well there. No taxes, no pesky regulations, no government interference. He’d be free to set up his own roads, his own water supplies, even his own courts and currency — and hire his own private army to defend it all. And think of the statement it would make about his deep-seated commitment to conservative principles! Nobody could ever accuse him again of not walking his talk.
But Costa Rica? Really?
This is a country where the American-style health care reform that Rush would be so desperately fleeing is considered nothing short of criminally inadequate. In Costa Rica, they’ve got constitutionally-guaranteed cradle-to-grave socialized medicine. Not just single-payer, mind you; I’m talking real British-style socialized health care, the kind where your doctor works directly for the government. Rush seems to suffer from the delusion that — despite his oxycontin-induced deafness, excess poundage, and history of annoying butt pimples — he’s going to somehow escape the clutches of those Costa Rican death panels. (There must be death panels. After all: he’s assured us, loudly and often, that wherever there’s socialized medicine, there are death panels.) There’s only one reason a guy like Rush would subject himself to this kind of existential threat: Since they don’t speak English down there, they’re probably stupid enough that he can trick them into keeping his sorry carcass alive.
Unfortunately for him, that’s not the case. Costa Ricans have a 97% literacy rate — the highest in the world. College is free at the state-run universities, which are some of the best in Latin America. Any kid who gets the grades gets to go, regardless of whether or not her family can afford it. You can get a PhD entirely on the government dime. The upshot of this is that Rush would find himself surrounded by a whole lot of people who are at least as smart as he is — including a high percentage of people with advanced degrees. For the first time in his life, he’d have to keep up. If bloviates at them, they might even fire right back at him, facts at the ready. I know he’s not accustomed to that, and it would take some getting used to.
Not to mention that, even though the average Costa Rican speaks passable English, they’d probably choose rebut Rush Spanish, which he’d have to learn. What would his anti-immigrant, anti-Spanish language listeners say if they found out that El Rushbo had picked up the lingo of those dirty brown people he’s taught them to hate so much?
And it gets worse. Costa Rica does not have a military. (OK, it’s got a plane and a handful of Jeeps and a couple of dozen guys in green uniforms who patrol the airport in San Jose. In other words: a single unit of the local PD probably has more firepower than the whole Costa Rican military does.) For Rush, this is nothing short of a manhood issue. What kind of red-blooded American male affiliate himself with any country that doesn’t have any penetrative capability whatsoever? That’s never invaded anybody — in fact, never wanted to invade anybody? And worse: one that was so wussy that it actually put a “no military” clause into its Constitution?
I mean: what would his listeners say?
Then there’s the economy, which includes lots and lots of co-ops: coffee and fruit growers’ co-ops, arts co-ops that get generous government subsidies, tourism co-ops that run rustic lodges in the jungles, educational co-ops that run schools, women’s co-ops that market crafts, local food co-ops that furnish the grocery stores in the outback. And, as we all know, “co-op” is just another word for “socialism.” The only way around this is for Rush to fly in pretty much everything he consumes from somewhere less commie, like Nicaragua or Colombia.
And then there’s the greenie thing. The New Economics Foundation ranked Costa Rica as the greenest country in the world. It’s also on track to become the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021. The country also ranked third in the world, and first in the Americas, in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. A full 25% of Costa Rica’s territory is locked up in national parks, out of the clutches of Rush’s developer friends. The country’s commitment to sustainability is so bone-deep that global warming deniers like Rush have a very rough time finding people to talk to at dinner parties. Hope he’s not planning to hobnob much with the local gentry.
Finally, Costa Rica has a unicameral legislature and well over a dozen political parties, including several that have the word “socialist” or “communist” in the title. Yes, that’s right: Rush is talking about moving to a country where avowed socialists and communists are actually allowed to participate freely in the political process — a choice that we can only conclude must make him some kind of commie sympathizer.
Choosing Costa Rica as an escape hatch — even in an off-the-cuff remark — reveals far more about Rush’s real values and priorities than he probably wants us to see. When push comes to shove, even Mr. Talent On Loan From God has finally admitted that personally, he’d bypass all those sorry countries that have taken fatal doses of the free-market medicine he’s spent the last 25 years promoting. Given the choice, even he would rather live in a country where there’s a strong social contract that guarantees economic opportunity, ensures fairness, protects the environment, and invests richly in the future of its own people.
Having done far more than his share to ensure that America can no longer be that country, he’s ready to jet off and make a new start in a place where the progressive spirit is still alive and well and creating a strong, prosperous, future-oriented nation. As Brian said: if Rush goes through with this, we’ll line up at the airport to see him off, waving signs saying “Admit it. We were right. You were wrong. Progressivism works — or you wouldn’t be leaving.”
Costa Rica: Pura vida — home of the good life. And now also the last refuge of the world’s biggest hypocrite.