Opening my copy of the New York Times this morning at breakfast, I eagerly paged to the new Krugman piece. As I had guessed, Krugman was going to throw around his thoughts regarding the previous week’s GOP debate.

In particular, Krugman discusses the jaw-dropping moment where Rep. Ron Paul was drawn into explaining his views over how ‘freedom’ functions  in his brand of America with respect to health care.

Krugman opens with an anecdote about Milton Friendman and then lays into the GOP apprentices:

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”

The moment when the shouts occured were about when my jaw hit the proverbial floor. Obviously I was not alone, because Krugman felt the same:

…at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.

Krugman’s pieces often have a brief moment of ‘ah-ha’, where he illustrates how just vastly different this generations GOP is from previous.

Today was no exception:

In the past, conservatives accepted the need for a government-provided safety net on humanitarian grounds. Don’t take it from me, take it from Friedrich Hayek, the conservative intellectual hero, who specifically declared in “The Road to Serfdom” his support for “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect citizens against “the common hazards of life,” and singled out health in particular.

Given the agreed-upon desirability of protecting citizens against the worst, the question then became one of costs and benefits — and health care was one of those areas where even conservatives used to be willing to accept government intervention in the name of compassion, given the clear evidence that covering the uninsured would not, in fact, cost very much money. As many observers have pointed out, the Obama health care plan was largely based on past Republican plans, and is virtually identical to Mitt Romney’s health reform in Massachusetts.

Now, however, compassion is out of fashion — indeed, lack of compassion has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.

And what this means is that modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

It’s a long way to November, but given the above repudiation by the Right of 50+ years of precedence, it’s not too early to worry.

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