Friday, February 29, 2008

Mandatory Medical and the Welfare State

Over at left-wing blog Talking Points Memo, the highest-rated reader blog currently is ObamaCare: American Incrementalism. It's a fine analysis of the difference between Hillary Clinton's socialized medicine plan and Barack Obama's socialized medicine plan. The difference? The anonymous blogger thinks Americans will swallow Obama's plan, since it's for the children.

For centuries, Americans have proven resistant to governmental provisions of welfare. The quintessentially American ethos of self-sufficiency and independence leads many voters to recoil from the very notion that the government should take a prominent role in their lives. Many Americans would prefer to shoulder greater risks and maintain their independence, than to surrender their freedom of choice and gain greater security. But there has always been an important exception to this general rule. Americans feel a collective obligation to care for the vulnerable and the defenseless. When proposals are advanced to care for those believed unable to care for themselves, they have almost always enjoyed tremendous support. Moreover, almost every major expansion of the welfare state has followed the same path - reforms initially proposed to benefit the most vulnerable are gradually expanded to benefit all Americans.
Make no mistake, friends: the left wants all doctoring to be done by the government. Adapting the current system of employment-based medical insurance to that scheme is just the first step.

The current system is the best there is. People come here to be trained, and they come here to be healed. Mandatory medicine will fix that, surely.

It sounds nice: protecting children and making them well. But mandatory medical insurance will quickly become mandatory medical practice; and some procedures, too expensive or inconvenient for the system, will have to be denied.

I just hope Americans are smart enough to see that, not swept along by wishful thinking.

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Health care is not a right

Rights are things you already have which the government cannot take.

The government cannot take away your life, liberty, or property without due process*.

They can't shut you up, keep you from writing about it, or keep you from getting together with others of like mind.

You are free to print or blog all day long, but the government doesn't owe you a printing press, computer, or even a pencil.

You are free to own a firearm, but the government doesn't owe you one.

They cannot force you through their legal system without the advice of someone competent in its workings. Note that you only get the lawyer when the government has a case against you, not the other way around.

You are free to travel, but you don't get a free car.

All of these things are rights.

Health care is not a right. A fortioi, health insurance certainly is not.

But you do not have the right to the free use of someone else's labor. And lest you object that you are willing to compensate the health industry for its labor, whence cometh this compensation? From my labor. And that, you can be assured, is not yours to give away.

* Unless you carelessly live in the only location where a vital strip mall can be built

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ceding power to the State

The quote from William F. Buckley, "I will not cede more power to the state.", gave me reason to recall a principle that is not spoken enough. Whenever we ask the government to do anything for us that we like, we are giving it the power to do something we don't.

If we wish to keep our freedoms of speech, press, and public meeting, we cannot allow the freedom of religion to be curbed, for it is only by limiting the first three that the fourth can be impinged.

Ask government to limit freedom of speech, press, art, or any other freedom in the interest of morality, and you also give it the power to limit your own freedom of speech, press, or art when next the pendulum of change swings against you.

We cannot demand a war on drugs without losing the battle for liberty. And if one poor lifestyle choice is so illegal as to allow the police to seize your assets without due process, why are the other poor lifestyle choices any different? Should drinking, smoking, gambling, pornography, foul language, overeating or speeding on the highway be any different?

We cannot ask the government to spend money it doesn't have without incurring a higher tax burden. While it's true that government revenues tend to increase over time when taxes are lowered, that is not a reason to increase spending in anticipation of higher revenue. Government spending requires that the government get funds via taxation at some point. If we lower taxes and wait for the increased revenue (from greater economic activity), increased spending counts against a future tax cut.

Looking at the bigger picture, many people entertain the fantasy that only certain parts of government are problematic. Some wish to increase defense spending, or farm subsidies, or education funding, or some other portion of government, without realizing the implications for the rest of government. Any increase in spending, unless it is accompanied by an equal cut in another area, increases the size of government. That increase requires increased taxation, and neither the increase in spending nor the taxation required to achieve it will ever go away even once the problem they ostensibly address is no longer a concern.

If you ask the government for "free" health care (or even "free" health insurance), be prepared to have government then control your behavior in the interest of decreasing medical costs.

Not only must we not cede power to the state, we must not ask of it any favors.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and Liberals at bay. And the nation free.
--- William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) in Up From Liberalism (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1961)

(I should note that this entry is, by complete coincidence, almost identical to this National Review post.)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Why McCain? Why Obama?

It appears that the two major American political parties have chosen their candidates for President for the same reason.

The Republicans appear to have settled on John McCain as being a good compromise for their coalition of religious conservatives, war hawks, and free marketeers. The Democrats appear to have chosen Barack Obama as a good compromise for their coalition of religious liberals, doves, and socialists.

But I'm not being fair to either party with those descriptions. The Republicans are split between the country club elite and the church supper volunteers. The country clubbers want business stability, while the church supper volunteers want to see America stay true to its Christian heritage. Both sides of that split realize that they share a common enemy in Islamic terrorism, and that John McCain, American patriot, is the best man to deal with that threat.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are divided between the rich/intellectual posers on one side and the poor/uneducated mob at the other.

The Democrats for the last 100 years have been in love with socialism, but that is only a symptom of their true problem, which is an inability to face reality. They are in love with the fantasy that human goodness is all we need to have peace, love, and prosperity for all. Well, human goodness empowered by the State. But the leadership of the party know, in their elitist little hearts, that their socialist, pacifist pandering won't get them anywhere with those who have been freed from the clutches of the government-run education system.

That is why the Dems have this superdelegate business. They know that if they let their base choose, they'll always get an Obama, which would be a disaster for the country. It's patriotism, in other words.

So the answer for why McCain and why Obama is the same.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Health Insurance is the problem, not the solution.

I don't like health insurance. It's a shell game. We pay hundreds of dollars a month, thousands a year, and for that we get the opportunity to pay $20 to waste an hour waiting for a doctor to see us 5 minutes and not do anything.

It's a scam that encourages doctors to inflate their prices and overschedule themselves. The liberals want to fix the system by mandating that everyone have health insurance.

Health insurance as a way to pay for routine medical needs ought to be illegal, not mandatory. It should be reserved for extraordinary events, like early onset of life-ending conditions.

No, I don't actually favor laws against health insurance. But I certainly don't think it should be mandatory.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

... From my Cold, Dead Fingers

That is all. Except Frank J. rules.

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These Gymnasts deserve 10s

From Victor Davis Hanson at NRO's The Corner comes this:

If you're African-American, then it's OK that you express racial solidarity and vote for Sen. Obama by margins approaching 90 percent — while at the same time white males must prove that they are not racialists by having the courage to 'do the right thing' by likewise voting for an African-American. That apparently would make Michelle Obama proud of her country for the first time in her life.

Hanson goes on to make the same point about sexism and Hillary Clinton. The mental gymnastics required to believe that only white people can be racists or only men can be sexists transcends sport and vaults into the realm of art. One can see the beauty as the tumbler asserts that only those with power can be racists.

The illogic of that idea is astounding, especially when used as a means of achieving power. For the instant at which such a non-powerful person expressing ideas which would be termed racist in the powerful achieves power, they must renounce all of the ideas which would be termed racist in the powerful which brought them to power, or they would be racists by their own definition. So either the people expressing ideas which would be termed racist in the powerful are liars (because they express but do not believe the ideas which would be termed racist in the powerful) or they are liars (because they express but know they cannot implement the ideas which would be termed racist in the powerful once they themselves achieve power). Or perhaps, like all racists, they are too stupid to understand the stupidity in it all.

But Barack Obama's appeal is not simply racial, for if it were he's chosen the wrong demographic. No, he is a symbol, which is why it is vital for him not to say anything substantive. As a symbol he is Dr. King, JFK, Booker T. Washington, and Malcom X, all rolled into one. When he starts to talk specifics, he'll be seen as just another liberal trying to mandate our way into Happiness instead of allowing us to Pursue it.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Media Election

Maybe I have just noticed it more this year, but it seems that the effect of the news media (especially broadcast media) on the selection of candidates is stronger than ever. Aside from "liberal bias", I don't know why The Two have been chosen. I think it isn't exactly liberal bias, but I don't know what else to call it, hence the quotes.

On the Republican side, the media have collectively anointed John McCain as the nominee. Even when polls had him trailing Giuliani and Romney, he was implicitly labeled "front runner" even though a large portion of the Republican base can't stand him. Perhaps he's been perceived as the Antibush for long enough that they instinctively like him, even though the two don't differ much politically.

On the Democrat side, Barack Obama is their favorite. Look at any news broadcast, and you see cheering crowds surrounding Obama wherever he goes. Excited reporters breathlessly analyze the excitement. Hillary Clinton's coverage is always much tighter pictures of her, usually saying something or other, without the crowds cheering.

But all candidates have cheering crowds. The people who show up at a rally are the faithful, and they cheer if the candidate sneezes, blinks, or just stands there with a vacant expression.

Maybe Hillary should do more of that, so they wouldn't have a chance to show her talking. But then, they would just use some of the endless footage of her droning drone.

Now that I have pondered it a bit, I think "liberal bias" may not be involved at all.

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Friday, February 01, 2008


Faith in the power of government. Governing (especially attempting to govern well) for the sake of gaining and preserving power.

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