Notes From Babel

Yes, Mr. President, Some People Really Do Still Think Big Government Is A Bad Thing

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In pushing his health care agenda, Obama responded to Republican opposition as follows:

“Right now a number of my Republican friends have said, ‘We can’t support anything with a public option,’ ” he said. “It’s not clear that it’s based on any evidence as much as it is their thinking, their fear, that somehow once you have a public plan that government will take over the entire health care system.”

Two thoughts: First, perhaps folks wouldn’t be so worried about Obama’s government “tak[ing] over the entire health care system” if he wasn’t already taking over everything else.

Second, Obama is right to note that the question is not whether the government can provide a viable, universal health care solution. We already seem oddly comfortable after having jumped from one paper trap (mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps, Gaussian copula functions, etc.) into another (massive federal borrowing leading to impending hyper-inflation). So I doubt we will have have trouble finding the stomach to print the money it will take to make Obama’s government health care utopia happen. At least until the bottom falls out.

But the critical objection is not that we are losing sight of economics principles, but of first principles–of self-determination, hardiness, individualism. I quoted this bit from Mark Steyn a few weeks ago, but it is worth the repetition:

But forget the money, the deficit, the debt, the big numbers with the 12 zeroes on the end of them. So-called fiscal conservatives often miss the point. The problem isn’t the cost. These programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them each month. They’re wrong because they deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal.

Health care is indeed a problem. And unchecked human greed is at the root of much of it. Greedy people are the source of a lot of the world’s problems (and a lot of the world’s successes). Of course, government is nothing more than the legitimized exercise of will by a small group of people. And while we at least know that CEOs are in it for the money, we can never be quite sure what in the world a politician has his eye on. In that way, while greedy, unscrupulous individuals are bad, we can be certain that politicians are much, much worse.

Thus, why do we believe so easily that the solutions to our problems lie in government? Of course we should “fear” your creeping government, Mr. President. That is the natural order of things.

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Written by Tim Kowal

June 12, 2009 at 5:05 am

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