Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thoughts From Others On Government Controlling Your Life
Now, as Matt Welch of Reason magazine points out, fear of big government is all the rage — and is cause for rage. He writes:More from Michael Barone:This isn’t about liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. A majority oppose Obama’s policies because they fly in the face of this country’s bedrock values of personal liberty and limited government. Robbing Peter to pay Goldman Sachs does violence to that fundamentally American ethos.The contrast between the parties is especially great for young voters who were swayed to vote for the hip, young guy over the grumpy senior citizen in 2008. It turns out the hip guy wants to force them to buy health insurance, load debt and an enormous future tax burden on their backs, and raise energy prices. It’s not very 21st century. As Michael Barone observed after ticking off the list of statist policies at the core of the Obama agenda, “The larger point is this: You want policies that will enable you to choose your future. Obama backs policies that would let centralized authorities choose much of your future for you. Is this the hope and change you want?”
And increasingly, Obama administration policy does violence to European values, as well. The continent has for the last two decades been systematically disengaging national governments from domestic industries. Top officials from Sweden, of all places, complained about Washington’s auto bailout, tersely announcing that “the Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”
But that goes for Republicans as well. The pressure to find some middle ground on cap and trade, ObamaCare, financial regulation, and an uber-consumer protection agency will become intense. But the Republicans would be foolish to provide cover for and assist Democrats in pursuit of a goal — more government — which is at odds with the wishes of a majority of Americans, including those critical independent voters. And oh yes, it’s never a good idea to vote in ways contrary to your party’s stated core message.
And finally, Republicans would be well to make the case that larger government not only means less personal freedom but more corruption, influence peddling, and “rent seeking” as interest groups and industries inevitably must seek to sway government representatives and bureaucrats who would hold enormous power over their economic destiny. It is not just that Nancy Pelosi faces a slew of ethics inquiries that have snared her closest allies. It is that by crafting legislation, most clearly cap-and-trade and ObamaCare, which would supplant millions and millions of private-sector decisions with government edicts, the opportunities for mischief making grow exponentially.
And there is health care. The intention here — Obama said it back in 2003 and hasn’t denied it since — is to send us down a road that leads to government-provided health insurance. His latest trial balloon is a centralized medical procedures board that would decide which treatments the government would pay for and which it wouldn’t.Mark Tapscott looks at, among other things, how Henry Waxman(D) is using the force of government to intimidate insurance executives in what appears to be an attempt to control their salaries.
The larger point is this: You want policies that will enable you to choose your future. Obama backs policies that would let centralized authorities choose much of your future for you. Is this the hope and change you want?
Ever notice how Henry Waxman's cherubic face pops up so often? Most recently, he's been in the news with his letter to 52 health insurance executives demanding that they cough up mountains of data about their compensation, expense accounts, retirement benefits, travel schedules, and shoe sizes.For those who value personal freedom, these are trying times.
Okay, not that last item, but you get the drift here. Recipients of the Waxman letter - which was co-signed by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-MN - have no choice but to comply. So if Waxman - who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - finds even the faintest whiff of scandal in the furthest corner of the health insurance industry, expect to be treated to the hollow spectacle of yet another congressional show trial.
Soft tyranny is never so happy as when its beaming countenance is brightened by possession of a federal subpoena and the prospect of jail it poses for those who defy the order from on high to produce whatever is demanded.
Health insurance executives are amateurs at living high on the hog at the expense of others. Government bureaucrats and Members of Congress are the unchallenged champions at this game. Hardly a day goes by without multitudes of commercial airliners bearing row upon row of federal bureaucrats jetting off to exclusive locales like the five-star Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, always on a pretext like "training" or "team-building."
According to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, the U.S. Department of Justice alone "spent at least $312 million over seven years on conference attendance and sponsorship. In 2006, the agency sent 26,000 employees (one fourth of its total workforce) to conferences and spent $46 million in the process."
Just yesterday, my Examiner colleague David Freddoso reported that "a group of 18 major federal agencies that includes Justice spent a combined $2 billion on conferences" in a seven-year period ending in 2007.
David further found that "Department of Defense was the biggest spender at $515 million, but others in the group include the Agriculture Department ($91 million), the Environmental Protection Agency ($104 million), the State Department ($164 million), and the Department of Health and Human Services (at least $349 million)."
Last time I checked, there was a D beside "Waxman" on the House roll call. Something else goes with Waxman - the congressional version of the Federal Employees Health Insurance Benefits Program (FEHBP), the gold-plated, tax-paid health insurance coverage congressmen defiantly refuse to give up. They won't turn it loose because then they might have to use the same government-run program they are foisting on the rest of us.
I don't like Waxman's or anyone's ideas about controlling private salaries. I prefer competition do that.
That being said, I still don't understand the idea that a public option would destroy all private insurers. Such a line of thinking accepts that all private insurers are already running as cost effectively and cheaply as possible right now. It further accepts that private insurers will not attempt to compete with the public option by offering competitive prices and better service.
One thing I've figured out over the years is that if there is even $1 in profit to be made, entreprenuers will compete to make that dollar.
As far as the personal liberty thing, those fears accept that when government overreaches (in actual and not proposed ways) that there will not be political backlash. (The GOP did little between 1994 and 2008 = backlash; if the Dems go too far from 2008 to 2010 = backlash. This is easy to figure out.)
The other thing the personal liberty issue accepts is that the government has a bureaucracy effective enough to enact life-controlling policy (on either side) which is simply untrue.
The Bush administration deserves blame for the problems as it failed in its regulatory duties. The Dems are culpable too as we can easily see from the actions and policies of Dodd, Frank and others.
How muhc a public option would hurt private insurers would depend on how the public option is implemented. I think changes like the ones the CEO of Whole Foods proposed offer more promise.
Sure, we have backlash but backlash doesn't necessarily returen your freedoms. RICO, enacted in 1970 gives government far to much search and seizure power and many of us have fought against it but it's still there.
Stealing our freedoms happens in small incremental steps. So small that younger generations don't realize what they've lost. Sure we get a different party in power but the freedoms still lost.
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