Wednesday, March 24, 2010

While the government is busy handing out mandates

I recently read the maxim "while many people oppose Big Government in principle, they often love it in the particulars."  Basically, no matter where a person sits on the ideological fence, they often don't mind when the government steps in to protect their particular interest.

The same usually goes for mandates.  A person who supports government intervention in the form of smoking bans in privately owned restaurants (on the grounds of "public health") will at the same time oppose government intervention in the form of abortion bans (on the grounds of "individual choice and privacy") and not see the contradiction.  A person might oppose a government mandate that demands funding for low income Head Start programs (because it's "welfare") but will support federal farm subsidies (to preserve "small business").

When it comes to the elimination or the creation of a person's particular pet issue, they will often fight tooth and nail over it.  And this week, (in general) conservatives opposed and liberals supported the newly created federal mandate that all American's must purchase health insurance.  Some people even want to take the issue to court.

I'm generally against the use of government's coercive power over individual liberties and freedoms.  Philosophically, I don't see a legitimate reason for the government to coerce me into wearing a seat belt in my car or wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle.  I don't understand the need to ban the use of trans-fat or foie gras.  And I especially don't see how government can ban the use of a legal substance (cigarettes) in a private business.

When smoking bans began being passed by local and state governments, I had a discussion with my (generally conservative) cousins about the topic.  They were in favor of the bans because they preferred to be able to eat at a restaurant or go to a bar without leaving the establishment smelling of smoke.  They felt that their being inconvenienced by people around them smoking was reason enough to seek relief through government intervention.

So, I asked them if they were willing to support an all-inclusive ban of smoking in these private businesses, thereby trumping a business owner's right to run their business how they saw fit.  And they were in favor of such a measure because of their aversion to smoking.  I then asked them how they would feel about legislation that would make all businesses smoker friendly, which meant that the business had to allow smoking, whether the owner wanted it or not.  They were against such a measure.  I asked them what the difference was, and they could not give me a satisfactory answer.

I doubt that I changed their minds with my suggestion, but it proves a larger point that people don't mind using the power of government to satisfy their desires.

Now, after the passing of the health care bill and it's mandate that everyone buy health insurance, whether they want health insurance or not, most liberals are pleased that their pet issue has been passed regardless of the ramifications for individual choice.

This lead M Allen Fritsch to propose similar legislation at the American Thinker website, but I doubt many of these same liberals who support the health insurance mandate will support this measure.
There is a fundamental right being denied 55% of all Americans. This denial costs over 16,000 lives per year, meaning more than 44 of our fellow Americans will die every day that we delay. What should be done in light of these shocking figures?
Using the example set by President Obama and the Congressional Democrats, there is only one answer: Universal Gun Care for every American. Surely a right outlined in the Bill of Rights (2d Amendment) is just as important as a right NOT found the Constitution (Health Care).
Bonus, it should be easier to implement. After all, gun dealers and manufacturers are ready and willing to help solve the problem. Unlike the evil insurance companies, gun dealers don't want to take your weapon away from you when you most need it. Nor will they deny selling you a weapon simply because you haven't purchased one in the past (i.e. a pre-existing condition).
• Conventional estimates state that 45% of all US households own a firearm. This leaves at least 55% of all Americans "uncovered."
• In 2008 there were 16,272 murders in the USA. How many of those could have been prevented if the victims had been able to protect themselves?

My proposal is a modest one:
• Mandate for every American to purchase a gun or be provided one by their employer (children under the age of 26 can share a weapon with their parents)
• Tax credits to offset the cost of purchase (for those making less than $250,000 per year and everyone in Nebraska)
• For those that can't afford it, a grant or subsidy to purchase a weapon (union members can get two weapons subsidized before 2018)
• Funding for a series of community based gun dealers/clinics and firing ranges (especially in under-served urban and rural areas)
• Monthly ammunition benefit so that no one has to choose between feeding their kids, paying the rent, or buying a box of .38 special cartridges
Contact your representative today. The time to act is now.
Sure, this proposal is being made with the writer's tongue deeply planted in his cheek, but I feel the point is solid none the less.  

UPDATE:  And if mandating the purchase of firearms makes too many people too squimish, then maybe this proposal would be more appealing.

For most of our nation's history, Congress has been very concerned with propping up the prices of agricultural commodities. This is a legitimate public purpose, by the Post's broad definition: If America's farmers cannot get a good price for their products, the argument goes, they might all go out of business, and Americans would be without a domestic source of food and fiber, which would threaten our "access" to these things. (I know this wouldn't really happen — just bear with me.)
Of all the schemes the government has dreamt up in the service of this goal (usually involving artificial scarcity, such as the slaughtering of millions of hogs in the 1930s) none have required every American citizen to purchase a certain amount of corn, wheat, cotton, etc. — though that would surely be one way to support high prices. But if the individual mandate is allowed, Congress would theoretically have the power to implement the following plan: Each citizen each year must buy a basket of U.S. farm commodities — perhaps he could choose among the gold, silver, or bronze baskets — and he would receive subsidies if his income fell below a certain level.
In addition to propping up commodity prices and "stabilizing" the agricultural market, the plan would give the government the power to set some "basic standards" for American diets, to make sure that every American family was eating balanced meals, staying healthy and — voila! — costing the health-care system less. Seriously, why couldn't Congress pass this law right now, under the precedent set by Obamacare?
And using this logic, the power of government coercision will have absolutely no constraints.


  1. This comment is not related to this post, but where the heck else am I going to write this? Has your links sidebar changed? I am finding it harder than usual to navigate.

  2. I became aware of a way insurance companies are "encouraging" their subscribers to "be healthy. This is known as wellness programs. One must participate or you will be penalized with higher co-pays, only 80% coverage etc. Oh, one company has levels: ie gold, silver and bronze (or something like that) meet your goal,( which they set for you) and you are a gold winner, partial meeting of your goal and you win silver then don't do a rotten thing and you get bronze. The prizes are the degree to which they will cover you. Does this include all in the family? Good question, some do, some don't..... Where does government intervention end?

  3. Oh, I forgot I heard on NPR today, next the government is going to "do" something with regard to education.................ugh!!