Monday, November 16, 2009

If We Refuse to Learn from History--A Power Hungry State

What use is history if we refuse to learn from it? If we are doomed to repeat the past mistakes of civilizations before us, why bother to teach and study history at all? But, if you believe as I do that our Founders took great pains to construct a government unlike any before them, inspired by the Enlightenment thinkers and determined to learn from the mistakes of failed governments, then you must ask the question as I have, what if our current leadership refuses to learn from history?

This weekend I pondered two diametrically opposed health care views I received from two doctor's. Both are orthopedic surgeons--an odd coincidence--and both have a passion for practicing medicine. One, I believe, is on the right side of the argument, the other is not. That is the tragic nature of the politicization of health care, it has and will continue to mislead people who are simply trying to do the right thing.

The first doctor is a surgeon in his prime. He has six children and works long and tedious hours to provide for his family. He has paid his dues and now he finds the government engaged in what he calls a power grab unlike any other in our history. That of taking control of our health care system.

The other doctor has practiced medicine for some 25 years in private practice and now works for one of the largest co-ops in the nation. He believes that the poor should have health care. That in a country like ours, it is "immoral" to behave otherwise. He told me of a man with a construction injury he had tried to treat himself because he couldn't afford insurance. The infection was so bad when the man finally came to the emergency room this doctor almost had to amputate his thumb. And I could see the real compassion on his face and in his voice. The situation pained him deeply. But when I asked if the man received treatment after all he replied affirmatively and I was left wondering again, why we must spend $1.2 trillion, turn the current system on its head to treat whatever the number is: 10 million, 20 million, call it 30 million, it really doesn't matter to meet his objective--coverage for the poor. Because, I think most all of us would agree that health care for the truly poor, just like food stamps and other assistance for this group is a noble and necessary goal.

And if Pelosi Care is in fact about providing health care for the poor, why not do just that? Health stamps for treatment, perhaps? Why put in place a behemoth bureaucracy to dictate health guidelines to every American?

Because the first surgeon was right. It is not about health care, it is about power. And the most Machiavellian kind of power grab seen in our generation.

Let's refresh ourselves on our founding principles gleaned from the men of the Enlightenment. I take this list from the book For Good and Evil, The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. Today, I will focus only on the first item on the list.
  1. Government is at best a necessary evil. --The men of the Enlightenment had no illusions about government. "Government," said Thomas Paine on the first page of his famous pamphlet called Common Sense (1776), "even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one." ...Paine's dominant theme was that taxation produced tyranny. The root of the problem lay in the foolish, naive attitude of the people towards their governments by believing "that government is some wonderful mysterious thing." And when they believe that illusion, "excessive revenues are obtained."

Begging the question, why would we tolerate a government grab for health care that will consume 1/6 of our economy and the decision making power over our very right to life and liberty?

Paine goes on, "...for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. (bold face emphasis mine). Paine believed the Revolution was necessary to produce a government that was "less expensive, and more productive."

Look at us now.

The belief that taxation was tyranny was the foundation of the Revolution and wielded great influence over the writers of the Constitution. That is why there was no provision for direct taxation (income taxes) in the Constitution and they did not exist for over 100 years until the 16th Amendment was passed in 1913.

The Baron de Montesquieu wrote in The Spirit of Laws: "The revenues of the state are a portion of that each subject gives of his property in order to secure or to have the agreeable enjoyment of the remainder. ...The real wants of the people ought never to give way to the imaginary wants of the state."

What is Pelosi Care but the imaginary wants of a power hungry state?

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