Saturday, May 16, 2009

Principle #8--Freedom

More government equals less freedom. It cannot be otherwise. Each and every function or power we grant to our government is a choice to surrender freedom.

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In the State of Nature, man is entirely free. Civil society (and governments) arise from the state of nature as one man's freedoms clash up against another's. To combat the ensuing anarchy, the two (and the rest of society) enter into a social contract, and it is government that is entrusted with protecting individual freedom and liberty.

In order to do that, the members of the society give up certain elements of their own freedom to the government. The consent of the governed is what gives our government its legitimacy and what provides it with the power it exercises over our society. Every power and authority our government has and exercises has been given it by the people, in exchange for a piece of their own liberty.

I go to work and earn my pay. The government takes some of that from me to fund its operations. As part of the social contract, I acquiesce to this confiscation in order that I may enjoy the safety and security the government provides me to exercise my other freedoms (my freedom earn having shown to be abridged). These exchanges of freedom and liberty for protection and service have accumulated since the beginning of our Republic. We are on the verge of an era in which the government will accumulate to itself a whole range of new powers and authorities, powers and authorities it will not readily surrender. Each new power taken on by government is a surrender of freedom by individuals.

For instance--the Obama Administration is busy preparing a massive healthcare overhaul. Many observers expect there to be an option in which individuals could be covered by government sponsored insurance/care. It is wholly foreseeable that businesses which now provide healthcare coverage for their workers, will forgo the practice in the future, assessing that whatever government penalty is affixed would be less burdensome than the costs of continuing to provide the care. By creating this power for itself, government will eliminate over time, the freedom we have to choose who and where our healthcare will be delivered. It is not a direct consequence of the policy, but it is foreseeable. Most government interventions into the free market result in the loss of freedom--this one is just obvious.

We must jealously guard our freedom and liberty from all enemies, foreign AND domestic. At this time, the greatest threat to liberty is our own government, and our desire to be freed from the hard choices of life so that government might make them for us. This is the road to serfdom and slavery.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

emotional and laughable...

eleklem said...

How's health care different than the protective services of law enforcement, or even firefighting? In other words, where is the social contract on health care with its spiraling costs?

The Conservative Wahoo said...

E--welcome! Glad you're a reader, hope you'll keep contributing.

Let's go backward in your question, and assume government wasn't providing law enforcement. At that (pretend) time, people were subject to the depredations of their fellow citizens; in order they could either A) hire their own protection or B) pool their resources and turn over the use of force to the state. The choice was made, the freedom to hire and maintain one's own private police force was (in some cases) restricted and the social contract assessed this loss as worth the gain (protection in the civil society).

Health care? We're not in a state of nature....we have a system, and while there may be "spiraling costs", most Americans are satisfied with their own health care. They can choose among plans, if they don't. They can choose NOT to have health care, as many of our young and healthy friends do. The MOVEMENT in health care is away from all of those choices, to a situation in which the government makes the choices for us. There's the loss of freedom.

Thanks again for speaking up!

The Conservative Wahoo said...

As for emotional and laughable, see Messers Locke, Hobbes, Hume and Rawls.

bbauer said...

Our government is a market choice as well.

Mark said...

It seems to me we're actually engaged in a real effort at negotiating a "social contract" on health care, unlike any fictional "social contract" history constructed by Locke, et.al.

The more interesting argument is why health care represents such a "market failure" which has generated this governmental intervention in the first place.

My gut tells me that - just as war is too important to be left to the generals - health care is too important to be left to the doctors, who have made a hash of it.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

I'm still waiting to see just what the "market failure" is.

bbauer said...

I would say that the poor who cannot afford healthcare are an example of a market failure. What is the difference between providing for the common defense against "terrorists" versus providing for the common defense against viruses and disease? Which have taken more lives? Or should we privatize defense as well? Maximizing shareholder wealth as is the rightful and correct mandate of the corporation can lead to conflicts of interest, no?

You can argue in a market Darwinist kind of way that the poor deserve to be poor and should pick themselves out of the gutter and achieve if they want better health but that can be a dangerous game when they determine in their unwashed uneducated minds that their only means is forecfully taking what you keep behind your private walls.

In the end I would argue for a balance of public and private as too much public is a drain on efficiency and innovation but too much private undermines democracy itself not to mention the fact that the aggregate of private desires does not always make for a preferable outcome (as illustrated by my last point, that our current government is just that type of aggregate result, and some might argue, not the best for the nation). There can be a loss of freedom to unelected market players just as there can be to government. You can be a serf to the corporate monopoly just as you can to the government monopoly.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Bbauer--lots to tackle here, so I'll go in order.

"I would say that the poor who cannot afford healthcare are an example of a market failure." Lots of folks can't afford cars, or mountain bikes, or jewelery, or cable tv--are those also to be considered market failures? I don't want to put words into your mouth (but will anyway) and I'll anticpate you'd say something like, "well, those are different; they are mere consumer commodities. We're talking about HEALTH CARE here". Firstly, I don't think we've had settled the national debate on universal care. People like the idea in the abstract, then get uncomfortable when you say it will either a) raise their taxes or b) impact their existing care.

Secondly, if you think there's been a market failure because there hasn't been a FREE ENOUGH market, well then I'd agree with you...but I don't think you're making that point. Why can't I buy out of state care? Why can't small businesses pool to bring costs down? There are ALL KINDS of market oriented mechanisms that could bring health care costs down (to a level in which more people could afford it) that are not in place because big (yes, corporate) interests are at stake. See my principle on free markets....I'm against ANY party in a transaction getting a jump on the other as a result of government regulation, and at this point, health care costs favor the providers/insurance industry due to government regulation.

As for your advocacy of a mix of public and private, don't we already have that? What are Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP? Are they not targeted government solutions? The problem I continue to talk about is when a healthy, employed person is offered a government sponsored (single payer) health care option, there is little incentive for the employer to do so. Market forces will prevail there, and they will dump their insurance in a New York minute....leaving us with a massive, government sponsored health care system designed to meet the needs of the healthy and well off--and the poor and the old.

In the putting words in someone else's mouth department, I will NOT make the "poor deserve to be poor" argument and I don't think I ever have. I am in favor of government sponsored care for the poor--I would like it to be efficient, widely available and targeted at those who really need it.

While I don't want the government to be the single payer, I am also in favor of breaking the link between work and health care. McCain's health care plan was the single best thing about his candidacy, but he couldn't articulate it and Obama demagogued it. Americans should pay MORE for their own health care, so that they realize that it is not endless, it is not free, and so that they LIVE HEALTHIER LIVES.

Thanks as always for great comments, and I'm glad you're piping up again.

bbauer said...

You can assume that "free markets aren't free" is my implied point every time...

And yes, in my opinion health care, like education, is as important to national strategy as the national defense and different than say, being able to afford a golf cart to tool around the neighborhood. After all, we need healthy and educated workers, do we not? Or do we need perpetually unhealthy consumers of health care to ensure supranormal profits for the health care industry?

I guess the problem I have with most "conservative" (as its been hijacked to mean) commentary on the subject dangerously persuades its subscribers that the government is not the legitimate discourse of its citizenry (as Mark pointed out above) while patting the "market" (in its current hyper consumerist state) on the back and saying "we trust you, have at it." As I stated before, liberty can be lossed to both. Both our form of governing and our form of capitalism are necessary, both need work.

Mudge said...

I personally think the health care that is available in the United States is more advanced, more innovative, more effective than any where else I've ever been or heard of. Everytime I enter an ICU, I am astounded by the level of medical competence and the technological innovations that are available to keep patients alive while their bodies heal enough to get the upper hand on whatever put them there in the first place. I greatly fear that the conditions that created this phenomenal level of lifesaving and body repair will be compromised, diluted and neutered until we are just as good as the rest of the world. Of course, it will be free...unless, that is, you pay taxes. What is so broken with the US health care system is the amount of abuse of the government-funded health care. I'd like to see us fix that.

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