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The Left, Healthcare, and Freedom

In his July 31, 2009 Orange County Register column, Mark Steyn argues that even a “water-down version” of any healthcare plan “would shift the country permanently to the left.” Specifically, Steyn asks:

“How did the health-care debate decay to the point where we think it entirely natural for the central government to fix a collective figure for what 300 million freeborn citizens ought to be spending on something as basic to individual liberty as their own bodies?”

Steyn answers that question making the following argument:

“That's the argument that needs to be won. And, if you think I'm being frivolous in positing bureaucratic regulation of doughnuts and vacations, consider that under the all-purpose umbrellas of "health" and "the environment," governments of supposedly free nations are increasingly comfortable straying into areas of diet and leisure. Last year, a British bill attempted to ban Tony the Tiger, longtime pitchman for Frosties, from children's TV because of his malign influence on young persons. Why not just ban Frosties? Or permit it by prescription only? Or make kids stand outside on the sidewalk to eat it? It was also proposed – by the Conservative Party, alas – that, in the interests of saving the planet, each citizen should be permitted to fly a certain number of miles a year, after which he would be subject to punitive eco-surtaxes. Isn't restricting freedom of movement kind of, you know … totalitarian?

“Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks – drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

“Government health care would be wrong even if it "controlled costs." It's a liberty issue. I'd rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.”

There are things that Congress can do to reform the delivery of healthcare such as changes to the tax code and eliminating much of the unneeded regulatory burden, but at the end of the day, we need to look at the Declaration of Independence and tell ourselves that we have done no harm to those “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


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