The Mirage

March 24, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It’s fitting that Matt and Jay are posting this morning about their experiences in Vegas, because I was already planning to post about a really big Mirage.

Over the weekend, a lot of conservatives in the blogosphere were consoling themselves with the thought that “now they own the system.”

Jim Geraghty: Direct All Future Health-Care Complaints to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

K-Lo: Every hiccup. Every complaint. Every long line. All yours.

I’d love to believe this line, but it’s obviously not true. Dozens of other countries have gone down this road, to their manifest ruin. Did any of them produce this kind of backlash against the party that led the socialization process?

They want to own the system. That’s the whole point. I don’t just mean that they want the wealth and power that comes with actually owning it, although that’s a nontrivial factor. (Just look at how they’re already using the nationalization of student loans to coercively redistribute wealth from grads who choose private-sector jobs to grads who choose public-sector jobs.) They also – even more importantly – want to own it in perception, want to be seen as owning it.

Why? Because in a socialized system, the presumption is that the party that owns the system wants to make it (and hence your health care) bigger and better, while the party that doesn’t own the system wants to redirect resoucres away from it (and hence hurt your health care).

They own the system, therefore they own the issue. If everybody gets their health care from “the system,” then when people want better health care, they’ll always vote for the party that owns “the system.” And, of course, socialized medicine does a lot of damage to health care, and thus generates a lot of desire for better health care. It’s a self-reinforcing dynamic.

Game over, man! Game over!

We do have a limited window in which the law could be repealed before “the system” takes over. But the Journal is right to sound a hard note of caution about the realistic prospects for that. You can’t get repeal until you get a new president. And Obama has three full years to live down the damage he took in this fight. If he gets smart, which it’s very likely he will, he’ll take his licks in 2010 and come roaring back (or at least drag himself over the finish line) in 2012.

Plus, will the GOP commit to repeal? Would they even be smart to commit to repeal given the unlikelihood they’ll get it?

Two Awful Tastes that Taste Awful Together

March 10, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

The Democratic congressional leadership is now going to add their bill to eliminate all private student-loan lending, granting the government (i.e. themselves) a monopoly on all student loan business, to the same reconciliation process by which they’re jamming health care through.

As we know, the saga of federal involvement in student loans clearly illustrates the direct path from the “public option” to full-blown single-payer nationalization.

You would think they’d be shy to put the two right there next to each other. Then again, for those who haven’t learned this lesson by now, will hitting them in the face with it make any difference?


“Just Call Me Mister Butterfingers!”

January 22, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

President Obama says health care socialization has “run into a bit of a buzz saw.”

Jim Geraghty asks: What’s the survival rate for people who run into buzz saws?

The First Amendment Is Hereby Repealed

September 23, 2009


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Items in the news this week:

1) The president signals he’s open to a government takeover of the newspaper industry. No word on whether government-supported papers will be required to change their names to PRAVDA.

If you’ve been told that the bill in question doesn’t set up direct government funding for newspapers, you’ve been misled. It doesn’t set up federal funding for newspapers, but it does everything possible to grease the skids for state and local government funding – and who’s prepared to bet that won’t happen once the opportunity is available?

As I wrote back in April:

Since the law already allows nonprofits to publish and distribute their own newspapers if they want to, the only possible rationale for Sen. Cardin’s proposal is that it allows newspapers to continue charging money to cover their costs while also recieving tax-free subsidies. And who would be doing the subsidizing? Even if government (at the state and local level) doesn’t do it directly, it’ll do it indirectly. Politicians have lots of wealthy friends who would love to have their own pet newspapers.

In fact, Cardin’s proposal is actually worse than a direct government subsidy. At least a direct subsidy would be on the books and subject to disclosure, oversight, and some level of accountability.

Cardin invokes the old Jeffersonian saw that it would be better to have newspapers without government rather than government without newspapers. Yes – but either of those would be better than having government newspapers.

I also wrote that “the proposal is obviously going to go nowhere because it fails the laugh test.” But the laugh test is one exam that’s been pretty radically dumbed down over the past six months; these days anyone can pass it.

2) Meanwhile, the latest development in the health care debate: The U.S. government is now openly using the criminal law to censor core political speech solely because the speech in question advocates a position the government opposes.

When I say “censor” I don’t mean they’re regulating donations and spending levels or imposing restrictions on the when, where and how. I mean they’re threatening to impose criminal sanctions for having said a certain thing, simply because it’s something they don’t want said.

And, of course, once the threat is made there’s no real need to prosecute. The threat itself is sufficient to censor all future speech on the subject.

I’ve written before that health care reform is a knife at the throat of our freedom. I had no idea the enslavement process would move so quickly. Care to place bets on which clause of the Bill of Rights will be the next to go?

UPDATE: Yet another health-care-destroys-free-speech story.

Obama Serenades Rabbis: “Deutschland Uber Alles”

August 27, 2009

Obama at AIPAC

“Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles . . . uber alles in die welt!”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Getting a lot of attention: Barack Obama’s statement, during a national conference call with a thousand rabbis on the subject of the proposed government healthcare monopoly, that “we are God’s partners in matters of life and death.”

Not getting a lot of attention: While waiting on hold for the call to begin, the rabbis were serenaded with the traditional German folk tune “Deutschland Uber Alles.”

Deutschland Uber Alles

No, I didn’t make that up. His staff makes a blunder like this and he still thinks government can run the whole nation’s health care?

On the other hand, maybe he’s trying to tell us something. What was that again about “death panels”?

HT Kausfiles

Death Panels for College Kids!

August 21, 2009

Monopoly - Pennybags

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Pardon me while I toot my horn that the editors of the Wall Street Journal have picked up on the story that federal student loans illustrate how a “public option” inevitably becomes a single-payer government monopoly. Remember, you read it here first! (Well, OK, not really. You read it on NRO first. But we had it before the Journal!)

And please please please do yourself a favor – read Andy McCarthy’s incisive NRO article today on the probability of, and implications of, an Obama victory on health care. It’s a sobering corrective to the undue optimism many of us (myself included) have begun to feel over the past few weeks.

The spectre of James Madison has been doing yeoman’s work in DC this summer. If you want to know why the Democrats had to neuter the early-year provisions of Cap and Trade and are now struggling so hard over health care, just read Federalist 10. Madison built the walls of the Constitution high and thick to repulse precisely this sort of assault. Thank God for that man!

But it’s all too easy to assume that justice must prevail when the facts and the rights are clear, and McCarthy’s analysis (though I don’t agree with every particular of it) has sobered me up.

People do, in fact, sell their freedom. It happens every day. And not just in far-flung corners of the globe but in your neighborhood, on your block. Why do you think the founders got so animated and hyperbolic about the monstrosity of selling your freedom every time the subject came up? Not because it couldn’t happen here, nor even because it could, but because it did. Repeatedly. To sell your freedom is the fundamental tendency of man’s fallen nature. (Read Federalist 8. Or Federalist 51. Or, for that matter, Federalist 4, 6, 10, 15…)

McCarthy is right: “We could still lose this thing.” And there is nothing to stop the consequences from being as dire as he foresees them being.

A Slam Dunk from Mickey Kaus

July 23, 2009

Slam dunk

(Guest post by Greg Forster)


“I would like to see Dems apply Orszag’s logic — that all Medicare expenses can obviously, without sacrifice, be cut to the level of the cheapest provider — to the school system.”

The Student Loan Lesson for Health Reform

July 21, 2009

Monopoly - Pennybags

From now on, any time you need care, just come ask my permission!

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In case you missed it, you’ll definitely want to check out Stephen Spruiell’s NRO column on what we can learn about health care reform from looking at the federal student loan program. “Reform” means irreversible steps that must inevitably end in dictatorial socialization.

It’s important to begin with the understanding that we don’t have a free market in health care as it is. What we have is a government-mandated cartel. Pretty much all the problems people complain about arise from the mandatory cartelization of health care. The question is whether we’re going to stick with this lousy command-economy cartel, or switch to an even worse direct government monopoly.

I’ve noted before how the already-complete monopolization of the education sector provides a general model for the ongoing monopolization of health care. But Spruiell’s article on how government muscled its way to becoming the sole student lender in America demonstrates that the education monopoly provides not only a general model, but a step-by-step tactical plan:

  1. Sponsor a huge, hubristic attempt to monopolize the market.
  2. When you lose that fight, fall back on the comparatively “reasonable” “compromise” of massive subsidies.
  3. Sit back and wait for the massive subsidies to badly distort the market, creating widespread suffering and injustice.
  4. Whip up public anger over the injustices you’ve created, directing blame away from yourself by demonizing the private service providers.
  5. Offer a “public option” as a way to “control costs” and “keep the private sector honest.” Subsidize the public option so it offers a better deal.
  6. Watch the “public option” become the dominant service provider, and then a de facto monopoly.
  7. Demonize the remaining private providers because they’re not as good as the public option.
  8. Outlaw the remaining private providers so everyone must now come to you.
  9. Begin reshaping the government service provider to meet your needs, taking advantage of your complete freedom to order everything however you want, since there are now no alternatives and thus no way for anyone to effectively resist you.
  10. Lie back and enjoy your tyrannical rule over a nation of willing slaves.

On federal student loans Congress is about to take step 8. On schooling generally we’ve long since completed step 6, but the periodic attempts to progress to step 7 have (so far) been successfully repulsed. On health care we are now being invited to take step 5.

The game is pretty simple. Most games are, once you read the box top and know what’s going on.

The only question that matters is: at what point does the progression become irreversible? I suspect that if we ever arrive at step 10, it will be primarily because at some prior stage, the people who were smart enough to see what was going on assured themselves that the point of no return had not yet been reached, when in fact it had.

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