“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wishing Americans Loved Freedom

Spoonful of government
Mark Steyn Washington Times
September 24, 2007

Our theme for today comes from George W Bush: "Freedom is the desire of every human heart."

When the president uses the phrase, he's invariably applying it to various benighted parts of the Muslim world. There would seem to be quite a bit of evidence to suggest that freedom is not the principal desire of every human heart in, say, Gaza or Waziristan. But why start there? If you look in, say, Brussels or London or New Orleans, do you come away with the overwhelming impression that "freedom is the desire of every human heart"? A year ago, I wrote that "the story of the western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government 'security', large numbers of people vote to dump freedom — the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, seat belts and a ton of other stuff."


And, if you don't, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.

Er, hang on, where's that in the Constitution? It's perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year old American with no health insurance, either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?

That's a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state. "So what?" say the caring crowd. "We've got to do something about those 40 million uninsured. Whoops, I mean 45 million uninsured. Maybe 50 by now." This figure is always spoken of as if it's a club you can join but never leave: The very first Uninsured-American was ol' Bud who came back from the Spanish-American War and found he was uninsured and so was first on the list, and then Mabel put her back out doing the Black Bottom at a tea dance in 1926 and she became the second, and so on and so forth, until things really began to snowball under the Bush junta. And, by the time you read this, the number of uninsured may be up to 75 million.

Nobody really knows how many "uninsured" there are: Two different Census Bureau surveys conducted in the same year identify the number of uninsured as (a) 45 million or (b) 19 million. The (a) figure is the one you hear about, the (b) figure apparently entered the Witness Protection Program. Of those 45 million "uninsured Americans," the Census Bureau itself says over 9 million aren't Americans at all, but foreign nationals. They have various health-care back-ups: if you're an uninsured Canadian in Detroit and you get an expensive chronic disease, you can go over the border to Windsor, Ontario, and re-embrace the delights of socialized health care; if you're an uninsured Uzbek, it might be more complicated. Of the remaining 36 million, a 2005 Actuarial Research analysis for the Department of Health and Human Services says that another 9 million did, in fact, have health coverage through Medicare.

Where are we now? Twenty-seven million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it's a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they're fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze 'n' chicks.

That last category is the one to watch: Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 account for 18 million of the army of the "uninsured." Look, there's a 22-year-old and he doesn't have health insurance. Oh, the horror and the shame. What an indictment of America.

Well, he doesn't have life insurance, either, or homeowner's insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle-age. He's 22 and he thinks he's immortal — and any day now Hillary will propose garnisheeing his wages for her new, affordable, mandatory life-insurance plan.

So, out of 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million aren't American, 9 million are insured, 18 million are young and healthy. And the rest of these poor helpless waifs trapped in Uninsured Hell waiting for Hillary to rescue them are, in fact, wealthier than the general population. According to the Census Bureau's August 2006 report on "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage," 37 percent of those without health insurance — that's 17 million people — come from households earning more than $50,000. Nineteen percent — 8.7 million people — of those downtrodden paupers crushed by the brutal inequities of capitalism come from households earning more than $75,000.

In other words, if they fall off the roof, they can write a check. Indeed, the so-called "explosion" of the uninsured has been driven entirely by wealthy households opting out of health insurance. In the decade after 1995 — i.e., since the last round of coercive health reform — the proportion of the uninsured earning less than 25,000 has fallen by 20 percent and the proportion earning more than 75 grand has increased by 155 percent. The story of the last decade is that the poor are getting sucked into the maw of "coverage" and the rich are fleeing it. And, given that the cost of health "insurance" bears increasingly little relationship to either the cost of treatment or the actuarial reality of you ever getting any particular illness, it's entirely rational to say: "You know what? I'll worry about that when it happens. In the meantime, I want to start a business and send my kid to school." Freedom is the desire of my human heart even if my arteries get all clogged and hardened.

I was glad, at the end of Hillary Health Week, to see that my radio pal Laura Ingraham's excellent new book "Power To The People" has shot into the New York Times Bestseller List at No. 1. It takes a fraudulent leftist catchphrase (the only thing you can guarantee about a "people's republic" is that the people are the least of it) and returns it to those who mean it — to those who believe in a nation of free citizens exercising individual liberty to make responsible choices.

Do you remember the so-called "government surplus" of a few years ago? Bill Clinton gave a speech in which he said, yes, sure, he could return the money to taxpayers but that we "might not spend it the right way." The American political class has decided that they know better than you the "right way" to make health-care decisions. Oh, don't worry, you're still fully competent to make decisions on what car you drive and what movie you want to rent at Blockbuster. For the moment. But when it comes to the grown-up stuff best to leave that to Nurse Hillary.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain's Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.



    Unbelievable, Tiger:
    Gaffney's been getting the word out on this for years, but no doubt most Senators remain deaf and dumb to mere facts.
    Better to vote on Nice sounding Titles and with the herd.

    What would RR know anyhow?
    Besides, he's dead!

  2. Running as a Compassionate Transie Globalist would have qualified as truth in advertising.

  3. Some one else who sees the Health Insurance mandate for what it is, another tax.

    Mandated expeditures, for each citizen.

    Even for each undocumented American, in the US.

    Even rufus likes the new HilleryCare Plan. Has some merit, you know. Fairness.

    Everyone needs to chip into that Insurance pool, no stragglers now!

  4. From the free and the brave to compassionate comrades in our lifetimes!

  5. Good to know Big Brother Cares about our Health and Welfare.

  6. "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won
    the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." - George Orwell, 1984

  7. The Importance of Being Laura (Ingraham)
    Dick Morris
    with some great quotes from the book:
    You can purchase Power To The People from Amazon.

    Illegal Immigration – the Fence Works

    “Operation Gatekeeper was an effort to stem the flow of illegals across this fourteen mile stretch [in San Diego] where 45 percent of all illegal crossings into the U.S. had taken place. The number of border agents doubled, special high tech lighting was installed, and new barriers with sophisticated monitoring devices were built.”

    “it should have surprised no one that enforcement actually worked. More than ten years later the economy of Imperial Beach is booming. Fewer illegals are found on a nightly basis sleeping under cars, trashing the environment, damaging property, and frightening residents.”

    War on Terror vs the War in Iraq

    “America’s foreign policy and military strategy should be focused on one thing – protecting America and her allies. When we fight, we must fight to win…If the GOP doesn’t catch on to this soon, the people will move to the more conservative members of the Democratic Party such as Virginia’s freshman senator (and former Reagan Republican) James Webb…a decorated Marine Corps combat veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, [he] criticize the Iraq war [because he said it has] taken ‘our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism.’”

    The Imperial Judiciary

  8. Where is everybody?
    Hawaii can't hold back the Axis!

    The Jena Dodge
    By Heather MacDonald
    One might well think it was not a White Boy that ended up in a hospital in Jena

    These ecstatic festivals of racism-bashing are a crippling ritual in the codependency between absolution-seeking whites and angry blacks, a phenomenon that Shelby Steele has powerfully analyzed. The demonstrators exhibit a palpable desire for the moral clarity of the civil rights era, as do the reporters, who have covered their every utterance.

    Since the Jena story became international news last week, the media, the advocates, and pandering politicians have erupted in an outpouring of seeming joy at the alleged proof—after so much diligent trolling for evidence—that America remains a racist country. Senator Hillary Clinton told the NAACP: “This case reminds us that the scales of justice are seriously out of balance when it comes to charging, sentencing, and punishing African Americans.” Senator Christopher Dodd declared that Jena reveals that “de facto segregation”—in the spirit of Jim Crow—“is still very real” in many parts of America. Britain’s Observer announced that Jena shows “how lightly sleep the demons of racial prejudice in America’s deep south.” The New York Times has designated Jena “a high profile arena in the debate on racial bias in the judicial system”—a debate that perhaps not everyone was aware that we were having. J. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said: “I think a lot of people recognize that the criminal justice system grinds down people of color every day. Oftentimes, it’s nameless, it’s faceless. . . . People see Jena as the tip of the iceberg and ask: What lies beneath?” Needless to say, the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have vowed with Biblical thunder to avenge the Jena innocents and force America to own up to its mistreatment of blacks.
    The reason that the black incarceration rate is the highest in the country is that blacks have the highest crime rate—by a long shot. Don’t trust the police, prosecutors, or judges to give a fair picture of black crime? Then go where the bodies are. Los Angeles is representative. In the first seven months of 2007, blacks in Los Angeles were murdered at a rate ten times that of whites and Asians. Who’s killing them? It’s not whites and Asians. While a minor proportion of the assailants of blacks are Hispanic, the vast majority are black themselves. Nationally, blacks commit murder at about eight times the frequency of whites. In New York, any given violent crime is 13 times more likely to have been committed by a black person than by a white person, according to the reports of victims and witnesses. Though they are only 24 percent of the city’s population, blacks committed 68.5 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults in New York last year. Whites, who make up 34.5 percent of New Yorkers, committed only 5.3 percent of violent crimes. These ratios are similar across the country. In Los Angeles, blacks committed 41 percent of all robberies in 2001, according to victims’ descriptions, though they constitute only 11 percent of the city’s population. Robbery victims identified whites, who make up 30 percent of the Los Angeles population, just 4 percent of the time.

    When attacking the justice system, racial agitators work mightily to change the subject from violence to drugs, using their flimsy argument that crack cocaine penalties are too high. But the vast preponderance of prisoners are in the pen for violence and property crime. In 2003, 52 percent of inmates in state prisons were serving time for violent offenses, 21 percent for property offenses, and only 20 percent for drug offenses.

  9. This is an explanation I had not heard.
    Crack is still a prodigious destroyer of lives in Hawaii.
    The usual evidence in support of the charge that the criminal laws discriminate against blacks is the far stiffer sentences for selling and possessing crack cocaine compared with powdered cocaine. But that colorblind sentencing regimen, which dates from 1986, was a heartfelt effort to protect the overwhelmingly black victims of crack, not to penalize them. Black liberals such as Congressman Charles Rangel were loudest in sounding the alarm about the effects of crack in the black ghetto. Not even the most deluded racial apologists have ever explicitly suggested that racial bias motivated Congress’s efforts to combat a drug that results in much higher rates of violence among dealers and users, quicker and more onerous addiction, and more emergency room visits than its powdered cousin.

    The reason that the black incarceration rate is the highest in the country is that blacks have the highest crime rate—by a long shot.

    The Jena situation is undoubtedly a bit more complex than the tale that the press has woven of hate-filled whites and peace-loving blacks. But even if it were not, the catharsis that this morality play has offered to its participants is spurious. The real tragedy is the dysfunctional culture that holds back too many blacks from seizing the many opportunities open to them.

  10. The Mother Teresa of Crack:
    Richard Pryor

  11. Let's go through the math:

    Blacks make up 12% of US population. Black males 6%. Black males between 14 and 40 make up less than 3 % and they commit 65% of all violent crimes. Noticing that is not racist, ignoring it is dangerous.

  12. dr wrote:

    "Everyone needs to chip into that Insurance pool, no stragglers now!"

    Gotta keep it private, no? I know, I know, in your world poor kids don't deserve medical care.

  13. Ah!Ash!
    The soothing Balm of Mindless Leftist Drivel!

  14. Free services and open borders were two of the main drivers for the dissolution of the Black Family, Ash, which is responsible for those figures Deuce concisely extracted for YOUR benefit, and ours.
    ...and why Black Males, on average, in the USA, die young.

  15. No mo need to put up with that bastard!
    The Girls said,
    and No mo became 'Ho Mo, many times over.
    Not Pretty.

  16. But, I digress, and I forget:
    " was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won
    the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." -

  17. And Big Brother Loves Us!
    Trust me.

  18. Where the Hell did 'Rat go?
    And the rest of you Bar Flies?

  19. I caint hit the Hay until someone MAN's the bar,
    ...and Ash don't count.

  20. I've asked before, Ash/Ashley, you M, or F?
    If Male, I will upbraid Mat for you, for calling you fem.
    Just fey.

  21. Doug how does denying poor babies health care going to make the Black family whole? Do you think poor babies don't deserve health care because they can't pay for it? If they deserve it then be it financed by 'for profit' organizations (Insurance companies) or government?

    I know you hate government unless it is military but even then we are managing on contracting that out - there is still a single payer in that far.

  22. Doug, you must be sleep deprived. We went through the gender thing awhile back and Mat was upbraided for his, as usual, wrongheadedness.

  23. p.s. there is a new thread up doug.