Sunday, January 10, 2010

So, How Radical Are You?

I was watching Stossel's new Fox Business Channel show ("Stossel!"), and he had on the Whole Foods guy to talk about health care. This is a great plan: You can get anything on this plan. (And snake oil is expensive. I thought I should try to find a job with these guys.) Stossel had a good mix in the audience, and a communistsocialistprogressive to attack any ideas that didn't involve the government taking over the most intimate of choices we make.

As a sidebar, the progressive version is such an easily repeated lie, it reminds me of—well, of every other progressive lie I've been swamped with in my life. "Single-payer is the only way to get universal coverage." As if the government's first move isn't going to be to make that coverage a lot less universal to save costs. As if "medical treatment" had no metric of quality, just so long as everyone gets some.

Anyway, the lefty guy didn't have anything in the way of substance—not his fault, there really isn't a good case to be made, especially in light of the universal failures of the schemes at home and abroad—and so he accused the two of them of being Grover Norquist acolytes.

I, and both Stossel and Whole Foods guy John Mackey (and I hope most people) regarded this ad hominem with bemusement. The progressive wanted to equate their distaste for a state-run health system to a desire to destroy Social Security, Medicare, roads, apple pie and motherhood.

I don't really know who Norquist is. He seems to want to cut government in half, which is something I'm cool with. He then wants to cut it in half again. I'm pretty sure I'll be cool with that, too. He's anti-FDA, NEA and IRS. These strike me as good things to be against.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that Ruth Anne commented in the Cargo Cult thread:

Could you clarify this? My husbands thinks it means you want to legalize drugs. I don't disagree about the bad effects of the 'War on Poverty' and the probable bad effects of the 'War on Health'...

In short: Yes. I'd phrase it differently. I'd like to see a whole class of laws simply go away. The same power that allows the government to regulate drugs also allows it to threaten vitamins and other supplements.

I used to believe that the Democrats were the party of civil liberties. After listening throughout the '80s to the damage done to civil liberties by the War on Drugs, I could not help but notice the hypocrisy of not repealing it in the '90s. In fact, as soon as a Democrat was in charge, it was like the gross expansion of government powers was a feature, not a bug.

Needless to say, I wasn't any more surprised that the Democrats didn't curb the Patriot Act in 2009 than I was that the Republicans didn't curb spending.

What am I getting at? Well, the scourge of drugs is a problem; probably one of the worst we face today. (I'm so anti-drug, I extend this to a great many prescription drugs. See the latest reports on how anti-depressants are largely less effective than placebos.) It's right up there with—well, with a massive, intrusive, all-consuming government.

Let me tell you, if I had to choose between our current monstrous government or a country without drug abuse, I would probably take the latter. (Maybe partly because I think the stupidity of drug abuse feeds into the stupidity of big government. But still.) But that's not the choice.

Our monstrous government is particularly inept at social engineering. There have been successful wars on drugs in the past. They were won by rounding up all the suspected drug dealers and killing them. That's not something we can do, even if we wanted to.

So, if I want the government out of drugs—and sex, and health, and safety—does that mean I want a country full of drugs (and diseased helmet-free whores)?

Shockingly, no.

And this is sort of a problem. We used to have a church and society that enforced relatively homogeneous ideas of normalcy, decency, morality and other things that do the actual work of holding society together.

The whole question of what to do about that is a whole 'nother post at least. But it's also actually tangential to the question of government control. Because the War on Drugs hasn't appreciably reduced the amount of drug use, as far as I can tell. And government has a particular talent for both undermining traditional morality and destroying civil liberties in a draconian and semi-random manner.

So, yeah, in short, if you have a question about whether I think the government—particularly the federal government—should be involved in, well, just about anything, my answer's probably going to be no.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Grab an umbrella. Unleash hell. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. If swelling continues past four hours, consult a physician.