25 January 2011

The Obsession With 'Control'

There is a brilliant essay I want to bring to your attention.

Entitled "Puritanism, Paternalism and Power: Whiskey and Gunpowder," this piece talks eloquantly about the kindred spirits who gave us the Temperance Movement, the Social Purity Movement, the Social Hygeine Movement, the Comstock Act, the Mann Act, the War On Drugs, and the never-ending obvious (and subtle) attacks against the Second Amendment.

"Not withstanding forms and temperal fluctuations, the penchant for acting as self-righteous busybodies has animated the bourgeoisie of this country ever since Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth rock in 1620. Because this proclivity provides an irresistable opportunity for politicians to promote their own interests at public expense, one must expect that we as Americans are doomed to an endless procession of costly, futile and destructive crusades."

Kudos to Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, for his insightful prose. He hit the nail on the head with this one.

Read it and pass it along . . .


Anonymous said...

So help me place this essay on our traditional left-right political spectrum?

OTHER than gun control, isn't the left more concerned with personal freedoms than the right? It seems to me the right is far more vocal about demonizing gay marriage, championing censorship and limits on what we watch and read, and is generally just as self-righteous as the left.

As an example that relates to another of your comments elsewhere, I don't see how changing the regulations of the health care industry (which is already VERY HIGHLY regulated) is so intrusive. It's not like the goal is taking a free market system and regulating it, it's already one of the most highly regulated industries on the planet. Not agreeing with the direction of the regulations is fine, but the hysterical cries of "government takeover" of healthcare are just ridiculous. I have done work in the insurance industry - the abuses and massive profits and bonuses at the expense of denied coverage are real. Maybe "ObamaCare" is not perfect, but I for one support the effort to try to fix things that were so clearly broken. Championing the status quo long before many of the provisions even take effect is just playing on folks' fear of change.

Brent Greer said...

Oh I don't disagree that the health system is broken, but it was pure bait and switch to tell people we are reforming healthcare when in fact we are going after the insurance industry. There are problems and there are solutions both sides can agree upon.

Now with that said, if the Left is so worried about personal freedoms (other than guns), how can they on one hand say "hands off my body" (pro-choice), and in the same breath force me to purchase health insurance and hire IRS agents to enforce the order. Doesn't sound so rah-rah for personal freedoms to me!

Look, true no one likes change. But your discussion "sounds" less about personal freedoms and more about your bias against the insurance industry (your statements about abuses and massive profits). You damn the entire industry with such statements, just like anti-gunners damn you and me and call us criminals or worse because we like firearms.

No its not perfect, but tell me how what was passed (healthcare bill) can be fixed. I'll listen. So far though I've not heard an argument that was coherant on the matter. I hope yours would be the first!

Of course we are digressing with healthcare, and away from firearms, just as I did with my recap of the SOU address.

Nonetheless, thanks for writing!

Anonymous said...

No my general anti-religious-right (remember the "moral majority") stance dates back to way before Obama.

I view myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal (or maybe libertarian?).

I used to be an actuary, so I fully understand the actuarial insurance principles of forcing everyone to buy insurance to keep rates down. However, I won't bore you with actuarial crap, as I doubt that would trump your "freedom" stance.

However, the problem with the "freedom" to buy health insurance is that we collectively pay for almost everyone's health care already. I pay my health care premiums so with other policy holders we collectively pay for each other's care, then on top of that I pay taxes and payroll taxes that are used to pay the health care costs of those that either couldn't afford insurance, or were healthy and rolled the dice, but got really sick or had some kind of accident. Or the hospital eats it and still ultimately passes the costs on to more responsible parties.

I would be more sympathetic to the "freedom" to refuse to carry health insurance if society could REALLY refuse care. Unfortunately that's not considered humanitarian. So, if I have to pay for everyone's care anyway, I am happy that the otherwise irresponsible are forced to buy health insurance for at least 2 reasons. First, it makes them pay SOMETHING even if it is for weak or inadequate coverage, and second, these folks are far more likely to get preventative and "doctor"-level care, rather than always using the emergency room which is horribly inefficient.

I don't have time to expand further, and I'm sure you've read and rejected these arguments before, they are not uniquely mine.

Anyway, love ya Brent!!