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Death Panel Chat Rooms

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Regardless of which point on the political spectrum you occupy, the 2010 midterm elections were essentially meaningless. It really didn’t matter whether Republicans or Democrats won. Whether a Dragon Lady from San Francisco was reelected, ora  witch from Delaware went down to defeat. It didn’t matter if Democrats got a “shellacking” because the President was unable to break down his prose into words small enough to be grasped by a nation of simpletons, or whether the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy used their dominance of the media to frighten a nation of simpletons into voting against their own self-interest.

It didn’t even matter whether you voted or not. The reason it didn’t matter is that none of those actually tasked with running this country were on the ballot. Now, I’m not launching into a Helen Thomasesque diatribe about Zionists, or a Robert Reich tantrum about Wall Street and Corporate Interests. The people I’m talking about aren’t sinister forces manipulating a nation of simpletons or exercising their vast economic power to force hapless Congressmen to yield to their commands.

No, the people who run this country are the army of regulators and rule writers who populate the bloated and metastasizing federal bureaucracy. These are the people who are tasked with writing over 40,000 pages of rules regulating US financial markets following the passage of Financial Reform Legislation. These are the people who are busy socializing electrical energy transmission in the Midwest. These are the people who will determine how many additional unionized lunchroom attendants school districts will have to hire to oversee the new federally mandated elementary school salad bars. These are the people who will occupy the more than 159 new government agencies instituted by Obamacare.

They write rules with little guidance or oversight. They work for the FCC, where they recently decided to regulate the internet. So-called net neutrality ensures that greedy telecom and cable companies will not be able to stifle competition. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t stifling competition, that the marketplace is sufficiently diverse that entertainment and service providers are subject to their consumers’ whims for their very survival, and that there is an array of existing laws and regulations which constrain their restraint of trade. It doesn’t matter, because FCC regulators saw an opportunity to write new rules.

As far as “death panels” are concerned, there is much merit in providing people with the information necessary to make informed decisions about the kind of treatment they desire in the final days or months of their lives. These decisions will have great impact on the quality of many seniors’ final days, and, to be honest, if they make the right decisions, it could save a great deal of money. Yet there is some question as to the propriety of a doctor, who is entrusted with the senior patient’s life, being the one to advise that patient on his or her options. It would be one thing if the doctor were able to provide a resource, but, as newly written, the Medicare regulation requires the doctor to initiate the discussion as part of an annual “Wellness Review.”

Whether such proactive end of life counseling constitutes undue pressure, a tacit form of rationing, or yet another example of the deleterious reach of Obamacare, is immaterial. The fact is that public opposition was so strong that the legislation could not be passed if it contained that provision. The people spoke, but then the unelected government spoke back. When Medicare regulators wrote this provision into law, they were essentially telling the American people that they no longer have any say in the governing of their own country.

As long as federal regulators are allowed to range freely over the land, we the people have no freedom, no voice and the right to vote is a sham. That the number of federal employees has exploded under Barack Obama is no coincidence. It is a reflection of the essence of the liberal belief system, that the people cannot be trusted with their own decisions. Only the enlightened, the properly schooled and ideologically astute can make those decisions; the regulators and the enforcers are directed to tell Americans what to think, how to act, what to eat, wear, drive and drink.

Although he was off a bit on the chronology, George Orwell captured the essence of the burgeoning regulatory state when he wrote “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.”

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