Known Knowns and Spectacles of Turbulence on the Horizon
Even with a seeming over abundance of doom and gloom among the good guys these days I have absolutely no intention of offering comfort to the troops. The American spirit has seen darker days before:
If we examine the pretensions of [congress], we shall, presently detect their injustice. First, they are subversive of our natural liberty, because an authority is assumed over us, which we by no means assent to. And secondly, they divest us of that moral security, for our lives and properties, which we are entitled to, and which it is the primary end of society to bestow. For such security can never exist, while we have no part in making the laws, that are to bind us; and while it may be the interest of our uncontrolled legislators to oppress us as much as possible. – Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775
Dark days are coming again. Be absolutely clear, wherever you happen to reside in America today, you can look towards Washington, DC and know that you are viewing a setting and not a rising sun. (All apologies to Dr. Franklin.)
The current on-going legislative game of theatrical negotiation, pseudo compromise, and flat out bribery really is a sadly laughable joke. The language…hell, even the intent of the bill as written and as understood and voted on by individual elected representatives…really is irrelevant. History and those smart enough to learn from it provide a very clear indication that the eventual manifestation of this health care “reform” will in no way resemble today’s carefully crafted talking points…the structural realities of government (i.e. the bureaucracy) will necessarily make the outcome significantly worse for the taxpaying citizenry and health care consumers alike. From a previous Ntrepid diary (1), Mr. Friedman long ago provided the insight:
A 1973 column entitled “Barking Cats” gave us the following version of some great wisdom of the ages:
What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided it barked”? Yet your statement that you favor [government intervention] provided it behaves as you believe desirable is precisely equivalent. The biological laws that specify the characteristics of cats are no more rigid than the political laws that specify the behavior of governmental agencies once they are established. The way the [government agency] now behaves, and the adverse consequences, are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the constitution of a cat. As [an intelligent being], you recognize that you cannot assign characteristics at will to chemical and biological entities, cannot demand that cats bark or water burn. Why do you suppose the situation is different in the social sciences?
Six years later, when Milton and Rose Friedman published the book Free to Choose, the author of that column provided in a single paragraph a near perfect algorithm for those political laws or, as they then referred to them, the “natural history of government intervention” (bulletized here to accommodate several generations of Americans educated under the thumb of Federal Bureaucracy):
1. A real or fancied evil leads to demands to do something about it.
2. A political coalition forms consisting of sincere, high-minded reformers and equally sincere interested parties.
3. The incompatible objectives of the members of the coalition are glossed over by fine rhetoric about “the public interest”, “fair competition,” and the like.
4. The coalition succeeds in getting Congress to pass a law.
5. The preamble to the law pays lip service to the rhetoric and the body of the law grants power to government officials to “do something”.
6. The high-minded reformers experience a glow of triumph and turn their attention to new causes.
7. The interested parties go to work to make sure that the power is used for their benefit. They generally succeed.
8. Success breeds its problems, which are met by broadening the scope of intervention.
9. Bureaucracy takes its toll so that even the initial special interests no longer benefit.
10. In the end the effects are precisely the opposite of the objectives of the reformers and generally do not even achieve the objectives of the special interests.
11. Yet the activity is so firmly established and so many vested interests are connected with it that repeal of the initial legislation is nearly inconceivable.
12. Instead, new government legislation is called for to cope with the problems produced by the earlier legislation and a new cycle begins.
One of the big lessons here is that we can confidently project that not only the honest rhetoric disseminated during this debate – which we’re not getting much of from today’s left – but also the actual text of the legislation will eventually lead to a system that will not even remotely resemble the intent of the “sincere” reformers. The entrenched bureaucracy will by natural order pervert the system for its own sake with no concern for the fate of the affected American citizen.
This sham process continues to be a (barely) constitutional formality to fool your democracy sensors…their contempt for us is despicable.
And for those who presume that the work to reverse this monstrosity will begin as soon as there is a change in power in D.C. I offer a very blunt: Fat Chance, Sucker! The unfortunate reality is that the road back to more freedom is long and hard and requires being true to liberty’s principles while the toll-road to bettering “my” position in the midst of a runaway government debacle is much more efficient…merely costing, at a minimum, tacit denial of those alleged principles. Today’s unified Tea Party Movement will quickly begin to show more fragmented interests as various side paths to individual benefits present themselves as alternatives to a long, hard, revolutionary slog. The perceived unity of a back-against-the-wall defense will not be so solid during a period of multiple offensives base on self interests.
A good example of how quickly things change in these types of circumstances can be seen with the recent banning of smoking in restaurants in a large city near my home. An organized group of restaurant owners put up a correct and valiant…yet futile…defense based on their rights with respect to their property. They fought on principle and were backed by similar business owners and organizations from the surrounding area. Of course, after losing their rights to a runaway city council (i.e. uncontrolled legislators) this group of fine restaurateurs continued the good fight on those same firm principles to reverse this decision…NOT. That would be hard…and the bottom line in business doesn’t wait on battles of honor. The more expedient path was to start pushing for identical regulation from the state level so that restaurants in surrounding communities didn’t maintain their property rights and enjoy an artificial competitive advantage any longer than was necessary. Rights are forever…my rights are critical…your rights are very important up until they conflict with my bottom line.
Don’t expect reality and human nature to be any different in carrying through on reversing health care “reform”.
Ultimately, the rather dark tone of many recent diaries and comments in this neighborhood is not remotely unwarranted. Facing up to today’s looming reality means bracing for a long stint in the wilderness and preparing the next generation as best we can for the emergence on the other side.
Endeavor to persevere.
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