August 10th, 2009

Government: A Disease Masquerading As Its Own Cure


photo credit: ashley rose

Robert Lefevre was expressing a fundamental truism when he declared that government is in reality a disease that also masquerades as a cure. Of course, this duplicitous double punch requires placing the blame for the disease on others’ shoulders. For if people understood that government caused the problem, they would be less inclined to listen to and accept its proposed solutions.

Why is this so? The answer lies in a basic component of human nature: the desire to remain secure and prosperous in one’s employment. But when a person is a so-called “public servant”, and his employer is the tax-paying citizen, convincing said employer of a need for more money, resources, and power requires making a compelling case. After all, nobody likes taxes. Ronald Reagan once remarked that government bureaus are the closest thing we have on this earth to eternal life, and he was right. In order for “civil servants” to maintain their employ, they need to find problems to fix.

In business, expanding your market requires convincing people through various forms of advertising that they need your product. You identify problems, and explain how your product or service can meet their needs at an affordable price. In government, however, this process is distorted; through taxation, inflation, manipulation of data, and legislative or executive fiat, the public can essentially be told what it needs. The greatest benefit to a government policy or program’s perpetuity, then, is a cycle of negative effects which continually lead citizens to accept new government solutions.

A few examples should illustrate this point.

Health Care

Much has been said in recent weeks about health care. Team Obama is anxiously engaged in a Democrat cause, trying to convince frustrated Americans that their thousand-plus page miracle bill will solve all of our medical problems. There is no shortage of proposals coming from the government on how to improve and/or “fix” the health care system. And yet, if you pay close attention to where the blame is being placed by government officials with a vested interest in seeing this current bill pass, you’ll see an inaccurate if not intentional attempt at shifting blame for the current failures of the system.

However, the onerous regulatory burdens imposed by government, as well as the mandates for providing care to those who otherwise could not afford it, inflate the costs for all involved. As such, the rising prices create widespread frustration and become an easy target for opportunistic politicians who can convince people that greedy insurance companies or other parties are at fault. Not understanding how the government’s previous involvement in managing the health care industry has resulted in the high costs we now must pay, people willingly support using the strong arm of government to push those prices back down. If a reckless construction worker severely botched the construction of your new home, would you hire him for future projects, or even to fix the existing problems?

Housing Market

Speaking of houses, few people would contest the sticky fingers of government having an effect in the housing market. The creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act, the easy money policy by the Fed, and a host of other influencing factors created the “bubble” which we’ve all heard about, and which has popped (if only in part) recently. And what happens? The government starts providing economic incentives such as grants for new home purchases, puts pressure on banks to modify existing loans, and creates new legislation to further regulate the foreclosure process so that people can stay in “their” homes for a longer period of time.

Again in this case, government caused so many of the issues that warped the housing market and created a groundswell of public anger, and then comes along portending to have the perfect solution to make life better and stop those greedy speculators (another misdirected outlet of blame) from ruining things again.

Illegal Immigration

The influx of illegal immigrants into this country is a concern shared by most people, but the various remedies differ in the amount of political support they enjoy. However, few people seem to try and understand the incentives that bring people to our country. Many individuals correctly assume that these people come for economic reasons: to earn more money than they could in their own country, send some home to their own families, and enjoy a higher standard of living. All of these are respectable endeavors, despite the fact that they’re subverting immigration law in order to earn their wages. But why, then, is there a problem with illegal immigration? Is it really a bad thing for these individuals to participate in our economy and contribute their labor?

The problem stems from (surprise!) what the government has caused to happen in relation to illegal immigrants. The legislated mandate of providing social services (free school lunches, emergency room health care, housing subsidies, etc.) to illegal immigrants creates a comfortable security blanket these individuals do not enjoy in their home lands. Solutions include building a big fence, forcing employers to verify the citizenship status of their employees, and increasing the number of border patrol agents actively deterring those crossing the border. But we seem to overlook the fact that if these people did not enjoy “free” services (for which we must foot the bill), hardly anybody would have a problem with people coming into our country to find a job and make a better life for themselves. Immigration is the bedrock of this nation, but our ancestors did not have the opportunity to receive food at the expense of their neighbors. Government has created the problem, and now government claims to know how to fix it.

False Flag Wars

A false flag operation is one in which the government either knowingly acts to antagonize any enemy and create a situation that calls for escalated war, falsifies actual events in order to place blame on the enemy and thus whip up citizens into a war fever, or has knowledge of an attack that has been planned, and allows it to happen in order to have a good reason to enter a war. Numerous examples exist in this nation and others, all demonstrating the deceit used to create support for a war that otherwise would not occur. Failed diplomatic pursuits and arrogant political leadership are also a factor here, for just war is always a last resort. But in such situations, government instigates a circumstance that calls for military action, and thus is naturally the entity charged with handling the resulting actions.

Conclusion: Too Many Cures

An antidote (whether legitimate or otherwise) is of little profit to its owner if there is no disease to cure. The pursuit of wealth and power, and even the preservation of one’s employment in government, bring along with it the corresponding need to justify one’s actions by amplifying an existing disease or creating a new one out of thin air. Tyrants and snake oil salesmen alike depend on a gullible group of believers that will take their description of a disease at face value, and thus beg for the cure to be administered.

Observant individuals can detect a foul smell, even when it is wrapped in the political perfume worn by government officials. The myriad solutions being touted on all fronts by the government are actually small doses of poison that will further aggravate the underlying diseases it has already brought into existence. A proper diagnosis of our current problems requires first identifying the culprit and then rejecting it. Only then can the proper prescription be given, and the disease cured.

21 Responses to “Government: A Disease Masquerading As Its Own Cure”

  1. jasonthe
    August 10, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    I think this is one of the most naive ideological conclusions perpetuated by “limited-government” folk: the supposition that government, by definition, is a bad thing.

    Aside from the irony of you posting such a screed on the internet, which was developed first in military circles, the notion requires such an oversimplified view and appreciation of American life that it’s laughable to hear expressed.

    What is truly detrimental, by definition, is attempting to understand the world with sweep absolutes and generalizations that betray the true complexities of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

  2. Connor
    August 10, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    I think this is one of the most naive ideological conclusions perpetuated by “limited-government” folk: the supposition that government, by definition, is a bad thing.

    Proper government in its limited form is not a bad thing—in fact it is a very good thing. The government I’m referring to in this post has nothing to do with that long-since-gone ideal, but rather describes our current tangled web of corrupt, inefficient, and horribly bloated government that has suffered major scope creep.

    …which was developed first in military circles…

    Ah, yes, because the internet never would have been invented otherwise…

    …the notion requires such an oversimplified view and appreciation of American life that it’s laughable to hear expressed.

    A good rebuttal offers contradictory examples and data; your blanket dismissal of what I’ve said hardly counts as such.

  3. Neil
    August 10, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    Just take some time and study what the founders of this great country had to say about correct principles in government. It’s not complex, like they make you want to think. Special interest groups try to make it complicated so the average person won’t care to understand it. Lobbyist write the laws which are passed in Congress and that is something to be up in arms about. How can the most correct document concerning government in history be written on so few pages and one bill needs to be thousands of pages. Sorry but that right there is enough for me to know something is wrong in America. Most of our Congressmen aren’t representing we the people and what sad is they know it.

    The government is best which governs least.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.
    James Madison

  4. Jim
    August 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    Disease (myth): Free market capitalism is the cause for our economic calamities.

    Cure: More government regulations on businesses, more stimulus packages, more bailouts, more inflation, higher taxes, more borrowing, more debt, etc.

    Reality: Capitalism is getting the blame for what government caused in the first place. If we truly had a free market economy:
    1) these bubbles wouldn’t have been artificially created,
    2) fed-created interest rates wouldn’t have encouraged so many malinvestments and consumer borrowing,
    3) incentives for small businesses would grow (increasing employment) were they not diminished by government regulations and over-taxation and
    4) government welfare programs wouldn’t exist therefore they couldn’t incite less production from individuals.

    I could go on but suffice it to say our country doesn’t have a truly free market economy. We have a pseudo-capitalistic/government regulated and manipulated economy. We have had the recipe for disaster for a long time and now we’re facing serious consequences because of it. Government too often creates a fire and uses gasoline in an attempt to put it out.

  5. Clumpy
    August 11, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    In order for “civil servants” to maintain their employ, they need to find problems to fix.

    Isn’t this telling? With so many people in full-time politics, anybody who believes in market incentives has to imagine there’d be a lot of “fixes” going around, both needed and questionable. Political natural selection means that small spenders just can’t survive, so guess what we end up with?

    But one question: If it isn’t the government’s role to prolong life (say, medicine and social programs and whatnot), why do we have a military? Why does the government have the right to spend billions on protecting us from an abstract foe (thus, in theory, lengthening our lives and providing for our security), but not direct resources inward in order to lengthen lives and provide for security in a much more tangible sense? Is there a better answer than “Constitutional limitation [x] and [y]“?

  6. Carborendum
    August 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Why does the government have the right to spend billions on protecting us from an abstract foe (thus, in theory, lengthening our lives and providing for our security), but not direct resources inward in order to lengthen lives and provide for security in a much more tangible sense

    I think you answered your own question. But you didn’t realize it because you got the descriptors reversed.

    I’m not talking about “the war on terror”. You know how most of us here feel about that. I’m talking about a war in which we as a nation were directly attacked by a known enemy. This is a tangible sense.

    The more abstract notions are “disease”, “suffering”, “poverty”. I’ve personally experience more of each of these than most on this blog. I know how abstract they are.

    The bottom line is that government is to protect humans’ life, liberty, & property from other humans. And we need to recognize that even the best governments will even be bad at that.

    It is not to perform social engineering.
    It is not to redistribute income.
    It is not to eradicate suffering & pain from ALL causes.
    It is not to prolong life otherwise shortened by natural (non-man made) causes.

    These are things that the government is even worse at.

    One point I do agree with is the “billions of dollars”. I envision a system where the government would spend MUCH less to achieve a much more effective system of defense.

    1) Every registered voter shall provide for the common defense.

    2) Have a SMALL standing army made up of state police who would be the highly trained experts. NO FEDERAL ARMY.

    3) The state police would train the local law enforcement periodically.

    4) Local law enforcement would get to know the local population by training every registered voter over a rotation similar to the national guards’ “weekend warriors”. Training would of course require the teaching of proper weapon safety and restraint in non-violent situations.

    Voila! You have an entire nation trained in defense. AND you have law enforcement that knows the local population personally.

    This theory is very rudimentary for now. But with a little work it could solve a lot of the problems that most of us complain about.

  7. Clumpy
    August 12, 2009 at 1:50 am #

    I agree with or at least understand most of your analysis by the way, except for one thing: I actually think that the danger provided by terrorists is minimal. Your odds of being in any physical way affected by terrorists is miniscule, equivalent to any number of ridiculously improbably natural occurrences (such as being kicked in the sternum by a deer and bleeding out alone in the Appalachians with a shattered ribcage and internal hemorrhaging). The only thing that “terrorists” really do is give politicians who are willing to assault human dignity free poll boosts.

    Looking beyond the normal investigations of government into national safety, forward to some imagined cataclysmic event is impractical but lucrative. Any measure taken to make something external explode or lock militants or friends of militants or cousins of militants away provides a minimal psychic safety boost to the minds of Americans but effectively spends money to weaken our country.

    But sickness and disease is a stark reality for every individual on earth. Which is why the elderly, infirm or disabled have been so easily exploited in a hysterical whirlwind of lies that has turned filling in the gaps for the uninsured into “death panels” and hysterical cries of “eugenics!!!” Again, I fail to see what inherent property of governments makes them better and more impartial at preserving individuals from mucking around with one another but would somehow create a disaster at providing healthcare options. This isn’t me being elitist or pushing some predetermined viewpoint, but a real desire to attempt to understand the debate on the terms of Constitutionalists, without resorting to arbitrary categorization or circular logic.

  8. Clumpy
    August 12, 2009 at 1:53 am #

    By the way, I didn’t really address your military plan as it didn’t change the more abstract bits of the argument, but it’s interesting to say the least. This might be an interesting debate for another time :).

  9. Kelly W.
    August 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Connor, I like your inclusion of False Flag wars. I believe this is why the scriptures classify a difference between “wars” and “rumors of wars.” Almost every one of the wars that USA has been involved in in the last 150 years has been based upon a false flag event. (Perhaps I am wrong in that last sentence – I might more correctly say EVERY war.)

    We can say that public servants need to convince the taxpayer to keep paying their taxes so the public servants can continue to have a job, BUT, I propose that the military/industrial complex does the exact same thing by INVENTING an enemy (bogeyman) to demand more taxes from us by inducing FEAR in the public’s eye.

    I also propose this is exactly what has happened in the current War on Terror. What a scam…….

  10. Carborendum
    August 12, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    Clump,

    How could you have misconstrued

    “I’m not talking about the war on terror”

    into

    “I believe the government should protect us from terrorists”

    ?

    Do you actually READ the words on the screen? Or do you imagine what another person’s position is and debate against your imagined nemesis?

    I fail to see what inherent property of governments makes them better and more impartial at preserving individuals from mucking around with one another but would somehow create a disaster at providing healthcare

    1) Because government has historically been able to keep people from mucking around with each other. Only when we tie government’s hands from that primary function with false responsibilities does it fail to perform that.

    2) Government has already failed to perform in any other field (with EXTREMELY few exceptions). Even in those exceptions, private industry has done a better job where it is permitted.

    3) Specifically: social security, medicare, welfare, etc. are already impoverishing our nation. Forget this current healthcare bill fiasco. We’re already going to be broke on our current system. How can we credibly believe that adding MORE responsibility on the government is somehow going to LOWER the budget.

    4) Government = force.

    Can you FORCE a person to be healthy? Not really.

    Can you FORCE a person to be generous to others. NO.
    You can FORCEFULLY take from one and give to another. But that in no way causes the former to be more charitable. On the contrary, it often gives that person some negative feelings for the latter.

    Can you FORCE a person into prison for mucking around with someone else? YES.

    Can you FORCE a person (from an enemy nation) to die? YES.

    AGAIN! I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT TERRORISM.

    Can you FORCE a person to give back something that was stolen? YES. (This is just the reverse of the welfare scenario.)

    5) The law of supply and demand.

  11. Josh Williams
    August 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    I feel the quote by Lefevre is more of a poetic statement. Secondly I think it applies only to a certain category of government, though unfortunately it’s by far the most common.

    You know, I get tired of knee-jerk claims that “if only the government would stop meddling in the ‘free market’, everything would go so much more smoothly for everyone….”

    This is like believing that “get a divorce” is good “relationship advice.” In other words, it’s a reductio ad absurdum solution, made from ignorance, to issues which are anything but simple.

    I know that political candidates are big fans of talking about “free markets” and “limited government,” which is strange because if they really valued these things, then why do they seek to actively hold onto the reigns of power? (This is like your brother saying “trust me, I know what I’m doing.”…..a statement which should immediately garner suspicion.)

    I fail to understand why people believe that unchained capitalism is virtuous. This is, in fact what humanity has on the global scale, so it’s ironic that people use the term “free market” positively, but use the term “globalization” negatively. I think that Karl Marx was correct in his observation that capitalism is one of the most basic underpinnings of a rigid class structure.

    So, unrestrained capitalism produces unsatisfactory results; but government interference also produces unsatisfactory results, (to say nothing of a system lacking both.) So where does one draw the line?

    The philosopher Isaiah Berlin postulated that western concepts of “freedom” and “liberty” must imply one of two very different ideologies. Berlin called these “Positive Liberty”, and “Negative Liberty.”

    Positive liberty is the idea that “freedom” is the having the rights and privileges to act, to achieve one’s personal potential. One of the implications of this is that government, or any entity with social power, should take an active role in improving society, take an active role in guaranteeing the positive liberty of all members of society. Another implication is the idea that, given the right social structure, individuals will experience the maximum of “freedom” and the maximum of personal potential. Advocates of positive liberty often believe that they have the philosophical key to what is the “ideal society.” where individual will have the most freedom and potential. In this sense both our current government as well as religious extremists terrorist groups are operating under the same basic principle: positive liberty. That is: “we will MAKE you free.”

    Berlin believed that the pursuit of positive liberty must always ultimately lead to tyranny.

    The concept of Negative Liberty is quite simple, that the only possible “freedom,” is freedom from interference by other people. Keep in mind that money is power, and with money comes the power to interfere with others’ lives, so capitalism can be as much an enemy of negative liberty as government.

    Berlin would be quick to point out that if negative liberty begins to be pursued as yet another active, extremist philosophy, it quickly become yet another kind of positive liberty, In the sense that one attempts to force it upon others.

  12. Josh Williams
    August 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    I think you’ve mentioned positive and negative liberty before, Connor.

  13. Clumpy
    August 12, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

    Carborendum, I definitely threw things off by mentioning terrorists. I should have made the point that when “we as a nation [are] directly attacked by a known enemy,” this is not necessarily more “tangible” or “real” than descriptors such as disease or suffering. In recent history, the only situation that arguably qualified and called for a military solution was Pearl Harbor. But at best foreign foes, even when they succeed in harming Americans and American interests can at best cause things like suffering. They’re a step further removed from domestic troubles if anything, and never could harm as many of our citizens as are harmed by things like insurance rejections, lax environmental regulation or corporate conniving. Is that not fellow citizens harming “each other”? Arguing for citizens to be protected from the muggings and assault of other citizens but not against more long-term damage is disingenuous.

    I definitely don’t think that this is cut-and-dry, unless we can equate dollars and cents with human lives. To argue that government fails as a matter of definition is to ignore systems in which aspects of social life have been considered public goods and managed successfully (who would’ve thought that Ecuador would be trouncing us in medical care?). On one hand we argue that government is good as long as it keeps doing the right thing, then turn around and argue that the same government will never do some things correctly. That’s the circular logic I was referring to.

    Still, it was pretty dumb of me to use “terrorists” interchangeably with “foreign foes”, and to begin by directly addressing your post and then drift into more general territory. It was bad form and I should stop posting at 2 AM.

  14. Carborendum
    August 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    Clumpy,

    Bravo! Apology accepted.

    Now to your points.

    I definitely don’t think that this is cut-and-dry

    I agree.

    …even when they succeed in harming Americans and American interests can at best cause things like suffering.

    While I see your logic and pattern of cause-and-effect, I don’t see how this is an argument for or against anything.

    You might as well say that disease isn’t bad, just the suffering it causes. Then you’re arguing that we let the disease run wild, but just give any sick person a LOT of morphine.

    They’re a step further removed from domestic troubles

    No, they’re not. You brought up Pearl Harbor. Excellent. When Japan attacked Pearl harbor, they DIRECTLY caused death, pain, death, suffering, death, chaos, and of course death. What’s with the “one step removed” business?

    Is that not fellow citizens harming “each other”?

    Depending on the circumstance I would agree with you. But I just don’t agree with the solution. And while I believe in a very rudimentary level of regulation, I just can’t accept our current levels as “necessary & proper”. Examples:

    1) Environmental damage: Instead of passing the ridiculous level of EPA directives and additional legislation from Congress that we have today, citizens need to be able to sue big corporations for property damage. We need to have some serious tort reform to make it actually work.

    But to pass laws for every single item is cumbersome at best, oppressive at worst.

    2) Insurance rejections: For the most part, this is exactly what this blog topic is about.

    Because of government meddling as well as some major tort issues (frivolous law suits) that the government refuses to deal with, it has driven up medical costs. Thus the need for insurance was born.

    (Thus the government has caused the problem).

    Then government comes in with HMOs. It was strange how those who were crying the loudest for them were, in just a few years, blaming big corporations for messing up health care.

    (Thus the government caused the problem).

    Now that our current system has been pronounced “broken”, government has to come in again and propose the newest solution “socialized medicine”.

    How long before it is called “broken”?
    Just how far does this process go?

    3) Corporate conniving: First let me dispel the myth that

    Big Corporation = Evil, conniving, rich, white males.

    While I have stated before on this very blog that the bigger the corporation, the less dedicated to the consumer they tend to be, it is still controlled by the voice of the people (with their purchasing power). There are still limits on what a corporation can do. AND if the corporation goes too far, there is always a court to petition to straighten things out. And if that doesn’t work, you have the media (and now the internet) to defame said company or spread a boycott effort.

    You just can’t boycott the government no matter how badly it messes up. No, I don’t believe elections change anything. Not when representatives vote against their constituency by a 2:1 margin and still get re-elected.

    In ALL of these things, notice two things:

    1) As YOU pointed out, government does not fix the result. It can NEVER FIX anything. It merely punishes the perpetrator. We can only HOPE that the perpetrator fixes himself.

    2) Whenever the government comes in with “a new way” to fix “the problem”, it generally worsens it.

    To argue that government fails as a matter of definition…

    Interesting you would phrase it that way. My father-in-law and I just had a conversation the other day saying something very similar, but from the converse point-of-view.

    Whenever you see surveys of which country is the best to live in, etc. they are usually based on socialistic principles.

    Is there public transportation either free or at minimal cost?
    Is there public day care?
    Is there public medicine?
    Is there public . . .

    Who says these are the appropriate criteria? If socialists want public everything, they should move to Sweden. If libertarians want small government, then they should move to Switzerland.

    I’m a Constitutionalist. I want a country where the US Constitution is actually followed. Unfortunately, this is the closest we’ve got. So I’ve got no where else to go right now.

    we argue that government is good as long as…

    This would indeed be circular logic … IF that is what I said.

    I said that history has shown certain things that government CAN do effectively. And history has shown that most other things government fails miserably at.

    The criteria by which I judge that is:

    1) What was the objective of the new effort by the government?
    2) How successful was it in achieving that objective?

    who would’ve thought that Ecuador would be trouncing us in medical care?

    What? How’s that? Come again? Did you actually try to verify that before you repeated it?

    First of all, I couldn’t find anything that stated they have a socialized system.

    Check the following Ecuador TOURIST sites.

    This and this.

    They both indicate that there are a variety of competency levels of doctors. And that they cost about 1/10th to 1/4 that of the US. Gee, you mean that after adjusting for GDP they pay about the same as the US? How’s this better?

    The first article advises caution with pharmacists and warn against incompetent doctors. But if you go to an “embassy approved” doctor, then that’s ok. — So, their pharmacists are fine, but the only doctors you want to go to are the ones near embassies that serve foreign diplomats. That doesn’t sound elitist at all.

    The second article states that their surgeons are fine because they studied either in the US or Europe. So, those that did not study abroad are usually incompetent. How’s this better?

    Now check out this article. If it really was that much better and SO inexpensive, why would this woman resort to auctioning her virginity to pay for medical care?

    I’m really getting tired of looking up EVERY country that people think is better than the US, then being very disappointed in what I find. Does ANYONE who’s for socialized medicine actually look up the FACTS before making such a statement?

  15. Clumpy
    August 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the thoughtful response, and for glossing over the parts of my response where one might interpret me as being a little of an ass :).

    I think there’s room for disagreement on this issue, but more importantly perhaps a couple of your points (such as the “citizens’ rights not regulation” point) create a model where the same problem can be solved without introducing more regulation. I definitely see a cognitive need for insurance but think it’s resolved by as little bureaucracy as possible. Credit Unions do pretty well – I’d like to see some equivalent non-profit insurance plans (maybe there already are some!).

    Admittedly the Ecuador thing was based on an anecdote from a friend of mine who was severely injured, wandered over to a government clinic and got excellent, professional care. I did some searching online and found similar stories both from tourists and doctors from the area. I suspect that the quality care has more to do with a culture of commitment for doctors (meaning that they do more with less) than the socialized system itself.

    Keep in mind that I’ve been a small and steady drain on our medical system for the last few years for a variety of health problems and come out ahead on insurance, so I’ve come out great. Granted I have student insurance at my college and they try to take care of us with fairly low premiums. I’m pretty happy with my situation (though I still pay a fair amount) but understand that many people with more difficult situations or worse conditions might not have the same ability.

    Hope I don’t come across as harsh or dogmatic, Carbo – when you interpret some of my posts as more stream-of-consciousness things or thought experiments I hope it comes across clearer that I’m not stating concrete opinions so much as trying to personally think about issues in different ways. Thanks again!

  16. Josh Williams
    August 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Readers should know that mentioning “Death Panels” is a clear example of “Playing the NAZI Card,” once again evidencing the truth of Godwin’s Law.

    A sometimes added corollary of this law is that anyone who plays the NAZI card has automatically lost the argument and the thread is now ended.

  17. Clumpy
    August 15, 2009 at 12:02 am #

    http://obamaisliterallyhitler.tumblr.com/

  18. Carborendum
    August 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Clumpy,

    Keep in mind that I’ve been a small and steady drain on our medical system for the last few years

    My brother-in-law is married to a deaf woman who has always had multiple medical issues. Most recently she was told she has maybe 5 to 7 years to live without a new kidney. She’s being treated currently, etc.

    I asked bro-in-law what he thought about socialized medicine. I also asked how he’s doing with her conditions, insurance, etc. Here’s his quote as best I can remember it:

    It is true that if government paid for everything, it would be a lot easier on us. Currently, because she is deaf, she qualifies for a lot of government funding of her medical care. But we choose not to use it because it’s just plain wrong.

    If some rich friend were to give us the money personally, that would be one thing. But when government steals the money from the taxpayers, then gives it to us to use to help (wife’s name) then I’m encouraging theft.

    If I don’t want someone to raise taxes on me, I shouldn’t be for raising taxes on someone else no matter how rich they are.

    Insurance is a business. As long as they are willing to abide by the contract, I’m fine with how they treat me and my wife. If they blatantly exercise rights in the contract to deny coverage for frivolous reasons, I will definitely sue them. If they exercise rights for reasons that anyone would ETHICALLY agree with, I will get angry. But I will accept it.

    Josh,

    Readers should know that mentioning “Death Panels”. . .

    Since Clumpy was the one who brought up death panels in this thread, and YOU were the one who repeated it, then you are admitting that you have lost the argument.

    You might think I don’t “get it”. Yes, I do.

    I’m saying that since everyone else here has made valid arguments without mentioning such things, your only defense is to bring up what OTHERS were saying as a way of accusing us of playing the Nazi Card and shutting us up.

    This is the converse corollary of Godwin’s law. If you’re losing the argument as a (potentially) accused Nazi (whether you are or not doesn’t matter for the purposes of a debate) you just accuse the opposition of playing the Nazi card. End of discussion.

    This is the classic liberal tactic. I don’t like what Obama is doing. You accuse me of being a racist. End of discussion.

  19. Clumpy
    August 16, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    “Death panels” may have been a red herring, at least for this audience – though the basic lie behind it (euthanasia for the elderly and infants with disabilities) has been spread in mainstream neoconservative circles, the people here who actually know what the heck they’re talking about wouldn’t bring it up. Y’know, having actual reasons for what you believe and all :). Likewise, I think we can agree that most reasoned, intelligent liberals wouldn’t pull out the “racist” card in a conversation, unless it was really warranted. Few people consider themselves “practicing racists” so to speak and such behavior would create resentment and, of course, an immediate end to the debate on very bad terms.

    I don’t think Josh was making a point specific to this thread but just bringing up a connection he thought interesting. While Hitler comparisons don’t really work because they’re so ubiquitous, ending a conversation because of one (the aforementioned Godwin’s law) sounds like an artificial rule.

    I think I could compromise with Carborendum on his anecdote. If insurance companies would behave fairly and not pull strings to deny claims for frivolous reasons then that would solve most of the problems Obama’s program is going for. I don’t think that this will happen, but I recognize that ANY system, private or public, will be limited by resources so decisions have to be made. I’m under no illusions that insurance companies have limitless piles of resources, though I can’t imagine that the really gargantuan ones send a very good image by denying claims while their executives get paid the way they do (for doing what?).

    I’m not really out for eliminating equality in society (though I recognize – and have raved about – its prevalence in society and my view toward it), mainly because the panacea may be worse than the sickness. At any rate I hope the private sector takes care of extreme poverty (particularly internationally) so this whole discussion becomes moot.

  20. Connor
    August 18, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Oh, and let’s not forget another recent example of government proposing a solution for its own created problem: the BCS.

  21. Josh Williams
    August 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    I was being sarcastic and hyperbolical, (when am I not?) I just wanted to express that the whole death-panel myth seems gauche to me.

    Though technically you’re right, Carb, so I’ll shut up now.

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