Mark Steyn in Imprimis
Live Free or Die
read entire article here
If you’re a business, when government gives you 2% of your income, it has a veto on 100% of what you do. If you’re an individual, the impact is even starker. Once you have government health care, it can be used to justify almost any restraint on freedom: After all, if the state has to cure you, it surely has an interest in preventing you needing treatment in the first place.
Under Britain’s National Health Service, for example, smokers in Manchester have been denied treatment for heart disease, and the obese in Suffolk are refused hip and knee replacements. Patricia Hewitt, the British Health Secretary, says that it’s appropriate to decline treatment on the basis of “lifestyle choices.” Smokers and the obese may look at their gay neighbor having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and wonder why his “lifestyle choices” get a pass while theirs don’t. But that’s the point: Tyranny is always whimsical.
That’s Stage Two of societal enervation—when the state as guarantor of all your basic needs becomes increasingly comfortable with regulating your behavior.
It’s ridiculous for grown men and women to say: I want to be able to choose from hundreds of cereals at the supermarket, thousands of movies from Netflix, millions of songs to play on my iPod—but I want the government to choose for me when it comes to my health care. A nation that demands the government take care of all the grown-up stuff is a nation turning into the world’s wrinkliest adolescent, free only to choose its record collection.
When the populace has agreed to become wards of the state, it’s a mere difference of degree to start regulating their thoughts.
an awful lot of journalists are quite content to be the eunuchs in the politically correct harem.
And then comes Stage Four, in which dissenting ideas and even words are labeled as “hatred.”
Professor Krugman failed to notice that for a continent of “family friendly” policies, Europe is remarkably short of families. How can an economist analyze “family friendly” policies without noticing that the upshot of these policies is that nobody has any families?
“Give people plenty and security, and they will fall into spiritual torpor,” wrote Charles Murray in In Our Hands. “When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do, ideas of greatness become an irritant.
Hilaire Belloc, incidentally, foresaw this very clearly in his book The Servile State in 1912. He understood that the long-term cost of a welfare society is the infantilization of the population.
When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher—and you make it very difficult ever to change back.