Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friends of Liberty, Real and Apparent

I've said in the past that columnist Charles Krauthammer is a mixed bag, and here's more evidence.
Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is now a disciple of Edmund Burke of Bristol, England who famously spoke about whether the job of a representative is to represent or to be a delegate — to reflect the views of the constituents or to act in what he perceives as the common the good or what we call today the national interest. I'm glad that her view is the Burkean view that it should be the national interest.

I think Republicans ought to be careful about just attacking the [health-care] bills on the basis of its low standing in the public opinion polls. That ought to be an element. Even Burke had said that the opinion of the constituents ought to inform your view, but it shouldn't dictate it.

I think the argument ought to be on the merits, and they ought to cite Warren Buffett who said the bill is not a good one because it doesn't contain costs.

He does add — which I believe — that we have an obligation to insure the uninsured. However, if the system is insolvent and you don't fix it, you are not going to help the uninsured. In fact, you're going to end uninsuring the insured because those who depend on Medicare and Medicaid are going to be left with a system that is broke.
Where to begin?

Sliding past the grotesque nonsense about "the national interest," the health care bill(s) are not bad chiefly because they're too costly. That's true, but far from fundamental. They're bad because they restrict liberty, they violate rights — to freedom, property, and voluntary trade.

They do so on the ever-useful excuse that it's morally mandatory to "help the poor obtain medical care," which is not merely false, but pernicious. We are no more obligated to "insure the uninsured" than we are to provide food, housing, sex, or anything else to those who can't afford them.

Apart from all the other arguments that might be made, one has to wonder why altruists refuse to make any distinction between those who deserve assistance — even privately — and those who do not. All 'poor people' are somehow presumed to be that solely through no failure of their own.

But that, too, is not essential. Even those who find themselves in need of medical care they can't afford after trying their utmost have no moral or legal claim on the public coffers.

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” — Thomas Jefferson

“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” — James Madison in a letter to James Robertson

and, to repeat one of my favorites,

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” — James Madison, 4 Annals of Congress 179, 1794

However, even attending to the current costs alone should give Mr. Krauthammer pause before advising we accept a moral obligation to "insure the uninsured."

In sharp contrast to the pragmatic and altruistic Mr. Krauthammer, we have the mighty Veronique de Rugy, who understands at least that Federal altruism is exactly what's driving us toward the cliff.
Our problem, obviously, is mandatory spending, which makes up about two-thirds of the nation’s federal expenditures each year. There is no question that reforming it is necessary to making sure this country’s fiscal health is sustainable over the long-term.

According to the CBO,
Under current law, CBO projects that the budget deficit this year, will be about $1.3 trillion, or more than 9 percent of the country’s total output. Looking beyond this year, the budget outlook is daunting: Under current law, CBO projects that the deficit will drop to about 3 percent of GDP by 2013 but remain in that neighborhood through 2020. By that point, interest payments alone would cost more than $700 billion per year.
The situation is scheduled to get worse.

So, when it comes time to listen to advice, I recommend tuning into Ms. de Rugy, and tuning out Mr. Krauthammer.

1 comment:

VH said...

This post reminds me of the seminal philosophical divide that thrives between those of us that hold dear Lockean principles and those that wade in the decrepit idea's of Rousseau; Krauthammer stomped onto the proverbial dog crap with this piece--he ascribes Pelosi far too much intellectual honesty to compare her with Burke: The woman is a terrible opportunist.

Lastly, Ms. de Rugy correctly captures my worst nightmare.