Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


The Census and Obama Care

Over the weekend, I was on the exercise bike reading the March Madness issue of Sports Illustrated when I was surprised by a full page ad placed by the U.S. Census Bureau. Written in an average Joe script, it said: "If we don't know how big our community is, how do we know how big our hospitals need to be?" Coming on the weekend ObamaCare passed, this ad almost perfectly expresses the "administrative despotism" that Tocqueville warned against. First of all, it is so reasonable and caring, who could be against it? I was enjoying the lowly pleasures of college basketball, but even I can agree with my neighbor, Mr. Census Bureau, that "we" should have hospitals big enough to serve "our" community.

On the other hand, the ad implies that a national census is the only or best way to determine how big any community is. It also suggests that the size of one's community is the sole or main consideration in determining the size of hospitals. Sure, the Census Bureau could add other considerations to the mix, but the point is that central planning inevitably simplifies and standardizes. And that - central planning - is the ad's most important premise: one arm of the Federal bureaucracy will supply the information that another arm of that bureaucracy needs to deliver services. The ad implies (at least to someone in small town Ohio) that decisions about the size of hospitals should be made by some distant experts, or at least with their information and under their guidance. And that mix of compassionate and gentle though irresistible suasion from outside is the problem. The more the decisions that affect our lives are made by others, Tocqueville argued, the less opportunity each citizen has to use and develop his or her own faculties and the less attached that citizen will be to his or her own community. The immediate danger is not tyranny, but that in turning over more and more decisions to the government shepherd, we become less and less like self-governing citizens and more and more sheep-like.

Categories > Politics

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We become, in short, the kind of people nobody wants for neighbors.

Friends in Europe are saying, "Welcome to the twenty-first century!" I tell them to stay there and enjoy their European twenty-first century; I wish to enjoy another one, an American one. They say this health care plan is not socialism. What is socialism, but central planning? Yes, what happens to self-government? I'll bet we will still be encouraged to it, but the definition will change.

"The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities." Abraham Lincoln

People have come to the conclusion that they can do little for themselves.

Thus, the offensiveness of the "Party of 'No'" rhetoric coming from the Dems . . . it was not so much that they were trying to make the case that Republicans had no ideas (for to make that case, their slogan would have had to be better than that and would not have so betrayed them in the course of making it). What is offensive about it is the way in which it reveals their conception of the relationship between the citizen and the government--it is one similar to that of child and parent. They actually think that we are the equivalent of political children who need their guidance and mercy. We need them to articulate the wishes of our hearts. They want us to believe that they are our loving mothers while the GOP is a dead-beat dad. Nice. I say it's time to put away childish things. I'm an adult now and, while I respect my parents, they no longer feel compelled to search out the longings of my heart or to tell me what to do. I don't need a mommy or a daddy anymore and who wants to live with folks who do?

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