Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Statist

Excerpted from Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny:
The Statist has an insatiable appetite for control. His sights are set on his next meal even before he has fully digested his last. He is constantly agitating for government action. And in furtherance of that purpose, the Statist speaks in the tongue of the demagogue, concocting one pretext and grievance after another to manipulate public perceptions and build popular momentum for the divestiture of liberty and property from its rightful possessors. The industrious, earnest, and successful are demonized as perpetrators of various offenses against the public good, which justifies governmental intervention on behalf of an endless parade of "victims." In this way, the perpetrator and the victim are subordinated to the government's authority -- the former by outright theft, the latter by a dependent existence. In truth, both are made victims by the real perpetrator, the Statist.

The Statist veils his pursuits in moral indignation, intoning in high dudgeon the injustices and inequities of liberty and life itself, for which only he can provide justice and bring a righteous resolution. And when the resolution proves elusive, as it undoubtedly does -- whether the Marxist promise of "the workers' paradise" or the Great Society's "war on poverty" -- the Statist demands ever more authority to wring out the imperfections of mankind's existence. Unconstrained by constitutional prohibitions, what is left to limit the Statist's ambitions but his own moral compass, which has already led him astray? He is never circumspect about his own shortcomings. Failure is not the product of his beliefs but merely want of power and resources. Thus are born endless rationalizations for seizing ever more governmental authority.
This is an excellent lens through which to view the health care debate. Various enterprises -- mainly health insurance companies -- are criticized for their greed. The uninsured are presented as the victims of this corporate rapaciousness, while government is the inevitable savior, generously dispensing that which the heartless among us have denied.

Proponents of expanded government intervention in health care, meanwhile, do not pause to reflect upon their previous misadventures in this area. Medicare's myriad problems, the role of the tax code in promoting the overuse of insurance and the impact of various regulations which drive up costs (e.g. licensing, the lack of interstate competition, mandates that only doctors perform certain procedures which could easily be handled by others) are inconvenient truths left unacknowledged. To the extent the shortcomings of these interventions are admitted -- such as Medicare's long-term finances -- the solution is invariably more government power.

Health care is hardly unique. The solution to failed government-run schools is expanded power and resources. Rather than viewing the problematic nature of government-operated passenger rail as a warning sign, billions more are being devoted to its expansion. A lack of success in the drug war in past decades produced calls for additional authority to be granted and increased budgets.

The belief in government's ability to directly solve all of life's problems is simply arrogance on an astonishing scale.

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