FPR’s friend and contributor on his home blog:

The way I see it, unless you’re a Friedmanesque fiscal conservative and genuinely believe that any possible health care reform which comes out of Washington DC will positively bankrupt us once and for all and send the nation back to the Stone Age, or unless you’re Hitleresque fascist and genuinely believe that any attempt to make more effective the meager health care options available to the poor or unlucky in our nation will lead to total cultural meltdown, you need to lighten up here. There is much that can be productively debated about what’s happening in Congress right now, much that, in turn, both liberals and conservatives may have reason to oppose. But good grief: these are proposals that, whatever else they do, will result in fewer medical bankruptcies and fewer uncompensated costs from unnecessary emergency room visits, and by and large leave everyone who is satisfied with the current insurance alone. What could possibly be wrong with any of that? That there is much which could be better, I’ll happily admit. (Single-payer, all the way!) But we’re looking at the likelihood in a real improvement in an area that’s been a growing, frequently-patched-up-but-never-truly-fixed mess since the Truman administration.

Let me be clear, and I think I will speak for a considerable, though minority, constituency: I have no interest in any “real improvement” coming out of Washington.  My ears are entirely deaf to any argument that this or that national policy initiative will make domestic life “better” in any way.  Setting aside the fact that I don’t believe such claims for a second, even if they were demonstrably true, I simply don’t and won’t care.  I side instead with Sam Adams: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, [MRIs and little blue pills better than self-reliance and the air that is sweeter in your lungs because it is the air of your own place, built, shared, defended, and loved by your own heart and hands and those of your fellow freemen], go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”

Arguably, that makes me a heartless bastard, and certainly a libertarian-communitarian, anarcho-capitalist, scots-presbyterian, prairie-populist, spirit-of-’76-er, but Hitleresque?

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Okay Caleb, you nailed me. Bad choice of words there, and I’ll willingly take my lumps for it. I guess all I was trying to get across was a fairly simple–though obviously controversial–claim: that while there are many, many particulars regarding the plans floating around Congress which both the right and the left (however broadly and inaccurately defined) can stake serious issue with, I don’t understand how someone, given the reality of health care in America today (a reality which Dough Iliff and John Medaille have well documented in recent posts), can take issue with just the general idea of streamlining or equalizing or balancing the various systems of insurance (or non-insurance!) we have today. Unless, that is, they happen to 1) believe that we are teetering on the edge of complete insolvency, and any kind of health care reform will send us over the edge, or 2) believe that providing better and more reliable coverage for the unemployed or the poor will result in a complete inversion of the proper, necessary, roughly inegalitarian order of things. Your comment opens me up to another possibility, to wit: those who 3) believe that any and all centralized action is wrong in principle, whether or not it “works” by any particular metric, and that the association of “better and more” with anything Washington DC does is at best demonstrates a poor love for liberty, at worst complete idiocy.

    Number 3) is a pretty powerful claim; certainly it has more internal strength than the other two. Assuming it is correct, am I an idiot? Hopefully not, though more than a few have said so, and I won’t set myself up as a judge of my own case anyway. Am I not a true friend of liberty? There the evidence is a little stronger. I am, I confess, more modern than classical–more Marxist than Lockean, to say nothing of Aristotelian–in my thinking about liberty. Which means I’m an egalitarian, and something of a socialist to boot. I just happen to believe that localism and cultural conseravtism are better served by, and in turn better support, such egalitarianism.

    So forgive my overwrought words, and consider me–as I suspect you already do–a work in progress. I’m trying to appreciate your libertarian-communitarianism, I truly am. But I’m still a left-leaning localist, an egalitarian-communitarian at heart.

  2. Russell, fair response, and no, you’re not an idiot, but you don’t value liberty nearly as much as I do, or, naturally, as much as I think you ought to!

    Egalitarian is a funny word. I believe in the equality that comes from being equal to one’s needs. Call it prairie egalitarianism, or frontier egalitarianism, or bootstrap egalitarianism. I reject prison egalitarianism (where, after all, can you find a more “equal” community than in a prison?).

  3. Don’t you just love the coerciveness of “You can have any kind of right you want as long as its not decided by a majority!”

  4. Fascist Hitler and the Nazis supported universal health care (amongst other “progressive” programs like universal public schooling, guaranteed wages, and the redistribution of wealth). Sad how the facts tend to be forgotten.

  5. One wonders how Mr Stegall proposes to accept the sacrament of holy communion without “lick[ing] the hand which feeds him.”

  6. I’m confused. My friend just lost his job at Microsoft and thus his health insurance as well. His COBRA payment is $1,300 and he can’t afford that. Though I don’t know one way or the other, let’s say he or one of his family members has what insurance companies would deem to be an uninsurable, preexisting condition so that he can’t buy new insurance at any price. Why is it exactly that he currently is free as a bird but would lose his liberty if, e.g., Washington required that insurance companies no longer could exclude preexisting conditions? Or if the government changed the current employer-paid insurance system it created so that an employee no longer loses his insurance simply because his company decides to downsize? As my friend sits today, he’s an accident or an illness to one of his kids away from being economically enslaved to someone – a hospital, a doctor, etc. – unless I suppose he exercises his liberty not to seek any health treatment for his child’s cancer. Surely you’re not suggesting that that as long as he’s enslaved to someone in the private sector, it’s not slavery?

  7. Possessing any faith in this government to produce anything that either actually deals with the situation at hand or effectuates a solution that does not create bigger problems…well, it’s downright pathological now, based upon ample evidence and so one can only assume that these here States is now , quite simply Pathological . The best of intentions is of no import here. The scale is around the bend and the inbreeding between special interests and the besotted government has produced a monster.

    I feel for the guy who cannot afford his COBRA vig, I really do,…been there, done that…. just as I feel for some poor palooka of any color who is living a life best described as a raining deluge of shite beginning at birth but this don’t change the essential FACT that this government would turn a one car funeral procession into a $15 Trillion Event, thus essentially causing the entire nation to freeze-up on a level of debt irreconcilable with the gutted production of our economy. THIS is the real Health Crisis. Everything else is simply nibbling around the edges but hey!…this is what lemmings do.

  8. If one takes the position of no health care anything from the government – no alleged improvements of anything from the government, than it seems to me one must also address the issue of how our society is structured. As in, a society which is structured in such as way as to promote fairly equal distribution of resources. While the figures on this issue jump around a bit, it appears that approx 85% of all wealth is in the hands of 20% of the population. Under such a scenario, the majority of people lack the means to secure a whole bunch of nifty things on their own – like health care.

    So the only freedom being preserved right nowe – is the freedom of the few to secure most of the wealth of this nation.

  9. Cecilia,
    What makes you think this government and its tax structure will do anything at all about the concentration of wealth? Contrary to popular assertion, it is far from socialist…..It is essentially oligarchic in socialist clothing…kind of like Sparta, without guts….nor honor.

  10. “I love liberty and I hate equality.” I seem to remember that the great JR wrote this.

  11. I am sorry DW Sabin – you missed my point – I do not expect the government to do anything about the disparity in the distribution of wealth – particularly since both Dem and Reb administrations over the last thirty years have pretty much done everything they can to cause the problem. I think rather that – one can claim (correctly in most cases) that the government fails to improve anything therefore they won’t improve health care. However – if one advocates for a do nothing government that leaves the working and middle classes without any kind of safety net ( to use Reagan’s term) than the issue of such significant disparitiy in the distribution of wealth still must be addressed so as to give the working and middle class some sort of chance to develop their own safety net. The idea of preserving one’s freedom in the face of such a glaring disproportionate distribution of wealth, accomplished by (among other things) assorted tax policies over the years makes no sense to me. The freedom you will have is to be without health care and a decent living income. If we want the government out of health care let’s address the issue of a society whose corporate and tax policies allow a reasonable distribution of wealth. They are related.

  12. DW Sabin –

    With all due respect, your response seems to be no more than a declaration of a quasi-religious commitment to a conservative principle – that government is always bad – without actually addressing my questions. If your principle is universally true, should we end the horribly inefficient and evil government delivery of water to the public? (Part of me hesitates to even use this tongue in cheek example lest I discover to my dismay that many conservatives actually do chafe at the fact that citizens long have used government to provide cheap, universal water for everyone.)

  13. I suppose that our differences over this question point to our more general dfferences about politics. I prefer Randolph to TJ on every issue and I think that Randolph was a better human being in every way. But, then again, I share Caleb’s suspicion of any program issuing from the current Messiah-in-chief and his minions, though I’m not selective about this suspicion. I was just as suspicious about the mythical tales of the unitary executive and the war to bring the blessings of democracy to the middle east which came from the previous fantasist-in-chief.

  14. It should be noted that I said “this” government. The species is entirely too craven, gullible, venal, lackadaisical and any of a number of other descriptives to pull off a successful anarchy. Accordingly, government , of some sort is obviously required. Properly ordered and rendered, it can be a positively noble and wonderful thing. Where we have gone wrong is in the notion that we must be World Cop and that Debt, through fiat money can be made into a commodity that replaces industrial capacity and that furthermore, we should surrender our economic security in furthering the scheme. Needless to say, this operational mode has made our government into something that is omnipresent rather than simply sufficient. I am by no means “religious ” to conservative orthodoxy…particularly that scrambled orthodoxy which masquerades as “conservative ” these days.

    However, if you would like an example of the type of government that I believe is most productively “conservative”, find yourself a copy of “George Washington’s Farewell Address” , read it and weep.

    If you insist on maintaining that a “complex” world demands a “complex” government, I really don’t know what to say beyond good luck with that.

    Therefore, I stand firmly behind my assertion that expecting “this” government to arrive at an equitable solution regarding anything is a fools errand. It is, at heart, one of the largest ongoing Bunko Operations in the history of mankind and practices a Serial Bait and Switch on a people whose head is so far up their arse they can see Venus. Or, perhaps they are mistaking the methane of their inner sanctum for the methane-rich Venusian Atmosphere. Not that I know from experience, its just what I’ve heard.

    I would keep an open mind about government contributions if we were not speaking of this government….an organization that vapor-locks when the idea of “contribution” is mentioned and reflexively plunges its entire arm into the honeypot, knocking woman and children out of the way first.

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