August 24, 2009
A New Push to Play God from Washington
By Thomas Sowell
The serious, and sometimes chilling, provisions of the medical care legislation that President Obama has been trying to rush through Congress are important enough for all of us to stop and think, even though his political strategy from the outset has been to prevent us from having time to stop and think about it.
What we also should stop to think about is the mindset behind this legislation, which is very consistent with the mindset behind other policies of this administration, whether the particular issue is bailing out General Motors, telling banks who to lend to or appointing "czars" to tell all sorts of people in many walks of life what they can and cannot do.
The idea that government officials can play God from Washington is not a new idea, but it is an idea that is being pushed with new audacity.
What they are trying to do is to create an America very unlike the America that has existed for centuries-- the America that people have been attracted to by the millions from every part of the world, the America that many generations of Americans have fought and died for.
This is the America for which Michelle Obama expressed her resentment before it became politically expedient to keep quiet.
It is the America that Reverend Jeremiah Wright denounced in his sermons during the 20 years when Barack Obama was a parishioner, before political expediency required Obama to withdraw and distance himself.
The thing most associated with America-- freedom-- is precisely what must be destroyed if this is to be turned into a fundamentally different country to suit Obama's vision of the country and of himself. But do not expect a savvy politician like Barack Obama to express what he is doing in terms of limiting our freedom.
He may not even think of it in those terms. He may think of it in terms of promoting "social justice" or making better decisions than ordinary people are capable of making for themselves, whether about medical care or housing or many other things. Throughout history, egalitarians have been among the most arrogant people.
Obama has surrounded himself with people who also think it is their job to make other people's decisions for them. Not just Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, his health care advisor who complains of Americans' "over-utilization" of medical care, but also Professor Cass Sunstein, who has written a whole book on how third parties should use government power to "nudge" people into making better decisions in general.
Then there are a whole array of Obama administration officials who take it as their job to pick winners and losers in the economy and tell companies how much they can and cannot pay their executives.
Just as magicians know that the secret of some of their tricks is to distract the audience, so politicians know that the secret of many political tricks is to distract the public with scapegoats.
No one is more of a political magician than Barack Obama. At the beginning of 2008, no one expected a shrewd and experienced politician like Hillary Clinton to be beaten for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States by someone completely new to the national political scene. But Obama worked his political magic, with the help of the media, which he still has.
Barack Obama's escapes from his own past words, deeds and associations have been escapes worthy of Houdini.
Like other magicians, Obama has chosen his distractions well. The insurance industry is currently his favorite distraction as scapegoats, after he has tried to demonize doctors without much success.
Saints are no more common in the insurance industry than in politics or even among paragons of virtue like economists. So there will always be horror stories, even if these are less numerous or less horrible than what is likely to happen if Obamacare gets passed into law.
Obama even gets away with saying things like having a system to "keep insurance companies honest"-- and many people may not see the painful irony in politicians trying to keep other people honest. Certainly most of the media are unlikely to point out this irony.