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Cameron S. Schaeffer / November 22, 2013

Building a Golden Calf

Politics lives on the continuum between persuasion and coercion. A good politician bends others to his will by his ideas and his arguments. A great politician makes people think the idea was their own. In a free society, people listen to ideas and arguments and freely accept or reject them.

The military theorist Carl von Clausewitz described war as politics by other means. More precisely, it is politics at the coercion end of the continuum. It is the bending of others to one’s will at the muzzle of a gun. But violence need not be, well, violent. Just ask anyone who has been bullied. The politics of coercion are the politics of bullies, not the politics of free men and women.

Cronyism is the politics of coercion, with the victim being the little guy who pays for the deal, usually through higher taxes, higher prices, inflation, lower interest on his deposits, or being forced to buy the product of the crony. When politicians and their cronies decide what Citizen A will do for himself or for Citizen B, Citizen A is rarely consulted. Citizen B can be always be counted on for his support. The conspirators merely count the money and the votes.

The arguments over Obamacare were always an abstraction, until now. There was no mention of needing to disrupt the individual health insurance markets. In fact, it was promised that existing insurance markets would not be affected. Obamacare was a crony power grab, sold as a lie, passed by gimmick, and endorsed by a judicial logic that transforms health insurance companies into taxing utilities, guaranteed a profit. As millions of Americans lose their health insurance policies and face higher taxemiums – taxes disguised as premiums, the abstraction has become the reality. The rubber has hit the road.

Under Obamacare, it does not matter if you are a middle-aged man, you need lactation services. If you are a teetotaler, you need addiction services. If you are childless, you need a pediatrician. If you are a young woman, you need Viagra. Etc. It does not matter if you like your plan and you want to keep it. Somebody decided it was “substandard,” so they outlawed it.

First comes the coverage, and then comes the control. Those who refuse to submit will be fined by the IRS. What happens if they refuse to pay the fine? Place your bets on the coercion end of the continuum. When the government decides it can set the standards for your needs and for your body’s care, it can also set the standards for what you eat. Trans-fats are soon to be outlawed. What’s next?

Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey calls the Obamacare health exchanges “capitalism.” That term is reserved for an economic system in which goods and services are bought and sold freely, without coercion. When corporations are hijacked and citizens are forced to buy their products, the proper term is “fascism.”

Fascism is a form of statism in which the government bends companies and citizens to its will through coercion. Benito Mussolini was a fascist. Before he became Italy’s dictator, he edited a newspaper called “Avanti!” Translated, that was the slogan of a recent presidential campaign. Fascism is a religion of the state, seeking collective salvation.

When challenged about the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, the progressives say: “We just have to move forward.” They never stop to consider the mess they have made. “Forward!” There is always a new plan from the central planners. Each new solution creates new problems for which new solutions are proposed. It is government ad hoc, spinning in circles and never rooted in principle, with the ends always justifying the means.

The first two Commandments- the ones about worshipping other Gods, seem quaint in a monotheistic world. Who builds idols anymore? The rest of the Commandments, especially the ones about lying, cheating, and stealing, seem more relevant and timeless. People who do not lie, cheat, and steal probably feel pretty good about themselves. But are they equally introspective when they vote to turn the state into a golden calf and to make Gods of men?

People who set out to remake society are usually headed for trouble.

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