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Can We Stop Getting Lectures From the Same People Who Claim Conservatives Want to “Force Morality On People”.

August 2, 2009

Liberals in America may finally have given away the game.

Instead of attempting to mount a logical argument for something–which liberals seem to find a metaphysical impossibility at times–they are constantly obscuring the issue at hand and misdirecting attention.

After a lifetime of constantly bemoaning the dark and sinister efforts of conservatives to “force their morality” on the American public, liberals may finally have outed themselves as the ruthless morality police they delight in portraying conservatives as.

Liberalism depends greatly on scaring the hell out of people about some real, perceived, or greatly exaggerated problem and then finding someone to demonize for it.  Thus Nancy Pelosi, in her tireless quest to find a villain insidious enough to inspire support for ObamaCare, embarked upon a barely coherent tirade against insurance companies, who in her view are “doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening”:

“It’s almost immoral what they are doing,” Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. “Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure,” she said, adding, “They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way.

First of all, it is not immoral to object to unfair competition that insurance companies (rightly) believe will crowd out private providers.  Contrary to what Democrats seem to believe, the profit motive is neither immoral nor harmful.  Second, who is trying to “force their morality on people” now?  In Pelosi’s view,private insurance is immoral; hence, it must be strictly regulated or eradicated.

Of course, that is not all, folks.  Tony liberal enclaves that dot our coastal regions are apparently being overrun by mobs of obese people that threaten to ruin their pristine beachfront vistas.  Hence, the “war on obesity”–or more appropriately, the “war on unaesthetic fatties”–is the latest Democratic cause de celebre.

Predictably, New York leads the way in considering a so-called ‘obesity tax’ on caffeinated beverages.

Public health advocates welcomed news of the tax, saying it would help the fight against childhood obesity.

“Raising the price of this liquid candy will put children and teens on a path to a healthier diet,” said Elie Ward of the American Academy of Pediatrics of New York State.

The Paterson administration also announced steps yesterday to expand the state’s social services net, including a 30% increase in welfare payments over three years starting January 2010, increased money for food banks and expanded access to the state’s Family Health Plus program.

As the L.A. Times gleefully informs us, apparently liberals now consider obesity to be as morally repugnant as tobacco.

“Facing the serious consequences of an uncontrolled obesity epidemic, America’s state and federal  policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%,” the Urban Institute report says. It took awhile — almost 50 years from the first surgeon general’s report on tobacco in 1964 — to drive smoking down. But in many ways, the drumbeat of scientific evidence and the growing cultural stigma against obesity already are well underway — as any parent who has tried to bring birthday cupcakes into her child’s classroom certainly knows.

Key among the “interventions” the report weighs is that of imposing an excise or sales tax on fattening foods. That, says the report, could be expected to lower consumption of those foods. But it would also generate revenues that could be used to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured and under-insured, and perhaps to fund campaigns intended to make healthy foods more widely available to, say, low-income Americans and to encourage exercise and healthy eating habits.

If anti-tobacco campaigns are to be the model, those sales taxes could be hefty:  The World Health Organization has recommended that tobacco taxes should represent between two-thirds and three-quarters of the cost of, say, a package of cigarettes;  a 2004 report prepared for the Department of Agriculture suggested that, for “sinful-food” taxes to change the way people eat, they may need to equal at least 10% to 30% of the cost of the food.

And although 40 U.S. states now impose modest extra sales taxes on soft drinks and a few snack items, the Urban Institute report suggests that a truly forceful “intervention” — one that would drive down the consumption of fattening foods and, presumably, prevent or reverse obesity — would have to target pretty much all the fattening and nutritionally empty stuff we eat: “With a more narrowly targeted tax, consumers could simply substitute one fattening food or beverage for another,” the reports says.

The most pernicious of liberal attempts to regulate morality according to their own values, however, is to be found in their rhetoric toward, and treatment of, the rich, particularly in their approach to health care “reform”.  They believe in the confiscation and redistribution of private wealth precisely because they believe that the “rich” are immoral.  Their world view says that people with tremendous amounts of wealth have earned that wealth through dishonest, immoral, and unfair means on the backs on “the worker”, and therefore they are bad, bad, bad!

Thus, the popular liberal argument goes something like this: it’s okay if government health care necessitates rationing, because private insurance is rationing, too. Liberalism holds the government (at least if it’s controlled by liberals) as an infallible institution that will arbitrarily distribute health care according to criterion created by magnanimous government officials.  The free market, on the other hand, factors in–gasp!–money and success, and is therefore immoral.

The true difference–beside the difference between ex ante and ex post equity–is that free markets practically alleviate the problem of scarcity by offering a nearly unlimited array of perfectly acceptable substitute goods and services.  Collectivists worry that there isn’t enough filet mignon to go around, and therefore propose that the government divides the supply equally among everybody(by the way, it hasn’t worked any time it has been tried); the free market recognizes the endless supply of people and tastes and offers substitutes accordingly.  Simply put, the free market recognizes that not everybody wants or needs filet mignon to begin with! Some people would rather have a t-bone, or a porterhouse.  There’s no need to ration because literally billions of individual transactions per day are accounted for and seamlessly integrated and adjusted for on the free market.

The same applies to health care.  Not everyone requires or wants a gold plated “Cadillac” policy, or coverage for mental illnesses, or, for that matter, anything more than catastrophic coverage.  But liberals, in their infinite wisdom, anesthetize the free market through onerous regulation and mandatory coverage minimums; when the system seems sluggish under the weight of worthless stimuli, they look at their own handiwork and conclude that the free market is inefficient and unfair.

Liberalism thrives on creating heroes and villains.  Despite mounting evidence that perhaps the obesity scare (created by people who still cry in their sleep about the “fear-mongering” of the evil Bush regime) is perhaps a bit of an overblown contrivance, liberals need a villain in the health care debacle, and those inglorious, repulsive fatties are one of today’s du jour villains.  The common thread between liberals’ disdain for insurance, obesity, and “the rich”, is that in all cases the answer is for human beings to simply do with less: less coverage, less choices, less prosperity, and less freedom.  If they were truly concerned about curing the “epidemic” of obesity, perhaps they’d shut up and let the health care industry develop ground-breaking treatments and drugs that attack obesity at the source without diminishing the capacity of peoples to enjoy the food and lifestyle choices they cherish, or let them pay exorbitant sums of money to cope with the consequences, if that is what they choose. Nope! Liberals answer is: attack choice.  This, from the people who hold a woman’s “choice” to slaughter her own offspring as sacrosanct and necessary for freedom to flourish.

In an case, liberals are the ones who have the overriding urge to dictate morality.  On those precious few occasions where conservatism concerns itself with morality, it is in the context of time-honored and time-tested developments in human interactions that facilitate freedom within the civil society.

It would be nice if, for once, liberals would stop pretending that they have mastered some “amoral” process of legislating and admit the truth: they would regulate their brand of morality without mercy, to the point that man would be bereft of significant autonomy and purpose.

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