08 November 2009

Contempt for Congress, Among Others

The US House of Representatives has passed a healthcare reform bill. If it makes it through the Senate unaltered, it will, according to Betsy McCaughey writing in this weekend's Wall Street Journal, require employers and insurers to offer only "qualified" plans which can differ only in premiums and co-pays, not on what is or is not covered. The message is that the Democrats think you're too stupid to choose between competing plans if the choice is any more complicated than just dollars and cents. Their solution is to make health insurance a commodity. According to the Congressional Budget Office, your premiums will go up, not down, and the bill doesn't specify what a qualified plan is or is not. Otherwise translated as "we'll stick it to you later."

There is more, much more, to this 2,000 page piece of trash, but this much is clear. The Democrats are enemies of your economic liberty because they think you're too stupid to handle it. They just want to make life simpler for you. This doesn't mean that the Republicans are friends of liberty. No way. They want to take away your sexual liberty, because they think you're too irresponsible to handle it. And they've taken away a good bit of your privacy because they think you're too cowardly to accept the risk of terrorist attacks that real privacy brings.

In other words, if you care about your liberty, you might as well lump the parties together and call them Republicrats. Neither of them are comfortable trying to govern a free people who take responsibility for themselves and live with the consequences of their choices, wise or unwise. They are well-intentioned, but their desire to take care of you, to keep you safe from either yourself or from others, does not make them your friends.

Of course, the Republicrat discomfort with liberty (which compels them to seek the power to limit liberty) is only one reason why our legislation has been so outrageous of late. The other is that Congress as arrogated unto itself so much power and authority that it can no longer effectively handle its workload. As a result the Congressional Staff now numbers around 24,000. About 11,000 of them work of individual Senators and Congresspersons. They tend to be just out of college or law school, and they view their positions as stepping stones to real careers somewhere else. In other words, they have little or no real world experience, and they are not going to have to deal with the consequences of what they write as legislation. And what they write are not so much like laws as they are like bad term papers - there may be flashes of brilliance in somewhere in them, but they're too long and too full of other junk to find them out.

If I could wave a magic wand, I'd make Congress delegate a significant amount of their power back to the states so that local problems could get local solutions, and to the federal regulatory agencies so that more time and thought and less politics might go into those curbs on our liberty that we must accept in order to have a functioning republic. Then I'd cut back the Congressional staff, and turn more of their positions into careers rather than transitional jobs, so that there would be some experience and historical memory among the staff.

I'm not sure what I'd do about the bribery. It is clearly more widespread than Congress and exists at higher levels than I had thought. How else did some of New York City's wealthiest employers get H1N1 vaccine ahead of the city's medical clinics?

Of course, I could be wrong. Both the American Medical Association and the American Association of Retired Persons have endorsed this monstrosity of a health care bill. Or maybe big businesses and big lobbies aren't necessarily friends of liberty either. After all, the main reason that we are trying to reform the health care system in the first place is that we are currently at the mercy of big businesses (our insurers and employers) and big lobbies that look out for their interests rather than ours.