Monday, November 16, 2009

The Case for Long-Term Optimism

As you may already know by now, the House has voted in favor of the medical care overhaul legislation (I cannot keep track of all the titles since they either change them or divide them into separate legislation pieces) and it will now go to the actual Senate, the final hurdle to be met before it either gets rejected or goes to the president to be signed into law. Here we have it: legislation of a type that has failed everywhere it has been tried, in other nations and here in parts of America; legislation that is impractical economically and is immoral, legislation that is vicious in its very nature since it will cause nothing but harm and is absolutely indefensible -- is a step closer to becoming reality here in America. As depressing as it may be to think about, the likelihood is in favor of this legislation getting passed:

As Judge Napolitano notes, socializing medicine is much worse than just bad economics:

Even the Republicans have introduced their version of Obamacare Lite. It, too, if passed, will compel employers to provide coverage, bribe the states to change their court rules, and tell insurance companies whom to insure.

We do not have two political parties in this country, America. We have one party; called the Big Government Party. The Republican wing likes deficits, war, and assaults on civil liberties. The Democratic wing likes wealth transfer, taxes, and assaults on commercial liberties. Both parties like power; and neither is interested in your freedoms. Think about it. Government is the negation of freedom. Freedom is your power and ability to follow your own free will and your own conscience. The government wants you to follow the will of some faceless bureaucrat.

Please note that even the Republicans are pushing further government intervention into medicine. No matter what happens, we’ll get screwed. [From The New Clarion. Note that I do not endorse Libertarianism, as it is somewhat implied in the quote above.]

The Democrats and Republicans both want further government intervention into medical care, and all this is despite increasing opposition. Obama has been cited as even going so far as to tell his fellow politicians to be willing to *sacrifice* their political careers in order to pass this legislation. House speaker Nancy Pelosi feels confident enough to call this legislation a "Christmas present."

Now has it become fully clear how powerful and dangerous philosophy can be? If ignored and left to ivory tower intellectuals, it is such a power that can dictate, and possibly destroy, your life without you having any say in the matter. Of all the years philosophy has been viewed as a subject detached from life, we have come to the point where a massively destructive and immoral piece of legislation is close to being passed since its advocates think, no, feel that it is moral and that sacrifice is a practical way of living, and they may do it despite massive protest since they may view themselves as philosopher kings that know better than you and are above morality and therefore allowed to force things upon you. From now on when a view of existence is uttered, we must be careful to think carefully about its implications, and to dispense with the jokes about philosophy ("How do you get philosophy off the front porch? You pay for the pizza!").

But as grim as things are, it is not yet time to fret and view things as hopeless. Truth be told, I believe that they are plenty of reasons to look to the future with optimism. This piece of legislation, which has an indeterminate future as of now I remind you, is not the equivalent substitute for a culture and its ideas, but rather an effect. There is still time, and here are five reasons why I think we can look forward to a better future:

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1.) A single piece of legislation does not alter a culture absolutely; it is only a consequence of a culture that supports the ideals that give rise to the legislation in the first place. The present legislation that would enact universal medical coverage did not arise out of a vacuum, but rather it rose out of a culture that supports a certain morality (altruism) that sanctions the use of force against other people in order to make them sacrifice for the common good. Whatever effect this legislation will have on the culture will not be total, and even then it is still a logical consequence of ideals rather than a series of actions alone.

If the culture can be made to reject its current moral ideals of altruism, or to at the very least rethink and debate them, we can perhaps achieve a different kind of consequence if this legislation were to be passed. If the ideals giving rise to this legislation are still fully supported by the time the consequences of this legislation are felt then the people who advocated and supported such measures will view such a reality as a proper way to live, and their kids will not know things could have been better; otherwise, if the ideals are rejected then the people will perhaps demand fundamentally different courses of action. A saying goes: Raise a kid in a swamp and he will never know that the air does not have to stink. What we need to do is let people know that there is not only a swamp.

2.) Barack Obama is acting in accordance with his ideals, and, as we have seen, his ideals, in their consistent form, disturb a significant portion the voting public. Since Obama will most probably, if not certainly, continue acting in accordance with his ideals, people will continue to be disturbed by his actions and there will continue to be a receptive audience for those who want to explain what is essentially wrong with his actions and world view. In other words, opportunities of activism will continue to be handed to us on a platter for a while yet.

We have yet to observe what the effect of the surge of interest in Atlas Shrugged will be, that is, how many people may have converted to the Objectivist world view or at least have become a sympathetic audience. This is one of the reasons why I am so particularly pleased with the Ayn Rand Center Blog: such a constant stream of commentary will do well to maintain and educate an interested audience.

3.) As an extension of point two, keep in mind that this legislation will not be enacted until 2011 if passed (so much for immediate reform). In that three year period much activism can be had.

4.) The Tea Party revolts indicate that there is still emotional respect towards the ideals that America was originally founded on, and that means the American mind can still be saved: all we have to do is offer education that attaches those ideals to reality. If such an opportunity is let to pass by then the revolts will probably amount to nothing, sinking since it has no intellectual buoyancy. Take advantage of the energy and fan the flames with ideas.

5.) Free speech is still a respected right (to a degree). So long as there is free speech there is free thought and the door is still open to rational discussion. However, this right is also under extreme danger.

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The most important of the all the points is that about free speech. There is always time so long as rational discussion is not prohibited. If prohibited, there would be no other option other than civil war, which can still be prevented now.

When one loses hope, that is when all is lost.

1 comment:

Burgess Laughlin said...

Cheers for your analysis of the situation with health care legislation! If the law is passed, in whatever form, it will be the last domino in a long line of dominoes set up and pushed over during past decades.

It would be absurd to sit quietly as the line of dominoes falls, and then when the last domino is about to fall to jump up and shout "Emergency!" and then give up hope.

Particularly perceptive, I think, is your point about turning a problem (destructive legislation enacted) into an opportunity (a chance to demonstrate principles by reference to unfolding particulars as the effects of the new laws become evident).

One point that is outside the scope of your post is that, while altruism is the ethical foundation of the notion of "universal health care," a deeper foundational issue is the conflict between reason (the base for an ethics of rational self-interest) and mysticism (the base for altruism). Ultimately the conflict between reason and mysticism is the main event of our time.

Thank you for the post. It identifies the situation objectively (which means, in part, in a long-range context) and it offers a strategy for action. The result is objective hope.