Apathy is the liberal's friend

Mark Steyn has a great column out entitled "Retreat into Apathy" in which his primary point is that it's apathy, specifically apathetic citizenship, that allows the type of big government bailouts and takeovers that we've seen (and are seeing) possible.

And each little area of our lives that we're apathetic enough to let the government take over creates another area of life we're conditioned not to worry about, since it's now Big Brother's job.

The issue at hand is health care.  Steyn writes:

Big government depends, in large part, on going around the country stirring up apathy - creating the sense that problems are so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it's easier to shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal with them.

Take health care. Have you read any of these health-care plans? Of course not. They're huge and turgid and unreadable. Unless you're a health-care lobbyist, a health-care think-tanker, a health-care correspondent, or some other fellow who's paid directly or indirectly to plough through this stuff, why bother? None of the senators whose names are on the bills have read 'em; why should you? ...

Well, one obvious reason we should read what's the in the bills is because of what happens when we don't.  Meaning we end up with a health care system run by the same people who brought you the DMV.  And we have to realize that, as soon as the government runs it, you and your health become a burden.  A cost to be controlled.

...the point to remember is that the only way to "control costs" in health care is to have less of it. In a government system, the doctor, the nurse, the janitor, and the Assistant Deputy Associate Director of Cost-Control System Management all have to be paid every Friday, so the sole means of "controlling costs" is to restrict the patient's access to treatment. In the Province of Quebec, patients with severe incontinence - i.e., they're in the bathroom twelve times a night - wait three years for a simple 30-minute procedure. True, Quebeckers have a year or two on Americans in the life-expectancy hit parade, but, if you're making twelve trips a night to the john 365 times a year for three years, in terms of life-spent-outside-the-bathroom expectancy, an uninsured Vermonter may actually come out ahead.

Just a little bit of what Obama would have us all looking forward to. But in the grand scheme of things, health care is just one aspect of this problem.  The bigger problem is the kind of apathetic citizenship, or just general civic laziness, that can lead people to these ends.  Steyn encapsulates it well...

...if you remove the burdens of individual responsibility while loosening all restraint on individual hedonism the vaporization of the public space is all but inevitable. ...

...to demand a government organized on the principle of preemptively "taking care" of potential "vulnerabilities" is to make all of us, in the long run, far more vulnerable. A society of children cannot survive, no matter how all-embracing the government nanny.

Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."


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