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All Hole and No Dough

August 1, 2009

The French Cowboy is experiencing hardware problems and is currently working on a computer so slow it makes him long for his now defunct dinosaur ordinateur. Until I have found a better hardware solution, blogging will be hard light.

But at least the French Cowboy can relish the fruit of good people’s keyboards like Mark Steyn who is absolutely right in writing the following:

You can make the “controlling costs” argument about anything: After all, it’s no surprise that millions of free people freely choosing how they spend their own money will spend it in different ways than government bureaucrats would be willing to license on their behalf. America spends more per capita on food than Zimbabwe. America spends more on vacations than North Korea. America spends more on lap-dancing than Saudi Arabia (well, officially). Canada spends more per capita on doughnuts than America — and, given comparative girths, Canucks are clearly not getting as much bang for the buck. Why doesn’t Ottawa introduce a National Doughnut Licensing Agency? You’d still see your general dispenser for simple procedures like a lightly sugared cruller, but he’d refer you to a specialist if you needed, say, a maple-frosted custard — and it would only be a six-month wait, at the end of which you’d receive a stale cinnamon roll. Under government regulation, eventually every doughnut would be all hole and no doughnut, and the problem would be solved. Even if the hole costs $1.6 trillion.

How did the health-care debate decay to the point where we think it entirely natural for the central government to fix a collective figure for what 300 million freeborn citizens ought to be spending on something as basic to individual liberty as their own bodies?

That’s the argument that needs to be won. And, if you think I’m being frivolous in positing bureaucratic regulation of doughnuts and vacations, consider that under the all-purpose umbrellas of “health” and “the environment,” governments of supposedly free nations are increasingly comfortable straying into areas of diet and leisure. Last year, a British bill attempted to ban Tony the Tiger, longtime pitchman for Frosties, from children’s TV because of his malign influence on young persons. Why not just ban Frosties? Or permit it by prescription only? Or make kids stand outside on the sidewalk to eat it? It was also proposed — by the Conservative party, alas — that, in the interests of saving the planet, each citizen should be permitted to fly a certain number of miles a year, after which he would be subject to punitive eco-surtaxes. Isn’t restricting freedom of movement kind of, you know . . . totalitarian?

Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

Government health care would be wrong even if it “controlled costs.” It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.

In other news, it is interesting to see that, during the couple of days on which the French Cowboy was practically without access to the Internets, President Obama’s approval ratings dropped down to mere-mortal 50%. It appears that Obama’s 10 minutes of fame are over. But he still has a little governing to do before he can leave the stage. Maybe a more sober population regarding the persona of their president makes that task easier for Obama than when he is elevated to a god’s status. In any case, let’s hope that the practical results for America and the rest of the world will be good.

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