Monday, November 9, 2009

Health Care Theater and more from George Washington

The passage of health care "reform" is a blow to conservatism and libertarianism. I can't help but wonder how much of this "close" passage was theater. When the California legislature passed our joke of a budget this last time, they carefully orchestrated it, including a faux opposition from the California Republican party that turned out to be arranged in advance between Republicans and Democrats. After the details of that betrayal by the so-called conservative party in California, I have a hard time believing the house passage of Pelosi's Socialized Medicine bill is anything different. It expands government power, and the one thing both parties seem to agree on is that increasing the government's power is a good thing, no matter what the expense to the citizenry, our children, and our grandchildren.

The passage of this bill brought to mind a reflection by the British actor John Bernard, who happened to meet George Washington in 1798. They both helped a couple who overturned their chaise, and General Washington invited Bernard back to his home to recover from their exertions, where they chatted. Bernard wrote down their conversation:

"[George Washington] regarded the happiness of America but as the first link in a series of universal victories; for his full faith in the power of those results of civil liberty which he saw all around him led him to foresee that it would, ere long, prevail in other countries, and that the social millennium of Europe would usher in the political...

"When I remarked that his observations were flattering to my country, he replied, with great good humor, 'Yes, yes, Mr. Bernard, but I consider your country the cradle of free principles, not their arm chair. Liberty in England is a sort of idol; people are bred up in the belief and love of it, but see little of its doings. they walk about freely, but then it is between high walls; and the error of its government was in supposing that after a portion of their subjects had crossed the sea to live upon a common, they would permit their friends at home to build up those walls about them.'" (The Real George Washington, Page 623)

I can not help but think that the walls are now chain link fencing with razor wire on top, yet within them we're given the illusion of freedom. It will take hard work to return America to the "arm chair" of liberty, but it is worth it.

What's going on now is the realization of the urgency expressed last year: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." --White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, November 2008

This is precisely the sort of change George Washington warned against in his farewell address (which I've quoted before):

"Toward the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect in the forms of the Constitution alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown."

That is not to say he didn't feel the Constitution should be amended. He counseled with regard to change, "let it be by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed." (The Real George Washington, pages 586-587)

Remember, any government that has the ability to give you everything you want is sufficiently powerful to take away everything you have.

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