The Total Power of the Mandate
by DANIEL GREENFIELD
March 29, 2012
The only real lesson of the ObamaCare defense is that if you define the macro broadly enough, you are entitled to completely control every aspect of the micro. Everyone can be compelled to buy health insurance because health care is no longer a service bought from a doctor, it is a national market which everyone by definition participates in. The market is then divided between good consumers who buy health insurance and the parasites who don't. Alternative possibilities such as people who pay as you go, choose alternative health care or reject medicine entirely for religious or political reasons don't figure into a macro equation which sees people in the macro, not as individuals.
Defenders of the Mandate insist that you couldn't similarly force people to buy Broccoli or a Chevy Volt but why not? You might not be able to individually force people to buy a specific product, but once you define a transportation market or an edibles market, you can force people to participate in that market on the terms set by the government and its allied businesses.
So there wouldn't be a mandate to buy a Chevy Volt. That would be a crude abuse of power. Instead we can define a transportation market in which everyone is presumed to participate in. Since everyone at some point in their lives has to buy a car, ride in a car or take a bus or a plane somewhere, we can include everyone as a participant in the business of going places. And once everyone has been included in the transportation market, a mandate can then define the terms on which they can participate in that market.
Buy a Chevy Volt? No. Buy an electric car or alternative means of transportation which meets a target carbon footprint, or participate in a collective ride sharing system that meets the same requirements. Absolutely yes. And if rather few non-Volt vehicles meet those requirements, that's just incentive for more companies to make their own Volts. Or for you to buy a Volt.
Compel you to eat broccoli? That's easy as pie. Everyone already buys food which makes them participants in an edibles market. Since their consumption also affects their health care which now directly interacts with the government, the only way to provide them with affordable health care is to control their diet.
Here's one easy way to do it. Compel health insurance companies not to sell plans to anyone who does not commit to follow nutritional guidelines. Then fine them for not having health insurance. Allow them to buy health insurance again only after they agree to regular sessions with a nutritional counselor.
But the broccoli mandate is easy enough too. Since everyone buys food, everyone is a participant in the edibles market. To provide good affordable and nutritious food, which is now a right, to all Americans, and safeguard affordable healthcare, everyone is now mandated to participate in the Federal Annual Nutritional Purchase Program which would offer discounted produce, with a subsidy for farmers, on an installment plan that everyone would be compelled to pay into.
To deflect public criticism, the FANPP would be mandatory only for families with children under thirteen. There would be a variety of alternatives, but at the end of the day you would be compelled to buy broccoli and arugula and anything else that the brilliant busybodies decide is good for you.
Could anyone actually compel you to actually eat it? There's no need to go too 1984, but it's worth bearing in mind that there are sensors that monitor whether a homeowner has taken out their recycling the appropriate number of times, complete with fines for those who haven't, or for those whose labors haven't registered on the sensor. Within a decade it will be child's play to track every item of food in the supermarket and your refrigerator and your trash with edible RFID tags, plug all that into a database and then crunch the numbers and see if you really are eating your vegetables.
There is no limit to the controlling antics of the nanny state under the leadership of men and women who are certain that they know best and that only by taking complete control of everyone's lives will their pet projects for making the world a better place work out. It won't work of course, but that just means they will try harder.
The real message of the Mandate is that socialism interfaces closely with crony capitalism and that government solutions depend on forcibly enlisting everyone into their ranks because otherwise the program isn't even workable enough to get started.
The failures of ObamaCare will necessitate a constant campaign of scapegoating, blaming companies and ordinary Americans for not doing what needs to be done for everything to run smoothly. And that scapegoating will necessitate new solutions, new programs and new regimes. Companies will be nationalized, patients will be regimented and like the NHS, the coverage will veer from treating it as the only thing keeping us from dying in the gutter to warning that it is constantly on the edge of the abyss. There will be constant talk of reforms, whispers of privatization, and the misery will go on.
That is what the Mandate really means, the power to impose a total system on everyone. As the system becomes more dysfunctional, it will lose its vestige of private care and become a total government monopoly for its own good and ours. But of course it doesn't end there. It never does.
Government health care is well and good, but what about government education? Take Warren Buffett's solution for fixing education. "Make private schools illegal and assign every child to a public school by random lottery."
You might be thinking that this sounds like some dystopian future, it's actually a proposal by one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the country, being repeated by the DC schools chancellor. It's also the logical next step.
Private schools are already illegal in Norway and even where it isn't illegal, pressure has grown on religious schools to abide by the dictates of the state, even when it is conflict with their religion. Homeschooling is illegal in parts of Europe. And don't we want to be more like Europe? A current state of affairs where any children are partially immune from constant indoctrination and molding into ideal citizens of the republic is hardly ideal. And after all we can't have affordable health care if children aren't taught proper nutrition at an early age.
So it goes. Every government program justifies another one. Every government intrusion justifies another one. When a program fails, it's because not enough resources have been thrown at it. The only way to fix the problem is to compel total participation, total accountability, total compliance and eventually total failure.
It is the total part that is so vitally important. Whether it's Obama insisting on the Mandate or Buffett insisting on a public school mandate, the system needs everyone on board because the goal isn't really success, it's managed failure. The architects know quite well that the problems are baked in and that throwing in some fresh blood will buy them a little more time before they go off the cliff.
Their only approach to failure is to seize more power. And that's what it's really all about. Power. The power to compel others to do as you please, to live as you think they should and to praise you for making them live that way is the essence of power. It is the essence of the nanny state. The excuses are everywhere, but none of them gets to the meat of the thing, which is that utopia is planned failure that only serves as a justification for the perpetual and unlimited abuse of power.
There is nothing that they cannot mandate, no freedom they will not suppress and no right they will not create. Utopia is just around the corner and if we give up the last of our freedoms, they promise to take us there.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, columnist and freelance photographer born in Israel, who maintains his own blog, Sultan Knish.
Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, columnist and freelance photographer born in Israel, who maintains his own blog, Sultan Knish.