Is Compulsion OK if We Mean Well?

Kevin Drum thinks John Shaddeg (who is actually my representative) is crazy because he equates the current health care proposals, which Drum says are just to make sure that everyone has decent health care, to "Soviet gulag health care."  Further, Drum concludes that Democrats in Congress are sane and would never ever engage in such over-the-top loony rhetoric as Mr. Shaddeg

But it's a good example of what I mean when I suggest that today's right-wing lunacy is different from left-wing lunacy of the Bush years.  Sure, there were lefty bloggers who went over the top about Amerika and how the NSA was bringing 1984 to life and so forth, but for the most part you didn't have members of Congress taking to the House floor and joining in.  They largely managed to keep a slightly more even keel.

Wow, that will be blood in the water for Conservative bloggers - I can think of a number of Democratic loonies in Congress but I don't want to do the Republican's job for them.  Instead I wrote:

I have no doubt that you have the best of intentions, and that you only want healthy people and two unicorns in every garage. But you are, no matter how well intentioned, achieving your ends through compulsion. You compel person A to pay for person B's health care. You compel doctors and medical suppliers to provide services at costs or at quality levels they would not have provided otherwise. You compel everyone to get insurance -- and not just insurance, but exactly the insurance with the coverage you want, not what they want.

To folks who cherish individual liberties (and who don't look to the Republican party for much leadership on this or any topic) it is all soviet-style compulsion, no matter how pure your motives.

PS- as a libertarian without a horse in the wars between the Coke and Pepsi party, I find this kind of post hilarious. Team Elephant thinks you guys are insane and they are normal, and you think the opposite. You think that calling their president Hitler is fine while they are wrong to do it to yours, and vice-versa. I will give you a big hint. You guys all sound exactly the same. You all use the same tactics. You both have thoughtful members and loonies, both on the sidelines and in positions of power. You both have honest people and corrupt ones. It's like watching Apple vs. PC ads, except those two actually have some differences.

Update:  This from a later Drum piece is exactly what I was referring to.  I am positive the Republicans think the exact same way about Democrats, in fact I hear them all the time saying "We need to get down and dirty like the Democrats and stop being the ones always following the rules."  Apparently Democrats think the same way:

Is it really true that the Democratic leadership acts like a high school social club while the Republican leadership acts more like the mafia?  Step out of line in GOP-land and they'll make you pay dearly: money, committee assignments, and more will be savagely withdrawn if you vote the wrong way.

Self-awareness seems to be in short supply in Washington.


  1. spiro:

    bravo *clap, clap, clap*

  2. artemis:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    CS Lewis

  3. Zach:

    "Sure, there were lefty bloggers who went over the top about Amerika and how the NSA was bringing 1984 to life and so forth, but for the most part you didn’t have members of Congress taking to the House floor and joining in."

    My question is, why didn't they? As I recall, they rolled over and died on one of the few issues that, judging from their rhetoric (and not their inactions), I actually agree with Democrats.

    They're either cowards or the "but our guys will get it right" kinds of statists; either way, get rid of the bums.

  4. Not Sure:

    "Is Compulsion OK if We Mean Well?"

    If, by "We", you mean *you- yourself*, then no. If, instead, "We" means *Really Smart People* who know better than you do what you need and what you don't, then yes.

    Or something like that.

  5. John:

    **Step out of line in GOP-land and they’ll make you pay dearly**

    Yeah, right. The GOP is going to be so darn tough on Olympia Snowe, just like they have every other time she's wondered off the reservation.

  6. GU:

    "as a libertarian without a horse in the wars between the Coke and Pepsi party . . ."

    I prefer calling them the Giant Douche and Turd Sandwich parties, respectively.

    (For the uninitiated, see this link immediately:

  7. nom de guerre:

    "is compulsion OK if we mean well?"

    if memory serves, in the constitution or the bill of rights the words "compulsory" or "mandatory" DO NOT APPEAR. (yes yes, am aware of the 6th amendment giving the accused "compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor", but aside from that....)

    so no, it's not OK. the other problem with 'compulsory/mandatory/ gov't programs is cost and mission creep. paycheck withholding was introduced in ww2, and was to be "only for the duration". social security at first took 1% (plus the matching 1% from your employer) of the first couple of thousand bucks. now we're up to 15%+ of the first hundred grand. (and still, it's going broke.) plato dreamed of a world run by philosopher-kings with absolute power, who would wisely guide the people as a shepherd guides his flock. the statists love this idea - plato allowed for no means of removing the overlords - so long as *they* get to be the shepherds. the problem is, the shepherd is guiding and helping us sheep to be fat and tranquil, because his ultimate aim - which he keeps to himself - is to sell us for profit, or simply butcher us for his dinner. trivialities like the constitution hinder the shepherd in this goal, so every year he just ignores it a little more. the sheep won't notice: they're being trained to hate columbus in schools or to sing songs about the Dear Leader now, rather than in the history that might inconvenience the shepherd.

    gotta run! off to the DMV to get new license tags for the car, since everyone knows a car won't run without an updated state-issued sticker on it. don't think they're not feverishly working on it right now??