A Liberal View of July 4th

There are two principal meanings of the word “liberal.” On the one hand, there is classical liberalism — the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, the founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln, etc., and which is reflected in the Declaration of Independence. Then there is modern liberalism, which rejects virtually all of classical liberalism, except perhaps in the civil liberties realm.

Independence Day presents a problem for modern liberals. This is the day when we are supposed to celebrate the signing of our founding document. So what do you do if you’re an editorial writer or a columnist and you have to write something about July 4th when you don’t really believe in July 4th?

Imagine a tribute to America that:

  • Says the founding fathers were hypocrites because many of them owned slaves.
  • Pretends that the phrase “all men are created equal” means equality of material condition (or at least equality of opportunity) rather than its actual meaning: equality before the law.
  • Applauds our nation for declaring that “all men have rights,” but manages to mention only one of them (the right to vote), even though that one was not in the Declaration of Independence or in the original Constitution.
  • Implies that anyone who believes that voters should produce the same identification we all have to produce to fly on an airplane or enter a government building is secretly intent on voter suppression.
  • Spends four full paragraphs taking a swipe at Sarah Palin’s view of “real America” by pointing out that most Americans live in cities, and large cities at that, rather than in places like Mayberry.
  • Spends another two paragraphs announcing that although the original colonists were mainly WASPS, “we’re no longer an Anglo-Saxon nation; we’re only around half-Protestant; and we’re increasingly nonwhite.”
  • Says the most significant feature of our system is that we have survived as a “democracy,” even though the founders called it a “republic.”

Hmm…Maybe this guy should go back to grade school. Except that I’m afraid that what you just read is what kids are probably learning in school these days. Writer’s identity revealed below the fold.

I’m sure you guessed it. The writer of this column is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who provides us at this blog with a steady stream of opportunities to correct factual and logical mistakes.

Let’s take the last point first, because it’s probably the most important error here. The founders actually feared democracy. And because of that fact, the American system of government makes it very hard for the majority to impose its will on a minority. Also, the founders clearly did not believe in a “right to vote.” Seeing voting as a procedural opportunity rather than the exercise of a fundamental liberty, the colonists not only limited who could vote, they limited what people could vote for. Under the original Constitution, for example, only House members were to be popularly elected. People were to vote for electors, not presidents. Senators were to be appointed by state governments. And the Supreme Court Justices were all to be appointed, not elected.

This is not the design you would choose if you wanted government to efficiently reflect majority preferences. But the founders didn’t want efficient government. They wanted the private sector to be efficient; and to get that done, government must be held at bay. That’s why any new legislation must move slowly and methodically, facing checks and balances along the way.

It’s easy to see why the founders feared the popular will. Under pure democratic voting, the lower 50% on the income ladder plus one could seize the income and assets of the upper 50%. Or the upper 50% plus one could devastate the bottom. Or western states could plunder eastern states. Or the South could plunder the North. Or vice versa.

Pure democracy is a potential threat to individual rights, not a reliable defender of those rights.

What about the fact that many of the founders were slave holders? I hear about this from students all the time, as though it somehow delegitimizes the entire American system of government.

In 1776, the vast majority of all the people in the world did not believe that anyone had natural rights. What was striking about the Declaration of Independence was not that it didn’t apply to everyone; it’s that the idea of natural rights applied to anyone. And once it was widely accepted that white men had rights, it was inevitable that people would come to see that women, blacks and everyone else also had rights. As I wrote in Classical Liberalism versus Modern Liberalism and Modern Conservatism:

Classical liberalism is based on a belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, most people believed that rights came from government. People thought they had only such rights as government elected to give them. But following British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it’s the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature. Further, people can both form governments and dissolve them. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect these rights.

The 19th century was the century of classical liberalism. Partly for that reason it was also the century of ever-increasing economic and political liberty, relative international peace, relative price stability and unprecedented economic growth. By contrast, the 20th century was the century that rejected classical liberalism. Partly for that reason, it was the century of dictatorship, depression and war. Nearly 265 million people were killed by their own governments (in addition to all the deaths from wars!) in the 20th century — more than in any previous century and possibly more than in all previous centuries combined.

All forms of collectivism in the 20th century rejected the classical liberal notion of rights and all asserted in their own way that need is a claim. For the communists, the needs of the class (proletariat) were a claim against every individual. For the Nazis, the needs of the race were a claim. For fascists (Italian-style) and for architects of the welfare state, the needs of society as a whole were a claim. Since in all these systems the state is the personification of the class, the race, society as a whole, etc., all these ideologies imply that, to one degree or another, individuals have an obligation to live for the state.

Yet, the ideas of liberty survived. Indeed, almost everything that is good about modern liberalism (mainly its defense of civil liberties) comes from classical liberalism. And almost everything that is good about modern conservatism (mainly its defense of economic liberties) also comes from classical liberalism.

Comments (49)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dewaine says:

    I don’t know if I would call Lincoln a Classical Liberal, nor should he be a Modern Liberal.

    “I’m in favor of a national bank… in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff.”

    -Abraham Lincoln

  2. John Garen says:

    An excellent post that is much appreciated. This (and other of your posts) shows, John, that you are much more that a health-policy wonk, but understand both the nuts-and-bolts of health policy and deeper issues behind those policies, i.e., the role of human freedom in promoting human welfare. This perspective is greatly valued by me and I wish more economists displayed it.

    • Timmy says:

      There are much deeper philosophical arguments that this superficially touches, but when you delve into these arguments, you find out there is not a “true” answer for what is best for human welfare. We’re far from having any empirical evidence that is uniform and will align with a philosophical train of thought.

  3. Dewaine says:

    “In 1776, the vast majority of all the people in the world did not believe that anyone had natural rights.”

    Very important point. People try to interpret history through the lens of present day understanding. Anybody who is found wanting by that standard (even in an irrelevant way) is disregarded. By that standard, our ancestors will always fall short and we will fail to heed their lessons.

    • JD says:

      Future people will disparage our accomplishments and lessons the same way.

      • Dewaine says:

        Every generation feels as if it is the one to have figured out life. The level of dismissal of the lessons of previous generations is a recipe for disaster.

  4. Buster says:

    I’ve heard many a Liberals condemn the Founding Fathers because they didn’t subscribed to the modern version of Liberalism 200 years before it came into vogue. This is a better explanation of the evolution of Liberalism from Classic Liberalism to Modern Liberalism that I’ve read elsewhere.

    I’ve always said you had to look at it through the lens of the time. But that is still an attempt to excuse as backward what was truly revolutionary at the time. That’s like saying the journeys of explorers Lewis & Clark were trivial because modern day satellites and GPS renders their work meaningless by comparison. But, 250 years ago it was an almost impossible task and their journeys had a huge impact on the development of the nation. Trailblazers (whether actual explorers or Founding Fathers) should be celebrated rather than ridiculed because modern liberals perceive their work as trivial by today’s standards.

    • Dewaine says:

      It’s easy to dismiss the ideas of the past because things in the present aren’t perfect. Each generation has unrealistic expectations that cannot possibly be satisfied.

  5. Sammy says:

    “Says the founding fathers were hypocrites because many of them owned slaves”

    -it’s important to judge them on the times in which they lived. They also dueled, does that make some of them murderers? If so, I’ve never heard that opinion before.

    • JD says:

      People need to understand that our time will be judged in the same way as we judge previous times. Do they want to remembered as evil meat eaters? Or a product of their time?

  6. Brian Williams. says:

    When you describe yourself as a classical, Madisonian, or Jeffersonian liberal, nobody knows what you’re talking about because we’ve done a poor job in families and schools educating children about our founding. Kids graduate from high school without opening the Federalist Papers, yet they are tested on the contents of the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.

    • JD says:

      Really? I’ve never heard of American students studying the Communist Manifesto or Mein Kampf, although I’m sure that many people wouldn’t know what the Federalist Papers were.

  7. Randall says:

    The founding fathers paved the way for the nation we have today. At that time in history, they were very progressive and open minded. Krugman needs to understand history a bit better. The founding fathers also were anti king and power, so they modeling the government in a way that would prevent one person or group from having too much power.

    • JD says:

      I think that Krugman may in fact be pro-king in a more modern sense, maybe just pro-central decision making by a handful of people. I’ll equate the two.

    • Timmy says:

      Have you read Krugman’s article? This post distorts some points made in his article. I am sure Krugman has a good understanding of U.S. history.

      • John Goodman says:

        Timmy, I never intend to distort what Krugman has to say. Criticizing exactly what he means is much more fun.

        • Tommy says:

          Dr. Goodman: Perhaps distort is not the right word, but after reading his article, I understood that his main point was that the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are still what keeps this nation a fundamentally democratic nation, despite its significant change in diversity. Of course, some of his rhetoric and finger-pointing of the founding founders, I don’t agree with, but he does make a sensible point throughout the article. Now, perhaps you have a better understanding than me on what he really means, since I don’t really ever read his articles.

  8. Ron says:

    All that is left for modern liberalism to thrive is to eliminate the concept that our rights come from our “Creator.” If they can (and they are) eliminate God as central from our governance philosophy, the power of rights then shifts to coming from government and the oilitical class and …walla…we have modern liberalism and statism. The boiling “pot of frogs” will be complete and our grandchildren will never experience that “shining city on the hill.” It is sad, so sad.

  9. Chaz says:

    John,

    Stick to writing about what you know about. Skip the polemical crap.

  10. Ken says:

    Well done.

  11. Ray Wooldridge says:

    John,

    Well said!

  12. Richard Bensinger says:

    The founding fathers did a great deal of what they accomplished by compromise and cooperation. This seems to have been forgotten entirely by the US Congress which has currently earned an approval rating lower than used car salesmen.

    • Charles Johnsen says:

      “Bipartisan” is the the most frightening word in the American vocabulary. If those in elected office in both parties agree on something you can bet it will harm ordinary people.

      The low approval rating of congress is due to the LACK of spine, principle, and courage. Too much cooperation, too much compromise. Too many bills passed by deals and trade-offs. Too many officials elected to fight Fascism that sell their soul for a new bridge in their district.

  13. Patrick Pine says:

    I must disagree with some of your points. Most notably we amended our Constitution many times – but not recently. There are valid reasons for those amendments – such as having a Civil War that nearly destroyed our union – and that led to subsequent amendments that were reflective of the outcome – not due to what you call “modern” liberalism. The right of women to vote was another change not granted in the original Constitution but certainly was not due to “modern” liberalism.

    I would argue that liberty was not granted to significant parts of our population as part of the Constitution – and that our founders, even if viewed as reflective of the societal situation of the time, were not morally right to not give equal rights to women, minorities and those who did not own property.

    The problem I have with the argument of those subscribing to “originalism” is that it assumes that we have to subscribe to everything our founding ‘fathers’ did.

    I agree with many of your critiques of the ACA – even as a relatively “liberal” individual. I also, though, obtained an MBA and learned in both undergraduate and graduate economics and finance classes that much of what we call “capitalism” and “free market’ is not actually qualified to be considered as such.

    You can successfully critique laws such as ACA on the merits without having to allege that proponents of these ideas are ‘anti’ liberty. We do need a federal government that occasionally must do things in the interest of our society – take, for example, our public health system which is needed to help address things like a SARS outbreak – or swine flu – or Legionnaire’s disease – where the threat crosses both state and national boundaries. If large swaths of the population are threatened by the spread of these situations – they will be less interested in ‘liberty’ and more interested in survival. So let’s not take the concept of federalism and liberty too far – just as we can take some social welfare arguments too far.
    Sometimes I advocate a role for government not because I want to expand the power of government but because there are situations where there is no other proven alternative to better address challenges like the spread of communicable disease. Sometimes I resist the expansion of government in other areas – such as the proliferation of needless weapons which do not really improve our defense but in fact the mere presence of such weapons arguably threatens our liberty.

    So does that make me a “modern liberal” or a “classical liberal” or something else? Frankly I don’t care much for this constant labeling of people – it really doesn’t seem to be helping much. Neither Krugman or his opponents/critics seem to be helping much by perpetually slinging arrows at each other.

    I salute the flag as it passes by on July 4th and other days, stand for the national anthem at various events, honor our veterans, understand the limits of government, have read the Federalist Papers and discussed them in rigorous academic settings, but you would likely characterize me as “liberal” – which really does not really capture what I believe. I read both Krugman’s writings and your opinions regularly. I enjoy both of you when your discussions present truly philosophical and practical arguments – but don’t enjoy the name calling from either side. This most recent opinion falls more into the name calling category so I am disappointed.

    • John Goodman says:

      Patrick, if you read my article on Classical Liberalism you will see that the abolitionists were mainly classical liberals. So were the suffragettes.

      Not trying to sling arrows, btw. Only trying to shed light.

    • Allan (formerly Al) says:

      “The right of women to vote was another change not granted in the original Constitution”

      The right to vote was a state issue not a federal one. In fact due to NJ’s constitution women initially had the right to vote but that right was removed in the early nineteenth century by the state of NJ. The idea of our founders was that states would have far more independence than they have today. I believe that was a wise idea since our states represent different environments and people and make excellent experimental environments that can be adopted by other states if beneficial.

      Our founding fathers were pushing new untried ideas and change has to be taken in a careful fashion and not too quickly for acceptance. Take note that today in many homeowners associations there is only one vote per household no matter how many owners.

      “The problem I have with the argument of those subscribing to “originalism” is that it assumes that we have to subscribe to everything our founding ‘fathers’ did.”

      John might have a textual approach to the Constitution rather than an “originalism” approach. I don’t know. But no matter how you look at it our Founders had a plan for change and that is known as a Constitutional Amendment.

      Allan

      • Al says:

        I agree 100%. Lil ALlan and Al are now on the same page … Two peas in a pod.
        Constitutional amendments are what the founders intended to take our country into the future. Our founders and subsequent amendments (2/3 … Not simple majority legislation) differentiate between State’s rights and Personal rights. Voting is a personal right superior to that of the state.

        • Allan (formerly Al) says:

          “Two peas in a pod.”

          You are the pea that should have been kicked out, but you already dirtied the spot so I decided to move over and use my full name, Allan

          “Voting is a personal right”

          I wonder what “personal rights” are in relationship to voting. Do you have any idea of what you are talking about or do you just make things up as you go along?

          Allan

          • Al says:

            “I wonder what “personal rights” are in relationship to voting.” Allan

            If you’re done whining about your name, we can get started.

            ‘The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year – by the People …. [Article 1, S2, C1]‘

            ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged … [Amendment 15, S1.]

            ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged …. [Amendment 19, C1.]

            ‘… No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities [ Rights] of citizens of the United States …. [Amendment 14, S1.]

            ‘ No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote … on account of race or color. [Voting Rights Act 1965, Section 2.]

            Krugman’s comments on the personal right to vote being under attack is nothing for Dr. G or you to trivialize. Does that make sense now?

            Teacher says I have to take a nap now so I’ll talk to you later, my pea pod pal.

            • Allan (formerly Al) says:

              In your quotations from the Constitution and the amendments there is discussion of voting, but not as a “personal right”. Voting has to do with civil liberties and civil rights. Personal rights have to do with control and protection of one’s own body.

              Anyone can put words together, but not everyone can do it correctly. You belong to the latter group.

              • Al says:

                Since States can’t vote, we must therefore deduce that the founders and subsequent Congresses meant – Personal Right to Vote … Personal Civil Right to Vote … Personal Civil Liberty to Vote when referring to the “quotations” above. Your catching on. Dismissed.

                • Allan (formerly Al) says:

                  More tommyrot from a person that stoops to pretending he is another because he is unable to stand on his own two feet or on his tawdry reputation. Quoting one of your statements following the quotes from the Constitution and Amendments, “the personal right to vote” is quite different than ‘a personal right to vote’ though I don’t know that the latter would be correct either in the context of your posting.

                  Perhaps you don’t know what civil liberties or civil rights are.

                  Allan

  14. Ron says:

    To modern day liberalism compromise is agreeing with them and their positions. Hence, no budget, no compromise on health reform, jam bills through with political muscle and bribes (Louisianna Purchase, Cornhusker deal, Florida payoff, etc.)

    Call your opponents who want to be fiscally responsible and follow the Constitution un-American, dangerous and extremists. That’s an old war tactic…give non-human identifiers to the enemy so that killing them is earier to justify and tolerate.

    There is an two old sayings,” A fish rots from the head” and “The tone is set at the top.” And as bad as it may be(it was designed to be slow and inefficent to prevent autocratic rule by a king or dictator) Congress is not the head of this country.

    To understand why modern day liberals may be objecting to John’s excellent piece – read Thomas Sowell’s book – Conflict of Visions.” He clearly identifies the issue that modern day liberals do not look to history for lessons learned. They only look to the future, because any past failures of liberalism were (in their minds) the result of lesser intellects than are currently pursuing progressive the agendas.

  15. Breck says:

    John — Enjoyed this post. Thanks.

  16. Wanda J. Jones says:

    John–You do a great service to the public by outlining this issue. Liberals seem incapable of judging their own philosophical positions as anything but obvious, right and inevitable.

    Suggest a blog that simply lists the rules and regs on individuals and companies. I’m interested in seeing a summary of how many people are being converted to part-time. It should erupt any time now. The ACA is a great restriction of liberty.

    Cheers…

    Wanda J. Jones, President
    New Century Healthcare Institute
    San Francisco

    • Al says:

      Wanda, can you elaborate on all of the liberties you have lost … due to the ACA.

      • Charles Johnsen says:

        That is easy! The list is very long but here are the most obvious:
        We have all lost the liberty to choose:
        our own physician
        our own treatment
        our own service provider (hospitals are forcing out minor emergency clinics, the most free, the most cost effective, and the easiest to get to medical care system)
        our own drugs
        our own level of insurance coverage
        our own premium costs
        our own coverages (ie, an old single man is required to pregnancy coverage)
        our own insurance company
        self coverage
        to not have insurance at all
        our say in what costs are for our care
        our own form of government

  17. Al says:

    Since Krugman seems to be Dr. Goodman’s favorite whipping-boy, critique-in-kind seems suitable.

    The point of Dr. Krugman’s article was that despite some of our questionable legislative practices of the past and present, our “#1 Republic” still stands and that we all should take pride in the progress we have made.

    Dr. Goodman, as it would appear, chooses to interpret and disfigure what Dr. Krugman writes in a way that can only exacerbate ideological differences between the extreme left and the extreme right. Main stream America understands the successes and mistakes our representatives have made throughout history … and embrace the progress we continue to make.

    Dr. Goodman, we all want America to succeed; we all want to leave a better world for our children; we all see things from different perspectives but we‘re still all on the same team. Creating monsters out of your fellow Americans (modern liberals/Nazis/Fascists) does not help America. Doctor, ‘Cause No Harm’.

    • Charles Johnsen says:

      I believe we must attack Fascism. And almost the entire “liberal” establishment is Fascist. Both Washington parties! I am name calling, and exercising my right to speak. It is only as we are clear and alert that we might shed light on the danger of “progress” that hides tyranny.

      We are not making progress. We are going backwards. From freedom to democracy, from reason to blind faith in Marx’s holy book. We are not on the same team! Those who give us Obama Care (ACA is a lying acromyn) may believe they are progressing, but they are wrong. There is always some excuse for power, even diseases. The very idea that people and their physicians, maybe their states as well in extreme cases, cannot handle diseases but the federal government can is silly on the face of it.

      And the Republic, in the view of many of us, does not still stand.

      • Al says:

        One can choose to fixate on differences and vilify those in dissent … or … realize the similarities and common goals, and work together to improve the system.

        Our System precludes the traditional practices of Tyranny, Communism, and Fascism. Differences of opinion do not monsters create, but in one’s own mind. The Doctor’s mockery does not help.

        Psychologically, many people need monsters to justify and pacify their own fears and biases. Is the ACA really the Federalist monster it’s made out to be … or simply an idea who’s time has come?

        • Charles Johnsen says:

          So, we who fear tyranny are so mentally ill that we need to invent monsters to justify our fears? That is an insult and I demand you take it back. I do not invent monsters. I am not afraid for no reason. Why do you assume that people who see how dangerous the current movement away from freedom is are mental cases? Our fears are not irrational and are based on a deep understanding and knowledge of history and human nature. Your (irrational) assumption that the internal imperialism (a phrase from Fr. Richard Neuhaus) of the federal government is only natural progress is evidence of the failure of your schooling. But I guess now I am insulting you, or at least the whole idea of public schools (which are by definition Fascist).

          As for our system precluding the traditional practices of tyranny, I always thought so too. But long before Obama many congresses, many judges, and many presidents moved us slowly away from freedom toward Fascism. The difference is that our current POTUS thinks he is mayor of Chicago, not the president of a republic with checks and balances. Bush, and many presidents, took us backwards into less liberty but did so through Congress, the Courts, and the law. This man cares nothing for the law and does what he pleases.

          In all my years I never thought that an American president would behave like a third world dictator but I was wrong.

          And, again like a 3rd world dictator, the press and the professors are afraid of him and his hate machine and will not speak out, even when their rights are taken away.

  18. Marcy Zwelling says:

    Excellent.

  19. Allan (formerly Al) says:

    I note that another Al has appeared in the postings above. Whether this is Big Al or another who didn’t recognize that there was already another Al I cannot say. If it is the former then it is the typical nasty way a leftist would act. We see that type of offense from the left all the time. If the latter then that is OK for I will use my full name, Allan

    Allan (formerly Al whose philosophy fits closest into the classical liberal group). Very few Allan’s are spelled with two L’s and two A’s

    • Al says:

      Is there a point you wish to make about the content of the article?

      • Allan (formerly Al) says:

        Sure. John G. said “Maybe this guy should go back to grade school” and I think that pertains to you (Big Al now using another individual’s name) as well.

        The bigger point was made by your usurpation of my name to confuse others. That tells us all we need to know about you and your ideology.

        Allan

  20. Patrick Pine says:

    While I am a critic of many of the parts of the ACA, must disagree with those who claim that we have lost the “liberty” to choose doctors, insurers, or certain kinds of services and facilities due to “liberalism” or the ACA. The limitations have been developing over a very long period of time in health care and many of the changes we are seeing are also happening in other industries/services. There are parts of the law that can be fairly critiqued without necessarily ascribing that to liberalism or a loss of liberty.

    As recently as the 1930s, millions died due to poor water quality – the invention of chlorination and its required use in most water systems dramatically eliminated some of the plagues that previously were highly destructive of many regardless of political philosophy. Some laws and regulations have actually dramatically improved our situation relative to the historic past – especially with respect to population health.

    It is fair to argue in broader terms whether our system is moving in a direction that balances individual liberties with the greater good – but it is not helpful to contend that the United States is somehow having some of the challenges it faces solely because we elected and reelected Barack Obama as President or that a law changing the way we try to finance and deliver health care was passed that does have several flaws.

    I am grateful every single day that I was lucky to be born here. I still have substantially more ‘liberty’ than those who live nearly anywhere else in the world regardless of who occupies the White House. I don’t criticize our ‘founding’ fathers like Krugman – and John is correct to challenge Krugman in that regard – but at the same time we sometimes learn from history by keeping some of the historic laws and practices and sometimes we learn from history by changing laws and practices.

    As recently as 120 years ago there were ‘doctors’ who basically practiced medicine using concepts like “leeching” – thankfully we learned from history to stop doing that – even though it was generally accepted medical care at one time. As recently as 90 years ago, quack medicine show ‘doctors’ were fairly ubiquitous – and had much success selling stuff that in many cases shortened lives, made health conditions worse, and that were not regulated whatsoever.

    Most of us don’t need (or want) the liberty to choose stuff that might kill us because we don’t know enough to make an informed decision about health care. I, for one, accept some limitations in the area of health care because I just don’t have the ability to make an informed decision about what may be best for me. Guess I am not ready to say “Give me liberty or give me death.”

    • Allan (formerly Al) says:

      @Patrick Pine: “While I am a critic of many of the parts of the ACA, must disagree with those who claim that we have lost the “liberty” to choose doctors.”

      Let us take an example. You are a patient on Medicare and wish to see Dr X who continues to treat his old Medicare patients on Medicare, but refuses to see new ones because he feels he is not paid enough.

      Because of his superior expertise in the area you need treatment for you are willing to pay Dr X cash and not submit any claims to Medicare for his services. Dr. X agrees to see you for cash and you both sign papers stating that no claims will be sent to Medicare or elsewhere. Is that legal?

      No! Substantial liberty has been lost.

      I appreciate your desire to look at things from a centrist viewpoint and your desire not to blame just one administration for our problems. However, your underlying assumptions I think are wrong and at times you are using the wrong analogies. I believe that what you think is centrist deviates to the left.

    • Charles Johnsen says:

      When you equate progress with government action instead of the hard work and risks taken by private individuals you give away the whole game. We are through as an engine of freedom. science, and prosperity if your view prevales.

      Where did all this progress happen? In the West, in Europe and America, in the Christian West. We did this. Top down control will freeze innovation and progress. It always does. But, in relative terms, since the Reformation there has been enough liberty to invent and grow science and economic wealth. And here, in the United States, we shook off the past and entered the future of less government and more citizen. Now it appears the demons of collectivism will pull us back into the dark ages.

      But is the ACA only an incremental change? Even if that is so, and it is not, the junk that went before it (Medicaid, Medicare, Bush’s drugs, the FDA–which has killed more people than it has saved–and the tax breaks companies get for providing HMOs was not progress but pulled us back into the past of tyranny and central control of our lives.

  21. Ron says:

    As the old saying goes,”Government tends to crowd out the future.” ObamaCar3e will stifle creative solutions to an even greater degree than the restriction states placed on insurance in previous years. We have never had free markets in health insurance. In reality, the government sets the price of care by establishing CPT reimbursements for medical care. Commercial carriers negotiate as a percentage of the government’s price fixing.

    We also know, “The larger government grows, the small is the individual.” With ObamaCare nearly everything in life that we do, touch, live with, and work with can be characterised as health related. The controls of federal bureaucrats in every aspect of our lives (not just what we think of as healthcare)is the gravest threat of ObamaCare. Just read the Senate versions prior to passage of the final Senate bill and you will see agencies proposed that control highways, housing, business locations, electrical usage, etc,. etc. With the IRS as the strong arm of the law, we will all live in fear of their power to tax, penaltize, and imprison violators for things we never could have imagined. But the trusting sheep go along. Can you hear the …baaa, baaa, baaa’s?