07 January 2008

Two interesting things about the healthcare debate

1. Democrats, who complain that the President preyed upon our fears in order to start the war in Iraq, have for years preyed upon our fears in order to persuade us to accept the proposition that the federal government ought somehow to provide healthcare for all Americans. Apparently, fear-mongering in defense of Democrat policies is no vice.

2. Ron Paul, who argues that both parties ignore the Constitution to a certain extent, also argued during the New Hampshire debate that there really was something wrong with our spending tens of billions in Iraq when so many Americans are without healthcare. I thought he might have said both that we should not be in Iraq and that what distinguishes our presence in Iraq from the healthcare issue is that the Consititution empowers the federal government to "provide for the common defense". The Constitution does not empower the federal government to provide for universal healthcare.

Behind this issue is a very interesting philosophical problem: How does anything come to be a problem at all, much less a problem for government, at any level, to solve? What we have is the bare fact that so many people have no healthcare (actually, it's no healthcare insurance, but never mind). I have a prairie dog problem. Why isn't that a matter requiring a federal solution?

Well James, you say, there are not as many people with prairie dog problems as there are people without healthcare.

Fair enough, but all I want to know is what's the magic number? If the number of people without healthcare (and constituting a problem requiring a federal solution) is, say, 40 million, would the problem go away if the number were 30 million? 20 million? 10 million? What's the magic number separating a federal problem (or just a problem period) from a non-federal problem? 5 million? A mail carrier with a bunion the size of a grapefruit?

How does the argument for a federal solution "work"? It is hard to say: the argument is an enthymeme.

Premise One: N number of people have no healthcare
Premise Two: [Missing]
Conclusion: Therefore the federal government must [insert your favorite solultion here].

What is (or are) the missing premise (or premises)?

Perhaps if the first premise is put differently it will suggest a possible second premise.

Premise One: N number of people cannot provide healthcare insurance for themselves.
Premise Two: The federal government is obligated to provide all that which people cannot provide for themselves.
Conclusion: Therefore the federal government must [insert your favorite solution here].

Of course the problem now is with that second premise. It must be the conclusion of some other argument, an argument which would tell us just how it comes about that the federal government is obligated to do such, an argument I haven't seen. (Well, except from communists and socialists.) Additionally (still thinking about that second premise) any argument that the government must provide that which people are unable to provide for themselves is really an argument that one is obligated to provide all those things which his neighbor cannot. (Because the government's true obligation is to take from your neighbor, who, no doubt, has plenty, and give to you, who, clearly, does not.)

And that argument about a neighbor's obligation, is also the conclusion to an argument that no one bothers making.

When conclusions with no arguments become embodied in the law, they are arbitrary. And, being arbitrary, they are tyrannical.

And it's amusing to watch Democrats (and a few Repubicans) complain of the President's supposed extra-constitutional (i.e., illegal) activities and freedom-depriving acts (i.e., his tyrannical acts), while arguing for their own extra-constitutional (i.e., illegal) programs and policies.

Just so I'm clear about something: When it comes to big government, the Republican Party has made itself little more than Democrat Lite. It may have fewer calories than Regular, but one can quickly get one's fill.


About Me

James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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