Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Universal Health Care?-The Moral of the Story

I just read a succinctly brilliant piece by Tom Sowell on the insidious delusion involved in the false promise of "universal health care." As he so often does, he captures the essential heart of the matter in a few pithy observations.

"If everything that is wrong with the world becomes a reason to turn more power over to some political savior, then freedom is going to erode away, while we are mindlessly repeating the catchwords of the hour…"

"Ultimately, our choice is to give up Utopian quests or give up our freedom….If you think government should "do something" about anything that ticks you off, or anything you want and don't have, then you have made your choice between Utopia and freedom."

Sowell rightly agrees with the citation he makes from Edmund Burke: "It is no inconsiderable part of wisdom, to know much of an evil ought to be tolerated…I must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes." He concludes with a similar citation from Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago; "If you cannot tolerate imperfection, be prepared to kiss you freedom goodbye."

I am sure that many conservatives applaud Sowell's reiteration of this wisdom, and agree that he has said something of great practical relevance to the ongoing discussion of health care. I am also sure that too many among them have joined in smug dismissal of people like me, who for many years have stressed the desperate need for America to address our moral crisis of character as the indispensable prerequisite for dealing with any of the supposedly practical issues we face. Tragically for all of us, this obtuse rejection of what I call the moral priority belies their superficial agreement with Sowell and the wisdom he reasserts.

Apparently, they fail to recognize that what Sowell is talking about-i.e., the ability to accept the reality of human imperfection, and to live with its unavoidable consequences-, is a moral virtue. In Christian parlance it is called patience or longsuffering. It is en essential characteristic of a free people. America's Founders took note of it as they articulated the moral basis for the American Revolution. In the Declaration of Independence they said that "Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,..."

Sowell's argument boils down to this: the preservation of freedom requires moral virtue. What too many so-called conservatives refuse to see is that moral virtue doesn't just happen. It requires effort. From the viewpoint of the society as a whole, that effort takes the form of moral education. Since moral character is not just a matter of good precepts, but of good habits, such education must include constant exercise in putting good precepts into practice. In that respect moral education is like teaching someone to play a musical instrument.

We live in an era that boasts great sophistication when it comes to physical science and technology. To our sorrow this has come along with, and encouraged, profound stupidity when it comes to moral things. We must call it stupidity because it involves rejecting, willfully and with casual animosity, (or as some might put it today "with attitude") what we know to be the moral prerequisites of goods we profess to value highly, like "liberty and justice for all." Ignorance can be remedied, but only after such stupidity is overcome. Like drowning people going down for the last time, those prey to such stupidity struggle fiercely against the efforts of their would-be rescuers. They flail about so as to do them real, sometimes even deadly, injury.

For some years now I have felt this damaging hostility from elements within the conservative movement who vaunt their supposedly superior practical and pragmatic approach. They quietly do everything in their power to make sure that those who sincerely promote the moral priority are not even allowed to be heard. They pretend to appreciate wisdom like that which Tom Sowell reasserts in his article. But they scoff at, reject and seek to repress the common sense insistence that we must reverse the policies that disintegrate the moral understanding and virtue of our people.

"You can have it all." This is the lying slogan that encourages the surrender of moral discipline in every walk of life. It fuels arrogant sexual licentiousness. It prods the boundless ambition for money and power. It corrupts true spiritual hunger into a self-centered quest to invent and manipulate a God or gods who will be the pliable instruments of our fanciful "needs" and passions. Individuals who brook no interference with their endless quest for selfish satisfaction eventually become a people who brook no limit or constraint upon their common will. We know that this is happening to the American people when their leaders seriously assert that the majority's electoral or legislative choices don't have to respect the limits and constraints imposed by Constitutional provisions.

Tragically, once the people fall prey to the temptation to assert unbridled power, their foolish example legitimizes the old nostrum that might makes right; that power alone justifies every whim, every arbitrary disposition. How soon will they be reminded that their power of election has no basis apart from the Constitutional provisions they have discarded and destroyed. Against the power of arms, technology, and money, wielded by those of superior discipline and intelligence, the people's power of election vanishes like smoke. When the smoke clears, government of by and for the people will be gone. The arrogant few will everywhere govern unopposed, as they did for so long before the trial of liberty that is the real American dream.

There is yet a little time in which we may rekindle the moral heart that is the hope of freedom. But only if we make that task our first and clear priority. Will we heed the voices of them "that cry in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert the highway of our God", or will we let freedom perish?


pbunyon said...

Dr. Keyes and Tom Sowell,

Amen and amen.

I sum up much of what you have surmised by saying that through materialism and vanity we have been taught to compartmentalize our FAITH. Not just what we believe but how we live THROUGH faithfulness. A Christian at church, monster on the streets and at work. I am not well versed enough to know exactly which kind(s) of politics pushes the compartmentalizing of faith and virtue. While we can put our fingers on many of the underlying activities of the leftist movements I think this is at least in part, though confounding to the socialist, a spiritual manifestation of evil. No wonder we are in trouble.

Thanks for the Truth AGAIN,

Conservative Poet Tom Zart said...


Liberty is to be free and independent
Without slavery, imprisonment, or loss of right.
Though bit-by-bit many try to steal it away
For if they were to take it all at once, we'd fight.

So protect your liberty that others don't have
For beside life, there's nothing more precious on earth.
Too many have yearned, fought, suffered, and died for it
And we must never lose sight of what liberty's worth.

Evil loves to strike liberty from the cheeks of all
And it's been that way since the beginning of time.
For a mind that's not allowed to have a free thought
Becomes but a slave to the masters of mankind.

By Conservative Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web

Conservative Poet Tom Zart said...


Preachers, teachers and politicians
Too many times turn out the same.
Forecasting predictions of what lay ahead
Confused by self-love, ego and shame.

Forewarning of judgment and our own unawareness
Blaming others for corruption and the mayhem of war
They seek our endowment of revenue and support
As volunteers e-mail or beat on our door.

Thank God for each and every individual
That prays for wisdom, repentance and grace.
Not perfect though remorseful, repentant when wrong
As their devotion radiates from their face.

Listen and watch carefully the shepherds of man
Judging them by what they practice not preach.
Do they make you wonder about their purpose?
As they communicate, inspire and teach.

By Conservative Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web

Conservative Poet Tom Zart said...


So perfect is nature, though not by man
It's the brush of our master that paints the land.
The sun comes up and sun goes down
As in every direction God's wonders are found.

The tide comes in and the tide goes out
Our faith in eternalness is what life is about.
Contentment depends on which path we walk
By daylight or darkness; our faith is our rock.

Our confidence and trust in a higher power
Helps guide us through every moment and hour.
Fidelity to ones promise and observance of law
Lets our Lord know we heed his call.


Jesus is our savior who whips the Devil's hide
After death heaven awaits for all with him who ride.
Disobedience by believers was forgiven by his loss
The future of man was changed by his death on the cross.

We're free to believe whatever till its time to say farewell
All who turn their back to Christ shall suffer the blaze of hell.
Lucifer loves to bait his hook and fish the pond of man
Once he has you in his net you're the victim of his hand.

Some say not to worry for man was once an ape
It's okay to hate, plunder, murder, lie and rape.
I choose to follow the Bible and observe God's laws
Praying for the mislaid in the clutch of Satan's claws.

By Conservative Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web

Old Major said...

There go Thomas Sowell and Alan Keyes standing up for your freedom to die from some curable condition because you don't have the money to pay. What a great country where men like those can say things like that. Hoo boy.

Tim said...

I always always find a unique perspective from Alan Keyes.
I am still waiting for someone to prove to me that a health care is a right as opposed to an incentive to work. If I can get adequate affordable health care and I am a construction worker (with only a high school diploma) then I am quite certain anyone can.

Anonymous said...

It is probable that, if socialized medicine were really able to provide more or better health care rather than less and worse, almost nobody would oppose it. And yet, the argument nevertheless holds true. If you forsake your freedom in exchange for any good, then the good you've purchased does not really belong to you. To live in relative safety as a slave...the entire history of humanity testifies that this is what the vast majority of humans will choose.

This impulse is so strong that, even when captivity leads to certain death, humans are still reluctant to accept the uncertainty, or perhaps the responsibility, implicit in freedom. Those who would take away your freedom to control your own health care tell you outright they intend to drive down costs and eliminate treatment options. They speak openly of rationing and euthanasia. And yet...there are still many who desire to be relieved of personal responsibility for themselves.

But this is impossible. Nothing you fail to do can ever remove the consequences of your choices. You can destroy your capacity to make those decisions intelligently or courageously, but you can never escape from the consequences attendant on your own choices. The insentience of a stone does not free rocks from the laws of gravity and inertia.

Only mercy can relieve the demands of justice, but stones can neither merit nor grasp it even if offered.

gilbertabrett said...

I have to turn in soon so I can get up and go to work in the AM, but had to see if you had a new post today - GLAD YOU DID SIR! I was unemployed for SEVEN months. I needed HEALTH care - NOT INSURANCE (as Professor Sowell has ALSO pointed out to the STUPID people who do not know the difference) and got it. I went to a free clinic. There are many around the country for people like me. Smart enough to know there is help out there, not afraid to ask and not too proud to look.

Mr. Old Major is OBVIOUSLY not old enough. I am 9 years his junior and know the difference between HEALTH CARE and INSURANCE. I also have sense enough to know that if this load of horse dung King Hussein wants to make law comes into fruition, we will not have enough doctors OR GOVERNMENT PAPER PUSHERS to handle the mess. WAKE UP...

Example after example has been laid out before us as to what this crooked administration is capable of - not much but lies and more lies while they steal our posterity's future FROM US. WAKE UP...

I am so sick of Huffington Post wannabees coming to this site to have a voice. Go back to your god and leave us here to have intelligent conversation. Your poor comprehension of life's trial and tribulations are not wanted. Your poor choices in life gave us the first AFRICAN king of the USA. You have said enough. WAKE UP...

AND as I have said before, vote out the ENTIRE Congress in 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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