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Time Enough at Last

July 29th, 2009 by Chuck · 9 Comments · Politics

Mark Steyn identifies as a problem the unmanageable size of proposed bills, such as the current health care reform bill:

Thousand-page bills, unread and indeed unwritten at the time of passage, are the death of representative government. They also provide a clue as to why, in a country this large, national government should be minimal and constrained. Even if you doubled or trebled the size of the legislature, the Conyers conundrum would still hold: No individual can read these bills and understand what he’s voting on.

Then he jumps to the wrong solution to the problem:  

That’s why the bulk of these responsibilities should be left to states and subsidiary jurisdictions, which can legislate on such matters at readable length and in comprehensible language.

One thousand page bills are certainly a problem.  The answer, however, is not the Balkanization of the US.    Is socialized medicine at the state level any better than socialized medicine at the Federal level?  One is just as wrong as the other, regardless of the relative length of the corresponding bills. It is inherent in any centrally planned economy, wherein the government attempts to plan the details of the lives of hundreds of millions of people, down to the type of food they can eat, that there will be enormous, and enormously detailed, legislation. 

The solution to this problem is individual rights and capitalism.  The sole purpose of a proper government is the protection of individual rights. In such a capitalist society there wouldn’t even be a health care bill.  That’s all one thousand pages of collectivist central planning that would never have been written, let alone read.  Or not read.  If a capitalist society felt the need for a health care bill, it  would consist of one sentence:

“Resolved: there shall be a free market in health care, as in all other fields.”

Then even the likes of John Conyers would have time enough at last to read a bill before he voted on it.

9 Comments so far ↓

  • Jim May

    I was thinking of citing this myself, as another example of what an insufficient grasp of principle can do. Even when one has a mind as brilliant as Steyn’s, one can say something like this, have it go “thud” and be completely clueless about it.

  • C.T.

    Does the Federal government of the United States even have the explicit legal authority to create a nationalized health care system?

  • Chuck

    Probably somewhere in the bill they included a clause like: Congress shall have power to enforce this bill with appropriate legislation.

  • Bill Brown

    I love the following line from this article about representatives preening about having read a bill finally:

    “Last week the Democrats decided that, if they’re going to try to sell this plan to their constituents, they need to have a better sense of what it says, line by line.”

  • salt1907

    I agree that slavery and socialism are wrong at every level, but they are less evil when the states do it, because not every state will do it. The non-socialist states will prosper, while the socialist states will decline. This gives us the choice of where to live. Decentralization is, itself, a value. It helps prevent the federal government from becoming tyrannical too quickly.

  • L-C

    Winners play to win, salt.

  • Jim May

    Hey, salt: ever heard of the Berlin Wall? OR immigration law? It would be more accurate to say that multiple states offer us a choice of where to escape.

    I don’t see decentralization as much more than a brake. That is why conservatives are ultimately useless in this fight, at best; they only want to slow down, at a time we need to actually reverse direction and go back the other way — towards freedom.

    That being said, Harry Binswanger did say in a discussion with me that having multiple independent nations instead of a one-world superstate was better, even in the context of a healthy world culture; such would serve as insurance and containment against any state that went “rogue”.

    The idea that the federal government should be constrained, but the states free to legislate as they please, however, is a big mistake; the Constitution of a free nation, federated or not, should be a charter of the rights of the people against government — period.

  • madmax

    “The idea that the federal government should be constrained, but the states free to legislate as they please, however, is a big mistake”

    Jim, would you say that this is *the* Conservative view of American government? Whereas the Left wants the omnipotent Federal state and eventually the omnipotent world state.

  • madmax

    “That being said, Harry Binswanger did say in a discussion with me that having multiple independent nations instead of a one-world superstate was better, even in the context of a healthy world culture; such would serve as insurance and containment against any state that went “rogue”.”

    Peikoff made this same exact point in one of the last few podcasts. I forget which one. I think it is a good point. So, there shouldn’t be a “Federation” even if it were an Objectivist one.