A handful of people have offered sincere criticism of my approach at Norm Dicks' town hall, and the number one criticism is that it was a "stunt" and therefore did not achieve anything. Also, one of the comments on my blog accuses me of being a "Randroid," which I think is really funny. However, this person also later posted an excerpt from one of my other articles and said I am not too loony. :) Okay, okay, I have read Atlas Shrugged, and I did identify with many of the themes - you caught me. But I read a lot. I have also read Frederic Bastiat, which is actually where I first saw the use of the word "plunder" to describe government's redistribution of wealth.
As far as the "stunt" portion goes, I chose my line of attack very, very deliberately. Believe me. Also believe that I have very specific questions about the legislation and its repurcussions. However, as I watched these town halls unfold during the August recess, I noticed that many, many people were asking brilliant, intelligent questions that their Representatives and Senators evaded quite easily. I wanted to throw something at Norm Dicks that he could not answer without grave consequences, and that by not answering, also gave me an answer.
You all should have seen this town hall in its entirety. There were 1100 people there and 80% of the questions asked were anti-Obamacare, pro-tort reform/pro-HSA/pro-decreasing mandates/pro-buying insurance across state lines, etc. And these 80%? Their questions were all incredible. Everyone was obviously very well read on HR 3200 and a host of other policy issues. So why not throw in one question with dramatic flair? I know it is not for everyone, but I felt it was an appropriate way to ask my question.
And in regards to the Randian stuff. I actually make it a point never to subscribe to only one person's ideas or philosophies, and I most definitely try not to put anyone on a pedestal (except maybe Thomas Sowell...). I try to mix it up as much as I possibly can. I also acknowledge that it may be impossible to have that form of society, however, I do believe it is important to discuss the differing worldviews and philosophies that form the basis of both sides. Now of course there are many details to be hashed out, but I really believe that we need to start debating some of these root issues.
I think it is intellectually dishonest for politicians who want a single payer system to cloak this desire in a wish for "reform." I've met many pro-Obamacare people at rallies and protests (well, counter protests) that use this line as well. The disguise becomes obvious when you ask them what they think about HR 3400, HR 2520, HR 1495, and SB 1324 and they have either never heard of these alternative bills, or they smack them all down because they do not contain a "public option." It is not "reform" they seek, it is complete and total transformation, and the time has come for the real debate to please stand up.
Sometimes, in order to make sure your message is heard loud and clear, you need to really hone in on one very specific point, and then hammer that point home. I do believe that it is plunder and theft for a politician to proclaim certain portions of the population as the neediest and to then forceably take (what happens when you don't pay your taxes? And you can't use Timothy Geithner as an example...) from others to essentially buy votes. Another commenter points out we've already got legal plunder with all of the other entitlement programs, and isn't the horse already out of the barn? Well, yes, it is. But that doesn't mean we let the horse keep going on down the road. Nor does it mean we don't attempt to get the horse back in the barn.
I'll end this post with one of my favorite Thomas Sowell quotes:
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."
I just remembered that I typed up my town hall statement/question, of which the video only shows the latter half. Below is the part that did not get recorded.
"All of the concerns brought forth tonight about the contents of the current legislation such as HR 3200 in the house and HELP bill in the senate are completely valid and much needed. I speak of such concerns as what you find on page 16 in HR 3200, with the paragraphs that make it illegal for private insurance companies to write new policies (or change conditions and benefits of your current plan) after, 'the day before the first day of Y1 (2013).' In order for me to keep the plan I have now, many variables must remain exactly the same:
- My employer must decide to keep my current benefits even though it will be cheaper for them to drop their employee coverage and pay the penalty payroll tax of 8%.
- NOTHING can change in my current plan – not my co-pays, not my monthly premiums – they can’t change what is covered – NOTHING can change.
- The public option cannot exploit its ties to the taxpayer and the printing presses by undercutting private insurance prices by raising taxes or printing more money, thereby squeezing the private market out and making it impossible for them to exist."
The juicy stuff came after my comments on a very troubling aspect of the legislation under consideration by the President and the Democrat leadership. Below is the juicy part.
So yes, while all of these types of factual statements regarding what is actually in the bill are necessary inclusions in the debate, the real debate is the philosophical debate. It is about whether or not the idea of health care is a right, and whether universal coverage is a moral imperative. Congressman, you have two sets of constituents demanding that you vote a certain way. One side is demanding that your vote culminate in legislation that removes the government from health care and leaves people alone, free to live their lives, earn their own money, and keep the fruits of their labor. The other side is demanding that your vote culminate in legislation that actively seeks to plunder from some in order to satisfy arbitrary needs as determined by you and other bureaucrats.
This is my question: if you are so keen to forceably take from one person to give to another - who you deem as needier than me; if you believe that it is absolutely moral to take my money to give to someone else based on their supposed needs, then you come and take this $20 from me.
I adlibbed the part about it being a down payment on Obamacare. :-)