Health care a stalking horse for nanny-state restrictions
posted at 3:12 pm on June 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
When government pays the bills for health care, it gains an important lever of power in dictating personal choices of living for all its citizens. Don’t think that has escaped the notice of Barack Obama and the Democrats. Politico notes that the autocrats have gotten a big boost in Washington and are preparing to dictate your food and leisure choices in the name of cutting health-care costs:
Don’t be fooled by the presidential burger runs. Obama and Congress are moving across several fronts to give government a central role in making America healthier — raising expectations among public health experts of a new era of activism unlike any before.
Any health care reform plan that Obama signs is almost certain to call for nutrition counseling, obesity screenings and wellness programs at workplaces and community centers. He wants more time in the school day for physical fitness, more nutritious school lunches and more bike paths, walking paths and grocery stores in underserved areas.
The president is filling top posts at Health and Human Services with officials who, in their previous jobs, outlawed trans fats, banned public smoking or required restaurants to provide a calorie count with that slice of banana cream pie.
Even Congress is getting into the act, giving serious consideration to taxing sugary drinks and alcohol to help pay for the overhaul.
Supporters of Obama will say at this point, “What’s wrong with healthier eating and more exercise?” Nothing at all. Schools should put more emphasis on physical education, especially on cardiovascular exercise and health education. Americans would do better to consume fewer carbohydrates, especially from high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, and eat more vegetables and fruits, along with lean meat and other sources of protein.
But for adult Americans, that should be their own choice. We used to have an interesting concept in this country: none of your business. What did your neighbors eat for dinner? None of your business. When was the last time your neighbors took a walk? None of your business. How much did they spend on doctors’ bills last year? None of your business.
However, once we all start footing those doctors’ bills, it becomes our business — and that of the government. Surrendering to a single-payer system means surrendering a right to choice and privacy. Abdicating individual responsibility for their own costs creates an impetus for the growth of government to fill that vacuum, and it’s hard not to believe it isn’t by design. The HHS officials Obama appointed have long track records of autocratic diktats, the very kind of elitism that Obama claimed not to endorse during the presidential campaign.
How long before Obama appoints a Health Practices Czar to issue these kinds of mandates? Don’t be surprised if it becomes part of the current health-care reform bill Congress will produce this year.