Thursday, January 28, 2010

Government and Political Correctness

Last year Glenn Beck ran a series of essays by American author and columnist Jonah Goldberg. All four essays are worth reading but this one had the most 'universal' appeal, I thought.

Government Knows Best
By Jonah Goldberg

Type "New York City Council" and "ban" and "2007" into Google. Here's some of what you find:

A New York Times story: New York City Council Approves Ban on Metal Bats

A BBC News story: "Racial slur banned in New York."

A CNN story on how New York is considering banning "ultrathin" models.

A New York Sun article on how New York City is contemplating banning feeding pigeons.

A link to the Humane Society's effort to ban horse drawn carriages.

And that's on the first page alone.

These sorts of stories trickle-in almost hourly. Sometimes we hear them and are briefly distracted by them, other times we tune them out as background noise. And, most often, we simply forget them, these little human interest stories that amused us for a moment on talk radio or in back pages of a newspaper.

Sometimes we giggle about what's happening in other countries, without long pondering that places like Canada and Britain often blaze the trail we are on. For example:

In Britain, in a perfectly typical event quickly forgotten, police tracked down and nearly arrested an 11-year-old boy for calling a 10-year-old boy "gay" in an e-mail. This was considered a "very serious homophobic crime" requiring the full attention of police. In 2006, the coppers fingerprinted and threw a 14-year-old girl into jail for the crime of racism. Her underlying offense stemmed from the fact that she refused to join a class discussion with some fellow students because they were Asian and didn't speak English.

In England, traffic cameras are now trained on drivers to arrest them for eating in their cars. And in both Britain and Canada, the old Hitler Youth slogan, "Nutrition is not a private matter!" has taken on a new life. One expert this week argued that obesity must now be treated like Global Warming, requiring stern government intervention.

Health experts in Britain and Canada insist that the government has every right to meddle in the private life of its citizens since the state is picking up the tab for their healthcare (never mind that it's not the "state" but the taxpayers themselves). As Tony Harrison, a British health-care expert, explained to the Toronto Sun, "Rationing is a reality when funding is limited." So fat people and others can't get surgeries if bureaucrats or doctors don't think they're worthy of surgery. Now, of course, there's a certain logic here since the taxpayers are picking up the tab and someone has to make the hard choices about priorities. But it never occurs to these people that maybe the fact that the government is slowly being put in charge of many of the most important and personal issues in peoples' lives is in fact an argument against socialized medicine. It doesn't occur to them that refusing to unload seriously ill patients from ambulances, sometimes for hours at a time, just so emergency rooms can meet government quotas, is a sign that something is seriously wrong with the way statists handle medicine.

Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the goal of Progressivism was to have the individual "marry his interests to the State." "Government" he wrote in book, "The State," "does now whatever experience permits or the times demand." "No doubt," he wrote elsewhere, taking dead aim at the Declaration of Independence, "a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle."

He was hardly alone. "[W]e must demand that the individual shall be willing to lose the sense of personal achievement, and shall be content to realize his activity only in connection to the activity of the many," declared the pioneering progressive social activist Jane Addams.

The old story of the frog who doesn't jump out of the pot because the heat is turned up so slowly comes to mind.

On countless fronts, the natural pastures of daily liberty are being paved over by bureaucrats, politicians and other do-gooders. They aren't merely fixing problems as they come up. They are laying-down a path to a world where people like them are in charge of our lives, in large ways and small. And when you realize it, the funny stories we so often hear, aren't so funny anymore.

Jonah Goldberg is the author of the New York Times bestseller Liberal Fascism.

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Fascism will come to the West disguised as anti-facism.

A4

Anonymous said...

I get so frustrated when I read these types of articles. Are people in power just plain stupid??