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Who Rules: Politicians or Wall Street? Obama's Shutdown and Public Choice Theory

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"There Has to be a System"

by Christopher Chantrill
October 01, 2013 at 12:00 am


SOME YEARS ago I was discussing conservative health care ideas with a liberal ex-pat Brit. This was when Obamacare was just a gleam in Obama’s eye. Her comeback was that “there has to be a system.”

I mentioned that to Lady Marjorie, who is blasting into orbit right now that her individual health insurance plan has been terminated and replaced with a plan that costs 30 percent more with higher deductibles. She retorted that most people think that a “big thing” like health care or education just has to be done by the government.

In other words, there has to be a system.

No there doesn’t. And we know that liberals know this because of their professed love of Darwinian evolution. Liberals love evolution because it neuters the notion that God organized and created everything everything from scratch, that God created a top-down “system” and said that it was good. On the contrary, evolution by natural selection says that the living organisms that adapt best to their environment get to survive and breed successfully and the others don’t. There’s no system except the DNA and sexual reproduction, and all that is a product of evolution too.

But health care without a system? That’s Social Darwinism! That means leaving the poor and the helpless to go without! There’s no hope of getting affordable health care without a system, a government system run by large-minded liberals and their expert-led supporters.

So Obama created Obamacare and said that it was good.

This would normally be the point to insert stuff about the Smith’s Invisible Hand, Burke’s “sophisters, economists, and calculators,” Spencer’s idea of society as an unconscious organism, Mises on prices, Hayek on bureaucracy, public choice, famines under socialism. Settled science, don’t you know.

But Daniel Henninger makes the point that facts and theories don’t matter when it comes to political ideas like Obamacare.

An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.

But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.

Good try Danny boy, but I got a better one. It comes from NYT science editor Nicholas Wade in his Faith Instinct, a book all about religion considered as natural selection. He writes:

Gods die when people no longer worship them.

Since we are full of Darwin today, I think we can include the secular gods in this maxim too. Marxism will die when people stop worshipping Marx. Big government will die when people stop worshipping the system.

But there is another way that the world changes. It’s when people just give up. Here is the incomparable Willa Cather describing in Death Comes to the Archbishop the Navajos giving up after Kit Carson had invaded their tribal sanctuary, the Canyon de Chelly.

Carson followed them down into the hidden world between those towering walls of red sandstone, destroyed their stores, laid waste to their deep-sheltered corn-fields, cut down the terraced peach orchards to dear to them. When they saw all that was sacred to them laid waste, the Navajos lost heart. They did not surrender, they simply ceased to fight, and were taken.

You can see what is going on right now in the Obamacare wars. The Democrats are telling us that resistance is futile: it’s the Law, etc. Why not just give up, you extremist anarchist Republicans? And the Republican establishment seems to be going along, offering merely mild objections.

But Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is offering an alternative. That is the strategic meaning of his tactically meaningless non-filibuster. He is saying “Nuts!” He is proposing to lead conservatives and Republicans out of the land of Egypt into the Promised Land. He is saying that we have not yet begun to fight. He is suggesting that with Obamacare the Democrats have gone a bridge too far, and that now is the time to strike back. He is calling on us “boldly [to] outdare / The dangers of the time.”

For this is our creed, the creed of the People of the Responsible Self. There can be no system for us, for free men and women, because system is domination. We responsible individuals, joined in voluntary cooperation under a limited government, make and unmake such systems as we want and need according to our responsibilities to ourselves and to our families and to society at large.

And we know that “system” is an illusion, for life on this planet Earth is a ceaseless effort to adapt to its challenges and its changes. There is no fixed and immutable system except in the Hereafter.

You just can’t have heaven on earth.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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