But I like wine and beer

In this election season, it’s good to remember a classic Walter Williams column from 2010, Conflict or Cooperation.

Different Americans have different and often intense preferences for all kinds of goods and services. Some of us have strong preferences for beer and distaste for wine while others have the opposite preference — strong preferences for wine and distaste for beer. Some of us hate three-piece suits and love blue jeans while others love three-piece suits and hate blue jeans. When’s the last time you heard of beer drinkers in conflict with wine drinkers, or three-piece suit lovers in conflict with lovers of blue jeans? It seldom if ever happens because beer and blue jean lovers get what they want. Wine and three-piece suit lovers get what they want and they all can live in peace with one another.

It would be easy to create conflict among these people. Instead of free choice and private decision-making, clothing and beverage decisions could be made in the political arena. In other words, have a democratic majority-rule process to decide what drinks and clothing that would be allowed. Then we would see wine lovers organized against beer lovers, and blue jean lovers organized against three-piece suit lovers. Conflict would emerge solely because the decision was made in the political arena. Why? The prime feature of political decision-making is that it’s a zero-sum game. One person’s gain is of necessity another person’s loss. That is if wine lovers won, beer lovers lose.

It seems with each election cycle we continue to shove things into the political decision-making arena that shouldn’t be there.

One such thing: what children eat for lunch at school.

I’ve been an opponent of the First Lady’s movement to control school lunches since the beginning. Recently,there has been a rash of news stories about students and parents who have become less appreciative of the First Lady’s school lunch efforts as they find their personal choices in conflict with what the government thinks best.

As the election draws closer, I encourage you to keep your eyes peeled for things that are being unnecessarily shoved into the political decision-making arena.

New York city is the innovator in this arena. They’ve placed smoking, salt and now large, sugary-drinks in the political arena. They are being placed there because the government, acting in the best interest of their taxpayers, claim these things drive up health care costs.

As Obamacare takes hold, watch for these trends to go nationwide. The rationale used by these nannies is, “If I’m paying for your health care, then I have a right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps.”

Watch out, if you lead what others may consider an unhealthy lifestyle. They may eventually use the above logic to seek to limit the choices you make — all for the greater good, of course — or deny you the generosity of ‘their’ funding.

What I find ironic, is how this super-nanny-ism is never compared to a free market. In a free market, you make choices and deal with the consequences.

Some find that objectionable because it appears to lack compassion. What about those who don’t have the means to handle the consequences?

But, it is rarely considered whether they could have made different choices leading up to consequences and if not having to deal with the consequences caused them to make less responsible choices.

But, once the ‘compassion’ of super-nannyism takes over, it surprises me how quickly the super-nannies lose compassion for those they judge to have not made responsible choices. Now that I’m paying for your health care, I have the right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps.

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9 thoughts on “But I like wine and beer

  1. ‘As Obamacare takes hold, watch for these trends to go nationwide. The rationale used by these nannies is, “If I’m paying for your health care, then I have a right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps.”

    Watch out, if you lead what others may consider an unhealthy lifestyle. They may eventually use the above logic to seek to limit the choices you make — all for the greater good, of course — or deny you the generosity of ‘their’ funding.’

    What is the difference between stating “If I’m paying for your health care, then I have a right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps” and the argument of only taxpayers should be able to vote. Personally don’t agree with either statement but isn’t the logic the same? Hence the logic is perfectly fine if its nanny state based but rejected in the other argument i.e. “if I’m paying for”.

    Regarding Walter E. Williams column: Milton Friedman, by no coincidence, entitled his ten part PBS series and book Free to Choose.

      • Seth and Bill: Two points – First, by the same rationale that the because the government is paying for our healthcare, it is financially impacted by our lifestyle choices and therefore has the right to regulate them, if we look at the healthcare services that government pays for, we can see their same rationale for ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), i.e. “If I’m paying for your health care, I have the right to refuse to pay for services I deem ineffective (or in government terms, “not cost effective” – which means it may help in YOUR specific individual case, but in a broad population of less specific cases, the cost is too high).

        Second, unlike Bill, I agree with both the logic and the right of the government – that is, the people as a whole – to regulate our individual lifestyle choices and treatment options IF they are paying for our healthcare. To me, it seems to be a fiscal disaster if we insist that government pays for healthcare, yet we place no restraints on the factors that determine these costs. We have created a moral hazard yet have not offset its unavoidable effects by imposing other restraints. Rather, the answer is to get government ENTIRELY out of the business of either paying for or meddling with our healthcare.

        Regarding limitations on voting, I’m not sure what qualifications I wold propose – taxpayers, landowners, literacy, etc. – but given the abundance of documentation such as the “ObamaPhone video”, I do favor some qualification.

        “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
        ― Alexis de Tocqueville

  2. Michelle lets Barry smoke, drink beer and eat cheeseburgers and pizza, but she’s imposed rules on what our kids can consume.

    [i]”Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual……”[/i]
    Michelle Obama – February 2008.

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