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.