Benjamin Franklin once warned Americans that “they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” Yet in the seemingly unrelated areas of health care and physical security, our political leaders are embracing this folly with predictably bad results.
In the realm of health care, the Obama administration is forging ahead to implement its “universal health care” plan, despite consistent popular opposition and numerous legal challenges. They claim they must restrict patients’ freedoms by forcing them to purchase insurance on government terms and restrict doctors’ freedoms by herding them into Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in order to guarantee everyone the supposed “security” of guaranteed health care.
Yet, as we’ve already seen in Massachusetts (which has a health plan similar to the national ObamaCare program), this results in patients having theoretical “coverage” — but less of an ability to get actual medical care.
In the related realm of pharmaceuticals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims it must restrict patients’ freedom to purchase (and manufacturers’ freedom to sell) drugs in order to protect our safety. However, pharmaceutical industry experts fault onerous FDA regulations for contributing to the current dangerous shortage of many injectable drugs by artificially raising the costs of drug creation and production. Hence, many seriously ill patients are now unable to get the medications they need.
Even worse, as Mark McCarty of Medical Device Daily recently described, FDA advisors have sought to deny terminally patients access to potentially life-extending treatments on the grounds that “the risk-benefit ratio was not up to par.” Similarly, medical device makers are now finding Europe a more hospitable environment for innovation than the U.S. due to FDA regulations. Rather than protecting Americans, the FDA is endangering them.
In the realm of transportation security, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is already a national joke for groping grandmothers and babies. Yet when tested with fake bombs and real guns, they’ve failed miserably. Indeed, it was the passengers who stopped the would-be bomber in Detroit of Northwest Airlines flight 253, not the TSA — a classic example of what blogger Glenn Reynolds calls “An Army of Davids.”
Americans have surrendered their freedoms (and their dignity) to the TSA for a sham “security theater” rather than genuine security. Yet politicians like Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) want to extend such controls from air travel to train travel.
Finally, Obama administration officials recently let slip that they are working on new gun control measures “under the radar.” Gun control is the classic example of foolishly exchanging an essential liberty for an illusion of security. The U.S. states that respect the honest citizen’s right to carry firearms in self-defense have consistently lower rates of violent crimes than states with strict gun control laws.
These examples illustrate the problems that arise when government oversteps its proper bounds. The proper function of government is to protect individual rights, such as our rights to free speech, property, and contract. Only those who initiate physical force or fraud can violate our rights. A properly limited government thus protects our rights by protecting us from criminals who steal, murder, rape, and so on, as well as from foreign aggressors. But it should otherwise leave honest people alone to live peacefully.