Universities and Government Bureaucracies: The Left's 'Chokepoint Charlies'

Then there are the far more pervasive chokepoints that come courtesy of government. Almost inevitably, the left takes something that started out as something desirable and develops it into a political or statist tool to assert control.

For an extreme example, take the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the early 1970s, the idea of doing something about legitimately problematic pollution was a good one. But going after lawbreaking polluters and protecting the air and water supplies was hardly enough for the radical environmentalist movement. Their minions have worked tirelessly and relentlessly during the EPA's 40-year existence to morph it into the $10 billion command-and-control center it is today. Along the way, they received substantial help from Congress, which conferred automatic "standing" to their "public interest" groups in litigation, and the courts, which ultimately and incredibly decided that what humans and other living things exhale is a pollutant. Now, if Congress is able to pass cap and trade, the agency will be well on its way to possessing its Holy Grail of chokepoints: the ability to dictate financial consequences for virtually any human action that is somehow seen in their eyes to have some imagined potential to negatively impact Dear Mother Earth.

The nation's health care system is another key weapon in the statists' chokepoint arsenal. Of course, the idea of protecting seniors from catastrophic health care costs had considerable appeal in the mid-1960s. Too bad that this is only a small portion of what Congress passed. Medicare led instead to government dominance of over-65 health care. How interesting, and unsurprising, that Medicare has the worst record in the key chokepoint area of rejected medical claims.

Decades later, having gained additional beachheads in children's health care and prescription drugs (one of the saddest examples of opportunistic capitulation by alleged conservatives in our history), health care's Chokepoint Charlies are on the cusp of achieving control over the entire sector. If the recess-appointed radical whom President Obama has placed in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid gets his way -- a man who believes that spending 8% of GDP on health care is quite enough (currently it's about 17%) -- the term "chokepoint" may take on a whole new meaning for seniors and others needing lifesaving or life-improving treatment.

In the two examples cited and in so many other areas, the government's Chokepoint Charlies have taken decades to build up their powers, and will of course fiercely resist relinquishing it. Reining them in will more than likely also require decades. A prerequisite to reversing their constantly hardening tyranny is getting enough voters to wake up to what has happened already, and to recognize how much worse it could really get. Despite all the premature end-zone dancing, I'm not at all convinced that we're there yet.