Roger’s Rules

What It Means

Yesterday, in the dead of night, the U.S. House of Representatives took a small step for Nancy Pelosi and a giant step for despotism.

Freedom, David Hume famously observed, is seldom lost all at once. More often, it leaks out slowly. The petty tyranny of good intentions colludes with the bureaucratic imperative to stymie individual initiative and barter liberty for the sake of central control.

Last night, it happened by a slender margin: 220 votes to 215. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the 1900-page bill. One Republican — first- and (I suspect) last-term Anh Cao of Louisiana — voted for it. You can see the entire roster of votes at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll887.xml. Did your congressman just vote to further impoverish the country, rob you of choice in managing your medical care, and arrogate to Washington decisions that should be left to the individual? Consult that list and remember next year and in 2012.

Pace Nancy Pelosi, you do not have to put up with this economically disastrous assault on freedom. You still — just barely — have a say in how you are governed. Please do not fritter it away. Slowly, now not slowly, your prerogatives are being whittled away as bureaucrats in Washington tell you what, and what not, to eat, how to light and heat your house, how much money you may make, what sort of car your must drive, how you must, and must not, educate your children, what sort of medical care you must, and must not, arrange for yourself.

I have in this space several times argued that the Obama administration’s efforts to take over health care is only incidentally concerned with enlarging or improving access to medical care. At bottom, it is about enlarging Washington’s control over your life.

David Harsanyi, in an excellent column at RealClearPolitics, provides a partial inventory of diminishment:

> The word “regulation” appears 181 times.
> “Tax” is there 214 times.
> “Fees,” 103 times.

More regulation. Higher taxes. More fees. Is that what Nancy Pelosi means by “affordable health care”?


The economically ruinous dimension of this $1 trillion boondoggle names only part of the pain. There’s also the element of government coercion. As Harsanyi points out,

The word “shall” — as in “must” or “required to” — appears over 3,000 times. The word, alas, is never preceded by the patriotic phrase “mind our own freaking business.”

No, indeed. Minding your own business is not what the Obama administration or Nancy Pelosi is about. Lenin put it well 1917: “What socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything.” Last night, those who would be your masters in Washington took another step toward usurping one-sixth of the U.S. economy and arrogating to themselves control over your medical care. Here’s the question: are we sheep? Or are we free citizens?

I hope, I pray, that a critical mass of people will line up behind the second alternative. Obama speaks of Hope and Change. His hope is to transform the United States into a hamstrung socialist redoubt. His idea of change is to bleed the United States of its wealth, its military might, and the legacy of individual liberty that has made it a cynosure of freedom the world over. We do not have to let him and his czars and enablers do this to us. But the hour is late. If we do not vigorously challenge this government putsch at the polls, the chains now being forged may well be too heavy, too crippling, to be shaken off.