COMMENTARY: Ivory Tower of Nonsense
Published: June 26th, 2013
“We’re all in this together.” ”Our common goal is to spread the condition of human misery across as wide a group as possible.” “When it comes to health care we must consider ourselves a collective.” “Individual preferences take a back seat to the greater good for all who choose to live in this society.”
These are all things that I heard recently at a conference in Boston. The sponsor of the conference very interestingly decided to bring in a socialist central planner and academic lawyer, someone whose advice was extensively sought during the crafting of TUCA (The Unaffordable Care Act).
This man could not answer even the most rudimentary questions about difficulties with TUCA and its implementation. He would say “that is something the regulators would need to take another look at.” Price controls were one of his favorite methods for controlling costs. “Where did you get those prices,” he was asked. He didn’t know. I found his arrogant delivery annoying at first.
By the time he was done I realized that this was a demonstration of unfiltered central planning the arrogance of which blinds the tyrant wanna-be’s to the death and destruction that result from inevitably faulty planning and calculation. In spite of this man’s declarations otherwise, he could not have cared less what anyone else at this conference had to say.
The problems with academics are that many times they are not practical. This ivory tower impracticality likely leads to the formation of conclusions based on premises that are not valid. He discussed in great detail the conclusions he had drawn downstream of a collectivist premise. I have found that discussing or arguing against these false conclusions is a distraction and a complete waste of time and energy. Discussing the faulty premise or first principle is so radical and confrontational that only the rare intellectual is capable of re-booting and reconsidering their foundations.
“We’re all in this together.” Sorry, no we’re not. Why should a man’s motorcycle wreck cause you to cancel a family vacation? Why should a neighbor’s diabetes or lung cancer prevent you from contributing to your child’s college fund? I don’t think this is oversimplifying things. The money has to come from somewhere and the government doesn’t have any money that it doesn’t first take from others.
“Our common goal is to spread the condition of human misery across as wide a group as possible.” Nope. Wrong again. This one is more devious as embedded in this statement is the assumption that everyone is ready and willing and able to own and share the burdens of others in addition to their own. This statement is a violation of the idea of private property and freedom of association. Stepping up to help our neighbors and the poor and the victimized is one thing. Inflicting our misfortunes on each other is quite another.
Don’t tell me that people won’t do this voluntarily. I live in Oklahoma City and just witnessed a professional basketball player and three energy companies deliver more money to the tornado victims here in 24 hours than the total amount the “government” has promised them, money these folks will not likely ever see. That is the compassion of the “government.” Empty and inefficient promises grounded in the despoliation of private property.
“When it comes to health care we must consider ourselves a collective.” Why stop there? Why not in every sector of our lives? This one is too silly to remark on further.
“Individual preferences take a back seat to the greater good for all who choose to live in this society.” Sound familiar? Maybe you will recognize this one better if I write it in this way:
“Einzelne Präferenzen nehmen einen Rücksitz zum übergeordneten Wohl für alle, die beschließen, in dieser Gesellschaft zu leben.”
I prefer this Latin quote:
Principiis obsta, finem respice. “Resist the beginnings and consider the end.” Those without “real world” experience will never see (and perhaps have no desire to see) the results of their failure as central planners and their role in launching deadly initiatives like TUCA.
NOTE: Dr. Smith is founder and owner of Surgery Center of Oklahoma.