Free Markets, Free People

A mandate is a mandate is a mandate

And a free people shouldn’t have a government that mandates much of anything. 

By mandate, in this sense, I mean requiring the mandatory purchase or provision of anything as dictated and then enforced by government.  Such as contraception.  Or health insurance.

Many people want to make this contraception controversy about religious freedom.  I understand the argument, but in reality it is about basic freedom.  Free people don’t do government mandates.  It is because free people don’t see mandating much of anything as a function of government.

As to how screwy this contraception mandate is, let’s go with the religious argument and use a mandated product that we know would definitely be prohibited by a religion but, for whatever reason, the government feels a need to mandate its use (yeah, it’s a sarcastic example that uses absurdity to demonstrate the absurdity of the contraception mandate).  Provided by Instapundit:

It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’”

Or as QandO commenter Harun posed in a better hypothetical:

Mandate firearms for all houses for public safety. No exception for Quakers. Oh, OK, we won’t make the Quakers pay for the guns, just have the homeowner’s insurance provide them for free.

We know how Muslims would react to example one (and, of course the administration would never try something that would offend Muslims) and we certainly know how the left would react to the second mandate if, for instance, a Republican administration issued such a mandate.  Both would create a firestorm of protest and call each mandate “unconstitutional” and “government overreach”.  Since it is just a bunch of “fundy”, mouth-breathing Christians, meh.

Given the examples, though, I assume we can dispense with all the posturing that mandates by government, in general (or in principle) are something acceptable to either side?  They’re not.  Except, of course, if each side has a favorite agenda item they’d like to see accomplished.  Then, mandates are fine, huh?

What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be “flex-fuel vehicles” – that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.

Author of that quote?  Rick Santorum. 

I agree with the no mandate principle.  Mandating citizens buy much of anything is not the function of government in a free society.

So, why do both sides continue to try to use them?  And why does each claim the other side is the only side to believe  them to be a function of government?

Especially the smaller, less intrusive and less costly government side?

Freedom’s hard.  And messy.  Totalitarianism is so much neater and besides, our elites know so much better than we what is good for us.


Twitter: @McQandO

34 Responses to A mandate is a mandate is a mandate

  • As I’ve noted…

    Santorum is a nanny-statist.


    Fascist economic policy replaces competition by innovation/price/quality with competition by supplication to power.

    Markets provide choice, innovate, make efficient use of scarce resources, and raise the standard of living for all.

    That last has been true since markets were first allowed to operate.

    • @Ragspierre I see these guys as about equal at this point. We do need to ask why these also-rans keep rising to the top over Romney, I think Bill Quick has it right, we’re looking for anybody BUT Romney. I admit, he leaves me cold too.

      Although at this point we can wonder if the Left is somehow manipulating this to wear us down and split it into 30 little armed camps instead of one big one.

      The Brits were adept at doing that, and it worked excessively well for the bulk of the period of empire.
      But when we’re worrying about Obama’s ‘faith’ instead of his government, well, we’re gonna get what we deserve I think.

      • @looker @Ragspierre “I see these guys as about equal at this point.”

        No. You get something different from each of them.

        and “But when we’re worrying about Obama’s ‘faith’ instead of his government,”

        Opposite is true. But, first, Santorum was talking about Obama’s extreme environmentalism as a “theology.” Not about the sick church Obama dedicated himself to.

        Then, religion is very important, especially Obama’s, which is a racist blend of Marxism (Leftist racism is always “good” racism) and black supremacy. He should never have been nominated, based on that alone.

        • @martinmcphillips @Ragspierre But it’s subjective Martin, he denies it, and we can’t prove it.

          What we CAN prove is what he has done, and I don’t need to understand his motivations, although that would help be predictive. So, they can focus on what he’s done, not on what he does or does not believe.

          Santorum has to be careful talking about ‘faith’ because it’s a hot button. I won’t argue but that faith in whatever makes a man what he is, but Obama and his supporters are not going to be honest about whatever he believes. And going on any angle to his ‘theology’ gives them ammo the right doesn’t need to give him.
          This is a ‘don’t feed the trolls’ issue.

        • @looker @martinmcphillips Where Palin seems to have a natural genius for messaging…

          Santorum seems to have an innate NOT genius. It IS a problem.

    • @Ragspierre Frankly, I don’t care if they pulled Reagan out of his casket and ran him.

      It’s just amazing that anybody takes seriously anything except what kind of SCOTUS judges would they appoint, what kind of political appointees, and just who devious is the bastard ? The rest is just fluff, that will go nowhere once in office.

      • @Neo_ At this point, I’m reminded of how you select a jury in voir dire…

        You NEVER get to “chose your juror”. You eleminate bad jurors, and hope you didn’t miss one.

      • @Neo_ @Ragspierre Reagan helped establish standards for conservatives that would have rejected Reagan based on his performance in California as governor, and perhaps based on his performance as president. If you wanted to comb through everything that he did in the Oval.

        • @martinmcphillips @Neo_ @Ragspierre Nice to see someone on the right actually admitting to this reality. Reagan was in many ways to the left of every candidate in the GOP field. He compromised, he raised taxes, he grew government, he grew the debt. His environmental, defense, and general economic policies would be acceptable to conservatives today, but his overall policy accomplishments would have him disqualified to run on the GOP ticket today. By the way, I voted for Reagan twice, and though I oppose some of his policies, I consider him to have been a great President. Instead, we have wannabe’s who are not only incapable, but uniterested in united the country, and wish to double down on the Reagan policies that didn’t work, and walk back the Reagan policies that were effective.

  • That’s pretty funny McQ. You skipped over most of the article to take the quote that you think *proves* that Santorum is the mandate king, or whatever. What the article is actually about is using coal. He calls the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” as in, we have all the energy we need, and he suggests the mandate ironically, as in, here it comes, I have a mandate for you, and it’s one that will be less of a burden than the fuel economy mandate.

    O.K., so again I ask you to please tell me who you want to see get the Republican nomination, just so there’s no misunderstanding about what you’re doing here.

    • @martinmcphillips Read it again, martin. Santorum was NOT being “ironic”. He WAS flacking Pennsylvania coal.

      Plus, there is this little light-bulb, totally consistent with what we know about Sante…
      “What would Chavez and company do in response? Jack up production to kill this industry off before it gets off the ground. So – hold on again, conservatives – let’s put a temporary tax trigger on imported oil if the price hits $50 per barrel. Anyone think it will go that low without this idea?”

      • @Ragspierre Perhaps irony is in the eye of the beholder, note the “wait for it” pause and the exclamation point:

        “At this point I would say to all of my hard-core conservative friends: Hold on to your hats.

        What we need is a government mandate!”

        Yes, a mandate that trumps the neverending fuel economy mandates that reflect only oil. I’m not saying it’s a good idea. But it’s not an idea that narrows the market.

        The tax/energy policy suggestions/speculations are nothing unusual.

        • @martinmcphillips “Just two hours up the road from Philadelphia, the nation’s first coal-to-gas-to-diesel facility may soon be developed in Schuylkill County; word was expected today on a U.S. Department of Energy loan of $100 million to help enable construction.”

          So, how is that different/better than Solyndra…???

          Plus, you don’t “trump” a mandate with another mandate, martin. You trump a mandate by removing it.

          You don’t fix market distortions with another layer of market distortion.

        • @Ragspierre “So, how is that different/better than Solyndra…???”

          Well, for one thing, it’s a viable and abundant (concentrated) form of fossil fuel energy, i.e., not solar energy. Does that make a difference? Something that actually burns and produces energy for the transportation sector? Remember, this is about a lack of production of energy in the U.S., which leads to extortion by foreign energy producers, most of whom are *states* uninterested in playing by market rules.

          “Plus, you don’t “trump” a mandate with another mandate, martin. You trump a mandate by removing it.”

          That’s true, unless the existing mandate is essentially neverending and unflexible in terms of fuel choice. And…

          “You don’t fix market distortions with another layer of market distortion.”

          I agree, but when and where you respond to *exogenous* market distortions can be critical.

        • @martinmcphillips Dude! We EXPORTED fuel last year in the net. We dun neeed no stinkin’ subsidized coal-diesel…!!!

          Solar energy works. Has for ages and ages. It’s conversion ISN’T market-driven…kinda like coal-diesel.

          You are really straining here.

        • @Ragspierre Dude, we’re importing most of our fuel.

          Solar energy works in minor ways (I’m an expert on solar energy); it has no application in transportation, which is where we use most of our energy, which is largely imported oil (although we are in the midst of a new domestic production boom, we are still huge importers).

          The straining here is to pick at Santorum’s statements, which is fine, but I know where the caricatures are coming from.

        • @martinmcphillips I read what people write, and hear what they say. No need to pick at Rick…

          You are wrong, martin. Sorry. The point was not “what energy works in transport”; it was and is subsidizing stuff (whether you approve of the subsidy or not) and screwing with the economy.

        • @Ragspierre What’s being exported is refined petroleum products, FYI. If you read what people write. That’s (mostly) imported oil (including high inventories) being refined and sold elsewhere because demand is falling in the U.S. because the economy is so rotten. That raises the question of why prices are rising here? It’s because we’re not producing enough crude.

          And, hey, by all means, let’s get rid of all subsidies. Let’s start with the public schools.

        • @martinmcphillips What I SAID, martin. NOT feed stock. I SAID fuels. You know…LIKE FLUCKING COAL-DIESEL…

        • @Ragspierre That’s incoherent. I have no idea what you’re trying to say. If you’re frustrated, with me or the subject, come back in an hour with a sensible paragraph. FYI: I’m not for subsidies, But I don’t care if Rick Santorum said something about subsidies in 2008 when he was lobbying for Pa. oil. It’s not important right now.

        • “And, hey, by all means, let’s get rid of all subsidies. Let’s start with the public schools.”

          Like the voters of Pennsylvania, I think I’ll start with getting rid of candidates who are nanny-statists…like Santorum. I figure the subsidies will follow.

        • @Ragspierre And you will “get rid of” of him *for* *whom*?

        • @martinmcphillips Without much enthusiasm…Gingrich. I know; this is subjective. Santorum gives me a bad feeling.

        • @Ragspierre O.K., I can go with Newt.

    • @martinmcphillips – What, you think Santorum is the only example?

      • @McQandO So, are you backing Romney? Based on the idea that Gingrich rhetorically supported a health care mandate and Santorum suggested some kind of flex-fuel mandate, and therefore they are no better than a governor who actually instituted a state bureaucratic takeover of medical care?

    • @martinmcphillips – NOTA … although any of the above is more acceptable than Obama.

  • What we need is a mandate that requires all mandates to be written on 12th century BC goat skin while the writer jumps up and down on one leg while singing “God Bless America” in tune.

    • @Neo_ And NO robo-pens allowed…!!!

    • @Neo_ Make em sing the Star Spangled Banner – aside from the tune’s (deliberately) difficult nature there don’t seem to be many who can manage the lyrics properly either.

  • There are over 2000 mandates of state and federal insurance coverage. Most of these should not ever had to have been mandates, but when insurance companies (who are virtual monopolies in many areas of the country) exluded coverage for components that any reasonable person would agree should be covered, states began mandating coverage. Do you think it’s okay for an insurance company to deny coverage to an adopted child? Some did, then mandates were put in place. Do you think it is okay for an insurance company to deny coverage of more than a single night in the hospital following childbirth? Some did, so minimum stay mandates were put into place. Health insurance should be a medical issue, and virtually every single medical care group in the country consideres contraception to be a important component to women’s health. People should be free to follow their religious beliefs to use, or not use, contraception as they desire. I also agree that medical providers should not be forced to provide medical services that go against their faith. But insurance is a different animal, it is merely the coverage of this important component to women’s health that is at issue, no is forcing the insured to use contraception. And the argument that paying for it in the premiums is tantamount to providing contraception is, in my opinion, ridiculous, as ridiculous as it would be to argue that I should not pay taxes because those tax dollars pay for things that are against my religion. When a religious institution pays an employee, and that employee uses that religious institutions money to go buy birth control, does that institution have the right to withhold that person’s pay? If a religious institution CHOOSES to be in the health insurance business, they should follow the same laws that everyone else follows, and if that goes against their faith, they should get the hell out the insurance business. There will be a point when spousal coverage in same sex marriages comes up, and there will eventually be a mandate, so we may as well put this argument to rest. You are entitled to your religious beliefs, and you do not have to pay for contraception, unless you CHOOSE to be in the insurance business.

  • Here’s the difference in your firearm analogy: 99% of most women have used or do use contraceptives—which far outnumbers pro-gun advocates. The contraceptive issue was manufactured by some Catholic officials and their supporters—most people don’t look at this as a freedom of religion issue (but more a freedom of sexual expression issue, if anything).