Free Markets, Free People
Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner brings this little goodie to our attention:
The American public is still mired in doubt about the science and the economics of climate change, he said, but is ready for the kind of social shift that eventually brought success to the abolition movement of the 18th and 19th centuries.
“Just as few people saw a moral problem with slavery in the 18th century, few people in the 21st century see a moral problem with the burning of fossil fuels,” Professor [Andrew] Hoffman [of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources] said. “Will people in 100 years look at us with the same incomprehension we feel toward 18th-century defenders of slavery?”
So now skeptics of AGW are the moral equivalent of slavery defenders because they don’t agree that the science is there which supports the warmists view that man’s CO2 emissions are the driver of global climate change? Really?
If people might do anything during a 100 year retrospective it will be to look askance at the rhetoric this particular issue generated from one particular side. My guess is they’ll look at Hoffman’s analogy and shake their head in wonder at the absurdity of his claim.
I’m not sure what offends me more – Hoffman’s attempt to equate scientific skepticism with an immoral institution like slavery or his obvious ignorance of the fact that science is skepticism.
Hoffman needs to also get out more – there is little if any “social shift” in the making concerning this nonsense. The science is not settled (in fact it is badly discredited), there is no consensus and until there is much more solid evidence from the scientific community – not some divinity school drop out and failed presidential candidate – the public isn’t going to willingly sacrifice its economic well being on some incredibly expensive scheme concocted by warmists that most likely will have no effect whatsoever on the alleged problem.
But, then, what do we slavers know.
That’s been the starting position for everyone who supported the health care reform monstrosity that just came out of Washington DC. It’s stated in various ways, such as health care being a “right”, but the axiom is always that in our society everyone should have health care, or as a practical matter, health insurance.
It sounds so compassionate and decent doesn’t it? But that little phrase packs in some nasty principles.
It’s one thing to say that you deserve to control your own life, or property or income. That’s pretty uncontroversial. But when you say, “I have a right to have health care–or a pension, or a home–provided for me even if I can’t afford it”, then what you’re really saying is that I have an obligation to provide you with those things. Whether I wish to provide them to you, or whether it causes me some degree of privation, is irrelevant. To say that you–or anyone else–has a right to something I must provide is to say that you have an irrevocable claim on my life, labor or property. I owe you.
No matter how you try to gussy it up, or dress it in compassion, the fact is that by claiming that such an obligation, you place me in indentured servitude. My wishes are irrelevant.
Indeed, it’s not even indentured servitude. At least in an indenture, I have to agree to provide you with my labor for some period, after which I am manumitted. In actuality, by claiming such an obligation on me that I cannot evade, you make me, to some degree, your serf. You are the laird of the manor, and I have my obligation of labor days to provide you.
Now, perhaps I should be willing to provide you with health insurance. Perhaps that is the moral and/or ethical course of action I should undertake. But that, too, is irrelevant. By demanding it, and by forcing me to provide you with a good or service by law, you not only ignore my conception of morality, you impose your morality on me. Whether I agree with your morality is not even a consideration for you. You have a claim,you say, so your morality trumps mine.
Moreover, once you’ve accepted that it’s perfectly all right to impose a form of servitude on me, in order that I might provide you with a good, what’s your limiting principle? If you may impose an obligation on me to provide a part of my income or property in order to procure a good for yourself, why can’t you simply take all of it? After all, you’ve already signed on to imposing slavery in principle, because you’ve decided that you can impose an obligation on me against my will. Why stop at serfdom?
Slavery, to one degree or another, is, of course, the inevitable outcome of any attempt to enforce some sense of cosmic justice on life, and the lives of your fellow men. Because there is no such thing as cosmic justice. Nor is there any general agreement on what cosmic justice should be. So, your attempt to impose it on others invariably must be done by force, either through the majesty of the law, or with a knife to the throat.
Which is often the same thing.
So, what you are really saying when you claim that “Everyone deserves health care,” is, “I have the right to enslave you, in whole or in part, in order to require you provide health care to me.” When you strip the high-sounding phrases to the principles, it doesn’t sound nearly so moral and compassionate, does it?
Oh, and by the way, it does no good to tell me that I also have the same claim on others, and can force someone else to provide me with health care, too. Because all you’re really telling me is that I can become a slavemaster, too. The fact that I don’t care to be a slavemaster, or that I find it morally abhorrent, is utterly irrelevant to you. Again, your morality trumps mine.
Because, after all, if you can get everyone else to join you in your crime–indeed, to glory in it–who will condemn you?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
If ever there was a text book example of a false premise wrapped in an absurd ‘moral’ analogy, Glenn Smith at Firedoglake provides it:
The gravity of America’s health care crisis is the moral equivalent of the 19th Century’s bloody conflict over slavery. This is not hyperbole, though the truth of it is often lost in abstract talk of insurance company profits, treatment costs, and other cold, inhuman analyses.
Today’s health system condemns 50 million Americans to ill health and death while guaranteeing health care to the economic privileged. It cannot stand.
About 18,000 Americans die each year because they lack health insurance. That’s more than a third the number of lives lost in battle during each year of the four-year Civil War.
Heh … you have to love the attempt to wave off this hyperbole by simply declaring it isn’t hyperbole. But I would hope that it is evident to any rational thinker that the attempt here is to equate those who resist the intrusion of government into the realm of health to those who fought to retain the institution of slavery.
This is, instead, a plain old rant against capitalism and the free market cloaked in this absurd moral equivalence Smith invents. Seeing the liberal goal of government run health care being battered by real world realities, he’s decided he has to turbo-charge his argument for such change by defining down the horror of slavery in order to find a moral equivalence he can use as a bludgeon on the dissenters.
Don’t believe me? How about this:
Members of Congress without the moral clarity to recognize this equivalence will be condemned by history. Their spinelessness and lack of will when confronted with the power of the insurance industry is just as morally bankrupt as the American congressmen who bowed to Southern slave-owners.
The morally compromising efforts to pass health care reform that insurance companies might like is as insane as the compromises over slavery.
The health insurance industry earns its profits from the denial of coverage and benefits. It’s not so different from the Southern plantation owners who earned their profit from slave labor. The latter had their economic justifications for their immorality. So do the insurance companies.
Of course, this sort of nonsensical thinking muddles important concepts that underlie the inalienable rights of man. Slavery was a violation of man’s right to his own life. Health care insurance is nothing more than a tool that helps pay for a person’s health care. Health care is not “unavailable” to those who don’t have it. More importantly, health care is not a right.
Whereas slave owners physically denied slaves the freedom to pursue their lives, insurance companies do not stop anyone from pursuing their own health care.
But – they have to pay for it because it entails the use of the time, abilities and services of others. That is what people like Smith really object too. Read the nonsense in the paragraph above and that’s clear. And, as many extremists like to do (like those who claim, for instance, that those who don’t agree on AGW are akin to Holocaust deniers), he chooses the most inflammatory but false “moral” example he can choose to demonize his opposition, counting on the dearth of critical thinking these days to win their point.
Unfortunately, it is more successful than I’d like to admit, which is why it is important to refute it immediately when it crops up.