Here is an example of an argument which you will hear with increasing frequency. A month or so ago on the Fox News Special Report panel the participants were discussing the right to smoke. Juan Williams, the token leftist on the show, agreed that of course people had the right to smoke, but perhaps that right could be curtailed by the state because of matters of cost. Smokers in general have more health care costs, and soon, after Obamacare fully kicks in, the government will assume those costs. Thus, in order to “save money”, smoking rights could be abridged or eliminated by the state.
Two quick things. Some of us (me, for instance) will be able to say “I told you so” each time this argument is voiced, since we warned that it would oft be used if Obamacare was adopted. This will afford us many victories, but they will each be bitter. The second curiosity is to note, yet again, the Left’s obsession with money. All moral and ethical truth is ultimately grounded on cash. How tedious.
We have already heard several versions of this argument—for which I have not discovered a satisfactory name: how about Removing Freedoms Saves Money (RFSM) argument?—from Mayor Mike Bloomberg who dictatorially proscribed the sale of soda pop over an arbitrary size in New York City. He also outright banned saturated fats in restaurants. He now has his puritanical eye on salt. Each time he wielded government to remove a freedom, he touted the benefits to the bottom line.
There are countless “progressives” who dislike fat people and want to control what and how all people eat; skinny as well as fat, because if the skinny are left to their own devices, they might turn fat. Progs invariably bemoan the “costs” of being fat. Just wait until these costs are paid for out of your taxes. Will you find yourself nodding in agreement when some fool says disallowing this or that foodstuff will make a better, less expensive, life for all? I suppose we can be grateful that Twinkies were shut down before we were treated to the spectacle of somebody calling for its banning.
This kind of thing is already plenty common in England, where the state has controlled health care for decades. Take the comments of ex-politician Geoffrey Clark who a couple of weeks ago suggested unborn babies not meeting his standard of perfection be killed because imperfect lives cost more money. He didn’t just mean that fliers touting the convenience of life without burdensome babies should be passed out the NHS clinics. He said the state should “Consider compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, spina bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, will render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family.” He also mused that those pushing 80 should be made to go to euthanasia counseling. Costs really pile up for the elderly.
Well, these honest, straightforward comments—particularly his use of the Herod-like word “compulsory”—got him fired from his party. It didn’t take long for the now routine “I sincerely apologise for any offence” for his “badly expressed views” to appear. No apology for being a raving lunatic, or for cherishing eugenics; just a tear or two for having been caught putting it too bluntly.
What makes this interesting to us is that his apology is nothing more than an extended RFSM argument: “The Government’s tax revenues are rarely enough to fulfil its generous spending promises so every year Britain runs a large budget deficit.” (Site here; but see it soon because he claims he will soon take it down.)
The lovely thing about the RFSM is that it is without limit. Every citizen costs money to those states which have taken over health care. From the moment a citizen is conceived, prematurely killed in the womb, or manages to escape into the wild, money must be spent on him. That means any activity at all could be subject to the RFSM, for every activity is at least tangentially related to health.
It should be obvious the RFSM has a corollary which is the Mandating Activities to Save Money (MASM) argument, which says those activities meeting favor with statists will be made compulsory.
If you think not, let’s play Stump the Host. Propose an activity, rare or common, and I will show you how a progressive will either cast aspersions on it with a mind towards removing the freedom to engage in that activity, or how the progressive will not only tout the activity as beneficial, but will angle his argument towards making the activity mandatory.