"Comprehensive" as Malleable

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mark Steyn makes several trenchant observations about ObamaCare as a law:

... "Comprehensive" today is a euphemism for interminably long, poorly drafted, and entirely unread - not just by the peoples' representatives but by our robed rulers, too (how many of those Supreme Court justices actually plowed through every page of Obamacare when its "constitutionality" came before them?). The 1862 Homestead Act, which is genuinely comprehensive, is two handwritten pages in clear English. "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" is 500 times as long, is not about patients or care, and neither protects the former nor makes the latter affordable.
Steyn notes later on that the law ends up meaning whatever Obama wants it to mean, both due to its vagueness and the exhaustion that sets in for anyone who wants to decipher it. He ends his piece by giving too much credit for guile to the current administration.
The cynical among us have always assumed Obamacare was set up to be so unworkable that a grateful populace would embrace any 2016 Democrat promising single-payer health care.
The causes of the convolution are epistemological, moral, and political. Epistemologically, most Americans are no longer confortable with thinking in terms of principles (which makes it seem like dawdling on everything in minute detail is necessary for a law to be comprehensive). Morally and politically, too many (if not most) Americans want to have their loot and be able to look at themselves in the mirror, too. The convolutions of the law make it easy to distract (or be distracted from) its redistributive nature, so nobody has to feel like a crook for supporting it.

By contrast, laws were much plainer when everyone was on the same side and agreed on a principle: not wanting to be harmed by others. Whether or not those others had government credentials had no bearing on that principle, except that the credentials implied an obligation to protect.

The consequence Steyn sees needs no guile on the part of Democrats (or, what I fear, delusions of opportunity on the part of Republicans) to play out. It needs only for Americans to remain: unclear about what liberty is and requires, vaguely hopeful for loot laundered by the government, and weary of all those pesky details.

Liberty requires vigilance. We are in trouble.

-- CAV

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