I’ve never thought of myself as a libertarian. Instead, I would characterize myself as a conservative with libertarian tendencies. Why the distinction? Because viscerally I viewed libertarians as fringe nutcases and because intellectually I did not, and do not, like libertarian foreign policy, especially when it comes to Israel.
Watching Progressives/Liberals/Democrats at work, though, is pushing me into more and more libertarian positions. Take for example the latest Progressive lunacy out of New York: no Super-Sizes there if Nanny Bloomberg has his way. (I know that Bloomberg been both a Republican and a Democrat, and is now an Independent. He can call himself whatever he wants, but his politics show that he’s a Progressive Nanny Stater.)
Yes, under Nanny Bloomberg, if you want a big, cheap soda, you can’t have one. Instead, you’ll have to buy two smaller, more expensive sodas. This is because New Yorkers are becoming fat — or so says Nanny Bloomberg.
First, a little quibble with the “becoming fat” bit. I have real problems with blanket statements such as this. As we’ve discussed at this blog before, science keeps changing the definition of what constitutes fat, and it’s a definition that has nothing to do with health and everything to do with playing a numbers game — usually one that provides a financial benefit to this proposing the numbers.
In today’s America, the BMI index is the body weight equivalent of affirmative action. Think about it: Affirmative action initially made some sense, although anyone with any smarts could see that it was a foolish idea and one that could be abused. The theory was that people who had actually suffered disadvantages because of their race — especially disadvantages in education — could go to the head of the line. It was a bit of a handicap or a shortcut. The only way this approach to affirmative action could have worked, of course, was to limit it to a single generation of students. It should have timed out after ten years at most.
Instead, though, affirmative action got institutionalized and became a numbers game. The policy stopped being about whether people who had suffered genuine and wrongful disadvantages on account of race were being a given a fair shot, and instead became about which institution could boast that it had more minorities on board. So we end up with the uber-middle class Elizabeth “Snow White” Warren getting hired far above her pay grade because she’s Native American, and we have the California higher education system threatening to poll people about their sex lives. I can see it now, as UC Berkeley president sneers at the UC Davis president: “We have more gays than you do. Nyah, Nyah!
The BMI thing is the same. Yes, we can eyeball certain people and say, “Gee, that person is really fat.” But think about the fact that Marilyn Monroe would be considered obese nowadays. And then think about the fact that what killed her wasn’t obesity but substance abuse. There’s a message in there somewhere. I’m not precisely sure what the message is, but I’m pretty dang sure that the message isn’t “Hey, Marilyn, you need to go on a diet.” Indeed, looking at poor Judy Garland, who was consistently drugged into some semblance of skinniness, Marilyn is lucky that,with all her other tsurises, the Hollywood powers at least had the smarts not to put her on a diet. She looked plenty good zaftig:
As for me, I’ve known healthy plump people and unhealthy skinny people. Being grossly fat brings big problems with it, but they’re only societal problems if we insist on socializing medicine. It’s called moral hazard. If we make it so that people don’t have to bear the costs of their own dangerous habits, they won’t change those habits. And perhaps they like those habits. A smoker might love smoking so much that he’s willing to risk shortening his life by one or two decades. Who am I to say that 60 short years are worth more than 80 deprived years? Please don’t smoke near me — I hate the smell — but go outside and smoke yourself to death, if that’s what you want to do.
Speaking of smoking, let’s legalize pot — or let’s make alcohol illegal. It’s ridiculous to have one legal and the other not. I’d certainly limit access to young people (not that doing so works well), because I believe that both pot and alcohol can interfere dangerously with a growing mind and body. I’d continue to keep DUI as an offense, because I believe the government can regulate fairly heavily what level of capacity people have to have to drive. And if for some bizarre reason a stoner attacked someone and ate off his face (which is really impossible to imagine a stoner doing), he’d go to jail. Otherwise, the government should let people be stupid if they want to be stupid.
The whole Obama drug use thing high lights the rank hypocrisy that results from having the government get involved in things such as pot use. Obama was a heavy, hard-core, regular pot user, who also used cocaine and thought about trying out heroin. In 2008, the media lied to protect him. The better thing would have been to castigate his behavior if the media was genuinely opposed, or to castigate America’s drug laws. Instead, as I said, the media just lied — and, funnily enough, the lie was that Obama lied. That I believe. Obama lies about everything.
I’ve gotta run, so this rant is over, although there’s a lot more I could say. The bottom line is that it’s not the government’s job to make people smart. You cannot force people into a higher echelon of functioning. You can encourage people to better themselves. You can set economic, lifestyle and even moral goals. You can take barriers out of people’s paths. But what you cannot do is make dumb people smart or turn klutzes into ballerinas. As Kurt Vonnegut knew before he went off the liberal deep end, all that government can do to force total equality and human perfect is bring higher level people down, until everyone is crawling in the gutter, watched over by a few party apparatchiks who know best.