(some notes toward a manifesto of sorts)
I've generally found myself in agreement with Thoreau:
"I heartily accept the motto, -- 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, -- 'That government is best which governs not at all'; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."
and with Kerry Thornley's "Zenarchy":
"As a doctrine, it holds Universal Enlightenment a prerequisite to abolition of the State, after which the State will inevitably vanish. Or - that failing - nobody will give a damn."
Over the years, some of you have heard me rail against many things the government has done: war, drug policy, domestic surveillance, censorship, and so on. For example, way back in 1993, in a USENET discussion about drug policy I spoke of the feds as
"...the government that gave us the Dredd Scott decision, Prohibition, McCarthyism, MK-ULTRA mind-control experiments with LSD, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam police action, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the House banking and Post Office scandals, the Waco [assault], and 20-page MILSPECS for brownies..."
and a decade and a half later, I find nothing to disagree with in that statement.
(I Am Not Making This Up: the 2003 version of the military specification for brownies actually runs to 26 pages.)
So, how is it that I now find myself arguing in favor of that same government taking up a greater role in health care?
It is because, under current and foreseeable circumstances, the alternative is health care from the same sorts of massive corporations that brought us the Bhopal disaster, the Exxon Valdez debacle, the Merck fake medical journals, the Enron and Halliburton and KBR and Blackwater and Madoff and Goldman Sachs scandals.
A large corporation is an animal dedicated to its own preservation and growth; if actual goods and services are produced, that's just a fortunate by-product of its metabolic processes. And that's fine when we're dealing with ordinary consumer goods. But a health care system in which some people might occasionally receive care, if it doesn't affect the bottom line too much? Stacked against that, a government-regulated system (however subject to inefficiency and corruption and mistakes) that claims as its prime directive to provide care, starts to sound attractive.