Who Chooses?

Say you're in an argument on some issue of a proposed government service with a friend of a more leftist persuasion, and you are making no progress.  I would suggest trying a question on your interlocutor which may well make him think and even re-examine his position.  Just ask: "Do you really think politicians and bureaucrats are smarter than you?"

Now it is certainly likely that the other person will view this as off the wall and think you are digressing.  However, you are not by any means. 

It is a fundamental fact that once you have asked for government to provide a service for you, you have relinquished control of that particular part of your life.  Yes, you can vote on these things, but that is far removed from where the rubber actually meets the road.  While your elected representatives do vote on the laws (I won't even bother to claim they write them; their staff does that), they rarely enough bother to read all the text.  On top of that, the laws are written in broad generalities which have to be further expanded upon by the bureaucracies which are tasked with implementing and enforcing them.

A good example of how this works is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).  The statutes in question amount to 425,116 words.  Now that this is being translated into actual practice, we are looking at 2,163,744 words.  That is roughly a fivefold increase from law to implementation.  Given how unlikely it would appear that your legislator read all 961 pages of the statute, do you think he or she perused all 4,500+ pages of the implementation?  It really does accent the quote from Nancy Pelosi: "Well, we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."  It's a safe bet that she was in the same state of ignorance.

It should be reasonably clear that even if you did vote for someone to get a particular piece of legislation passed, did you really know what you were getting?  It's obvious enough that the legislator you voted for didn't, so how could you?  You have acted on blind faith, ceding the outcome to the politician, his staff, and ultimately the bureaucrats who really create the regulations.

So what ultimately have you done? You've reduced the health care choices you get to make.  Every time a law is written, something is proscribed.  Someone else has set down a limitation of what options remain legal.  Heck, ObamaCare doesn't allow you even to opt out of the health insurance market.  Either you play the game, or a fine is levied against you for not participating.  This particular "innovation" in congressional power is being decided by the Supreme Court.  Possibly they will arrest this overreach of power, and we'll get off easy.  If they do let it pass muster, you might still have some choices, but they will be limited and subject to approval by those bureaucrats and politicians.  Obviously, the set of choices has been diminished.

Now what are the implications of this?  Do you think that the people who do know that law understand your specific circumstances?  Do those bureaucrats know the situation of your health, finances, and lifestyle?  No; they cannot.  There is too much information on too many people for there to be any chance that this the case will be otherwise.  Without an unreasonable level of intrusiveness into the life of every citizen, such information is simply not possible to collect.  Even if it were available, it would not be possible to write laws or regulations tailored to so many individual circumstances at once.  It becomes quite clear that at best, a general solution is possible, but that route will leave many people unsatisfied with the outcome.  This is an inevitable outcome of a centralized decision.  There is simply no getting around it.  Reality cannot work in any other way.

Is ObamaCare the only example of this?  Of course not.  The level of intrusion into your life is vast in scope and extends down to all level of minutiae.  There is very little that the regulatory apparatus doesn't have a say in.  Do you want to save a few hundred dollars on your car and not have an airbag?  Tough -- they decided you need one.  Do you want to drink unpasteurized milk?  Tough -- they decided it's not healthy.  Do you want to work for less than minimum wage to get a start?  Tough -- your labor is not yours to price.  You want to provide for your own retirement, as you think Social Security is going to be broke?  Tough -- they decided you're not competent to plan for your retirement.  I could go on. 

It's important to understand why people end up farming out these choices.  They think they are getting something good for it.  Politicians are very happy to proffer that impression, as it will get their constituents on the hook.  Be it "free" health care, a "living" wage,  or any other "service" provided by regulations, people are convinced that these have benefits.  Granted, every regulation benefits some, but that "some" can be a very small group who use that regulation to club competitors or gain a subsidy at the expense of the general coffers.  Even those regulations which have a general benefit have costs and restrict your freedom.   It's very important to understand that everything has costs, and that regulations very often have hidden ones.  Politicians generally specialize in the hidden sort. 

There's a reason why we have the aphorism "beggars can't be choosers."  If you task the government with providing you with a service, you are attempting to shift some form of cost away from yourself.  This cost could be as simple as paying for the service, being charitable, or going to the trouble of doing the investigation required to make a good choice.  The consequence of this is that you lose the ability to choose.  Who will choose? It will be that politician or that bureaucrat.

Oh, and if you do happen to think they actually are smarter than you, well, you might want to consider whom they are more responsive to -- is it you, a faceless voter, or a big donor?  Put in that perspective, doesn't making your own choice sound a lot better?

Say you're in an argument on some issue of a proposed government service with a friend of a more leftist persuasion, and you are making no progress.  I would suggest trying a question on your interlocutor which may well make him think and even re-examine his position.  Just ask: "Do you really think politicians and bureaucrats are smarter than you?"

Now it is certainly likely that the other person will view this as off the wall and think you are digressing.  However, you are not by any means. 

It is a fundamental fact that once you have asked for government to provide a service for you, you have relinquished control of that particular part of your life.  Yes, you can vote on these things, but that is far removed from where the rubber actually meets the road.  While your elected representatives do vote on the laws (I won't even bother to claim they write them; their staff does that), they rarely enough bother to read all the text.  On top of that, the laws are written in broad generalities which have to be further expanded upon by the bureaucracies which are tasked with implementing and enforcing them.

A good example of how this works is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).  The statutes in question amount to 425,116 words.  Now that this is being translated into actual practice, we are looking at 2,163,744 words.  That is roughly a fivefold increase from law to implementation.  Given how unlikely it would appear that your legislator read all 961 pages of the statute, do you think he or she perused all 4,500+ pages of the implementation?  It really does accent the quote from Nancy Pelosi: "Well, we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."  It's a safe bet that she was in the same state of ignorance.

It should be reasonably clear that even if you did vote for someone to get a particular piece of legislation passed, did you really know what you were getting?  It's obvious enough that the legislator you voted for didn't, so how could you?  You have acted on blind faith, ceding the outcome to the politician, his staff, and ultimately the bureaucrats who really create the regulations.

So what ultimately have you done? You've reduced the health care choices you get to make.  Every time a law is written, something is proscribed.  Someone else has set down a limitation of what options remain legal.  Heck, ObamaCare doesn't allow you even to opt out of the health insurance market.  Either you play the game, or a fine is levied against you for not participating.  This particular "innovation" in congressional power is being decided by the Supreme Court.  Possibly they will arrest this overreach of power, and we'll get off easy.  If they do let it pass muster, you might still have some choices, but they will be limited and subject to approval by those bureaucrats and politicians.  Obviously, the set of choices has been diminished.

Now what are the implications of this?  Do you think that the people who do know that law understand your specific circumstances?  Do those bureaucrats know the situation of your health, finances, and lifestyle?  No; they cannot.  There is too much information on too many people for there to be any chance that this the case will be otherwise.  Without an unreasonable level of intrusiveness into the life of every citizen, such information is simply not possible to collect.  Even if it were available, it would not be possible to write laws or regulations tailored to so many individual circumstances at once.  It becomes quite clear that at best, a general solution is possible, but that route will leave many people unsatisfied with the outcome.  This is an inevitable outcome of a centralized decision.  There is simply no getting around it.  Reality cannot work in any other way.

Is ObamaCare the only example of this?  Of course not.  The level of intrusion into your life is vast in scope and extends down to all level of minutiae.  There is very little that the regulatory apparatus doesn't have a say in.  Do you want to save a few hundred dollars on your car and not have an airbag?  Tough -- they decided you need one.  Do you want to drink unpasteurized milk?  Tough -- they decided it's not healthy.  Do you want to work for less than minimum wage to get a start?  Tough -- your labor is not yours to price.  You want to provide for your own retirement, as you think Social Security is going to be broke?  Tough -- they decided you're not competent to plan for your retirement.  I could go on. 

It's important to understand why people end up farming out these choices.  They think they are getting something good for it.  Politicians are very happy to proffer that impression, as it will get their constituents on the hook.  Be it "free" health care, a "living" wage,  or any other "service" provided by regulations, people are convinced that these have benefits.  Granted, every regulation benefits some, but that "some" can be a very small group who use that regulation to club competitors or gain a subsidy at the expense of the general coffers.  Even those regulations which have a general benefit have costs and restrict your freedom.   It's very important to understand that everything has costs, and that regulations very often have hidden ones.  Politicians generally specialize in the hidden sort. 

There's a reason why we have the aphorism "beggars can't be choosers."  If you task the government with providing you with a service, you are attempting to shift some form of cost away from yourself.  This cost could be as simple as paying for the service, being charitable, or going to the trouble of doing the investigation required to make a good choice.  The consequence of this is that you lose the ability to choose.  Who will choose? It will be that politician or that bureaucrat.

Oh, and if you do happen to think they actually are smarter than you, well, you might want to consider whom they are more responsive to -- is it you, a faceless voter, or a big donor?  Put in that perspective, doesn't making your own choice sound a lot better?