Megastate Fail: Do You Hear Me Now, Liberals?
So now President Obama has started to repeal ObamaCare by delaying the individual mandate, as a courtesy to six Democratic senators mostly running for reelection in red states. The pro-repeal six are Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (D-ME), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
This looks like a good time to rehearse the standard conservative position on the megastate. Maybe liberals will be listening, if they can hear anything over the thunder of the waterfall immediately downstream.
The problem with the administrative state is that you cannot write a law to, e.g., provide universal healthcare, so that all the actions of the government's agents are covered by the letter of the law.
In other words, big government and government under law are mutually exclusive.
As soon as you write a law to manage healthcare you find that the law is inadequate for its purpose, because a law of 2,000 pages, even supplemented by regulations of 12,000 or 100,000 pages, cannot deal with the millions of unique transactions that occur daily in the health care cosmos.
In the extreme case, as with ObamaCare, the law even fails in its primary purpose to help the uninsured and buy off the special interests.
As soon as a big-government law goes into effect the government's administrators encounter situations that require administrative discretion. After about a week they run into another problem: they find they need to act administratively in direct violation of the law.
We have seen this with the ObamaCare rollout. Here Richard Fernandez discusses the "14th Fix," the 14th time the federal government has unilaterally changed ObamaCare law by executive fiat thus far.
The silence of liberals on this is deafening, and we know why. To speak up would start the political landslide that would bury the pretty little village in the valley of liberalism forever.
There is nothing new here. F.A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation, and Liberty wrote reams about the contradiction between the need for certainty in law and the need for flexibility in administration. You cannot hope to provide enough detailed direction for the administrators charged with executing a law. You have to give an administrator discretion, and as soon as you do that you have abandoned the rule of law and substituted the law of men.
That is the basic screaming contradiction at the heart of the liberal project. You cannot have government under law and government running big programs. We are talking oil and water.
And if you don't like the ravings of a right-wing nutcase like Hayek, there is always the lefty Frankfurt School which came to the view, after decades of hemming and hawing, that system is domination, that the powerful systems of modern society must be balanced with communication and negotiation among equals. It's a pity that most of our modern liberals stopped thinking with Frankfurter Herbert Marcuse and "Repressive Tolerance." Why bother to read and learn when Marcuse has given you an all-season hunting license?
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.
Way to go, GLAAD!
There is a reason why Hayek dedicated The Road to Serfdom to the "socialists of all parties." He wanted to warn all socialists that their plans for liberation and emancipation would never work. But liberals never listen.
The fatal flaw at the center of the progressive project is bellowing out of Marx's famous apothegm: "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his need." Do you think, liberals, that Pajama Boy has a clue yet what his "abilities" might be, when he actually gets a job, when he moves on from his cushy gig at OfA and actually buys real health insurance for a whole family? And what about "need?" Are we talking about the need of a transit-system rider to subdue, immediately, a gun-toting thug? Or the need of an arriviste like Michelle Obama for expensive vacations?
If people spend half their lives figuring out their abilities, and if needs change with the seasons, how in the world can we expect lifer bureaucrats to balance abilities and needs in a national healthcare system based on a mere 12,000 page rule-book?
A lot of people have been sneering at the ObamaCare managers that have been taking vacations recently. But I feel their pain. Nothing in their prosaic bureaucratic experience of gently failing upwards and counting the years till retirement ever prepared them for this.
Usually the awful disaster of big government plays like a tornado disaster out in flyover country. It doesn't exist for real bicoastal people.
But the tornado called ObamaCare is starting to devastate liberal lives. It's about time.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism. Get his Road to the Middle Class.