“Went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same.”
Heard this song while being driven to the airport this morning and a couple of lines spawned a thought about the GOP’s anemic attempts to get rid of a program that most of them clearly do not want to get rid of – Obamacare.
There is one very simple reason progressive programs like Obamacare haven’t worked and will never work – and it has nothing to do with who dreams them up, what party originates them, which party eventually takes them over, or how much money is shoveled at them (tossing money at federal programs will guarantee just about the same chance of success as getting lucky by stuffing more dollar bills in a stripper’s G-string).
From the beginning, entitlement programs are just too structurally flawed to survive.
Think of it this way – put a dozen people in a room and ask them to vote on what they want for lunch – but also tell them that everyone will have to go to the same place and have the same meal. Chances are, you will get a least a half a dozen different opinion, maybe even 12 of them – and when lunch is served, there is almost a guarantee that one person will not be pleased with the meal. Now scale that up to the national level – there are roughly 320 some-odd million individuals in America. Imagine trying to satisfy the wants, needs and desires of every single one of them without trampling the rights of some of them. If you make one group happy, it is a certainty that some other group will be angered. The truth is that you can’t satisfy everyone – no one can, especially not a government that was constructed to protect the rights of every individual without stepping on the rights of others. When politics enters the discussion, that’s when things get interesting because then, factions are played of against other factions with the intent to advantage at one over the other (with the goal being accumulation of votes, not successful policies/programs). Sooner or later, someone’s rights get trampled as the government tries to satisfy their favorite faction of the month.
And that is when the Constitution gets the Macarena danced on it – by a troupe consisting of elected and judicial line dancers wearing baseball spikes.
Sooner or later, one faction becomes strong enough to legislate or restrict/remove certain rights of another faction while reserving those same rights for themselves alone. That’s when the tyranny starts. The ruling faction eventually weakens, they always do – they find that even within their own faction, some individuals must be excommunicated for not toeing the party line hard enough and that eventually reduces their numbers. When the ruled factions smell the weakness of the ruling faction, that’s when the shooting starts (i.e. Venezuela and just about every authoritarian collectivist regime in history, even those that started out as democracies).
Eventually, every attempt to create an all-encompassing entitlement state initiates an accelerating death spiral that progresses at a geometric pace toward a very bad endpoint for the nation. The only real solution is to do less, not more – because “more” makes the complications worse. The elegant simplicity of the Constitution is that it recognizes that only in freedom can the individual have a fair chance to satisfy themselves. The Constitution contemplates federal engagement in ONLY those things of common importance to the entire populace – the protection of individual rights and freedoms, national defense and the creation of an environment in which liberty can flourish (promote the General Welfare).
It’s the simple logic of Herb Stein’s Law – if something cannot go on forever, it will stop. In the immortal words of little Ricky Nelson (from the 1972 song Garden Party) is found the lesson for all of us, “But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself…” The Founding Fathers gave us a representative republic with a brilliant constitution as a guide to allow us, as individuals, to do just that.