Moving At The Speed Of Government


Now that Obamacare is (at least for the time being) the law of the land, the Federal government has for the first time acquired the authority to penalize — er… tax — the citizenry for behavior the government deems unhealthy.

Except the government has long held the ability to penalize people for acting in a manner that runs contrary to accepted norms for healthy living. You aren’t allowed to shoot heroin, smoke crack or even light up a joint on your back porch on a smooth summer’s night. But those examples are interwoven in our quixotic “War on Drugs,” the effect of which is a discussion for another time. Besides, I don’t really need the government to tell me that shooting heroin is a bad idea. An occasional look at Tommy Lee is all the reminder I need.

But Obamacare opens the door for a far more invasive kind of government involvement in my behavior. If the government can penalize — er… tax — me for not buying health insurance, how long before they can penalize — er… tax — me for not buying enough broccoli? And how long before they decide that I drink too much Scotch? And what happens if I refuse to buy more roughage and less of the Highland’s finest? Certainly, the government can’t track my habits (dietary or otherwise) and employ some sort of sinister technology that could give it a way not only into my kitchen, but into the grocery cart and even the liquor store? To paraphrase increasingly imperious and imperial President Barack Obama: Yes, they can.

The French already have. Beginning in November, all French automobiles must be equipped with a Breathalyzer. In France, alcohol-related incidents are purportedly responsible for one-third of all road fatalities. Rather than focusing on the individuals who break the law by getting pickled and sliding behind the wheel, the French government is proceeding on the assumption that all Frenchmen are drunken morons who think they can channel Jacques Villeneuve every time they turn the ignition. Given the French people’s relationship with wine — they start them young in France — and the fact that a vast majority of the French seem to sport the same me-first attitude we Americans reserve for second wives and Democratic politicians, perhaps the French government should simply take away everyone’s car and make them walk off that case of bitchiness they contracted around 1946.

In Obama’s socialist utopia, the government — meaning Obama — would be able install a breathalyzer in your car and a “broccolyzer” in your shopping cart. Perhaps it would even be able to implant in you a device that would beam nutrition information back to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services server. Go to the store and try to turn down the Pop-Tarts aisle, and the implant can deliver a corrective response: perhaps an electric shock or a 10-minute audio clip of Al Gore reading Earth in the Balance. The real tragicomic centerpiece is the fact that I am not exaggerating in the least. Liberals have already made shocking inroads into our lives. Fast food, soda and high-sugar content foods are already well on their way to joining narcotics on the verboten list. Of course, the government wants you to think such draconian responses are in your best interest. With the newly won legal, legislative and authoritative status of Obamacare, government can do something about it; and you had better believe it will relish the task.

Government is slow and inefficient by nature; some would say by design. Consider how long it takes to get through the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, how long sections of Interstate 95 have been under construction and how many people with titles beginning with “deputy,” “assistant” or “deputy assistant” work at the U.S. Department of Justice. But government in the post-Obamacare era will surprise you. Consider it: Refuse to buy government-mandated insurance, and you’ll find out just how efficient government can be when it comes to taking your money — and your freedom — from you.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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