In Spartacus by Barry Strauss4 Comments

It takes physical courage to demonstrate against an oppressive regime that is willing to kill you, as brave Iranians have done this month. Moral courage is less necessary. When someone holds you in chains, it is obvious that you should break them. All honor, even so, to those who risk their lives.

Spartacus would have understood – and approved.

It takes something else entirely to fight against friendly fascism. When the government offers cradle-to-grave security, who says no? Not the average American, to judge from recent events. The ordinary American citizen has neither protested trillion-dollar deficits nor the federal takeover of automobile companies. Now, a new poll shows support, by a wide majority, for a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare (The New York Times, June 21, 2009).

What does it take to say no to a state that, unlike Iran, wants not to shoot you but to smother you with its embrace? It takes: knowledge of the track record of nanny states in Europe and Canada, with their inadequate services and bankrupt budgets; skepticism about the plans of the elite, with their inevitable loopholes for the privileged few; a prickly fortitude that sets greater store by the freedom to fail than by the security of being told what to do; education in the civic tradition of western democracies and republics, from the Greeks and Romans on; religious faith in the divine mercy that allows the individual to struggle against enslavement by his own emotions, a drama in which government’s role is to step aside.

Perhaps Iranians know all that. Americans once did.

Barry StraussFreedoms


  1. CR Zwolinski

    I enjoyed this blog – it exposed some important truths. One to add to your list -basic human curiosity and the willingness to reall crunch the numbers. Nationalized health care will cost us each far more in both the long and short term. Right now, anyone who who needs emergency care can get it at any hospital. It’s the law. And, even if you don’t have coverage, you can get low-cost or even free treatments from drug companies who can afford to sponsor these humanitarian programs. Plus, there are still old-fashioned doctors out there who will operate, even set up a payment plan if you aren’t covered. However, with nationalized health care, a two tier system will be set up as you pointed out. In order to get good care, we will have to pay for private doctors like the do in the U.K. and elsewhere. If we can’t afford it, we’ll be out of luck. Also, forget the drug companies developing new drugs or having extra money available for their free programs-they will have no incentives to invest in new treatments, and no money to donate whatever treatments they already have. Already Senators and other pols and their families have their own private health-care system. Ask your Senator to commit to giving up his health care and only using the national heatlh insurance/care plan now being proposed. If he was forced to use it he wouldn’t vote for it.

  2. admin

    @CR Zwolinski
    Excellent point: the numbers don’t add up. The grand poobahs won’t play by the nationalized rules. Middle-class folks who have good health plans will lose them. In its declining years, the Roman Republic embraced dysfunctionality. Why we would want to do the same, is beyond me.

  3. Jeff

    Excellent post Barry. In tough times I’m not surprised that voters, in general, are for more government handouts and takeovers. The government is seen as the nanny per se in leaner times. It does take courage to say no and fall back on self-reliance instead of a government takeover. We shall see.

    I do think Obama’s health care plan will not succeed in its current form. No. If you add 40 million people to the health care rolls where are you going to find the added doctors to treat them all? We don’t have them. So your local doctor will be forced to treat them. From a treatment point of view that’s good, but Doctors are in short supply now and their leaving the field fast for numerous reasons, to include extremely high malpractice insurance, high stress and overwork, and mountains of paperwork required to treat people. So if we add 40 million people, yes, most of us can expect longer waits and poorer quality of care. The irony here is that the supper rich will be able to afford private care—still. So in reality the middleclass, the largest segment, will be the one’s facing degraded care.

    I do think we should reform our system, but I think it cannot be at the cost of the quality we have now. We need to take our time and find the balance. We should start with reforming malpractice laws and a recruitment of doctors. This is probably a 10 year project. Obama wants to do it in a year! We may need to adopt a clinic style system for the uninsured, at least for now. We simply cannot, or should not, degrade the current quality of care we have now. It will be a real tragedy if we do.

    I’m all for helping the uninsured and the poor. But I think it has to be done carefully, affordably and prudently.

  4. admin

    @ Jeff
    Thanks for your terrific comments. We certainly need to reform malpractice law and recruit new doctors. Making catastrophic insurance for all is also necessary. And how about injecting economic reality into the system? That is, instead of bloated and subsidized costs, a dose of real costs, moderated by competition? If only Washington would consider those reforms!

Leave a Comment

+ one = 10