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Jewish World Review
Feb 22, 2012/ 29 Shevat, 5772
Political tears for trust in personal empowerment --- except in the bedroom
President Barack Obama, in wrapping up a fact checker's paradise of a State of the Union speech, said he went along with old Abe Lincoln: "Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more."
That, I guess, is why he wants to give America's richest women free contraception devices at the expense of premium hikes paid by people with incomes a fraction of theirs. It's just one aspect of the birth-control boondoggle that the progressives haven't bothered to mention.
The tears practically roll down their faces as they tell us how abortions will be thwarted and women's health preserved by this government mandate. What they do not say is that Obama's plan robs from the relatively poor (and others) to give to the rich (and others) and was preceded by state and court mandates, by other federal programs and by so many contraceptive freebies from various groups that, if you don't happen to have one, it's because you ran for the woods when they were thrown at you.
I am not saying it is a perfect contraceptive world, whatever that might be. I am sure it isn't. It isn't a perfect world in any respect. I am saying that one thing that makes it immeasurably less perfect is a federal interventionism that has reached a stage of preposterous overreach.
It simply does not matter anymore if something is unnecessary and a waste of money. The deed is done if it meets the following criteria: It violates the Constitution's enumeration of federal powers, it probably won't work, it is duplicative of other efforts, it allows our betters in Washington to further manage our lives and it buys votes.
The possibilities, as you can see, are endless, and the consequence has been debt that is the symbolic equivalent of a stick of dynamite in every home, for starters. The statist enthusiasms have also given us central planning that only occasionally gets things right -- accidents happen -- and regulations sufficient to hold back an otherwise eager economy and take away your right to purchase the light bulbs you like best.
Wrongheaded regulations aren't just billions of dollars thrown to the winds. They are tens of thousands of pages' worth of unjustifiable and sometimes silly infringements on private choice, and if the one restricting the kinds of light bulbs available won't deprive you of the most crucial or basic liberties, others will. That's proved by the fact that the Justice Department has been unable to count the number of federally enacted criminal laws. If you can't count them, you can't know what they are. That means you just might be in jeopardy of imprisonment despite honorable intentions.
This fulmination is brought on by an E. J. Dionne column in The Washington Post. I have met Dionne. He is smart and nice, which doesn't make him politically perceptive. In this column, he rambles on about Republican hypocrisy, wondering, for instance, why conservatives criticize entitlements at the same time they promise not to cut the Medicare and Social Security of the elderly.
I admit to being prone to winces about half the time I listen to the GOP presidential candidates these days, but they have at least been more honest than Obama about entitlements. He devoted about 10 seconds to this crucial topic in his State of the Union message, and was among those castigating Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for his means-tested reforms of a kind we must absolutely have if this government is not to shut down someday. Obama did give us some Medicare cuts, but made up for that by spending them in a new health-care program that adds another unaffordable entitlement to those we already have.
The conservative objective is not to dismantle the entire federal apparatus but to end that kind of excess, free contraceptives included. The grand hypocrisy is a president who talks about people doing things for themselves when he doesn't trust them in their own bedrooms.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
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• 01/13/12: Ron Paul is a cartoonish character
• 01/11/12: Newt Gingrich upset by Mitt Romney's brilliance
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