We had started to wonder if most of the current major party candidates for President were not themselves indulging in the usage of perception altering drugs. Aside from our candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, and his Conservative House colleagues Tancredo & Hunter, it seemed (at the beginning of September, 2007) that all of the announced Democratic & Republican candidates were determined to demonstrate an absolute ignorance or indifference to the basic provisions of our written Constitution. In this apparent contest for "worst of breed," the bottom had seemed to be a close heat between Mrs. Clinton and Senator Obama, with Democrat Kuccinich, former Mayor Giuliani, and Senator McCain, in a three-way race for third worst. Then Senator Edwards informally announced a concept for reforming Health Care in America by Federal action and, in one stroke, eclipsed all others in the race to achieve the most compelling demonstration of a failure to understand the limitations on political power.
There is, of course, no Constitutional authority for the Federal Government to provide medical, pharmaceutical or other health care to the civilian population. While there is obviously an implied power to provide medical care to the armed forces, inherent in the authorization to provision armed forces, who have always required such care, there is nothing in anyway equivalent, conceptually, applicable to the civilian population. In discussing plans to reform a field in which the Federal Government, whether under Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, was already a usurper, far along on a fiscally disastrous as well as unconstitutional course, Edwards deserved no special opprobrium in suggesting that he wanted to make the existing programs more inclusive. Had he simply stopped there, he would have drawn no additional attention here.
But Edwards was not content to offer more of the same old mixture of political corruption. Instead, he called for a system that would not only be all inclusive--a system like those which have undermined medical standards in many lands afflicted with Socialism--he announced that his would require mandatory medical examinations for every American, at least once a year. Perhaps not quite the twice a year physicals administered to slaves on many of the great plantations of the Old South, but at least an annual dose of the same procedure; which may suggest a great deal about how the Democratic North Carolinian sees his fellow citizens!
We have not heard the actual mechanics of what Senator Edwards envisions "spelled out"; how, specifically, he would enforce those mandatory annual examinations--nor whether he has even deigned to consider any 4th Amendment issues applicable to the procedures he has in mind. Would those of us, who would refuse to submit voluntarily, be maced, tazed or clubbed into submission? Would he set up a special enforcement unit, to administer the necessary coercion or apply the physical restraints that might be required? Would we be permitted to return to our homes, jobs and normal pursuits, after our "health care" sessions? Would resistance lead only to immediate coercion and restraints, or additional penalties and incarceration? Clearly, a proposal to sell us South into a life of bondage in the West Indies might be expected to draw some Congressional opposition--even given the sorry institution into which Congress has devolved!
The issue, here, is freedom, both physical freedom and the right of a free citizen to privacy in his or her most intimate concerns. We do not, of course, deny the material efficacy of the Senator's approach. His plan was, perhaps, inspired by experiences derived from that similar program in the Old South, in the days of slavery. Those regular medical examinations did, in fact, improve the health and increase the life expectancy of those subjected to them. Frederick L. Hoffman, chief actuary for the Prudential Life Insurance Company in the 1890s, sets forth the respective mortality data for Whites and Negroes in four major Southern cities, where accurate records were kept prior to the terrible War of the 1860s, in his classic 1896 study, (Race Traits And Tendencies Of The American Negro, New York, MacMillan, 1896). These show that quite unlike the situation today, or at anytime in the 20th Century, the Negro death rates often tended to be below those of the Whites, during the decades before emancipation.
Hoffman also records the dramatic decline in Negro health and longevity in the decades that followed; again, a situation which still obtains, despite the massive increase in publicly funded health benefits in 20th and 21st Century America. Thus we have definite empirical evidence, comparing mortality data from over a century and a half, which might be called upon to demonstrate the utilitarian aspect of Senator Edwards' proposal. [To clarify our point in a way that may eliminate some conjecture as to other explanations, the death rate per 1000 Negroes between 70 and 80 in 1848, in Charleston, South Carolina, was 106.3; in 1890, 162.2! For those between 40 and 50, it was 21.9 in 1848, but 30.5 in 1890; for those between 20 and 30, it was 12.3 in 1848, but 26.1 in 1890.] Yet such a demonstration does not, of course, make the Edwards' proposal one bit more acceptable to American Conservatives.
While most Leftist programs impinge on personal freedom with no actual corresponding material benefit--a facet of the unreal world of Leftwing theory--Senator Edwards' proposed adaptation from the earlier private practice to a contemporary collective purpose, may illustrate one essential point even better than the more typical, but totally ineffectual, examples of "social progress": To the traditionally-minded American freeman, there have always been, and still are, more important considerations than the merely material!
To understand our well thought out and carefully planned Federal structure--our intended institutions, according to the designers, who had but just recently won independence--one must understand the mindset of those designers. They were certainly not against material benefits. They were men of property, capitalistic to the core. But yet more important to such men than their personal wealth--as would be clearer, today, if more people still read our Foundational documents (the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) as whole documents, always to be taken in full context--was a sense of the importance of individual liberty; liberty, then and now, always inseparable from personal responsibility. The notion of reducing the status of the free American to that of a material object, whose needs might be administered efficiently by a collectivist agency--in short, an object with no greater individual volition or right to private decision making or personal privacy than an historic bond servant--is totally inconsistent with the purposes of the Government vouchsafed to future generations of Americans, as envisioned by the brave, wise and honorable men who created it.
Senator Edwards' proposal stands out, not because for once a Leftist has proposed something that might actually accomplish what it sets out to accomplish; but because the methodology is totally antithetical to the most basic principles of a free society. The means, by which it sets out to accomplish the intended material benefit, are far better suited to a land being prepared for rule by tyrants, than for the America we have known and loved.
With men such as John Edwards running for President in one of our major parties, it becomes yet more evident why those, who still truly understand the intended American system, must get behind Congressman Ron Paul. Dr. Paul, at least, understands the difference between Constitutional Government and political rule according to a Leftwing wish list; the essential distinction between a political society bent upon preserving its liberty, and one only too content to embrace the road to serfdom for a bowl of metaphorical porridge.