"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why The Democrats Lost The Midterm Elections –Not What You Might Think

At the dentist’s office yesterday, I was asked to sign a document which would require me to take a blood test in case he jabbed himself with the same needle he used on me. The timing of the new regulation is not coincidental.  The onus of responsibility has shifted from doctor to patient with one OSHA mandate.  He assured me that he is a careful doctor, and that “this has never happened before”; but he still had to comply with government regulations.

The timing of the regulation was suspicious.  HIV has been around for thirty years and no such OSHA medical workplace protection policy was ever put into place because it would compromise the privacy of the individual who, through no fault of his own, would have to be subjected to an obligatory blood test, the results of which would soon be known by everyone.

Dentists took proper precautions.  They began to wear surgical gloves, plastic face shields and masks.  The assumption was that all professions entail some risk, and that practitioners must take the precautions they – and they alone – feel appropriate and necessary.

The worst part of it all is that there is no escaping the long arm of the Government.  All dentists are government by the same OSHA law; and none would take me as a patient if I did not sign the form.

These erosions of privacy, overreaching on the part of the federal government, and seemingly endless regulations are insidious and dangerous.  Most patients, I suspect, sign the form without complaint.  They trust the doctor, need the surgery, understand the minimal risk involved, and assume that since they are healthy, there is no reason to be concerned. These same individuals sign away rights to privacy throughout the medical information system, now electronically linked, and subject to scrutiny by any and all comers.

While everyone admitted to a hospital receives a ‘Patients’ Rights’ manifesto, it is tame and self-serving, and nothing compared to ‘Hospital Rights’. Patients routinely sign away all rights as hospitals build a firewall around medical liability.  While an individual does have some legal recourse and can claim malpractice, the legal documentation signed upon admission makes prosecution difficult indeed.

The point is that at every turn, the independence, sanctity, and dignity of the individual is being eroded; and government is the prime mover.  The so-called War on Terror has allowed government to arrogate to itself unheard of powers of surveillance; and private companies and non-profit agencies alike have seen the advantage in enthusiastically supporting NSA’s measures.  Since citizens have been notoriously complaisant if not complicit in this historical abrogation of individual rights, institutions have felt that the time was right to institute some self-protective measures such as but not limited to liability.

Government and private sector eyes and ears are on us all the time in speed cameras, store security devices, GPS tracking, computer cookies, and sophisticated sentient software. 

Normal sexuality and sexual dynamics have been put under the lens in university gulags whose administrators want to control every aspect of individual behavior.  Relationships between men and women have been reduced to legalistic agreements. Vague but increasingly all-encompassing definitions of rape have been prejudicial to men and have resulted in assaults on their rights and liberties.  Political correctness, codified in government laws, regulations, and guidelines, has further limited free speech and individual expression.   As in the case of the NSA, once government gets into the act, everyone becomes a player.

This is why the Democrats lost the midterm elections.  People up and down the socio-economic scale are fed up with being told what to do, what is acceptable and right, and how to behave.  Almost sixty percent of Americans oppose abortion in all cases, but feel angered and dishonored because of legal, secular decisions which have forced them to compromise their beliefs.  LGBT individuals make up no more than two percent of the American population, and yet given the loud government response, one would think the percentage was much higher.  Most people may in principle respect the rights of all citizens regarding sexual orientation; but they want no trannies teaching in their schools, reject the sensitivity training which equates the sexuality of all individuals when their religious training and Biblical interpretation concludes just the opposite.

Most Americans feel hectored, talked down to, abused, and cast aside as the juggernaut of Big Government comes roaring through their communities.  Yes, most of us could not survive without government programs, subsidies, and support; and there are very few Americans who do not receive some generosity from Uncle Sam whether it be a tax deduction, Medicare, low gasoline prices, or cheap lettuce.  This, however, does not change the fact that the feeling that government is taking over American life is pervasive and powerful.  Older Americans remember the days when society was self-regulated.  The Fifties were indeed a conservative time, but individual liberties were not compromised.  The Sixties celebrated individualism, freedom from both corporate and government diktats, and unlimited possibility.

The most insidious aspect of government and private regulations is their apparent reasonableness.  Why not protect the dentist? Or screen emails and texts for terrorist codes? Or clearly and absolutely identify all individuals with photo IDs?  Or limit the liability of the hardworking doctor who is trying to save lives?  Each piece of individual rights and privacy may seem innocuous in and of itself; but when one takes a longer perspective and looks at the ensemble of restrictive measures, it is frightening.

It is not hard to see how conspiracy theories proliferate.  Once the frustration and anger over government mandated regulations and controls reach a certain point, the floodgates can no longer hold back the inchoate rage and aggression which has been building up. Government becomes the enemy, the Devil, the forces of Evil. Even well-educated people have a tipping point when enough is enough.  Conspiracists are simply voicing the feeling of abuse and insult over government intrusion into the lives of ordinary people.

Of course those who voted Republican are not all voting because of this generalized hatred and mistrust of government. Many worry about the slow growths of jobs, the increasing foreign threats in the Middle East, and the stranglehold government has on private industry; but at the heart of all of these concerns is Big Government. Government is now so big, powerful, and seemingly impossible, that individual concerns that revolve around faith, family, individual liberty, and traditional social and moral values are getting trampled upon.

I am one of this frustrated, incensed, and angry crowd.  I do not expect the Republicans always to do right, and many of their policies offend my Libertarian soul.  I am particularly worried about how committed they really are to rolling back the NSA and restricting ‘boots on the ground’; but all in all I look forward to a drastic downsizing of government programs, rescinding of unnecessary and burdensome regulations, an end to worthless social programs, and a return to a more free-wheeling economic and social marketplace.

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