A federal nursing home?

By Neal Boortz

I’m sure I’ve covered this truism in previous columns. But I’ll bring it up again today because it is such an excellent introduction to Mr. Harley Sorensen. Here we go: “Libertarians and conservatives think that America is great because of the dynamic of freedom, economic liberty, the rule of law and limited government. Liberals think that America is great because of government.”

Libertarians put mirrors on their bedroom ceilings. Liberals paper their ceilings with pages from The Federal Register.

OK, so who’s this Harley Sorenson guy? He’s a self-described liberal iconoclast who writes for SFGate.com, a rather well done left-wing website.

Sorenson recently wrote that the Democrats must make some changes if they want to win in 2004. He believes that the Democrats must work harder to impress on the voters the wonderfulness of government – starting, for instance, with socialized medicine.

Sorensen says that the right has done a rather good job of convincing Americans that government just can’t do anything right. He says, “Whenever Americans feel something is truly important, they have government take care of the job.”

If that is so, Mr. Sorensen, then why don’t most people go to government health clinics for their basic medical care? Why do people with means opt with increasing frequency to send their children to private educational institutions?

Here’s a little quiz for you. It’s not original with me and I’m sorry to say that I can’t remember where I first heard it. To take this quiz, you have to imagine yourself living exactly 100 years ago. It’s now 1902. Here’s your multiple-choice question. Remember, you have to answer this question in the context of what you would have known and experienced were it now 1902 instead of 2002.

I’m going to present four tasks to you. I want you to consider the difficulty involved in each of these tasks, both in terms of scientific and technical know-how, and in terms of cost and necessary manpower. I will give you 1 million dollars (that was big money in 1902) if you can present me with a workable plan to accomplish one of these tasks by the end of the century (that being December 31, 2000). Here’s your list. You have four tasks to chose from.

  1. Devise a way to move 300 people from New York to Los Angeles in under five hours.

  2. Extend average human life expectancy by about 25 years.

  3. Build a system of hard-surfaced roads linking major American cities from coast-to-coast.

  4. Develop a little box that you can stare at while sitting in your parlor in Seattle and actually see an Olympic downhill skiing event live while it is taking place in Lillihammer, Norway … in color and with sound.

OK, what’s your choice? In the context of 1902, you would be considered a true lunatic if you chose any task other than No. 3. The mentally nimble among you will recognize that No. 3 is the only one of those four tasks that was accomplished by government. The others are the results of private engineers, scientists and researchers working in a free-market system.

Sorensen loves government, so I suppose he can be forgiven for not recognizing that when people want something done right, they should either do it themselves or look to the private sector rather than the government. The goal is a limited government, not an omnipotent one. A free people should rely on free institutions for solutions to their problems, not the police power of government. This, of course, wouldn’t make liberals very happy.

Do you live in a condominium, subdivision or co-op with a homeowners’ association? There, my friends, is just about as good a model for the proper role of government as you might find anywhere.

A homeowners’ association will act to make sure you don’t use your particular home in a way that would create a nuisance for other homeowners, or would endanger their safety.

A homeowners’ association will, if the residents desire it, hire security personnel to man the gate and patrol the premises.

A homeowners’ association will provide the equipment necessary to fight fires and meet other disasters that affect common elements.

You get the idea … but you also need to know what a homeowners’ association will not do.

A homeowners’ association would not step in and confiscate the property of one homeowner to pay for the prescription drugs of another, or to fill their pantry with food.

A homeowners’ association will not create a health-care delivery system and force you to use it rather than a private service you may wish to use.

I leave you with this question: Just where do you want to live? Would you rather be in an attended-care nursing home where the caretakers dutifully meet all your wants and needs? Or would you like the independence of living in your own home where an association of fellow homeowners set up some rules for the preservation of the community?

Sadly, too many of you would choose the nursing home.