I got an e-mail from Barack Obama today. It had a heading at the top:
THE WHITE HOUSE
I must admit, I had — and still have — mixed feelings about it. Anytime you get a “personal” letter or e-mail from the president of the United States, it naturally seems important.
But since it was obviously a form letter, sent to several million other American voters, you quickly realize that the man whose name is at the end of the letter doesn’t know you at all. He couldn’t pick you out of a crowd of two. It’s a political ploy, only special in the sense that only modern technology makes this kind of mass (though “personal” seeming) communication possible.
It starts out “Dear Friend,” and it’s signed simply “Barack Obama.” I really doubt that Obama even saw or approved the letter, much less composed it. It was conceived and implemented by his team, very much the same technique he used seeking votes on the Internet. Nice, friendly, bullet-pointed — and completely, almost desperately, political.
Its clear purpose was to convince me to personally support his healthcare plan, and even “put these core principles of reform in the hands of your friends, your family, and the rest of your social network.” This is one of the main ways he got elected, through slick use of the Internet, getting ordinary citizens to literally go to work for him, and to campaign for him and his agenda. Teddy Roosevelt could never have done this, and even George Bush and his folks never thought of it. Slick as a whistle, and maybe effective.
But what was he trying to sell me?
He said, “It’s time to fix our unsustainable insurance system and create a new foundation for health care security,” and then proposed to provide eight specific consumer protections. They sound good, and reasonable on the surface. But I’d been studying up on his healthcare proposal, and had just read at least 50 ways his plan could never work. It would actually devastate our economy and change the fundamental relationship between citizens and government. We’d no longer be freeborn citizens who have a consensual government; our very physical bodies would be the wards of the state.
So it left a bad taste in my mouth.
It vividly brought to mind the Genesis 25 story of Jacob and Esau, sons of Isaac and grandsons of Abraham. Esau was a rugged outdoors guy who loved to hunt and fish, and cook and eat what he killed. His brother Jacob was more a “stay around home” guy, a “mild man, dwelling in tents.” He could well afford to take it easy, because Papa Isaac was wealthy. And Jacob’s mama was happy to do all the cooking for him. She even taught him how to cook some himself.
One day, while Jacob was practicing his cooking, brother Esau came in from the field, dog-tired. “Hey bro,” he asked, “Gimme some of that stew. It smells good, and I’m worn out and hungry.” Well, Jacob was something of a conniver, and he saw a chance to make a big, big score. “I’ll serve you up some of this delicious stew, my brother — if you’ll sell me your birthright, as of this day.”
According to the Bible account, Esau didn’t even think it over. “Hey, I’m so hungry I could die, and then what good would my ‘birthright’ be? You got yourself a deal, little brother. Pass me the stew.” So in that moment of temporary need, he gave up his future and all his father intended him to have.
He ate a big meal, filled his belly, and went his way. He didn’t realize till later what a complete fool he’d been — and he “cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry.” As the Bible says, “he despised his birthright.”
Today, I see Barack Obama as Jacob — and 300 million Americans as Esau.
Where in the constitution, or in any of our Founding Fathers’ writings, does it suggest that some Big Brother government shall guarantee healthcare to each and every citizen? This was never the intention of government, in their view. The purpose of government by consent of the governed was to provide security from invasion, equality under the law, domestic tranquility, and a structure in which people could work out their own futures, live their own lives, make their own decisions about how to support their families and maybe help their neighbors.
Government was meant to be lean, sparse, and non-intrusive. The various amendments to the constitution guaranteed various individual liberties, not collective obligations to meet all the personal needs of every citizen.
Somewhere along the way, especially in the last 60 years or so, the idea has grown in some quarters that government was humanely obligated to provide healthcare, education through college, insurance and retirement benefits — in short, a totally worry-free life — to all citizens, from cradle to grave. Sounds great to some, if you don’t analyze where the money will come from to do all that.
But that’s not a picture of a democratic, free society. That’s a blueprint for socialism, a government-run and controlled society, in which individual freedoms are sacrificed and “nobody has too much and nobody has too little.” It’s called communism.
“Hillary care” was rejected out of hand by the American people. So was “immigration reform” as proposed by the George W. Bush administration. While Congress can be cajoled, tempted, and threatened by presidential teams, if the citizens are given the right information and enough time to think it through, we still can get it right.
We can see through the rhetoric, the glib, attractive promises. And we can look for the bill. We know who has to pay it. Us.
The Congressional Budget Office has looked at all the numbers and projected the Obama plan will cost already-hamstrung taxpayers another trillion plus dollars. Even Obama admits the best he can “promise” is to find savings in Medicare and Social Security (reducing benefits already in place) and come up with a “revenue neutral” outcome by 2019. That means he’d be back to the situation we’re in right now, which he says himself is “unsustainable.”
But he’s hungry . . . and we’re weary. He’s hoping we’ll sell him our birthright for a “quick fix.” Let’s do what Esau should have done. Tell friend Barack “Keep your stew, brother. We can cook up something a lot better than this. We’ll keep our birthright, thank you.”
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