Conspiracy of Confusion

Diet is about as far from my normal topics as I can imagine. Part of the reason for this is that I generally follow the world’s simplest diet:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Michael Pollan January 28, 2007)

I have followed that basic idea for years without knowing anything about Michael Pollan or what he had written. Today I stumbled upon An Omnivore Defends Real Food and could not help but make some connections between the confusion surrounding nutrition (as opposed to the apparent simplicity of the dietary plan above) and the confusion surrounding so many other social, economic, and political issues.

I would not make the argument that everything could be simplified as much as that maxim on diet (or even that everything should be so simple in a perfect world) but the thing that struck me, and the very purpose of my advocacy for liberty, is that we need to be free to our own level of complexity or simplicity in most things. With diet I can choose to ignore all the advertising about the latest health fad, or I can choose to test or follow any given news about the dangers of whole milk or the virtue of Omega3 fatty-acids. On the other hand I am not free to opt out of social security and many politicians are talking about making it illegal for me to choose not to have health insurance.

The argument is that if I don’t get health insurance and something happens to me then I become a financial burden to society as I use government funded health care. The same argument is applied to whether I am allowed to pay in to unemployment taxes – what if I lose my job. The real problem is that government has created a system whereby people can freeload on the system so it does not matter how much someone protests that they won’t. Personal responsibility is a thing of the past because Uncle Sam can/will bail you out. Personal liberty is also reduced because everyone is required to participate (at least on the paying in portion – you can opt out on the receiving benefits side of most programs).

I can’t think of any of the entitlement programs that the government runs that would be a bad thing if they were based on voluntary participation. The universal problems they share are their coercive nature and the complexity that makes themboth inefficient and exploitable.

2 comments for “Conspiracy of Confusion

  1. January 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Big government types are beside themselves over the fact that many that qualify for S-CHIP simply refuse to apply. They tried making application easier. They tried advertising. They even tried going door-to-door. Still many people that could be on the dole opt out.

    Massachussetts is experiencing its own problems with people that won’t sign up for mandatory health care. They are discovering that even with rather severe economic penalties, a number of people simply won’t do it.

  2. January 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    That same problem – eligible people no signing up for S-CHIP – is happening in Utah. I suggested that we should be seeing a red flag there.

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