The "Collective" Trap

One of the most insidious tactics of the Left in implementing increasing government control over our lives is to claim that, for the “greater good” of society at large, each of us has to give up our some of our individual liberties. Now, liberty is not unfettered – my desire to drive 100 miles per hour down a residential side street is curtailed in order to protect the lives of those who might be crossing the street.

But note that there is a huge difference between something like a speed limit, which is designed to prevent me from violating the rights of another individual, and Federal mandates like the ban on incandescent bulbs, which restricts your individual liberty in order to supposedly benefit “society” (i.e. the “collective”).

We are inundated daily with messages that we need to recycle, or drive less, or buy a smaller car. Not to save money, but “to save the planet” – implying that we are all part of some larger “consensus” that takes precedence over personal liberty.

Companies now routinely proclaim themselves as “doing our part for the evironment” with the not-to-subtle suggestion that you should feel guilty if you, too don’t get on board the “green” bandwagon. It’s your “civic duty” you see.

Actors even appear in “public service announcements” about how we should all join in the war on “climate change.” Never mind that the growing evidence shows that the entire global warming scam is a fraud, motivated by a desire to attack American prosperity.

Entertainment TV shows now routinely have characters mouthing platitudes about “recycling” or “driving a hybrid” – often the same car featured in the next commercial, purely by coincidence, of course. That said, if you want to buy a hybrid car to cut down on your gasoline bills, be my guest. Just don’t think you are somehow morally superior to the rest of us who don’t share your views.

The overriding theme in all of this propaganda is that every one of you should be willing to “sacrifice” your personal freedoms, all for the good of some amorphous faceless collective, whether society, the nation, or the world. And if you don’t, you are supposed to feel guilty about it.

And nowhere is this more obvious than in the areas of health and nutrition. It started with the almost fanatical war against smoking, but merely telling you that smoking is bad for you wasn’t enough. It was also important to persuade you to believe that it’s bad for “society” as well – thus the need to fabricate the “second-hand-smoke” myth.

But now we have people attempting to regulate our food choices. We are bombarded with admonitions to “eat less red meat” or “avoid trans-fats” – and some cities have even gone so far as to actually try to ban certain foods, even in private stores and restaurants.

Aaaah, but if you should voice objection to your liberal friends, they will respond with a two-step approach. First they will insist that this or that “healthy” habit is “good for you” so you should be doing it anyway – remember, as liberals, they know what’s best for you.

But should you dare to tell them, “hey, it’s my body, and I’ll eat what I want” and to remind them that government has no business telling you what you can eat, they will invariably move to Step Two. Which is to argue that “the government” has every right to regulate your private behavior because (here it comes) “if you get heart disease or diabetes, you will become a burden on society, especially if you don’t have health insurance.”

And there it is. The perfect excuse for controlling your life. Because if your behavior is “costing society” then society can claim the right to regulate it.

Why do you think the Left is so adamant about instituting government-run health insurance? Because once “Obamacare” takes effect, and they (i.e. government) are officially paying your medical bills, they now have the ability to dictate to you what you can or cannot do if it affects your health or safety. Which is just about everything.

But the solution is not to tell people what to eat. The answer is to have genuine health care reform, which would allow real competition between providers of care. It would also make insurance affordable, thus returning control of one’s health to the individual, instead of government. But that would take away the power of today’s anti-capitalism, anti-freedom socialists to control your life, and they want nothing of the sort.

Even the “tax the rich” policies favored by the Left are predicated on the false notion that, if you are successful in America, you somehow have an obligation to “give back” to society. Give back what? People who take something that doesn’t belong to them should indeed be required to “give it back” to its rightful owner. But the last time I checked, in addition to creating employment opportunities for thousands of people, Steve Jobs succeeded because he provided products to people that they wanted, were more than willing to pay for, and even eagerly stood in line to get.

Obviously, anyone who is successful may privately attribute their achievement to various individuals in their own lives – a parent, a teacher, a mentor. But no matter how successful they are, they owe nothing to “society” in general. What we do owe to our fellow citizens, as individuals, is to respect their rights and freedoms as we would your own.

After all, “society” is merely a collection of individuals. Our Constitution, our values, and our very way of life, are predicated on the principle of individual liberty –  the Bill of Rights applies to “the People” (defined as each and every citizen), not to some group.

But if we continue to slide deeper into the quicksand of collectivism, where one’s obligation is seen as more and more “to the state,” we may never recover our birthright of liberty and freedom that so many have fought and died to protect.