Congress Descends Further Into Statist Stupidity With Bill to Address Loneliness

AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

Of all the dumb ideas lawmakers have come up with, this has got to be one of the absolute dumbest. A U.S. senator thought it would be wise to propose a federal bill to address the problem of loneliness in America.

That’s right. This guy thinks the federal government should be responsible for making Americans less lonely again, or something.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) addressed the U.S. Senate floor recently to highlight the growing epidemic of loneliness in America and urged policymakers to take action to combat this problem. He identified factors such as increased reliance on technology and the erosion of local communities as contributing to widespread loneliness:

[S]taying in touch electronically is better than losing touch altogether, but when Facebook likes and Instagram comments replace in-person experiences, it actually can drive up feelings of loneliness. Staring at your screen for six hours a day, no matter how many people you’re looking at, it can be a very lonely experience. And it doesn’t stop there. Because there are millions of users with developing minds, children, who spend hours staring at their screens, scrolling through an endless stream of pictures and videos that have been carefully curated to create an illusion of perfection, leaving young people feeling inadequate or wanting. Constant comparison, it breeds in young people especially, but in all of us, envy and [resentment], more anxiety than fulfillment.

Murphy also emphasized the health consequences of loneliness, including rising suicide rates and a decline in life expectancy. He pointed out that loneliness is fueling a culture of resentment and anger. As a solution, the senator proposed bipartisan efforts, including legislation to establish a national strategy to tackle loneliness and strengthen communities, as well as funding for research on its social and health impacts.

So, how would Congress fix loneliness?

Well, Murphy and an intrepid bipartisan band of senators are proposing legislation to hold social media companies accountable for contributing to increasing loneliness and isolation among kids. The bill sets a minimum age of 13 to use social media, requires parental consent, and prohibits personalized algorithms from promoting harmful content.

But that’s not all, folks. Murphy believes that advancing policies focused on restoring the health of local communities and institutions is crucial. He supposedly advocates for an industrial policy that creates meaningful jobs with good wages and benefits, addressing the root causes of isolation and loneliness. He also calls for progress in raising the minimum wage to provide a better work-life balance and encourage more engagement with friends, family, and communities.

As all silly statist solutions do, Murphy’s quest to use the federal government to eliminate loneliness has a series of issues.

For starters, the proposed legislation involves establishing a national strategy and a dedicated office to tackle loneliness and strengthen communities. The government’s role should be limited to protecting our rights, leaving social connections and community-building to individuals and private institutions. How can you ensure that government intervention does not lead to unintended consequences or infringe upon personal freedoms and privacy?

Exactly, you can’t.

The erosion of local communities and institutions is one of the factors contributing to loneliness, as Murphy’s legislation highlighted. However, emphasizing government intervention might overshadow the importance of personal responsibility and local initiatives in fostering social connections. How will this legislation strike the right balance between promoting individual efforts to combat loneliness and facilitating government-led initiatives without creating dependency on federal solutions?

The answer is: It won’t. Too many of us have placed the government in the place of God, expecting it to provide the solution to all of our problems. This has only allowed the state to amass more power and influence over our lives.

What is even more clever about this bit of legislation is that there is absolutely no way to measure its efficacy. How do Murphy and the gang plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed initiatives, and what specific metrics will be used to determine whether the national strategy is making a tangible difference in reducing loneliness and fostering stronger community connections?

Additionally, how will they address potential challenges in gathering accurate data and ensuring that the results are not skewed by external factors? The answer is that there will be no end to this program because there will be no way to tell whether it has made for fewer lonely hearts in Sgt. Pepper’s club.

In the end, this proposal is nothing more than a gaggle of progressive legislative provisions thrown into a statist proposal under the guise of trying to get Americans to connect to one another again. But what else would we expect from our legislative branch?


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