Salt. A few days ago, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration plans to force food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods consumed by Americans. The change would happen gradually and, according to an April 20 piece in the Washington Post, would be rooted in a desire to “adjust the American palate to a less salty diet” through forced government intervention.
It’s yet another shining example of populist authoritarianism from this administration and the American federal government. My goodness, it’s what they do best.
Not familiar with the concept of populist authoritarianism? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Step One: Create a new “crisis” or simply exaggerate an existing problem.
- Step Two: Through a combination of the biased mainstream press, left-leaning teachers and administrators, and a good helping of revisionist history, explode the newly minted “crisis” into a full-blown panic.
- Step Three: Reassure the worried public that, with an appropriate amount of social and societal change, the impending disaster made to seem so imminent from Step Two can be avoided.
- Step Four: Because the “crisis” was fabricated anyway, explain to the public that social and societal change has not been enough, and the only way to avoid disaster is to relinquish freedom and permit excessive government intervention.
Sound familiar? It should. Like those Mad Lib things we used to fill out on long car trips before the days of iPhones, satellite radios and portable DVD players, take a moment and consider some of the issues of the day in the light of populist authoritarianism.
Consider the so-called danger of man-made global warming. First, the purported “crisis” was created by the careful manipulation and concealment of data, underscored by a deep desire to find a more popular vehicle for the global redistribution of wealth. Then, with the help of a compliant media, that so-called “crisis” was masterfully instilled in the conscience of millions and millions of Americans as the Gore’s honest truth despite climate models which fail to predict the known past and tawdry emails showing destroyed raw data and so much, much more. Meanwhile, every other week, it seemed that another world leader or B-list celebrity was peppering the public with dire warnings of the oceans dying or deserts drying or polar bears drowning by a certain date now long past. Finally, the government declared that voluntary conservation and other measures were not enough, and is looking to interject itself further into American lives and businesses through cap-and-trade legislation.
Or, consider this new financial reform. First, an already documented financial downturn is augmented by a perfectly timed securities fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. Next, because the Democrats don’t want to bring up the immensely unpopular health care reform law and because it’s getting too late to run against George W. Bush, the mainstream media is setting up Wall Street to take the fall as the villain du jour for the 2010 midterm elections. Then, because the $787 billion “stimulus” package wasn’t good enough, we finally have the government looking to expand the powers of the Executive Branch to include the ability to hijack businesses deemed a “systemic risk to our economy” and “too big to fail.”
It’s populist authoritarianism, and in no issue is it more apparent than with regard to health care reform.
First, pick your crisis. Maybe it’ll be the uninsured, with the end result being an unconstitutional individual mandate. Maybe it’ll be the lack of coverage of pre-existing conditions, with the end result being skyrocketing insurance premiums as a consequence of government interference preventing insurers from being able to assess risk and price accordingly. Or maybe your crisis is obesity. Yeah, obesity.
America is fat. No doubt about it; I carry around a few extra pounds myself. But follow the steps of populist authoritarianism, and you’ll see that the end result will be a government that has interjected itself into every aspect of your daily lives.
Take salt for example. Citing diets high in sodium as the cause of obesity, heart disease, hypertension and more, the mainstream press will exaggerate the already exaggerated “crisis” of obesity to the point where, if we don’t do something about it, we’ll die early and our health care costs will increase exponentially. Through mandatory health classes and shows like The Biggest Loser and forced changes in vending machines and taxes on soda and bans on trans fats and mandated labeling, the hope is that social and societal change will be enough to turn the tide. But it isn’t. And, because of that we see stories like the one in the Washington Post, about a Food and Drug Administration prepared to involve itself in the actual recipes and preparation of processed food.
Because we cannot do it ourselves, people will say, it should be up to the government to fix us for us. Take a look at this astounding video from Wednesday night’s news broadcast at the local Philadelphia FOX affiliate:
Asked whether he supported the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed interjection into food makers and kitchens across America, the FOX station’s medical expert provided an answer which was populist authoritarianism in a nutshell. The crisis? He says that salt “causes about $73 billion in health care costs from people having heart attacks and strokes.” Has social and societal change worked? He says that Americans are so big that the FDA cannot even make it into our kitchens. (Later, after the clip, he notes that low-salt foods and other measures have not been successful.) The solution? “If we’re going to expect the federal government to pay for our people in the hospitals having heart attacks and strokes, how come we don’t want to have them try to regulate us and the amount of salt we take in?”
Ladies and gentlemen, is this not exactly what we’ve been warning about for more than a year now? That health care reform is the ticket needed by the federal government to regulate each and every aspect of our lives? I cannot count how many times here at America’s Right we argued that, because everything translates back to the cost of health care and because the federal government will ultimately be on the hook for that cost, having a health care system so intertwined with the federal government will mean that, in an effort to control costs, the government will regulate anything which even remotely relates to health care costs, and will ration care at any available opportunity.
And yet people embrace it. This doctor from the University of Pennsylvania embraces it. Many of the people watching in Philadelphia likely did not think twice and embraced it themselves.
That, my friends, is the struggle we face. Between now and November, and certainly between now and November 2012, we absolutely must not allow ourselves to be caught up in the minutiae. Traditional issue-specific arguments absolutely must take a back seat to the big picture. Between now and the time polls open, we must do everything in our power to explain as best we can exactly what this administration and this Congress is doing.
We can use big words like “populist authoritarianism.” I happen to like how it describes exactly what this administration is all about. But we might be better served asking questions and helping people find answers. Ask questions like the doctor asked — how come we don’t want to have the federal government regulate us?
This nation was built on freedom, and a system was put into place that would carefully protect the concept of ordered liberty. The federal government has absolutely no business whatsoever trying to “adjust the American palate.” Unfortunately, for too long, the palate which has been forcibly adjusted was the taste for freedom that so many Americans had. Gradually, that freedom was whittled away, until the point where “how come we don’t want to have them try to regulate us?” is met with apathy instead of disgust. I don’t know about you, but considering the ease with which the FDA feels comfortable expanding its authority, combined with the willingness of people to so complete acquiesce, I’ve been left with a bad taste in my mouth.