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August 06. 2013 9:46PM

Thomas Sowell: Busybody politics erodes the public's freedom


 

It is hard to read a newspaper or watch a television newscast without encountering someone who has come up with a new "solution" to society's "problems." Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than there are problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today's problems are a result of yesterday's solutions.

San Francisco and New York are plagued with large "homeless" populations, largely as a result of previous housing "reforms" that made housing more expensive and severely limited how much and what kind could be built.

The solution? Spend more of the taxpayers' money making homelessness a viable lifestyle for more people.

Education is a field with endless reforms, creating endless problems, requiring endless solutions. One of the invincible fallacies among educators is that all sorts of children can be educated in the same classroom. Not just children of different races, but children of different abilities, languages, and values.

Isn't it nice to think so? The result is that many very bright children are bored to the point of becoming behavior problems when the school work is slowed to a pace within the range of students who are slower learners.

By federal law, even children with severe mental or emotional problems must be "mainstreamed" into classes for other students — often in disregard of how much this disrupts these classes and sacrifices the education of the other children.

Parents who complain about the effect of these "solutions" on their children's education are made to feel guilty for not being more "understanding" about the problems of handicapped students.

Nothing is easier for third party busybodies than being "understanding" and "compassionate" at someone else's expense — especially if the busybodies have their own children in private schools.

The key to busybody politics, and its endlessly imposed "solutions," is that third parties pay no price for being wrong. This not only presents opportunities for the busybodies to engage in moral preening, but also to flatter themselves that they know better what is good for other people than these other people know for themselves.

Obamacare is perhaps the ultimate in busybody politics. People who have never even run a drugstore, much less a hospital, blithely prescribe what must be done by the entire medical system, from doctors to hospitals to producers of pharmaceutical drugs to health insurance companies. This includes federal laws requiring the turning over of patients' confidential medical records to the federal government, where these records can be looked at by politicians, bureaucrats and whoever can hack into the government's computers. Neither you nor your doctor has a right to keep this information confidential.

What could lead anyone to believe that they have either the right or the omniscience to dictate to hundreds of millions of other people? Our educational system may have something to do with that, with its constant promotion of "self-esteem," and especially their emphasis on developing "leaders."

The price of their self-indulgence is the sacrifice of our freedom. If we don't defend ourselves against them, who will?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is www.tsowell.com.


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