President Obama recently informed a crowd of young people — to thunderous applause — that under his health care plan, they could stay on their parents’ coverage till age 26. Voters 18-21, of course, went for Obama by a 2-1 margin, but given that he is a ‘post-partisan’ president, we can’t chalk that up to politics, now can we?
Obama-care proponents contend that his proposal is only an option and not a mandate (though a handful of states have enacted mandates). But then so are junk food and cigarettes, and no one hesitates to address their dangers. Under our Constitution, whether or not parents choose to provide coverage for their grown children is not the concern of President Obama. As columnist Mark Steyn has noted, however, the details of Obama-care pale in importance next to the overall concept of nationalizing yet more of our private lives. Forget the minutiae for a moment and consider our culture.
Public debate almost always concerns the practicalities and economics of Nanny-state activism. Seldom considered is that the human toll of engendering dependency can be measured in fatherless households, lack of initiative and prolonged adolescence.
Numerous sociological factors can probably explain why fifty years ago a 26 year-old was an adult, long independent, with a stable job and an intact family, whereas today, 26 is practically late childhood. Still, policies that keep young people dependent on their parents (via the government) do not instill self-discipline or allow the confidence and self-satisfaction derived from taking care of yourself for the first time. The Great Society and the welfare-state must bear some of the blame. Diana West, in The Death of the Grown-up (2007) details how Italy’s highest court ordered the estranged father of a thirty year-old to pay his son roughly $1000 a month until he found a job that “fit his aspirations.” The son had a law degree, but the court ruled that a parent’s duty of maintenance did not end with adulthood. According to West, to no great surprise, more than a third of Italians over thirty still live at home with their parents. Still, such an outrage could never happen here.
Or could it? The drip-drip accumulation of big-government policies nullifies our better natures. And political correctness and radical feminism have wussified many American males. Teenage girls in Seattle recently beat one of their own senseless while a group of security guards watched. Where was law enforcement, everyone asked, when the pertinent question was where were the MEN? Iowa, responding to public outrage, recently passed legislation to keep underage girls from performing in strip clubs, reversing a controversial court decision (which deemed stripping an ‘art’). Why, in 2010, was this even an issue? Men used to protect the safety and chastity not only of their own daughters but of all girls. Today, young women depend on the fickle nature of court rulings, not as a last line line of defense, but often as their only option.
Each tier of Nanny-state activism is easier to write off than the one before it. Patriots tend to save their big guns (figuratively speaking, of course) for the most outrageous abuses of federal encroachment. By then, we have accepted most of their premises and are just arguing the practicalities. In public debate, compassion and emotion tend to trump reason and tough love, but if the left wants to advance their agenda on grounds of compassion, perhaps they can show us their humanitarian reasons for Euro-fying American and denying citizens their sense of freedom and self-sufficiency. The hard facts of Obama-care are public record, but only by speaking to the unlimited potentials of our citizens will they really grasp what is on the line.
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here