First Principles

In search of the Unified Theory of Conservatism

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There Are Goals, and Then There Are Goals

August 26th, 2009 · 6 Comments

I’m greatly amused over the hippy boycott of their former-favorite grocery store, Whole Foods, over WF CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal Op/Ed on health care reform.  Fortunately for all the working stiff WF employees liberals claim to care about, it doesn’t seem to be hurting the company’s bottom line any.

The thing that kills me is that the hippies’ stated goals are to a) increase health care access for all Americans, b) improve the quality of that care, and c) reduce costs of that care.  Fair enough – there’s nothing wrong with any of those things as goals, and Mr. Mackey clearly agrees with his disgruntled customers that those goals are desirable.  He just has an alternative solution to meet them which he thinks (and knows from experience) will work better than the current proposals bouncing around Congress and the White House.  So why the hate? 

Why, it’s almost as if there’s a 4th goal  – a hidden goal – of giving government more power, authority, and control over all of us rubes who aren’t smart or sophisticated enough to exercise our own freedom and liberty “properly”, and that this goal is threatened by Mr. Mackey’s proposals!  Hmmmm…


The General of the Straw Man Army that the left trots out at every possible debate is the old canard that because Conservatives oppose leftist, big-government solutions to all of society’s problems, we therefore oppose all solutions to society’s problems.

Not only is this ridiculous on its face as a matter of basic logical reasoning, but it’s factually wrong (and more than a little offensive).

Conservatives would love to wave a wand and see everyone have free, unlimited health care.  But we understand that there is no such thing as “free”, and that someone has to pay for that care in the end.  We also understand that trying to foist such a burden solely on “the rich” will result in a lot less rich people, and a bankrupt health care system which helps nobody.  The alternative cost-foisting target – our future generations – will help even fewer people than nobody in the long run.

Conservatives understand that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution, and that individual states are the best laboratories to test such Grand Plans.  (We also know that so far, the only thing universal about these “solutions” is their failure rate, from Oregon to Tennessee to Washington to Massachusetts to Hawaii to Maine.)

Conservatives tend to have faith in a private health insurance and/or health care provider who is beholden to us personally because they rely on our business for their survival – far more faith than we have in a federal government bureaucrat beholden to no one because there is no relation between their level of service and the size and frequency of their paychecks.


In short, it’s precisely because we yearn for a health care system with more choices, lower costs, and better access to basic services that Conservatives oppose giant government solutions (and especially giant federal government solutions).


I don’t begrudge a liberal for disagreeing with me on the solutions to shared goals.  But when the reaction against alternative ideas to get where they claim they want to go (and from someone who can boast of actual success in that endeavor!) is so visceral and so absolute and so totally devoid of any serious attempt to refute the merits of those alternatives, you have to wonder if we really share the same goals at all.

Tags: Big Government · Federalism · Health Care · Hippies · Nanny State