Saturday, April 11, 2009

Journalist Karl Marx would feel right at home

Devaluing the individual, submerging individuals into the mass was not exactly invented by Karl Marx. The idea goes back to at least Plato, who liked to say it was Socrates'.
Still none of those ancient people had the additional stigma of being a writer for "news" publications.
The old joke about Karl Marx was that the paper he wrote for is to blame for communism: If it had paid him less, he would have starved to death; if it had paid him more, he would have been a capitalist.
Well, though his flesh is gone, his spirit lives on, in the soul of headline writers and in the scribblings of Associated Press ... uh, journalists.
For example, tighten your upper esophageal sphincter and read this headline in the TFP of 8 April: "Do smokers cost society money?"
The problem begins with two problems: Defining society and accepting as a given that, whatever "society" is, it controls and governs and pays for the individuals, who apparently have no other function than to be a component thereof.
I believe it was a Reason -- either Foundation or Magazine -- writer who first promulgated the notion that smokers actually saved the government -- NOT, note, "society" -- money by dying early and thus not costing Medicare as much as the longer-lived non-smokers.
This AP article, by one Erica Werner, hashes over some of that thought but, of course, phrases it this way: "Smoking takes years off your life and adds dollars to the cost of health care. Yet nonsmokers cost society money, too -- by living longer."
So, according the the obvious collectivist Ms. Werner, whatever you do, smoke or don't, live long and prosper or die early, you ought to be ashamed: You are just a burden.
Funnily enough, though, I'll bet if you met Ms. Werner and tried to lump her in with all the other Obama supporters and the general run of leftist members of the race of journalists (which formerly also included Benito Mussolini), she would be horribly offended and try to defend her individualism.
Sad, though, it is that people like her can't see the rational answer: Quit operating on the collectivist approach to everything. Let a free system operate, and let individuals live their own lives freely.
For those who don't have adequate resources, there are many voluntary organizations who could do a much better job of helping -- and genuinely helping, really assisting -- the needy than any government in the whole sad history of the world has ever done or been able to do.

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