Thoughts on Politics
As I enjoyed a beautiful Memorial Day, I reflected on the sacrifices of the brave men and women of our armed forces. In many cases it has been the ultimate sacrifice.
My thoughts on sacrifice drifted to another context in which “sacrifice” has been used with increasing frequency—shared sacrifice. Ever the lawyer, I asked myself: what does that phrase mean? Returning to the military scenario, no one can “share” a Marine’s death on the battlefield. No one can “share” the loss of the father of that same Marine’s daughter. Sympathize or empathize, yes. Share, no.
So all of this talk about “shared sacrifice” in the current budget debate is total bunk. When Congress takes whatever steps it does to deal with the pending fiscal tsunami none of it will be “shared.” There will be a series of discrete actions that will be felt by individuals. We cannot share in the suffering of Velma Bluehair when Medicare denies her chemotherapy treatment. We will not “share” Carl Carpenter’s loss of income when his taxes double. We may be affected in similar ways, but none of it will be shared.
Let me be perfectly clear: there is no “we,” only you and me. Collectivism is a myth. We do not “come together as a nation.” We come together as millions of individuals agreeing to voluntarily work toward a stated goal (such as defeating the Nazis), with some percentage choosing not to participate (such as Mennonites and other pacifists).
The very use of the term “shared sacrifice” demonstrates how badly fictional collectivism has polluted the waters of political debate in this country. Politics, like law, is a war of language. Collectivists are winning the language war decisively, which explains in part why so much power is accumulating in the hands of the Ruling Class.
Another example of collectivist language abuse is using the term “single payer” to refer to nationalized health care. I ask proponents of “single payer” the following: who is this “single payer” with such amazingly deep pockets? Warren Buffet? Bill Gates? Mark Zuckerberg?
In reality “single payer” would require tens of millions of payers, and a single entity—government—would administer. It is a single administrator form of health care, not single payer. Single payer, to be accurate as a term, suggests that each individual pay for their own health care. If that’s what it means, I’m all for single payer!
This is more than a matter of semantics—it is an important political battle. Consider a politician who tells her constituents “I support single payer health care” versus “I support single administrator health care.” The first sounds great, but is misleading. The second is accurate but uninspiring. I believe that if America called nationalized health care “single administrator” instead of “single payer” it would effectively kill any chance that such a monstrosity would be born.
So for anyone who believes in the power of the individual and understand that collectivism is a dangerous myth perpetuated to amass power in the hands of a few, I challenge you to purge your vocabulary of phrases cloaked in faux collectivism. Never again use a term such as “shared sacrifice” or “single payer” except to mock these fallacious phrases. If individualists can win the language battle we will win the larger war.
I’d be curious to know any other flawed collectivist words and phrases you can think of, along with suggested replacement. Perhaps if millions of us individually choose to use new (and more accurate) terms we can begin to peacefully turn the tide in favor of freedom over collectivist repression.
This article is also posted at The Country Thinker.