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January 21, 2016

Paternalism 101, and Other Stories

Patricia A. Kelly

2016 has begun in a crazy and difficult way for me. Family members and friends have been sick and in need of help, and politics in my own community turned into a raging maelstrom.


My newly, in 2015, re-adopted smoking habit got completely out of control; so I had to quit. (Don’t even ask why I would start smoking again after 25 years of freedom.)


I’ve been doing some reading, watching televised news, observing people around me, and have discovered that, no matter how stupidly I behave, there is much out there that is “stupider.” Take a look at a few examples, and be sure to note the complete absence of common sense.


First, in The Frederick News-Post, I noticed a letter about death with dignity, and about how dying people can’t afford the 24/7 care they need to die at home, and that their pain can’t be relieved, so legislation providing assistance with dying is necessary.


However, Hospice care is free. Pain can almost always be controlled with morphine, and there are other drugs that help with comfort as well. That doesn’t mean people don’t suffer at all, but the average length of stay in the Hospice program is days, not the weeks or months needed before one should give up on getting help.


Then I read that providing the pills someone takes to commit suicide does not mean you assisted with the suicide, since you only gave them the tools. Really? There is even terminology out there suggesting that people who take the pills are not exactly killing themselves. Really?


Hillary Clinton, as part of her platform, says she is the one who understands and supports women. So, where was she when her husband was being accused of sexually assaulting women or philandering with so many? You know where she was, and what she was doing. I bet she was sorry to see that Monica Lewinsky had kept a certain soiled dress….


According to a recent Associated Press article in the News-Post, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell will be unavailable to help Speaker of The House Paul Ryan (R., WI) change the way Congress does business. He’ll be too busy trying to protect present Senate Republicans from losing their seats. Do we wonder why half the presidential candidates on both sides this year are outliers?


Here’s a really good one. We live in a state where I.D. is not required to vote, so no one really knows who is actually voting. Nevertheless, there have been some complaints about voter fraud, so we have changed our voting system, at a cost of many millions of dollars.


Does that mean we are requiring voter I.D.? No, of course not. It means we have gone back to paper ballots, although they now come with two machines, one to insert them into in order to vote, and one to check the ballot and spit it out if we make a mistake.  Ballots must be kept for 22 months.


How long do you think it will take for us to change the system again? The real question is: What would take to get government leaders to consult with private industry experts to solve technical problems in a forward thinking way?


Now for something sensible to ponder:


Stephane Charbonnier, late editor-in-chief of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, slain by Islamic terrorists on January 7, 2015, said in, “Open Letter,” his manifesto on behalf of freedom of expression: “It’s time to put an end to the revolting paternalism of the white, middle-class, ‘leftist’ intellectual” who regards French Muslims as ‘poor, subliterate wretches’ in need of sanctimonious ministrations from a self-righteous elite.


This little quote defines liberalism in a nutshell. Our government will provide for all our needs, because we are not capable of doing so ourselves. If we’re people of color, or gay, or Hindu or Muslim, we’re even less capable, and need even more help. Those intellectual, “caring” liberals will help us out and make our decisions for us. All we have to do is pay the taxes.


Too bad this “do-gooderism” is so subtle. Recipients of this patronizing largesse would rise up in revolt if they saw this clearly.


What would be your choice? Keep half of the taxes you pay, and live your own life? Or pay just a little more, and get all your decisions made for you? The funny part is that they call it “free.”


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