When Democracy Fuels Pride

When Democracy Fuels Pride

Thank you, Public Choice analysis, for shedding light on the motivations of those holding public office. Public Choice theory views politicians as no different from other individuals who rationally seek their own self-interest first. Winston Churchill famously said “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.” Most see this phrase as a vindication of democracy but I think Churchill is also acknowledging its faults. Two faults seem prominent lately:

  1. The relegation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, with its limits on what the federal government can do, behind a philosophy of “if the majority want it, it is therefore legally acceptable.” Think of denominations whose “statement of principles” changes every few decades to suit current fads or wants.
  2. The increasing hubris of those in power (elected or unelected) who believe their authority derives simply from the fact of their holding office, and from their ability to enact policies and laws because of #1 above.

Enter the HHS mandate. I’ve written twice on my own opinion that “universal health care,” as it has always been implemented, means “government health care” and therefore is demonstrably inferior to privately-provided care (especially when directed by a Church with millenia of experience caring for the sick). But if opinions were all that mattered, those with my opinion on universal health care would have about as much political pull as those who vote for Ron Paul. The overwhelming majority want universal health care, and politicians are only too eager to provide it for them even if it means trampling on the limits set by the Constitution.

Sec. Sebelius--pic by US Mission Geneva

In this recent exhange between Rep. Gowdy and Sec. Kathleen Sebelius (who is her bishop, anyway?), it is painfully clear that the modus operandi of most in government is “Pass vote-getting legislation first, check for Constitutionality later (if at all).” For a law that will impact everyone in this country, that will nationalize (a la Hugo Chavez) one-sixth of our economy, and that will force citizens to violate their own consciences, it is disturbing that the legal justification for the law rests on informal discussions with bureaucrat lawyers.

Again, to anyone schooled in Public Choice theory, Sebelius’ answers are not surprising. What would be even less surprising is if people continued their support for this administration which blatantly disregards the Constitutionality of “universal health care” because, hey, it’s free stuff!

It’s awfully hard to beat Santa Claus in an election.



  1. Quite right about Sebelius. However, as long as we’re talking Public Choice theory, it’s worth remembering that James Buchanan took the opposite tack of extremely legalistic Constitutionalism, and that led to a secession crisis.


    [I’ll excuse myself from the room now.]

    • Matt, good to see you here!