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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sue the Government

If it gets the credit, it should get the blame.

Numerous Americans have sued McDonald’s for making them fat. However, the former “World’s Fattest Man” has another idea: Sue the government.

Paul Mason is suing the British National Health Service (NHS) for “letting him grow.” Given the philosophy of modern Progressivism, I believe he is justified. Let me explain.

Mason once weighed about 890 pounds. Then he had gastric bypass surgery — paid for by the British taxpayers — to help cut his weight to the current 500 pounds.

He blames the NHS for his plight, claiming a medic gave him bad advice. (Mason once consumed about 20,000 calories a day.)

Our first reaction is to laugh, given that Mason chose to eat enough to feed ten men. “Shouldn’t he take responsibility?” we might ask.

Yet if we think how the Progressive mindset works, Mason’s lawsuit is perfectly logical. For more than a century Progressives (both here and abroad) have claimed that people should defer to the State not only for basic medical care but also for general direction in life.

There are government schools; government daycare centers; government food programs; “sin” taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages; restrictions on what we are permitted to eat, drink, and ingest; prohibitions on speech; rules on the kinds of pictures we can view; and all sorts of limits on what would be mutually agreed-on private transactions.

“Government Is Good”

In other words, government at all levels has an all-pervasive involvement in our lives. Some people believe that is a good thing, including person who has a “Government is Good” website. In a post titled “A Day in Your Life,” the blogger, Douglas J. Amy of Mount Holyoke College, writes:

6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio and listen for a few minutes to the news before getting up. But you can listen to your favorite station only because the Federal Communications Commission brings organization and coherence to our vast telecommunications system. It ensures, for example, that radio stations do not overlap and that stations signals are not interfered with by the numerous other devices – cell phones, satellite television, wireless computers, etc. – whose signals crowd our nation’s airwaves.

Amy goes on to say that our food is “safe” because of government inspections, we can drink the water because government makes it clean, government keeps us from stepping in dog droppings, government provides roads, government helps pay for the home you own, government makes sure cars are safe. Government, government, government.

Now he does acknowledge that government can violate our rights, but that is okay, too. Government will fix whatever is wrong, since an increase in the size, power, and scope of government makes us even freer. He writes:

Who comes to the rescue when our government violates our rights in these ways? To whom do Americans turn to revoke or remedy those actions and to make sure that they don’t happen again? The government.

It seems to me that if government has all of this authority and if government is the very sustenance of our lives, then Mason is within his rights to sue the NHS. After all, if government is as good as Amy claims it to be and if government agents should be making most of the decisions that affect us, then it was the government’s fault that Mason became immensely obese.

Thus if your life is not perfect, sue the government, since everyone knows it can and should bring perfection to society.

  • Dr. William Anderson is Professor of Economics at Frostburg State University. He holds a Ph.D in Economics from Auburn University. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.