How does one live well in growing oppression hidden by the cause of greater flourishing. Americans, and we are not the only ones, are trading liberty, negatively conceived as being left alone, for something like health. More and more often those who have a monopoly on coercion and violence (government), and those that get in bed with them (trade) justify further confiscation of the free choice and productivity of private citizens by claims to do them good.
As they increase their control the conglomerate cartel-like interest makes things worse. Unemployment grows. Despair grows. As unemployment and despair grow so does desire for help. And the conglomerate is ready to answer that call. And they take more of free choice and productivity. And they make things worse.
It makes sense that the individual is falling from view. Almost every public statement is now about the condition of the public, whole, the mob, the herd or that portion of it that the conglomerate wishes to represent as mattering. Restriction, regulation, prevention, distribution, permitting, are with growing regularity being tied to claims about the public.
Thomas Szaz calls this phenomena the therapeutic state. A better phrase would be difficult to find. It is state oppression justified by a concern for health. A couple quotes:
From the Nazi Socialists: “We have a duty, if necessary, to die for the Fatherland; why should we not also have the duty to be healthy? Has the Fuhrer not explicitly demanded this?…Nicotine damages not just the individual but the population as a whole.”
From Franklin Roosevelt who created the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1940: “The defense this nation seeks involves a great deal more than building airplanes, ships, guns, and bombs. We cannot be a strong nation unless we are a healthy nation.”
You can measure tyranny by the measure of the growth of the state. To take seriously what is happening you have to look through the appearances. Looking around you might just think is awesomely wonderful that so many of us are being payed so well in the health sphere. It is flowing with milk and hone taken by force (theft).
Consider: “From 1776 to 1914, when the first anti-narcotic legislation was enacted, the federal government played virtually no role in civilian medicine…In 1950, funding for the National Institute of Mental Health was less than $1 million; ten years later, it was $87 million; by 1992, it reached $1 billion. In 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, their cost was $65 billion, rising in 1993 to $939 billion. Between 1969 and 1994, the national mental health budget increased from about $3 billion to $80 billion.” I will stop there But obviously we are in 2020. How do things stand?
Are you ready? In 2019 Medicare cost $651 billion. Medicaid is guesstimated at $635 billion. Can you see what is happening dear reader? That increased spending, first, is directed at health. Second, it is taken by force. Third, it only increases. Dependency increases, confiscation increases, leading to more dependency, leading to more confiscation.
How do you live well in such a time? We are not prepared. This is by definition a time of persecution and oppression. But few are rightly attending. Many are distracted by the phantoms of racism, and sexism and ageism and inequality. How the oppressors love to stir the pot in this way. Nothing further justifies state violence than its request by the mob whipped up into a frenzy.
How do you live well in such a time? First, you accept reality; that is, you look around, through the appearances, and accept where you are. You are living in growing oppression. Let us stop there. Buddha says that the Middle Way begins with right view. Let us weigh the elephant in the room before moving to what to do about it.