Column: Government excels at meddling

How about a little transparency in government?

For instance, when a proposal to update the city's sign ordinance was being developed, it appeared that much of the emphasis was focused on dealing with the threat posed to the community by sign walkers.

Later, we learned that before the Council decided to revisit the issue, it was also about the incremental taking of property rights and property value - somebody with an existing sign was being denied the opportunity to repair it.

And then, when the City Council got around to the subject last month after the new law passed, we learned that it was really about - among other things - denying car dealers the right to do what they have been doing for decades in terms of on-premises advertising.

Similar transparency is needed on a national level in regards to health-care reform. There's a lot of information out there and a lot of information about what it means, but is anyone really certain?

For example, on page 16 of the bill, wording clearly seems to indicate that private health insurance would be a thing of the past within years of reform as proposed now becoming law.

But that's not bad, we're told, because you won't need private insurance because the government version will be so much better. If that's the case, however, why did nine Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee vote against being required - like their constituents - to enroll in the government plan?

On the other hand, no one is disputing that reformed health care will be available to everyone in the U.S. regardless of citizenship. That was a party line vote in another committee.

Given the Democrats' tough stance on illegal immigrants, I imagine one day in the not too distant future 80-passenger, air-conditioned buses will be patrolling the border, picking up new Americans as they move north. The first stop will be the nearest hospital to make sure their vaccinations are up to date, then it's on to Democratic Headquarters so they can register to vote.

We've been assured, though, that abortion isn't in the plan. Some judge somewhere will rewrite the law to change abortion into yet another "right."

Then there's the talk about how great another government program, Medicare, is, and why can't every American have something like it? We get those comments on the Web site and in letters to the editor, but they never mention that Medicare has about $40 trillion in obligations and no money to pay for it. Looking at it from that perspective, it seems to me much of the health-care crisis in this country was created by government meddling. And it has only gotten worse, and medical care has gotten that much more expensive, as government has increased its involvement.

On the plus side, with all this talk of reform and the Congressional Budget Office disputing almost every claim made by the president and his followers, it's clear that another promise - no new taxes on the middle class - will be just another lie if this comes to pass.

Not only that, but it will be creative taxes. Along with higher taxes on your income, most of us have heard great things about the "value added tax" which is a way of life in Western Europe. That tacks on another 17 percent or so to the price of everything you buy.

Columnist Mark Steyn makes this point: How did the health-care debate decay to the point where we think it entirely natural for the central government to fix a collective figure for what 300 million freeborn citizens ought to be spending on something as basic to individual liberty as their own bodies?

I'm not sure, but it's not all that different from people complaining there's nothing for kids to do and that government should do something about it.

My solution isn't being discussed on the Beltway, but it goes something like this: Tort reform first (it's not on the table now), then reshaping Medicare so that recipients will buy their own insurance with government vouchers. I reckon $5,000 a year will offer gold-plated insurance to recipients, and it will probably be cheaper than what Medicare costs now. And if people can't afford health insurance now, have enrollment forms in every doctor's office and hospital and require them to get on the rolls for Medicare or SCHIP when they come in.

And for those people who don't want to buy health insurance because they have other priorities - leave them alone. But don't make me responsible for their medical bills.

The obvious problem, though, is that that limits government meddling.

And if that happens, pretty soon the trickle down will result in sign walkers on every street corner.