By Rep. Scott Garrett
WHETHER it's the food you want to eat, the home loan you want to get, the toys your kids want to play with, the cars you want to drive or how much water your toilets can flush, America's everyday choices have always been plentiful. A primary reason for this abundance is the tradition of negligible government intrusion in your lives.
Unfortunately, this tradition has been eroded over the years, and your choices and your freedom to make even the smallest decision are suffering because of it.
Faceless bureaucrats -- strangers who have decided they know better than you -- set out a handful of options that they like and force you to "choose" from them. In today's America, this is what government bureaucrats pass off as your choice. The façade of choice is present, but -- as you and I both know -- we accept their dictates or else.
Riddled with subjective rules and regulations and laced with numerous mandates, President Obama's health care law is a stifling example of government bureaucrats asserting their control over your choices. From the type of plan to the insurance provider, and from the doctor to the hospital, you no longer have true choice when it comes to your health coverage. Rather, the limited choices available to you are those deemed appropriate by our omniscient government bureaucrats.
"Sub-standard" is the word bureaucrats are using to tell Americans that they don't like the choice they've made while selecting their personal insurance policy. At last count, 4.7 million Americans have been told they made the wrong choice, and are being forced by bureaucrats to pick another policy. In New Jersey alone, approximately 800,000 residents will be losing the health care plan they picked, in favor of an appropriate plan that fits the bureaucrats' mandate -- plans that may be more expensive, may have less coverage and might not serve the needs of your family.
Like your newly restricted health coverage choices, the home loan market is no longer the robust free marketplace it once was. The type of loan, the amount you can borrow and whom you can borrow from are now all things government bureaucrats manage. Despite not knowing your situation or your specific needs, perfect strangers now decide what is best for you.
The elimination of choice doesn't stop with your health care coverage or your home loan, sadly. Rather, it is fading with regard to nearly every aspect of your lives. Let me provide you with just a few examples.
Thought those who insist on "doing with your body as you wish" included choosing what to eat and drink? If the food is made with trans fats, think again. The FDA is close to tightly controlling those.
Thought you could choose what kind of toy to buy? Not if the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn't like it. For example, the CPSC banned Buckyballs, an adult magnetic-balls desk toy, because -- if swallowed -- they pose a health risk.
Federal bureaucracies' rules tell you what kind of safety equipment you must have in your car, how much ethanol must be in your fuel and what fuel economy must be regardless of its harmful effect on crashworthiness. What's best for you and your driving habits? What's most efficient? It doesn't matter -- your options are limited to the ones deemed worthy by bureaucrats.
It's long been an essential element of our representative government that most of the choices we make are our choices. The reason for this is that it is impossible for a relative few bureaucrats to comprehend every situation in which we might find ourselves and subsequently decide -- in advance -- what limited choices will be best for everyone. A system that tries to apply narrow options to every situation does a lousy job of providing a fair solution to circumstances that fall outside a bureaucrat's predictions or imagination. "One-size-fits-all" ends up working for no one.
When the system isn't right for you or your family, suffocating rules and government control tend to prevent the bureaucrats from being accommodating. Americans are increasingly left out of luck and confined to ever-narrower sets of options by people they'll never meet and didn't elect but who have the power not only to deny them freedom of choice, but also to take their money and send them to prison if they don't comply.
Culture of control
I believe we should welcome diverse cultures -- beliefs, customs and traditions -- but, when it comes to the culture of control that most government bureaucrats exist for, we must do everything in our power to reject it.
The culture of control costs us more while simultaneously making us less free. The culture of control is unkind, unreasonable, unfair and un-American. It's time to put the kibosh on the culture of control and return to the simple, essential freedom of choice our forefathers shed blood to guarantee, and enshrined in the Constitution.