The quotable conservative

Let’s talk health care and financial services regulation, the topics du jour, by zooming into the past and an imagined future in hopes of having fun and stimulating thought.

Yes, dear reader, conservatives do have hope, fun and occasional thoughts.

Winston Churchill, a conservative of yesteryear, understood the crux of a major debate—like ours on health care—is less about money than control. And he had a zinger sense of humor.

An off-color tale from William Manchester’s biography of Churchill, The Last Lion, makes the point. Manchester said Churchill needled Labor Party leader Clement Atlee over policy positions one day in the House of Commons’ lavatory.

“Atlee, arriving first, had stepped up to the urinal trough when Churchill strode in on the same mission, glanced at him, and stood at the trough as far away from him as possible,” wrote Manchester.

“Atlee said, ‘Feeling standoffish today, are we, Winston?’

“Churchill said, ‘That’s right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.’”

Argue with liberals about program costs. They look magnanimous. You look stingy. Argue about control instead.

So it is with President Obama’s proposed health care insurance coverage expansion. Opponents must block the public plan option but expand coverage. Public or private, costs go up; control slows the rate on the public purse.

No matter how it’s now sold, a public option over the next few decades is likely to evolve into a bloated federal health care bureaucracy with regulations as debilitating, and eventually ineffective, as the financial services regulatory regime we have now.

For just one example, return with me to the time when President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up part of the financial services regulatory regime President Obama now thinks he can fix along with health care, the economy and geopolitics.

Perhaps FDR had good intentions, like Hopeful-in-chief Obama. Yet FDR named Joe Kennedy first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that was created after the market crash began the Depression. Joe Kennedy, JFK’s father, was a premier stock manipulator. It looked like a fox guarding the chicken coop from the git-go.

Oh, and that’s the same SEC (admittedly under a former GOP congressman recently) that was AWOL in 2008 recessionary market turmoil. Makes you wonder who made off (or Madoff) with the SEC chairman’s regulatory Dick Tracy ring.

Now fast forward to the year 2045. Imagine the same Dick Tracy decoder ring turns up on the hand of a next generation Bush (or, say, Kennedy) just appointed National Health Czar by President Mary Cheney (or, perhaps, President Chelsea Clinton).

The new czar decries rumors that green algae hyper-vitamin pills dispensed free at 1,000 federal health clinics are actually a kind of Soylent Green, but made from euthanized pets instead of people, and so are just protein placebos.

He says Internet blogladites made the spurious charge to disparage and undermine health care system bureaucracy and regulations. He says the pills cut down ailments in reality, not by psychological trickery as the blogladite guerrillas’ sedition claims.

Return now from my wildly imaginary future to the Churchillian past for pertinent Sir Winston quotes, like: “If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law,” and, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Or my personal favorite: “Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is—the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.”