Our new masters are getting married!

If there is such a thing as a right to privacy that allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy, I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how can that be squared with the idea that the state has a right to test her fluids without her consent to ensure that she does not consume substances which might harm the fetus. (This inconsistency came up in a number of comments to my earlier post about the government snatching a newborn from a woman who ate a poppy seed bagel.)

Despite the "privacy" recitations of that formed the basis of Roe v. Wade, genuine privacy in this country is disappearing so quickly that it makes my head spin.

Kids are being encouraged by school programs to turn in their parents. Here's an example of one who ratted on his parents for marijuana, following which the parents were arrested, and the kids were removed by CPS.

Why is it automatically assumed that children are better off in foster care than with parents who consume disapproved substances?

And if smoking pot means parents should forfeit their children, then what's to stop the state from deciding that alcohol and tobacco using parents aren't equally dangerous?

The reason for my concern is that the drug war is being broadened towards a new goal of of invading as many homes as possible. I don't think it is a coincidence that there are constantly more and more television shows glorifying raids and "interventions." This is happening at the same time the conglomerate I'll call the "treatment community" is poised to have sweeping new powers under Obamacare. To be fair, these people would never admit that forcing insurance companies to pay for substance abuse treatment constitutes "power"; rather, they see it as a marvelous breakthrough in helping people:

With parity and healthcare reform bringing substance abuse treatment into the realm of general medical care, one crucial priority is for treatment agencies to develop partnerships with medical organizations. In the years to come, hospitals, doctor's offices, and, in particular, Federally Qualified Health Centers will be the entrees to reaching new populations that we may never have been able to reach in the specialty care system. This will also give us the opportunity to deliver new services such as brief treatments, behavioral interventions, and, for those who need specialty care, to provide appropriate referrals.

These referrals are likely to include individuals who have drug or alcohol problems, but who are not acutely ill. Therefore, another priority for the field is the development of a workforce that can serve these new types of clients.

I'll just bet. No wonder they've created the totalitarian prescription drug databases, which provide a perfect fit with the new federal mandate making patients' once-private health records accessible in a comprehensive electronic database. No one will be safe from the prying eyes of these busybody inquisitors, who will be demanding to treat not only substance using individuals, but all their family members!

And if you don't like it, their battle cry is that you are in denial!

People mistakenly believe that socialized medicine is simply a question of who pays for your health care. Wrong. It means medical tyrants armed with sweeping new power from the state running every aspect our lives.

My fear is that these people love the drug war, and will fight to keep it through a process of collusion. As the comments to yesterday's post dramatically illustrate, many conservatives think that's just fine. With respect to the drug war, I think the difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives love drug laws because they honestly hate drugs, while liberals tend to see them in Orwellian terms (as another tool for expanding the power of the bureaucracy).

I don't know whether that is a distinction of any importance, but I worry that the war on drugs is simply being expanded (no wonder they're redefining it) to become an all-out war on privacy.

Call me paranoid if you want, but I think that in the near future, socialized health care and the war on drugs will merge, and the resultant grotesque marriage will mean gigantic new power for the state, an end to privacy, and medical tyrants as our new masters.

It's an awful marriage, and I am not looking forward to the future.

Please, someone, tell me I am wrong so I can calm down. Seriously, the more I think about this stuff (this post began as an email to M. Simon) the more I'm developing the heebie jeebies.

Oh, well. Perhaps the medical statists will be able to tell me I'm in denial and medicate me with some Soma.

posted by Eric on 11.12.10 at 10:13 AM


The dirty secret is that with substance abuse treatment about 5% of users will give up their evil habits.

Without treatment about 5% of users will give up their evil habits.

It is like having an elephant patrol in Benson, Arizona. The patrol will keep elephants out of town and if they spot any they will get them out of town within two days.

Just another of the many wallet extraction schemes.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2010 11:29 AM

It gets better.

Tricking people into outing themselves as mentally ill:


M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2010 12:08 PM

At least under the old system they had to get a search warrant.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 12, 2010 12:49 PM

"If there is such a thing as a right to privacy that allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy ...."

There isn't.

"I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how can that be squared with the idea that the state has a right to test her fluids without her consent to ensure that she does not consume substances which might harm the fetus."

Granted your flawed premise, that's a reasonable observation. But you don't seem especially interested in revisiting the flawed premise.

This case shows up one of the many flaws in the libertarian view of the world. It's a scientific fact that drug and alcohol abuse by pregnant women has a high probability of causing harm to their children. In theory, the "harm principle" should apply here.

On the other hand, most libertarians are "lifestyle libertarians". They are libertarians in the first place because the want to construct some ideological system under which they can do what they like. So in practice the "right to privacy", so-called, is allowed to override the harm principle.

Much more so than either liberals or conservatives, libertarians are expert at rationalizing their own desires to themselves.

SM   ·  November 12, 2010 2:40 PM

Eric, I too was alarmed about the health care data base until I realized that the chances of it actually working in my lifetime are probably close to nil.

The FBI can't share databases with other Federal agencies. The local police and sheriffs rely on kludges, when they can get them and forget the DMV...in spite of more than 20 years of upgrading. The IRS has barely begun to roll out a digital system to serve it's tax mission.

So what are the chances of government contractors rolling out software that is compatible with the tens of thousands of customized mainframes,databases and billing programs? Of the three docs and the dentist I see, only one and the dentist have digital systems.

Then they have to enter the miles of printed and handwritten medical records, tests, hospital records, scan film and such. Just transcribing handwritten records spanning decades will be a logistical nightmare...especially given how much we Americans move and change providers.

As usual Teh One hasn't thought any of this through from the ground up.

BJM   ·  November 13, 2010 1:49 AM

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