Posted by: Paul | 09/25/2009

“Leave My Truck Alone”

“Can we have a sensible debate about health care, with all these fears about ‘death panels,’ etc., floating around?”

The question was put to Michael Leavitt at an editorial luncheon I attended in Salt Lake City. Leavitt, a former governor of Utah who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, cited an interesting anecdote in his answer.

It concerned a man — a constituent of Leavitt’s, I believe — who was asked why he believed a particular rumor concerning the Second Amendment and gun rights. The man replied that he’d probably be less skeptical about the intentions of government if officials would just “leave my truck alone.” Huh?

As it turns out, the man owned a large truck that he was using on one occasion to haul some heavy digging equipment. He had a job to dig a hole for a friend’s project. As he went through a weigh station, it was suggested that, if he was going to be doing such jobs, he ought to apply for a commercial trucker’s permit. So he did.

Some time goes by, and the government contacts him with a helpful tip: Now that you’re a commercial trucker, you need to keep track of your gas purchases and mileage. So he started doing that.

More time goes by, and a new request comes. This time, the U.S. Department of Transportation told this new commercial trucker that he should conduct drug tests of all his employees. That would be just himself, the man noted; he didn’t employ anyone but himself when he did jobs. I can’t recall if there were other requests — but as the man noted, here he was putting up with all this bureaucratic hoopla … when all he ever wanted was to just go dig a hole.

Now, the man concluded, do you understand why I’m skeptical of government?

And that, Leavitt pointed out, should be kept in mind in the current debate over health care. Perhaps some misinformation is being put into play. Maybe people do seem too eager to believe certain rumors, especially ones that put government in a bad light. But given the way government interferes needlessly in other areas of life, who can blame them for assuming the worst? It seems, Leavitt said, that the health care fight has become a proxy for all that pent-up frustration being felt throughout the country. People feel powerless — and frightened.

That’s something our elected officials should remember as this debate advances. If you meddle so much with our trucks, what will you do with our health care?


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