TCS Daily


It Takes a Hillage

By David Boaz - March 27, 2007 12:00 AM

More than two million people have viewed a video on YouTube that mocks Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as an Orwellian Big Sister. It's a "mash-up" of the 1984 Super Bowl commercial that portrayed IBM as Big Brother. In the new version, Hillary is on the big screen, droning on about "a national conversation" and "we're all part of the solution...the American team" until a young blonde woman throws a sledgehammer into her giant image.

The creator of the video was anonymous. But he was discovered to be an employee of the company that created Sen. Barack Obama's campaign website. The company fired him, presumably for creating a much more effective anti-Hillary ad than anything the campaign and its consultants had produced officially.

The image of Hillary Clinton on a giant screen reminded me of one of the proposals in her book, It Takes a Village.

The book epitomizes the nanny state in contemporary America. Beginning with the sensible if overused proverb that "it takes a village" to raise children, she ends up calling on all 300 million Americans to raise each child. Of course, we can't possibly all take responsibility for millions of children. Clinton calls for "a consensus of values and a common vision of what we can do today, individually and collectively, to build strong families and communities." But there is not and -- let's be honest -- cannot be any such collective consensus.

In any free society, millions of people will have different ideas about how to form families, how to rear children, and how to associate voluntarily with others. Those differences are not just a result of a lack of understanding each other; no matter how many Harvard seminars and National Conversations we have, we will never come to a national consensus on such intimate moral matters. Clinton implicitly recognizes that when she insists that there will be times when "the village itself [she means the federal government] must act in place of parents" and accept "those responsibilities in all our names through the authority we vest in government." She fundamentally rejects the American tradition of liberty. She says that government must make the decisions about how we raise our children.

And what about that giant screen? Even when the government doesn't step in to take children from their parents, Clinton sees it constantly advising, nagging, hectoring parents: "Videos with scenes of commonsense baby care -- how to burp an infant, what to do when soap gets in his eyes, how to make a baby with an earache comfortable -- could be running continuously in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, motor vehicle offices, or any other place where people gather and have to wait," she writes. The childcare videos could alternate with videos on the Food Pyramid, the evils of smoking and drugs, the need for recycling, the techniques of safe sex, the joys of physical fitness, and all the other things the responsible adult citizens of a complex modern society need to know. Sort of like the telescreen in Orwell's 1984 -- or the YouTube video.

When President Bill Clinton announced that by his own authority he was issuing new regulations on tobacco and smoking in the name of "the young people of the United States," he said, "We're their parents, and it is up to us to protect them." Hillary Clinton told Newsweek, "There is no such thing as other people's children." These are profoundly anti-family claims. Instead of recognizing parents as moral agents who can and must take responsibility for their own decisions and actions, the Clintons would absorb them into a giant mass of collective parenting directed by the federal government as Big Sister or Big Nanny. When everybody is everyone's parent, no one is a parent any more.

Too often these days, the government treats adult citizens as children. It takes more and more money from those who produce it, doling it back to us like an allowance, through a smorgasbord of "transfer programs" ranging from Head Start and student loans to farm subsidies, corporate welfare, unemployment programs, and Social Security. It doesn't trust us to decide for ourselves (even in consultation with our doctors) what medicines to take, or where our children should go to school, or what we can access through our computers.

Many conservatives want to be your daddy, telling you what to do and what not to do, and many liberals want to be your mommy, feeding you, tucking you in, and setting your curfew. But the proper role for the government of a free society is to treat adults as adults, responsible for making their own decisions and accepting the consequences.

And that's why the image of a nagging, hectoring Hillary Clinton on a giant telescreen seems altogether too real.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer.


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9 Comments

Auntie Hillary
Good article, and I suggest we call her 'auntie' because she is like some hectoring old maid, telling you not to drink, say, then taking a few sips from her secreted brandy bottle. She's also a hypocrite if she wants all americans to take care of kids while she has armed guards to watch over her. The least she could do is to announce on TV that even though she might have 24 guards, she has ordered them not to carry guns.

Totally Inaccurate Video on You Tube
Just because HRC is constantly reported as abusive, secretive, narcisstic and once attempted to gather a few hundred of her friends to organize our medicine without our input or cnsent, doesn't mean she has any tendencies that should cause her to be likened to "Big Brother".

If they wanted highlight those personality "characeristics", it would have been more accurate to have given her a more canine likeness. (Preferably one of those prissy little dogs that won't stop barking, every time the wind blows and makes the most ardent animal lover want to drop-kick the pooch to shut it up)


Hillage, the US Constitution and the Final Frontier
"She says that government must make the decisions about how we raise our children."

A child is a human being and a citizen of the US with Constitutional rights. Law that protect a child's constitutional rights is not the same as or an interference with legitimate parenting. A obvious example is Child discipline...there are laws against child abuse. Such laws restrict parenting options. However, these laws are little different from laws against battery and assault restricting adult options, and thus appear reasonable. But what if a state or locality were to outlaw "spankings" or "time-outs", or mandate "minimum allowances" or set a maximum "on-line gaming time per day"? Micromanagement of the parent-child relationship would amount to a role beyond protecting basic rights. I believe such a role is unconstitutional. Hilary's "it takes a village" vision is not an enumerated federal power. I trust she intends on obtaining approval for a Constitutional Amendment before implementing "Hillage".

Many ask why human-kind should colonize beyond earth. One answer is the threat of people like Hilary. Tyranny is an engrained human instinct. But if Hilary seeks to be my master, then I seek to be free elsewhere. It is after all a big universe.

Dmocrats and constitution
The democrats view the Constitution as a obstacle. They care not about it at all.

They are talking the ERA and eliminating the Electoral College now. They would rewrite it all if they could placing themselves as our Gods.

Hail Ceasar!

The big issue with the video, its true.
The big isssue is that the video provides an accurate picture of what Hillary wants for the country. She wants a socialist totalitarian state along the lines of Stalinist Russia or Big Brother.

If it wasn't true then it wouldn't hurt. She is afraid of the truth. I will quote the High Planes Drifter:
"It's what people know about themselves inside..that makes them afraid." She and her staff and media buddies knew this video had a huge element of truth in it and they were afraid of it.

Freedom requires a people willing to undertake it
What I often see from Libertarians is a one-sided, imbalanced ledger, recording only the freedoms gov't has taken away without giving an account of the freedoms people have given away. Consequently, little or nothing is said on the issue of whether people really want as much freedom as a Libertarian gov't would restore to them.

For example, do people really want to directly finance their parents' retirement if their parents can't. As it stands now, the answer is "no". But as payroll taxes begin to consume 35% to 40% of the average family's income, the answer may change to "yes". Why? Because at that price, the average family can directly finance their parents' retirement more cheaply and efficiently.

This example implies a rational balancing between the costs incurred by surrendering freedom to gov't and remaining free and individually accountable. In addition, perhaps there's an economic stabilizer at work in this equation, motivating the surrender of freedom to gov't in gilded times, causing economic, social, moral and demographic decline, followed by the re-assumption of freedom at rock-bottom, causing economic growth as well as social, moral and demographic recovery.

giving away freedoms
Sure, if people want to be free, they must accept the responsibility of taking care of themselves. But some people like to live in the womb forever, or want to return to it; some people are just plain 'institutional people'. But what about these libertarians you meet up with? They must be confused, or hypocritical if they only want freedom in good times etc. Even your example of taking care of your old parents is a non-issue. If they haven't been responsible enough to plan for retirement, should it be your responsibility to care for them? A big no. That would be the same as them not haven't to care care of you after 18 or so. But if you want a nanny state to sort all that out perhaps you would like the Singapore system whereby parents can actually SUE their own children for support. How about that for the US?

Bring on the lawsuits!
The essence of my point was that regardless of how one values the freedoms one surrenders to gov't before surrendering them, after surrendering them they're valued in money terms because gov't can't do anything for us without spending our money. Therefore, we've got a dollar cost we can put on our duty to support our parents that we've surrendered to the gov't in return for paying payroll taxes: The bankrupt Social Security System in return for 15.3% of our incomes for our entire working lives.

If this cost begins exceeding 25% - 30% of our lifetime incomes, as it does in many European countries, then I propose that people will begin looking at private alternatives to fulfilling their duty to their parents, such as saving for retirement (the retirement needn't necessarily be one's own).

Of course, it may seem that I've assumed the duty to care for one's parents when they're old, but I haven't. Most civilized societies and all uncivilized ones recognize, perform and enforce this duty, even the American one.

Such duties arise out of how we human beings organize our private lives with people we care for and support out of love. Now, one of the main lies at the heart of socialism/liberalism/progressivism is that all such duties must be transfered from individuals, families and civil society to the state, rendering them public and political. Exposing this lie and the harm it causes requires recognizing such duties, explaining how they work, and arguing that they must remain private and civil, but not denying that they exist.

Finally, consider whether a lawsuit to enforce parental rights and raising payroll taxes aren't the same thing in different guises.

Cheers.

Re: Hillage
I don't think government trying to provide for those less fortunate and who need a helping hand is consistent with doling out an allowance to a ten year old. What I think is more relevant is why the government would have to adopt such a stance in the first place - because Americans (of which I am one), left to their own devices would delve into deeper and deeper levels of selfishness over and above what we unfortunately display today.

Sure, Hillary may come off as arrogant, however let's focus on the principle of the matter and get past personality-based commentary. Let's have a real debate abotu what neesd to be fixed and how we can fix it.

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