Independence Day is our most endangered holiday. We should celebrate it while we still can. The entire concept of independence — of autonomous citizens making their own choices in the pursuit of their own happiness — is under attack. The American war for independence was not over in the 18th Century but wages on today. At the moment, independence is not winning.

To make sure that we are not deluding ourselves, we should at least consider changing the name of the July 4th holiday to “Dependence Day.” We might also move to a more appropriate date to avoid blasphemy. One possibility is October 3, the day in 2008 that President George W. Bush signed legislation authorizing TARP spending of $700 billion.

But that provided President Obama with an excuse for even worse legislation, when, on March 23, 2010, he signed ObamaCare into law. This heavy-handed micro-management of medicine is the leading wave in the government’s destruction of personal choice.

Individuals are no longer allowed to decide which treatments or procedures they want their insurance to cover. They are not allowed to decide where and how to buy their insurance.

Physicians are not allowed to decide which treatment or surgery will best serve their patients. They must follow government protocols and “best practices” for everyone, regardless of the unique condition of each patient.

Individual patients and physicians may not determine the cost of care. The government will decide that, and, accordingly, which treatments are denied.

Physicians and patients may not decide which available medications will provide the most relief but must depend on what the Food and Drug Administration permits based on factors other than safety. Terminally ill patients must depend on the FDA to decide what is “effective” for everyone, while individuals die waiting for access.

Individuals may not prevent their electronic medical records from being turned over to government agencies without their permission. They also may not prevent the government from turning their records over to private firms.

In essence, health care choices and outcomes will depend largely on what politicians decide or delegate to mindless, distant and indifferent government agencies.

The passionate, bi-partisan desire of large elements of the political class is dependence on them for every essential aspect of daily life. They lose sleep at the thought of Americans finding and buying their health insurance in a way to best meet their own needs, at a cost they can afford. They are horrified at the thought of Americans saving their own money — without it being taxed — in a Health Savings Account, and making their own decisions on medical services, in an effort to manage their money wisely.

That is because the last thing politicians want is affordable, quality health care. They singularly want everyone beholden to them, and health care serves as a means to that end.

More is at stake than health care. Politicians want Americans to depend on government for their children’s education — so the government can dictate that education’s content. Then education serves political or union agendas. The problem that Johnny can’t read is a concern only to the extent that Johnny can’t absorb ideology forced on him by government schools.

Individuals must depend on politicians for the terms of their home ownership. Banks must depend on the government to tell them who is eligible for a mortgage — regardless of their ability to pay it off. The government tells us which available sources of energy are forbidden, and how we must be dependent on government for sources that do not yet exist.

Do we want Congress to make our medical choices and other important decisions? On this Fourth of July, Americans should decide whether they want their independence to endure, or to continue to slip away, along with the meaning and spirit of the holiday.

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Richard E. Ralston

Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.

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