Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Brother, alive and well and living in Washington, D.C.

So, if you go to the HHS website, there's a form that people can fill in to do something. Get more information? Apply for a job?

No. There's a form for people to encourage the President to enact health care reform.
Dear Mr. President,

We strongly support your commitment to comprehensive health reform.

This is not a luxury. The continuing, sharp escalation of health care costs for families, businesses, and government is unsustainable. Reform is imperative.

We believe that health reform must be enacted this year.

Reform is needed to help America’s families struggling with rising costs and those who are losing their insurance. At the same time, real health reform is crucial to keeping American businesses competitive in the world economy and for the country’s long-term economic viability. As our country faces economic challenges, the time for reform is now.

So the administration is using tax-payer funded webservers to allow anyone, citizen or not, to generate "support" letters to the President in order to encourage him to increase government control of the health care system.

I can't believe that that's not illegal. And if it isn't, it should be. It's a clear abuse of government resources.

And what possible good can this do for them? It isn't like the President doesn't already support health care reform. (Why would I set up a form on my blog with which people could send me a form letter encouraging me to root for the Red Sox? I wouldn't.) This is a waste of time and effort that can't do anything for anyone, other than possibly deluding them into thinking that support for their position is more universal than it actually is, which doesn't benefit them or anyone else.

No, there's only one possible benefit to anyone of the existence of this "support" page. And that's the collection of names and zip codes and e-mail addresses, all of which are mandatory. They're obviously not going to generate little e-mails of this message to the President, or anyone else. No, it's a data collection mechanism. Does the Department of Health and Human Services have any legitimate reasons to be gathering names and e-mail addresses of people that want the government to reform the health care system? No. It doesn't. Therefore, these names and e-mail addresses are going to be used for political purposes, Democratic party fund-raising lists and the like.

(Thought experiment: Imagine that the George W. Bush administration had been gathering fund-raising information on tax-payer funded administration web-sites in this manner. Do you suppose the media might have found a reason to cover it?)

Again, I can't believe that that's not illegal. And if it isn't, it should be. It's a clear abuse of government resources.

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