The Libertarian Pincer Movement Against Universal Coverage

Ann Althouse is disturbed by John Edwards’ proposal for a universal health care, which would require some preventive care. She says:

Why does he not even realize how bad that sounds? He’s so warmed up about the generous benefits he’s promising that he doesn’t even hear the repressiveness in his own statements. I’m sure he won’t be able to deliver on these promises. I’m just wondering about a person with so little sensitivity toward personal freedom.

Althouse’s lament is part of a more general libertarian pincer movement to erode social solidarity. The first step is to construct a class of undeserving sick who have failed to live up to their “duty to be healthy.” Those who care about a functioning safety net then try to respond with programs like Edwards’. These programs are then attacked as a terrible infringement of individual liberty.

I wonder if Althouse also opposes the Bush administration-supported West Virginia program that imposes all manner of paternalistic restrictions on Medicaid recipients? When I went to a conference on Medicaid in June, “personal responsibility” was the watchword of many Republicans there, including Newt Gingrich. Here’s Newt:

[P]arents and the public-education system have failed to control childhood obesity, a rate that has tripled since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control. To reverse this, physical education should be required for every student in grades K through 12 five days a week. Students should be weighed, their body mass index calculated, and the results and relevant educational material sent home to parents. School lunches, breakfasts and vending machines should promote healthful foods, so that unhealthful alternatives are penalized or prohibited.

Coercion? Or just common sense?

UPDATE: I respond to some comments here.

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