A Direct Line from Health, Through Information, to Political Manipulation
The problem with giving government authority over everything is that, well, it gives government authority over everything. For a shocking example, consider Mark Steyn’s description of a minor controversy in Great Britain.
It seems that, in the course of the recent election cycle, the then-ruling Labour party sent out postcards warning that, if victorious, the Conservatives would reduce access to breast cancer treatment. What’s shocking is that Labour appears to have culled the list of all citizens to include only those who have” been either diagnosed with, treated for, survived or, in at least one case, died of breast cancer.” Writes Steyn:
So a quantum leap in targeted marketing has just been made: The governing party of a free society was able to identify women with breast cancer in swing constituencies and send them a postcard warning that if you vote for the opposition they’ll cut off your chemo and kill you.
I suppose that’s not much different than local school committees sending parents warnings that their children will have to return to paper-less one room school houses if they don’t receive the budgets that they desire. The difference is that it’s unavoidable for school departments to know which households have children in the school system, but at least in the United States, it isn’t yet the case that political parties have ownership of everybody’s personal health histories.
The easy availability of information has its pluses and minuses. The real danger lies in giving a centralized authority the power to use that information for its own purposes.