On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, it is a sad reflection on our own country that a new wall is being proposed to control our own citizens by force. Ridiculous, you say? I disagree. It is our own wall of shame.
In 1961 the infamous “Berliner Mauer” was put up to separate East and West Berlin. The officials of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik called it the “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall”, the “anti-fascist protection wall”, but in the usual authoritarian double-speak, it was not to protect the citizens of the DDR from external threats, it was to keep them from fleeing the workers paradise for freer greener pastures. Chancellor Willy Brandt and West Germany called it the Wall of Shame.
Before its erection, 3.5 million people had avoided the emigration restrictions of the DDR and escaped to the west, approximately 20% of the entire East German population. By 1960, East Germany was left with only 61% of its population of working age, compared to 70.5% before the war. The loss was disproportionately heavy among professionals and skilled workers. This became so damaging to the political credibility and economic viability of East Germany that the re-securing of the German communist frontier was imperative.
The communists called these folks “traitors to the working class”, who by abandoning the country were in essence both stealing from those left behind (by taking their skills elsewhere) and selfishly avoiding their duty to work for the benefit of the community. The death penalty was therefore justified. The workers’ paradise must prevail, at any cost.
Even after its erection, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with estimates of the resulting death toll varying between around 100 and 200. Such was the strong call of freedom.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech at the Brandenberg Gate, calling out “Mr. Gobachev, tear down this wall!” But the communist system was already unsustainable, and in 1989, the walls did come down, and freedom and individual liberty was restored to those citizens. In the USA, we also celebrate that day of freedom.
Why then is our government now trying to erect a state wall around its citizens, this time regarding health care? Ridiculous, you say? I am not making this up.
The recent health bill that passed the US House is quite explicit about this. If made law, the state will force everyone to buy health insurance or suffer a penalty.
As recorded by ABC News’ Jake Tapper on 9 November 2009, President Obama said that penalties are appropriate for people who try to “free ride” the health care system.
“What I think is appropriate is that