It's not just Obamacare. In many other areas of life, Americans now enjoy considerably less freedom of maneuver than Europeans do. If it doesn't seem like that, it's because we've come up with a more cunning form of statism. In France a third of a century back, Mitterrand nationalized the banks. That's what socialists do. And people would kick up a fuss if Washington tried anything like that. So instead we've wound up with a kind of third-party statism, in which the zombie husks of private industry are conscripted as the front men for de facto nationalization. Except for the check design and debit-card color, it doesn't make any difference whether you go to the First National Bank of Deadsville, the Deadsville Savings Bank, or the Deadsville Community Bank: The answers are all the same, because they're all just operating the federal guidelines. It's like going to the North Deadsville DMV and thinking you'll get a different answer from the South Deadsville DMV.
How much power the government now has over the banks has emerged in recent coverage of something called "Operation Choke Point. Glenn Reynolds:
A while back, some adult performers noticed that banks were terminating their accounts. The reason, it turned out, was a Justice Department program called "Operation Choke Point." This program, apparently, seeks to target businesses regarded as undesirable â€” like porn â€” by hitting them at a financial "choke point": their bank accounts.
So porn stars are finding it harder to get checking accounts. Debbie can do Dallas, but she can't do her banking at the Dallas Savings Bank. If you're not a pornography aficionado, you might treat that news with a shrug. But are there perchance other businesses the Justice Department regards as "undesirable"? Why, yes:
Targets include industries as diverse as ammunition sales, coin dealers, payday loans, "racist materials," etc. And, again, these are all legal businesses that haven't been charged with breaking any laws â€” the Justice Department just doesn't like them.
As Professor Reynolds points out, these are all perfectly legal businesses. Indeed, they have very little in common - gun buyers, porn stars, racists - except that the government doesn't like them, and has decided to get them. And the easiest way to do that is by getting the alphabet soup of the regulatory state to apply pressure to the businesses they regulate. For example, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency can levy fines of $1 million a day and make life hell for the banks they regulate, so, when they suggest, Donald Sterling-like, that they'd rather JP Morgan didn't keep certain company, JP Morgan jumps to it.
It's not hard to see that list expanding as the years go by - first, because all these programs start out narrowly and then metastasize, and second, because this government has a lot of enemies and isn't shy about siccing on them the IRS and the EPA and any other agency to hand. If the banks get used to cutting off customers on the government's say-so, they'll soon find themselves doing it routinely - from ammo sales to gun-rights groups, "racist materials" to Islamophobes, and after that everybody on those IRS "Be On the Look-Out" lists.
As I was saying, the United States has pretty much given up even on the pretense of equality before the law. What we have instead are the caprices of tyranny.
~Speaking of porn, Scramouche notes "porn star" Nikki Benz's entry into the Toronto mayoral race and asks:
Why is everyone in porn a "star"? Why is no one ever a character actor or a bit--or bits--player?
Very true. No one ever says, "I'm a porn actor, but you probably don't remember me. I had a small part."
Where is the porno Gabby Hayes, the best friend loyally riding alongside?
~Speaking of how enemies lists can expand effortlessly, the Homintern is now cracking down on even minimal ideological deviation. The Mozilla honcho, the "Duck Dynasty" guy, the HGTV brothers, all at least to one degree or another opposed gay marriage. Professor Douglas Laycock is all in favor of it, gung ho for it, bring it on, the more the merrier ...but, because he's not 100 per cent in ideological compliance, the gay group GetEQUAL has decided to get him. In the Eighties, only gays had to be clones. Now everybody has to.
Since GetEQUAL is now operating the homophobe version of the one per cent rule, here's a thought for their pal Eric Holder: Maybe designated homophobes should have their checking accounts canceled...