In the third installment of his space trilogy,Space Trilogy That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis' main character (Mark Studdock) was seduced with the promise of joining the inner ring of a powerful English society that used questionable tactics to establish an "efficient" state bureaucracy run by controllers who saw themselves as being a cut above the rest of the world. The name of the society Mark yearned to join was the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments -- N.I.C.E.
Lewis described N.I.C.E. as:
"the first fruits of that constructive fusion between state and laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes for a better world. It was to be free from almost all the tiresome restraints ... which have hitherto hampered research in this country. It was also largely free from the restraints of economy ..."This, in fictional form, was the epitome of what Lewis feared would become a socio-political reality. Some of his reviewers begged to differ. The New York Times described That Hideous Strength as "superlatively nonsensical excitement, challenging implications," while Time magazine called it a "well-written, fast-paced satirical fantasy." That was in 1946.
Fast forward to 2009.
John C. Goodman, writing in National Review (September 21, 2009), reports on the contemporary British health commission:
"which currently recommends against any treatment that costs more than $45,000 to save a year of life. Because of [the commission], British cancer patients are denied access to drugs that are routinely available in the U.S. and on the European continent, and thousands die prematurely."The name of the commission is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, but the Brits refer to it by the more commonly recognized acronym: N.I.C.E.
I wish I could make this stuff up. In fact, when I read it I assumed that Mr. Goodman had made it up. He didn't. But the creepy stuff doesn't stop there.
The reason Mr. Goodman cited this fact was because N.I.C.E., according to former Senator Tom Daschle, is the model for American health care reform. He said so in his book, Critical: What We Can Do About The Health-Care Crisis. Barring the inconvenience of paying those pesky income taxes that only those of us who are not driven to work in a limousine should have to bear, the good Senator would have been the one overseeing our American N.I.C.E. guys.
Today, we see hypocritical politicians passing laws they've never read. We see the unilateral decisions of Barack Obama changing the duly passed, "settled law" of the Affordable Care Act to favor his cronies and union bosses. We see Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle touting the fact that they will also be covered by ObamaCare while conveniently avoiding the subject of their under-the-table subsidies. We see this is "necessary" to preserve the crop of geniuses in Washington D.C. from experiencing a "brain drain" if forced to live under the law like the rest of us chumps. We see HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who, as we have seen, will not only fill that role but also be the one to decide which pool of federal funding will be used to fund abortion.
We see, in other words, that all the N.I.C.E. guys are really just lying through their shiny white teeth.
Remember all the talk about "death panels" in ObamaCare? Well, given the ideology and bureaucratic impulses of our current cast of political characters, does anyone truly doubt that there will be rationing. When resources are limited and controlling costs is the reason the reform was pushed in the first place, this will be the inevitable result. Someone will be charged with responsibility of deciding who gets what. Someone like Mark Studdock.
And that is a hideous strength to wield.