The Feds’ Solution To Loneliness

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently released an advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” It warns that social isolation is a major public health problem. The 81-page document presents six government-directed “pillars” of action to address the health hazards of social isolation.

On the surface, these six directives may look innocuous, but they present a clear and present danger to the autonomy of our private lives and relationships. The project is potentially so massive in scope that it’s not an overstatement to say it threatens to regulate our freedom of association in ways we never could have imagined.

. . . The first stated goal is to “strengthen social infrastructure in local communities.” It defines “social infrastructure” as the regular events and institutions that make up community life, and says the federal government should both fund local organizations and direct how they’re structured, including their locations. This can only mean that all local communities must answer to the federal bureaucracy in the quest to strengthen social connections among people.

. . . We end up with a massive federal infrastructure that can monitor the levels of social connection and disconnection in every nook and cranny of society. As described in the report, this would mean every institution, every governmental department, every volunteer association, every locality, every church, every faith community, every organization, every club, every service club, every sports league, and so on, would likely be assessed and “strengthened” to promote social connection.

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Stella Morabito | “To Address The Loneliness Epidemic, The Feds Want To Control Your Town And Friends” | May 30th, 2023


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8 comments

  1. “…Another threat to the private sphere of life comes under the directive to “mobilize the health sector” by expanding “public health surveillance and interventions.” This sounds very much like tracking your social connections and intervening when the bureaucracy deems it necessary. Big Brother sitting in on your doctor visits and therapy sessions?

    The report indicates that health care workers will be trained to track cases of what the government views as social connection and disconnection. As they obediently report to the federal bureaucracy, most individual and local control will be lost. Medicine is bound to become more federalized and less private than ever when answering to these mandates….”

    If you are old enough to have an annual Medicare physical at your primary care physicians office you know that this is already happening. You get barraged with a series of questions like “do you feel safe at home,” etc. And you have to be careful how you answer them because it all gets recorded in your medical record, which of course, the gov’t has the opportunity to inspect since it’s part of Social Security.

    • George: As someone on Medicare I am well acquainted with the questions you wrote about. I’ve always wondered if what would happen if I said I didn’t feel safe at home. They asked me how much alcohol I drink and I said a thimbleful of wine every week at communion. 🙂

    • The most maniacal part of the “wellness exam” (their wording) is when they give you three words of more or less infrequent usage and tell you to remember them – they’ll be asking you to repeat them in a few minutes. Then they draw a circle on a piece of paper, tell you to write the numbers of a clock face in their proper positions, and then place the hour and minute hands at something like 11:10. I’ve learned to repeat the words over and over in my mind constantly until needing to recite them while doing the clock face and time of day. My brother, being somewhat of a wise guy, drew a picture of a digital clock on their circle the first time he was in for the exam. Of course, that didn’t fly…

  2. I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that promoting a 15-minute city will “certainly provide authority and justification for changes supported by radical environmentalists, all of which diminish our freedoms.” Our current regime of zoning to segregate land uses has resulted in a built environment where essential goods and services can only be accessed conveniently by a private automobile, which is certainly a more highly regulated mode of transportation than walking or biking. It is laughable to describe driving a car as more free than walking – last I checked, I didn’t need a government-issued license to walk nor was there a government enforced limit to how fast I can move my feet. An honest analysis would acknowledge that government policy created our auto- dependent cities and towns and consequently it takes government intervention to remove barriers and implement better policy that promotes more humane places.

    • Tom, you mentioned zoning, and you’re right that zoning had the unintended effect of making automobiles necessary in cities. I know the history of the constitutional objections to zoning, and my state of Missouri was the last state in the country to reject zoning as an unconstitutional limit on private property rights before the US Supreme Court ruled zoning wasn’t a constitutionally-regulated “taking” of private property, so long as pre-existing nonconforming uses were “grandfathered.” Most of the debates back then focused on private property rights, but the segregation of residential and commercial property by zoning had the unintentional effect of destroying neighborhood business districts and making it difficult or impossible for a business owner to live in the apartment above his business, the way many older businesses were designed. Cars went from being a nice-to-have item in the 1920s and 1930s to being a must-have item in the 1950s since there was no way to walk to the corner grocery store if zoning prevented new corner stores from being built in new post-war residential neighborhoods.

      That’s a problem government created, and only government can fix it. In fact, there **ARE** fixes available via “tweaks” to existing zoning ordinances, but that requires both political decisions to promote “walkable communities” and economic willingness to invest in small neighborhood businesses.

      What urban Americans need to realize is that while zoning is taken for granted in our major cities and our large states, it’s far from universal.

      I live in a county whose voters rejected countywide zoning by a two-to-one margin, even after the leaders of the local ministerial alliance had it pointed out to them that zoning would allow regulation of the strip clubs that back then were a plague on our town, and many other military communities. Trust me, having reported on planning and zoning commissions all the way back to the 1990s, I know how they can be used to abuse people and their private property rights.

      Even in the Bible Belt, the argument that zoning would allow the county to regulate immoral businesses wasn’t enough to get farmers and rural residents to give the county the right to regulate their own private property. As a result, we ended up going from a community with a half a dozen strip clubs inside the city limits of our county’s major city that were effectively policed by municipal officers to being a community with three strip clubs, all outside city limits and two of them literally within a stone’s throw of the city limit, and our overworked and understaffed sheriff’s department struggled to enforce laws in those establishments.

      For better or worse, the internet killed our county’s strip clubs. One of them was bought by an evangelical church that uses it for worship. Another has been converted to a non-nude but raunchy business by an owner who wanted to stick his middle finger in our community even after strip clubs were no longer economically viable. The third turned into a bar for a while and is now a motorcycle club. The others inside city limits closed years ago because they couldn’t comply with city zoning restrictions or, in one case, was shut down by police after a person was killed in the parking lot.

      I’m not sure how much this has to do with Christian issues, but it does say a lot that even in the Bible Belt, private property rights “trumped” the desire to regulate businesses that most of our residents clearly disliked, but didn’t want to give a county zoning official the ability to tell them what to do on their own property.

    • I take exception to the rebuttal that, “…An honest analysis would acknowledge that government policy created our auto- dependent cities and towns and consequently it takes government intervention to remove barriers and implement better policy that promotes more humane places…” In fact, both the pre- and briefly post-WW2 municipal environments consisted mainly of electrified street cars for the use of personal transportation in and around urban areas, i.e., mass transportation. Not long after that GM introduced buses to cart people around, forcing rail-based street cars out of the way. And not long after that U.S. factories had re-tooled manufacturing back to private automobiles and vehicle sales soared. ‘Course, insufficient room to park these cars in downtown areas became a problem and soon after that strip malls began to come into existence to service the rapid growth of suburbia.

      All of this was a matter of economics, capitalism if you will, not that “…that government policy created our auto- dependent cities and towns…” Maybe that is one of the downsides of capitalism – consider that however you wish. But your remark sounds a lot like a Leftist moderator made in a cycling-oriented blog site made a few years ago, that all of the current street configurations are the (anti-cycling in her mind) result of “white men” who controlled their design and configuration. Please explain to me how you can make that kind of leap…

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