Murphy’s Law on Loneliness

United States Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is the author of the National Strategy for Social Connection Act, which would,

. . . create an Office of Social Connection Policy within the White House to work across federal agencies to develop effective strategies for improved social infrastructure and issue national guidelines for social connection similar to existing guidelines on sleep, nutrition, and physical activity. It would also provide funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better understand the epidemic of social isolation and loneliness.

For Californians, this may recall the state’s attempt to improve people’s self-esteem.

Assemblyman John Vasconcellos, San Jose Democrat, authored legislation to create a California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility. Established in 1986, the task force had branches in some 40 counties and held hearings in major cities. The task force continued until 1990 and produced a report, Toward a State of Esteem

Self-esteem is the likeliest candidate for a social vaccine,” the report’s key finding contends. “something that empowers us to live responsibly and that inoculates us against the lures of crime, violence, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, child abuse, chronic welfare dependency, and educational failure. The lack of self-esteem is central to most personal and social ills plaguing our state and nation as we approach the end of the twentieth century.

By 2010, Californians were hard-pressed to find any evidence that the self-esteem task force solved any social problem. In 2023, crime, homelessness, and squalor are surging across the Golden State as never before. Over in Washington, Sen. Murphy sounds a lot like Vasconcellos.

Loneliness is one of the most seriousmisunderstood problems facing America today” and “it’s irresponsible for policymakers to continue ignoring this epidemic.” Loneliness “leads to worse health outcomes and breeds political instability.” According to Murphy, “this crisis transcends traditional political boundaries, presenting a chance to bring together right and left around a project to help people find connectedness.”

As Jack Elbaum contends, “It seems quite odd that anybody would look to the faceless blob that is our federal government, the least personal entity there can possibly be, for guidance on social connection.” For Elizabeth Nolan Brown, “the idea that the federal government can solve loneliness is naive and laughable.” 

Sen. Murphy wants to provide more funding for the CDC, which boasts a budget of 11.58 billion, a full $2.397 billion above FY 2023. This is the same CDC that failed to prevent or control the Covid pandemic and is now experiencing a decline in trust by the people. Hooking up a bloated, failed agency with more taxpayer dollars is how “connectedness” works in Washington. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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