To Smash the State, Or Not To Smash It (That is the Question)
Now that the Supreme Court has signed off on ObamaCare’s alleged “constitutionality” (which, in my previous post, I disputed with theatric, melodramatic fervor and angst – “Dost thou betray us, Brother Roberts?”), it now falls to the American people and their elected representatives in Congress as to how they will respond to such unspeakable horrors. (There I go again.) Do they want to crumple up this Lucifer-designed laundry-list of State-enforced commandments – and throw it into the scrapheap of history, never to see the light of day again – or cherry-pick which provisions should stay and which ones should, in essence, be covered with allegorical white-out? (No, I’m not doing another Al Gore joke.) Do they want to “nudge” our political elites in the right direction through written petitions and friendly letters, or do they wish to take the more radical approach and, through their state governments, disobey the commands issued from on yonder? Will the governors say, “Not in my state!” or will they, like so many weak-kneed leaders before them, fall dutifully in line with federal orders? Are they willing to roll out the tanks, state militias, and local police if federal troops storm in to arrest people who have the courage to resist and rebel against the unlawful and treacherous power-grabs of the Washington industrial-apparatus, or will they back down, wave the white flag, and surrender?
Is the Constitution the supreme law of the land, or is it the discretion of nine unelected oracles in robes, the self-anointed monarch in the Oval Office, and the elected slave-drivers in Congress? Will the states say, “An unconstitutional law is null, void, of no effect, and we refuse to enforce such lawlessness on our soil?” or will they say, “Well, if the nine justices on the Supreme Court say the sky is purple and the grass is orange, it isn’t our place to question them?” Is the Court staffed with infallible angels sent from above, or are they human beings bound to trip up from time to time? What if they say that, since a majority of legislators approve rounding up black people and detaining them in concentration camps – without due process – the Bill of Rights no longer applies? What if they say that sniping down protestors who are holding rallies on their own property is perfectly within the president’s purview? Will we take their word as sacred and unquestionable?
To all of those questions I answer: Don’t look at me. I’m not Shirley freaking McClaine. Like I said, I don’t have psychic powers, and what lies in store is anybody’s guess.
I do know where I stand, though: I want the states to grow a spine and tell D.C. to pound sand. (This guy says it better than I ever will.) It all depends on whether citizen activists raise their voices high enough to shake the boots and scare the living daylights out of their state legislatures and governors. Their arguments need to be concisely and persuasively articulated, and they (Tea Partiers, especially) need to be willing to stand their ground in the face of a moral and philosophical challenge against their most deeply held convictions. This book would be fantastic starting point in their journey toward a better understanding of Jeffersonian jurisprudence and the constitutional principles guiding such concepts.
But Mommy, My Friend Keisha Has A Mitt Romney®
As far as the “ballot box” strategy goes – the one that says, scribble a checkmark on a piece of paper and hope that the Washington elites finally wise up just because you said, “Hey, stop that, you meanie-beanie dodo-brains” – I’m a bit shifty-eyed and, well … skeptical. Everyone should be, really. Mitt Romney®, the presumptive Republican nominee (I hear they’re on sale at K-Mart for the low price of $3.29) has vowed that – if he wins the presidency – within his first few days in office, he will overturn ObamaCare through executive fiat. Seeing as ObamaCare has worked up an animalistic frenzy even among the president’s own supporters, according to the latest opinion polls, Romney® can use it to score cheap political points by making empty promises to (pull the string) “replace and repeal.” (Cool, it talks. I want one.) But as Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine asks, what’s he going to replace it with? (Plastic cupcakes? Teacup accessories?) He’s already surrounded himself with advisers who sing praises to the individual mandate and “guaranteed” issue. One of his right-hand men told reporters that we can’t scrap this bill “whole cloth.” (To borrow a line from Obama himself, “Yes, we can.” Oh, wait. That was someone else’s catchphrase first. Remember that dude with the yellow helmet and the talking construction vehicles? What’s his face? He’s made of clay and his name starts with a “B?”)
The architect of Romney®’s own “universal health care scheme” in Massachusetts practically designed, wrote, and carved out ObamaCare with his own two hands. And Romney® has ruled out Medicare cuts as a key to health care reform in this country. Medicare is unfunded by trillions of dollars, mind you. Many people covered under the system can’t see a physician because the reimbursement rates are so pitiful. Only half of all tax revenues to fund the program are collected through tax and premium payments. And monocle-wearing country club ladies and retired CEOS – why, I never! – are receiving millions in benefits at the expense of poor, young folks – whose wages are garnished and redistributed to the bank accounts of people who could probably afford to pay for their wheelchairs, arthritis drugs, and hired cleaning assistants out of their own pockets.
“Obama Thinks He’s Soooo Socialist. Well, We’ll Show Him!”
Many Republican leaders – being the weasels they are – are taking the timid route and backing down from Tea Party “kill the bill” rhetoric. Now they’re saying, “ObamaCare’s bad law, and we’re going to do all we can to repeal the objectionable bits, but we can’t rip apart the entire thing. Let’s throw out the parts that our constituents don’t like, and keep the popular stuff.” However, the allegedly “popular” parts of ObamaCare are the heart and core – the very foundation – of this slime-covered, witch-crafted abomination from Hell. Denying people coverage based on pre-existing conditions is considered “callous” and “cruel,” so Republicans are joining Obama and their “adversaries” across the aisle to crack down on this “unethical” practice. But that would defeat the whole purpose of insurance. You don’t buy fire insurance after some young, feckless hooligan douses it in gasoline. You don’t buy auto insurance after your car has been bashed in relentlessly by a Louisville slugger. You don’t buy flood insurance after your basement has become your own personal, indoor swimming pool. Insurance is supposed to cover things that could happen – catastrophic, unforeseeable incidents that emergency, rainy day funds probably couldn’t cover by themselves. That means natural disasters, fires, random rhino stampedes in the middle of Los Angeles, falling meteor chunks, and grave illness – not things that have already happened.
The wishy-washy moderates in the GOP – and trust me, they own this party – are also on board with what right-leaning journalist Michelle Malkin calls the “slacker mandate.” (Hey, that’s me.) In fact, some legislators are rushing to “level one up” on the president. Insurance companies, they say, not only should be forced, at the barrel of a government gun, to keep “kids” on their parents’ policy until age 26, but they should also be forced to do so until the “kid” is 31. Way to outdo Obama, you nitwits. So even if the “children” (if they can even be called that) own billion-dollar estates, are star athletes, have their pictures stapled all over the Hollywood tabloids, or head up a successful hedge-fund by then – they shouldn’t be paying for their own insurance? (And shouldn’t I?) Don’t you think this mandate might, I don’t know – discourage young people from finishing school and working for a living, since their medical bills are fully covered by dear ol’ Mom and Dad – who, by the way, end up paying higher premiums because the insurance company just pushes the compliance costs onto them? (Call it a conflict of interest for me to speak against out a policy that benefits people my age, but I’m all about “principles,” first and foremost. And I can testify, the “slacker mandate” does live up to its name.) Newest estimates show that premiums have already increased by 1 percent in preparation for the financial burdens that will be run up the bill of insurers as a result of this regulation. That’s hundreds of thousands people losing coverage because the insurance company can’t afford to keep them. And the Republicans want to raise the age at which the insurer absolutely must keep you on board all the way to 31? What the flick. So much for overly partisan, extremist ideologues who are too “stubborn” to “compromise” with the Democrats. Bipartisanship should be something to be deplored, not looked upon as the best last hope for the country, or as the end-all-be-all savior of our economic and social problems. What, are we supposed to just make a circle, join hands, and sing “Let the Sunshine In?” This is America, not the Tubbytronic Superdome. (On second thought, that other place doesn’t sound so bad.)
Some GOP Establishmentarians – the very folks the Tea Party first mobilized protesters against during Congressional debates (if it could even be called that) over the bank bailouts – even think “community rating” laws are something worth keeping. Of course insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to charge discriminatory rates based on health status, age, sex, or anything else for that matter, they righteously proclaim! Everybody should be charged the same fee! How could anybody possibly disagree with such a proposition? What kind of crazed, fringe-lunatic malcontent would object to this?
Um … me? Insurance is supposed to be discriminatory. That’s the only way the business model works without becoming just another form of recklessly dished out, no-strings-attached welfare. Actuaries assess risk – that is, how likely are you to end up strapped to a hospital bed, injure yourself, or get sick – and then charge premiums accordingly. Is it wrong for a flood insurance company to charge people living in low-lying coastal areas higher rates than those who live far from shore? Is it wrong for auto insurance companies to charge men higher rates than women because they tend to drive longer distances to work and other places, for whatever reason? No? So why is wrong for a medical insurer to charge alcoholics higher rates than sober people because they’re more likely to say, get liver disease or drive wasted behind the wheel? Why is it wrong for them to charge higher rates for women than men because of the costs of prenatal care, delivering a baby, and well – more doctor visits on average? (By the way, the fact that men are less likely to seek the advice of a professional, like a doctor or a nurse, when they bust an arm, catch pneumonia, suffer from clinical depression, vomit profusely, experience light-headedness and dizziness, and the rest – should trouble us. Higher premiums are a sign that women aren’t under a whole lot of pressure to just shrug off their symptoms and “suck it up” – which is a good thing. But there’s something really screwed up with our gender roles here, and – like the archaic expectation in days of yore that women should keep to the kitchen, barefoot and perpetually pregnant – men are getting the short end of the stick on this one. Something much deeper than government policy is needed to correct this inequity.)
You Mean, the Insurance Company Isn’t My Slave?
Combine all of these provisions together – guaranteed issue, community rating, the pre-existing condition clause – and you’ve got a tidal wave (sploosh!) of unintended consequences headed our way. People will just wait until they’re sick to buy insurance. They’re charged the same rate regardless of what they do (with few exceptions) and the insurance company has to cover them no matter what. Sure, you’re “lawfully” obliged to fork over $2,000 worth of penalty fees if you don’t shell out the mullah to buy a government-approved insurance package – say, because you can’t afford it or, as a 21 year-old who ate all his fruits and veggies as a kid, you feel like Superman, and don’t think you’ll die without it. But, in most cases, a $10,000 premium is even worse. A feasible business model for an insurance company is one where a large batch of healthy people are contributing to the pool of resources, through their premiums, which the insurer then draws out of to make pay-outs to sick clients. In comparison to somebody who bruises himself up in a skiing accident or somebody who comes down with a grave illness, healthy people don’t need a lot of fixer-uppers, prescribed medicines, or procedures done, so their share of the pie (narm, narm, narm) is in excess of what they need to actually pay their medical bills. But if the unfortunate should happen, they’re going to have to consume a disproportionate amount of coverage compared to other people. There’s no point to buying insurance if, when disaster strikes, you simply get back the money you paid in. That’s what a savings account or a safe is for. Can you say pointless?
“We’ll Have to Pass the Bill, So You Can Find Out What’s In It…”
Did I forget to mention that ObamaCare is a jobs killer? (Cue the scary music.) Wherever Democrats or Republicans stand on the nuts and bolts of this laundry-list of proposed “fixes” to our health care problems, they should – at the very least – be fighting the employer mandate tooth and nail. In this period of harsh economic malaise – with staggeringly high unemployment, low productivity, and dismal growth rates – there should be no excuse for piling businessowners with profit-draining regulations that price people out of the job market, especially when many firms and companies are cash-strapped as it is. Under the new law, ready to take effect in just another couple of years here, every employer with 50 or more employees – which is not exactly my idea of a titan industrialist or Wall Street financier sitting on a balcony, popping grapes in his mouth, while corpses line the sidewalk – must provide their workers with insurance benefits that fall under government guidelines (which, in many cases, rules out lower-cost alternatives that would save businesses money). While it sounds perfectly harmless on the surface, every cent of that benefit comes from scarce funds that cannot be used for other purposes. Your paycheck might be trimmed. The boss may start putting layoff notices on the desks of your co-workers – maybe even you. He might take down that “Help Wanted” sign. He might jack up prices. He might say “exnay” to that new building or office he was planning to put up, or that research project that would have opened up windows of opportunity for the organization as a whole, or that new line of products whose sales could have potentially brought shareholders riches beyond their wildest dreams. He might ship jobs overseas. Hell, he may even close up shop, and everybody – including the higher-ups in management – would be out of work. That’s the last thing we need in this stagnant economy. (That, and more stand-up routines from Dave Cook.)
Need another reason to take it to the streets and work to defeat this bureaucratic and intrusive piece of legislation? Feast your eyes on the rising premiums reported in your local newspaper – possibly even in the envelopes you’ve received from your insurance commissioner. During this past year alone, rates have jumped up a whopping 9 percent. And under this bill, they’re expected to climb an average of 7.9 percent annually. Employers are dropping insurance coverage for millions for workers. But isn’t this against the law? (Not that it should be! Freedom of association, private property, economic liberty, and all that.) Mmhm. But the penalties for refusing to obey the State’s edicts are less burdensome on a businessowner’s pocketbook than the actual premiums. They’re backed into a corner and can’t afford it anymore. Why not just dump their workers on Medicaid or state-run insurance exchanges? And even for workers who get to keep their policy, insurance models are becoming less and less comprehensive.
Even if ObamaCare was constitutional – which it isn’t – we’d still have every reason to light a match, set it on fire, and watch the whole thing burst into flames.