Tag Archives: limited government

The Insurance Mandate. What’s your paradigm?

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I had a debate with a friend of mine about the insurance mandate. He professes to be a limited government guy that supported Reagan, yet he recently voted Democrat twice, is a proud union employee of the state, and supports socialized medicine. You know—a traitor. (I am kidding; he is a friend, just a misguided one from where I sit.) Needless to say, he and I don’t agree on much these days politically.

My work history includes years in the insurance business, so I have to say that the argument for the health insurance mandate makes mathematical sense—sort of. We pay at an early age into insurance we will rarely use while we’re young and healthy, so that later in life when we start to need it more, that money is there waiting for us. Think of it as health savings and insurance.health_benes_claim_form1[1]

By doing so, we increase the insurance company’s revenue now—and thus reduce their losses which results in lower rates for everyone later. In an odd sort of way, it’s the same as the argument that lowering taxes increases revenue because the economy grows; it’s just that the cause and effect are swapped.

But the argument is only logical because it is based on an assumption I cannot agree with—the assumption that everyone has a right to health care. If we as a country feel that people have a basic right to health care, then the insurance mandate is necessary and mathematically sound.

I however, am quite annoyed with the idea that health care is a substance like air and water, that we should all have access to. I instead know that health care is a service provided by people who spent a lot of time and money in order to earn a living. And, you don’t have a right to that service if you cannot pay for it.

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The United States Constitution

Our Constitution gives you the right to life, not the right to health care. A right to the life that genetics, nature, and dumb luck provides you.

Health care is a service that can extend that life, provided by professionals that offer that service, in order to earn a living. If you want a better and longer life, you have to pay them for it. Otherwise, when your time comes, that’s your time to go. It may seem heartless, but the circle of life is that all living things feed off of other living things and then eventually die themselves. Nothing gets out alive.

Let’s imagine a scenario where lives aren’t on the line for a minute. Your car breaks down, and you really need your car to get to work. So you take it to the mechanic. They advise you that you need a $500 repair, but you don’t have that kind of cash. Do you get to demand they help you and you’ll pay them later if you can?Auto_Repair-generic[1]

Well, doctors are ultimately mechanics for humans. If they are willing to help for free, for a lesser fee than they’d charge medicare (Which is currently prohibited by law, believe it or not), or for a promise to pay in the future, then that’s great. Otherwise, the person needing care needs to find another doctor or accept the consequences of the life they chose and/or the bad fortune that befell them.

We have been taught that caring for others is just the right thing to do, and I agree, entirely. But, I don’t believe that doctors are heartless people who would never help anyone, and history shows this to be true. While some patient-dumping was common practice, it certainly wasn’t a unilateral action. Remember that many of them joined that profession because they love helping people.

But all free people should have the right to choose who we wish to help, who we can afford to help, and who doesn’t deserve our help. And the chronic meth head, alcoholic, and serial moocher are not on my list of acceptable benefactors.drug-overdose[1]

Socialized medicine proponents often paint the picture that everyone who needs health care and can’t afford it are victims of society. But this is a false argument. Often, society is a victim of them, since we’re forced to pay for their care through higher prices, benefit fraud, and tax subsidies.

I think we all know people who can’t keep a good job because they drink too much, abuse their body, voluntarily miss work, don’t apply to begin with, and aren’t motivated to be successful—the type of people who work the hardest at how to afford work.

So then the abuse on their body catches up with them, and because they don’t have a job, they don’t have insurance. Now they need care because of their life choices, and they can’t afford that help. They are responsible for the life they’ve led, and they either need to find a way out of their troubles, or they will die as a martyred good example for others to not to be like them. Yet, under our current system, the rest of us become financially liable for them.

I’ve had a few people like this in my life because I don’t always hang out in the ritziest circles. I like some of these people dearly, but I also know that they are their own worst enemy, and the idea that society should take care of them is nonsense.

There is a phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect which says that the more safety you provide someone, the more risky behavior they will engage in. If you’ve seen someone driving like an idiot in the snow because they have a 4wd, you’ve seen the Peltzman Effect in action. If we want everyone to be self sufficient, we need to stop allowing people to so easily be dependent on others.

I believe that the only way to truly reduce health care expenses is to take away that safety net of guaranteed health care, take away government regulations that hinder competition, give doctors rights to work for a reduced rate if they choose to help the poor, introduce loser pays legislation and other legal reforms, and generally get the government out of the way of the health and insurance industry, letting the free market do what it does best; drive down costs.

The Beetle is Dead and Government Killed It

Any time new technology comes out, it is expensive. Completely new machines are often the folly of the affluent; the masses won’t get to enjoy them until decades later. ENIAC, the world’s first computer was debuted in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1981 that IBM brought us the PC and made the computer something we all could enjoy.

ENIAC
ENIAC

Cell phones were clunky boxes that only successful businessmen carried, and they were far too expensive for the proletariat to buy until science and the free market cut them down to size; both physically and financially.

So let’s talk about cars. 100+ years ago, the price of a car was significantly greater than the price of a horse. Plus, if you wanted a new car, you had to buy one. If you wanted a new horse, all you had to do was get your male horse together with a female horse, throw a little Barry White on the record player, and voilà! A new horse emerges months later, free of charge.

Cars were initially met with skepticism, disdain, and envy because they were loud, unreliable, and expensive. Here’s the thing though, horses have a relatively slow top speed, and even giving them the Lance Armstrong treatment isn’t going to get them up to a point where they can do 60+ mph for hours on end. So the value in cars is unmistakable. Although the technology was new, the dreamers saw that cars were the future and got to work building them, even if at the time, only the top 1% need apply.

Fast forward to the 30’s. Adolf Hitler was certainly a murderous %$@#$, but even violent psychopaths on occasion display some sort of twisted goodness, and this was his. He felt that cars shouldn’t just be for the rich and Ferdinand Porsche was commissioned to build the “people’s car” (Volkswagen) for the average Joe to buy, and the 911’s not-so-hot older sister was born.beetle

The history of the Beetle is legendary. But let’s look at what it was—a cheap car. It looked good, had character, four wheels, an engine, and occasionally brakes. That was pretty much it. The car sold millions around the world, not because it was fast, had all the options, or was an exclusive ride, but because it was affordable.

A drivetrain, wheels, seat, and steering wheel wrapped in a steel overcoat, by itself, has tremendous value to anyone needing to get from points A to B. All the other options that have been added through the years add value, but they also add price which some people simply can’t afford.

A bare bones car appeals to two types of people. Those of us who are broke but need to go to work, and those of us who race and consider Colin Chapman’s “Weight is evil” philosophy to be that which was handed down from the gods. People who are broke and people who like to race aren’t a small demographic. We’re out there, and we’re in the millions. We want a cheap, bare bones, nothing is there that doesn’t need to be, kind of car.

Colin Chapman's Brainchild, the Lotus Seven
Colin Chapman’s Brainchild, the Lotus Seven

So what am I whining about? The same thing everyone whines about; our well-meaning, yet ever meddling and oppressive government of course!

Any car you buy in America must be equipped with OBD2, air bags, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring systems, seat belts, windshields, achieve a certain MPG, meet government specified crash standards, and a whole host of other requirements our governmental overlords have legislated.

All of these gizmos and gadgets add two things; weight and cost. They have one thing in common as well; they’re not uniquely necessary on an automobile. So the ability to buy a modern-day Beetle is dead, and government killed it.

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United States Constitution

Our constitution was designed so that “we the people” would always be free to make our own decisions by limiting the powers of government to infringe upon our rights. So how does forcing me to buy an air bag that I can then legally turn off do an ounce of good? Riddle me that Batman!

A free market should allow us to buy whatever we want as long as we aren’t harming someone else by using that product, but none of these safety features actually accomplishes that goal. Instead they merely serve to infringe upon our rights to make decisions about how safe we choose to live our lives. As a libertarian, that infuriates me. That is not, nor was ever, the role of our government as laid out by our founding fathers.

I’m not one of those libertarians who float conspiracies like air biscuits; freely and aromatically-challenged. I truly believe that our politicians mean well. But let me give you an analogy. If we were going full-blown Bear Grylls in the wilderness, no cell phones, transportation, or means of getting help, and you fell and impaled your brain with something, it would be obvious you need emergency surgery. So armed with my hunting knife, I go to work. I’m no Dr. House however, so what is going to happen? You’re going to die; that’s what.

Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House M.D.
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House M.D.

Were my intentions evil in performing surgery on you? Of course not, I was trying to save your life! So why did you die? Because while my intentions were good, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

This is our government in a nutshell. They do their best to protect us from harm, but many of them have never worked in the auto industry and know little about it. So they make decisions every day without having the slightest comprehension of the ramifications of them.

In a proper free market society where our government does what it is supposed to do, what would happen is that government would insist we the people had information. We don’t need cars that meet certain crash standards, we only need to know what crash standards a car meets, and then we can make our decision as an informed consumer.

Ariel Atom
Ariel Atom

It is time we the people tell our government that we choose what we want and you don’t get to dictate that to us. If I want to buy an Ariel Atom and drive it to work every day, then I shouldn’t have to buy it with “some assembly required.” Give me the information I need to be an informed consumer, and then get the hell out of my way.