In an earlier column on Obamacare, I predicted:
At the end of ObamaCare, “the excluded middle” won’t just be a logical fallacy you’ve heard of, it will be an apt description of the world you live in. The “individual mandate” will remain and the insurance companies will make bank on it. The “public option” will remain too — as a place for insurers to dump customers who aren’t profitable. All those “a free unicorn and ice cream for everyone at insurers’ expense” parts? Silly citizen … unicorns are for people who can afford lobbyists!
I’m surprised to find that, if anything, I under-estimated just how aggressive the insurance lobby would be in turning a really bad idea (“socialized” health care) into an even worse one (an ongoing transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the insurance companies a la the military-industrial complex’s long-time gaming of “defense”).
I expected the lobby to chip away at Obamacare little by little during and after its passage — a little tweak here, a major amendment there — and make it more and more their creature over time. Instead of moving the ball down the field three downs and one conversion at a time, however, they’re apparently running a Hail Mary with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) as quarterback.
Baucus’s new plan calls for the rules of the “individual mandate” — the requirement that everyone buy the insurance industry’s product on pain of fine or even imprisonment — to be set by a “private organization” composed of “public officials.”
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is a “private organization” only in the sense that it isn’t subject to silly inconveniences like holding open meetings or making the records of its proceedings available to the public. Its 56 members (the chief regulators of the insurance industry for each US state and territory plus the District of Columbia) are all government employees (sometimes, anyway — the revolving door between their government positions and lucrative sinecures with, um, insurance companies is almost always in motion).
The Baucus bill calls for the NAIC to work up a “model rule” for the “individual mandate” that would then become “the new federal minimum standard without any further congressional action.” Each state would be required to adopt the model, with changes permitted only by appeal to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
In other words, it’s a screw job. Congress gets to pretend that it’s giving a nod to “the market,” when in fact it is putting the market on a leash and then handing that leash to favored players and inviting them to walk the dog anywhere they’d like it to go. The blame for the dog’s eliminations in your yard or driveway, of course, will also be shifted: “Hey, we privatized the mandate. Don’t blame big government, blame big business.” And the same guys wearing ski masks and managing what amounts to a massive heist by night are, by day, the “public officials” charged with guarding the vault.
I often admonish my readers that they shouldn’t be surprised by this or that policy development, as all state actions can be reasonably expected to redound — more or less, sooner or later, but always and for certain — to the injury of the productive class and the benefit of the political class. I must confess even my cynical self astonished at the speed with which Obamacare is publicly exposing itself as just another in an endless progression of such brazen, orgiastic money grabs.
The point that ought to be stressed is that this is not a failing of just particular politicians, but of politics generally. We learn the proper lesson from this when we conclude not merely that politician X, Y or Z is terrible (although they surely are) and ought to be replaced, but that politics itself ought to be replaced. There is a word for people who draw that conclusion and evangelize it. That word is “anarchist”.