FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
ObamaCare will survive by suppressing dissent, not satisfying customers
It’s been interesting to watch the unlucky souls who managed to navigate the Glitch Forest, cross the 404 Wasteland, evade the Bugs of Unusual Size, and finally access HealthCare.gov recoil in shock from their sky-high premiums. They had no idea how expensive “free health care” would turn out to be. More to the point, these people didn’t realize they would be paying the freight, even though ObamaCare critics have been warning them about it since the beginning. They believed Obama’s lies about reduced premiums, and now their hearts are stopping when they realize they’ve been had.
Conservatives should use this as a “teachable moment” to explain some cold, hard truths about redistribution. Socialists always gain ground by convincing their marks that faceless super-rich people will pay for everything. Sometimes it even begins that way, but it never lasts for long. ObamaCare is the most massive redistribution scheme ever inflicted on a nominally free country. It’s far too large to have begun with the traditional year or two of “millionaires” getting soaked to pay for “benefits” they won’t use.
But I wouldn’t take too much encouragement from the ObamaCare horror stories. It’s a mistake to view this program as though it were a private-sector entity. The commissars of ObamaCare don’t care about unhappy “customers.” There is no competition here. The disgruntled have nowhere to go. You can’t even refuse to do business with Obama’s lousy insurance racket, not without paying a stiff fine – the size of which is also coming as an eye-popping shock to the Low Information Voters, who never quite understood what “individual mandate” meant until now.
The Left loves to appropriate free-market language to conceal the exercise of coercive power, but conservatives should know enough to see past that smokescreen. It’s not going to matter that a large number of people hate ObamaCare. Quivering lips and eyes filling with tears at the thought of a heartless betrayal by the phony they voted for will not make a difference in the long run. Neither will anger over the horribly botched launch of the ObamaCare system. That sort of thing is fatal to private-sector product launches, not statist takeovers of the economy.
President Obama has often compared the launch of his health-care scheme to the rollout of a new iPhone. Among the many other important differences, Apple executives cannot barricade national monuments, throw people out of their homes, and take down the Amber Alert website if people express reluctance to pay for their products. Nor can they count on the entire population being legally compelled to buy an iPhone.
From here on out, ObamaCare – like all Big Government programs – survives not by increasing “customer” satisfaction, but by suppressing dissent. It is not necessary for everyone, or even a majority of the people, to support a program. It is only necessary for dissidents to feel isolated and subdued. All that happy liberal rhetoric about having the “courage to embrace change” dries up in a hurry when the change in question involves making the government smaller.
Every large-scale redistribution program is going to produce some happy beneficiaries. Week One was a brutal tidal wave of errors that left some states with virtually no successful ObamaCare applicants – even today, there are reports of only a few hundred in Maryland, adjacent to the hub of centralized power in Washington DC – but eventually there will be enough happy people with stories of reduced health care costs to fill a photo-op stage. They will be dutifully lined up, ideally before any of them get socked with co-payments that reduce them to shivering wrecks. It’s almost impossible to redistribute a trillion dollars without producing some “success stories,” as I keep telling Congress when pushing for the introduction of my Everyone Give Me a Dollar Act. It would make me fantastically happy, while imposing a laughably modest burden on everyone else, so I don’t understand why I can’t get any congressional sponsors.
So the name of the game will be keeping the unhappy from organizing in sufficient numbers to overturn ObamaCare. The playing field is heavily slanted against the unhappy, and contrary to the hopes of some conservatives, it’s probably not going to get much better. Soon we’ll be hearing about what a shameful waste it would be, if all the money already pumped into ObamaCare went for nothing. And you greedy swine complaining about your doubled and tripled premiums… well, you just want poor people to die so you can line your pockets with the monetized dust of their corpses. Believe me, that sort of argument will suppress the dissent of quite a few of today’s ObamaCare sticker shock victims. They’ll feel kinda bad about complaining, and tell themselves maybe it’s a worthy sacrifice to help Obama’s designated “winners” in this rigged game.
All ties are broken in favor of Big Government. A program half the country hates isn’t necessarily going anywhere. Democrats are the Party of Despair, and they’re very good at convincing people the cradle-to-grave State is the only thing standing between their hapless selves and utter ruin. And since health care has been removed from the sphere of individual free-market liberty, it will now become one of thousands of subjects people vote on in 2014 and 2016. The State has many tools for suppressing dissent – it’s not always a brutish matter of muzzling and threatening dissidents. Sometimes it’s just a question of giving them other things to think about, or using the ever-expanding power of the State to change their attitudes. ObamaCare will add powerful new social engineering equipment to the Left’s toolbox, which was already overstuffed with hardware.
Thirty years ago, a “right-wing extremist” was someone who thought people should be allowed to keep their own money. Now it’s someone who thinks people should be allowed to make their own health-care decisions. A few years from now, the “right-wing extremists” might be people who think we should have a legislative branch. If you love liberty, today is the right time to fight ObamaCare. You really don’t want to know what transformed Americans in the years ahead will be willing to settle for. And that’s all the statist needs: a little bit of reliable support, surrounded by a sea of diminished Americans who have learned to be satisfied with less, rolled forward by four trillion dollars’ worth of Big Government momentum.