FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Dignity and self-interest
Rest assured, there will eventually be some happy ObamaCare customers. It’s comical, and highly significant, that the media can’t seem to find any after ten days of diligent searching, but they’ll be along eventually. It’s just about mathematically impossible to throw a trillion bucks around, and redistribute a trillion more, without someone on the candy end of the lollipop declaring themselves extremely satisfied with the results. When a photo op’s worth of happy campers have been assembled, they’ll become national media celebrities. At the very least, they’re going to get a lot of pictures taken with the President and his top officials.
Meanwhile, the unhappy campers are trundling their Winnebagos of sorrow to the few media outlets willing to listen to them. Tales of canceled coverage and immense premium hikes are coming in from across the land. No doubt these people will be dismissed as selfish. Why should they complain about paying an extra two or three hundred dollars a month – or, in some of the worst cases I’ve heard about, closer to a thousand dollars a month! – if it means the deserving and needy ranks of Uninsured-Americans will finally have affordable coverage? There are, like, fifty million of them, ya know. That’s why Barack Obama used a few hundred million dollars of our money to design a computer system that can only handle 50,000 users at at time.
Well, okay, maybe the Administration always knew the numbers it threw around during its propaganda campaigns were ridiculous, and scaled the system to handle the more realistic numbers Barack Obama’s critics have always presented. The actual number of hardcore uninsured is perhaps 20 percent of the number Democrats like to throw around, and that tracks fairly well with the actual, and quite modest, traffic load that was somehow able to completely crash the most expensive Web launch in human history. The fact remains that some people who used to have trouble purchasing insurance will now be able to do so. Many of the people paying higher premiums will receive welfare payments, in the form of tax credits, to offset some of the cost. Aren’t the benefits worth the cost?
Funny how they didn’t ask us that question before they stuffed ObamaCare down our gullets, isn’t it? It was supposed to be all benefit, with virtually zero cost. In fact, the con artists who designed the program used to pretend it would save America money. And of course, Barack Obama is famous for his often-repeated promises that everyone’s premiums would go down – he claimed the average person would save over $2,000 per year – while nobody would be taking anyone’s favored health care plan away, period.
It turns out there were three periods after those Obama statements, and after the “to be continued” ellipsis comes the horrifying truth that a lot of people are getting rooked, big time. ObamaCare mandates are crushing insurance plans left and right. The new Administration-approved replacement plan costs a lot more for the same benefits, and often includes benefits “customers” are not really interested in. (There is too much raw compulsive power in this scheme to call anyone in America a “customer” of the insurance industry without using ironic quotes. Actual customers in a free-market capitalist environment don’t get fined out the wazoo for failing to make a purchase when they go shopping, and their “choices” are not limited to a few overpriced goods designed by bureaucrats.)
We’ll hear accusations that those who object to paying these higher premiums are selfish, especially if they make enough money to miss out on the great new middle-class welfare payments. But the same partisans will, without skipping a beat, inform us that ObamaCare is wonderful based on the testimony of people who benefit from it. Wait… aren’t those people selfish, too? Aren’t they even more selfish, because they support a system that is deliberately penalizing those who were satisfied with the insurance products they voluntarily purchased in the freer America that existed before ObamaCare? They’re using government force to pick the pockets of folks who were paying thousands of dollars less before the Affordable Care Act came along, and made things dramatically less affordable for them.
Furthermore, even using President Obama’s inflated propaganda numbers, the beneficiaries of this system are far outnumbered by the people who will pay extra to carry the freight. A lot of those people began paying higher premiums for employer-provided plans before the official launch of the public exchanges. Employers also absorbed higher costs… or sometimes decided not to absorb them, resulting in canceled coverage, fewer work hours, and lost jobs. I guess all those people were selfish, too, and curse you teabagging Republican extremists for asking if the overall cost to society outweighs the net benefit of the program!
We hear this kind of talk all the time from the Left. Those who resist a proposed tax increase are invariably described as selfish for wanting to keep their own money… but people who desire greater government benefits are never described that way, not even when they vote explicitly on the premise that their favorite candidate will cut them a bigger slice of taxpayer bacon. The industry leader who complains about high corporate taxes and crushing regulatory burdens? He’s just a self-centered fat cat, out to screw the little guy… unlike the Solyndra executive who lined his wallet with taxpayer dollars and slipped away into the shadows, leaving behind an empty factory filled with singing robots and toxic waste.
Politicians who want to make the government larger are never accused of acting in a selfish manner, even though they directly benefit from the policies they advocate, sometimes to a degree that warrants investigation by law enforcement. A politician who wants to make the government smaller, however, is never given a shred of credit for acting against his or her self-interest.
Socialist power is driven by the arbitration of self-interest – the ability to declare some people needy and deserving, while others are condemned as callous and greedy. The socialist purifies self-interest by laundering it through the State. You’re only truly entitled to what the State is prepared to give. Everything you earn through your own hard work and ingenuity is negotiable. By asking the State to secure our benefits, we purify self-interest into “cooperation” and “sharing.”
In truth, it is impossible to fully recognize the dignity of any human being without respecting their interests. We all have them. We all want enough for ourselves and our families. We all want more than enough. Telling someone that his personal interests are illegitimate is an insult to his dignity – an assertion that he doesn’t really know what’s good for him, or doesn’t fully understand the consequences of his ambition. Compulsive force is then deployed to adjust the child-citizen’s expectations and curb his appetites.
It’s ludicrous to pretend that some people are devoid of self-interest, and insulting to assert that they have no right to express or pursue interests on their own, without the approval of the Ruling Class. A society built on such assumptions goes mad from cognitive dissonance. It’s not easy to pretend that the people who demand benefits, no matter the cost to their fellow citizens, are not greedy or selfish. But we’ll be treated to another extravagant performance of this pretense when satisfied ObamaCare beneficiaries are lined up for our applause, while those displeased by their doubled and tripled premiums are told to shut up. Dignity is the constant sacrifice demanded by socialism.