Thursday, December 26, 2013

ObamaCare Legitimacy and Coercion Problems

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction us the first and lonely legitimate object of good government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

The Obama administration has a problem.  Americans are unhappy with its governance.  Only 30% think the country is headed in the right direction, and only 38% approve of the health care law.  Their main gripes with the health law are denial of personal choice, distrust of big government's competence, and difficulties and frustrations of signing up for health exchange plans.
Government  distrust focuses on competence  - the fiasco – and coercion - the use and abuse of “mandates”  to force people to buy something they do not want – unaffordable and expensive  health exchange plans  containing  benefits they do not want to subsidize others.

The rollout fiasco highlights the competence problem.   

How could the government be so incompetent as to  launch an untested website that is so hard to use?  

And how could government be so unfair that it would impose penalties on people who were unable to sign on because of the botched website?  

And what those millions of cancelled policies?  

And what of those unaffordable premiums and soaring deductibles  for the unsubsidized and those promises you could keep your doctor and your health plan?

And those “mandates”?  That’s another kettle of foul smelling fish.  \

How can you force people to buy policies containing benefits they do not want, do not need,  and will never use in order to subsidize other people.  The Obama administration has not sold people that they must participate in the exchanges for collective action for the common good.

As David Brooks wrote in his December 23 NYT column:

“It is pretty clear that the implementation of ObamaCare will set the tone of how Americans think about government for years to come.   There are two large questions to be settled, which you might call competence and coercion?"

In America, with the penchant of its people for individual choice, and given these overt displays of incompetence and mandates imposed from above,  how can you coerce people to do what they don’t want to do,  in the short-term as well as the long-term? 

The Obama administration has responded by backing and filling holes in the law, by loosening, delaying, and suspending objectionable provisions.  And now it has granted “hardship exemptions” to those who cannot even afford bronze health plans,  the cheapest of them all.  Thanks to the Internet, people are used to  personal  and decentralized choices. 

When will the exemptions never end?  When will  people consider the penalties for not signing up be considered legitimate?  Maybe never.  As David Brooks so trenchantly says, “Government lacks the legitimacy to coerce.”

Tweet:   Because of incompetent rollout of and unpopularity of coerced “mandates,” implementation of ObamaCare will be difficult.

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