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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Issue is Nothing Less Than Slavery

The central problem that Kid Various has with Obamacare is not its cost (although it is indeed debilitating) or the fact that it will displace his current mode of insurance (it will, The Kid has a health savings account married to a high deductible plan, which means it's insurance - not a way for him to get someone else to pay his doctor bills. And such arrangements are banned under the House bill.)

No, the problem is that by becoming the main health care provider/regulator the federal government fundamentally redefines the concept of what it means to be a free citizen.

You'll be given money to pay for it: Since premiums will be such a burden, families making up to $96,000 will get federal subsidies. By squashing lower-cost high-deductible plans, Congress makes insurance expensive. Then it spares you with someone else's money. You should be grateful.

That is the problem: The poor and old aside, most of us now buy our own coverage or earn it through an employer. The new normal will be health care as a gift from government.

What can be given can be taken away. Are you eating right? Exercising? You're not still drinking, are you? Authorities merely nag us now. When we owe them our health care, they can start demanding.

Do not imagine they will hesitate to use this power. The House puts the Internal Revenue Service and all its compassionate flexibility in charge of enforcing the insurance mandate. If you don't buy, there will be penalties. Those penalties can include the slammer, Congress itself points out.

They'll go further. At 1,990 pages, the bill has room for dreams of utopia, and so health care reform demands affirmative action in nursing schools (page 1379), calorie lists on menus (page 1510) and inspections (voluntary, for now) of expectant parents (page 1176). These are not, even now, the restrained ambitions of a modest government.

They are signals of a new relationship. When we all are on the take, voluntarily or not, we are no longer exactly free citizens. We are, in part, dependents. And as dependents are customarily told by Dad, "If you live in my house, you live by my rules."

We have been fighting a rearguard action against losing our basic freedoms for some 70 years. Ironically, we may triumph in our fight for freedom abroad, only to become slaves at home.


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