Thursday, April 3, 2014

Who is Really Being "Stripped" Under ObamaCare?

Statists have always depended on a scenario that goes something like this: Institute some welfare state program, allow a constituency that benefits from that program to become entrenched, and then smear any opponent of the program for "heartlessly" wanting to "take away" those benefits.

Predictably, one ObamaCare supporter, Dylan Scott,  posted on TPM DC that Conservatives Have A New Scheme To Strip People Of Obamacare Coverage.

Scott discusses Arkansas Republicans' efforts to block funding for Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare in the state. The legislature had previously accepted the funding, allowing 85,000 "poor" Arkansas residents to sign up for subsidized health insurance. Now, says Scott, they may lose the subsidies, which in his mind equates to insurance being taken away.

Of course, something one does not legitimately own cannot be taken away. In a comments thread in which I believe I was the only one to take issue with Scott's view, I left these comments:

The people being "stripped" are taxpayers of their earnings that fund the Medicaid handouts. That is the truth, rather than the dishonest headline of this article. Those who wave the "compassion" flag because they support this legalized theft are also dishonest. Of course, the ObamaCare sign-ups were priced out of the health insurance market by government policies to begin with—tax discrimination against individuals, mandated benefits, and interstate trade barriers top the list. The article makes no mention of that, and any discussion of ObamaCare that doesn't take into account prior interventionist government policies is also dishonest. In actuality, all of the problems ObamaCare was allegedly created to fix were caused by government, and ObamaCare just doubles down on those policies. The logical and moral course is to repeal ObamaCare and phase out those policies, and restore Americans' rights to make their own healthcare and monetary decisions in voluntary contract with providers. Putting Americans at the mercy of law-making, i.e., gun-wielding, government officials is cruel, impractical, and immoral. We need more live-and-let-live, and less force.

The vast majority of the comments were hollow hit-and-run smears with no substance, and I expected the same kinds of responses to my comments. Nonetheless, I got some potshots worth responding to. Below are corespondents' replies (italicized) to my comments followed by my answers (in blue):

"And I guess you feel that women's reproductive decisions should be restored in Arkansas also?"

I'm not familiar with Arkansas abortion law. But, for the record, I fully support abortion rights, and I oppose arbitrary legal restrictions.

"You do realize that Arkansans will be paying the taxes regardless of whether they get the benefits, right?"

The point is, no one should be paying taxes for "benefits"—whether their own or others'. People should keep their money and pay for their own [healthcare]. 

"[Y]ou're already paying for health care for these folks. You're just doing it out of a different ledger line on the tax account -- the one that pays for emergency services, which is the most expensive and least efficient form of care. Paying for Medicaid is cheaper. Backing Medicaid expansion is backing lower costs and greater efficiency. And don't we want to run government like a business?"

Yes, but neither is moral. It's not a question of the most "efficient" way to force some people to pay others' expenses. It's a question of, is it right? Unless you believe that government officials should not be bound by the same laws against theft that private citizens must abide, the answer is, no.

The comment about government being run like a business is a straw man. By its very nature, government can not be run like a business. Government is force. Business is voluntarism. The proper relation between government and business is for government to leave business (and everyone else) free to act, and using its legal monopoly on physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate force against others.

"[sarcastically] The moral thing is to simply let poor people die."

There was never a time in America, before the welfare state, when poor people were "left to die," because charity was plentiful for the few people who really needed it. It's not immoral to help another. What's immoral is for our own government to seize the earnings of people who work their way above poverty for the unearned benefit of those who didn't (or won't), and deny them the right to spend their own money as they see fit—including deciding for themselves, based on their own values and personal circumstances, who, when, and in what capacity to offer charity. 

[I'll have more to say on this tomorrow

"How do people that call taxes "legalized theft" think we should pay for the military, roads, public safety, clean air and water, etc?"

I did not "call taxes 'legalized theft'." I said taxing some for the unearned benefit of others is legalized theft. There is no essential difference between a private individual pulling armed holdups and a politician voting to redistribute wealth, except that the politician is doing it under cover of law and he (and his supporters) dishonestly rationalizes it as "charity" or the "public good." In this regard, forced redistribution is a moral notch below the private holdup man, because the "public servants" of government who are supposed to protect us from private criminals are becoming the criminal.

The issue of taxing for government services like the military and roads is not theft per se. The issue there is the proper role of government and the proper means of financing it. That's a different subject and way off-topic.

Related Reading:

Cost of Healthcare: ObamaCare Supporters Drop the Context to Support Their Case

Before ObamaCare Fiasco: Problems Caused by Government

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