Politicians have a unique way of covering up the real intent of laws by attaching to them sweet sounding titles. There is no better example than the Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which is anything but affordable. While Obamacare may be more affordable to those with lower incomes who receive government subsidies, for many Americans that obtain insurance through the healthcare.gov portal, their insurance costs will increase over the previous year. In many cases this is due to the increased mandates (coverage) required under Obamacare that is not needed by many Americans.
Blog reader Liz forwarded an op-ed from the New York Times titled A Walk on The Wild Side by James Taranto posted in full below. It goes a long way in explaining how such a poorly planned law has been imposed on the American people. Key themes from Taranto include:
- “ObamaCare demonstrates the value of cynicism and the cost of its absence.”
- “Obama inveighs against cynicism in a cynical effort to manipulate the gullible, to make them feel good about their naiveté. That helps explain how he has maintained a base of support, albeit a shrinking one, as the disaster that is ObamaCare has unfolded.”
- “In his 1892 comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.””
The most disturbing part of Taranto’s op-ed is his correct conclusion that Obamacare redistributes wealth from younger to more affluent older Americans. Putting this burden on a generation already saddled with over $1 trillion of student debt is morally reprehensible.
Taranto concludes: “But the gullibility of the young is not generally so willful. Rather, it is the product of inexperience, and the “values” of the inexperienced are more apt to change on contact with reality. Perhaps we will find that a salutary effect of the Obama era has been to instill a healthy cynicism into the generation that gave him some 70% of its vote because it didn’t know better.” What a sad and expensive way to obtain one of life’s important experiences.
After sending in the op-ed, Liz rhetorically states: “I have been left utterly speechless. Is there no limit???” To that this Blog rhetorically responds “no”.
A Walk on the Wilde Side, JAMES TARANTO, December 5, 2013
ObamaCare demonstrates the value of cynicism and the cost of its absence.
One of Barack Obama’s most irritating rhetorical tropes is his oft-stated aversion to “cynicism.” It is vexing in substantial part because of its breathtaking and demagogic hypocrisy: Obama inveighs against cynicism in a cynical effort to manipulate the gullible, to make them feel good about their naiveté. That helps explain how he has maintained a base of support, albeit a shrinking one, as the disaster that is ObamaCare has unfolded.
In his 1892 comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” In an essay for The New Yorker’s website, Margaret Talbot reveals herself to be – or poses as – the opposite of Wilde’s cynic, at least when it comes to ObamaCare.
Talbot and her husband, a couple of writers, are especially hard-hit by ObamaCare. Even though she’s a staff writer at The New Yorker, they don’t have employer-provided coverage. At 52, she hasn’t yet aged into Medicare, and apparently neither has her husband, whose age she doesn’t specify. That means they buy insurance for themselves, along with their two children, in the individual marketplace.
You know what comes next: Their existing policy is “substandard,” not compliant with ObamaCare’s mandates. In particular, it lacks maternity care, which Talbot astutely notes is “not so useful” for a family whose only adult woman is a quinquagenarian, and vision care, which “we’d got used to not having.”
She got a cancellation notice in October from her insurer, CareFirst Blue Cross, and waited until this month to follow up on it. She phoned CareFirst and spent a total of 77 minutes on hold, plus an unspecified amount of time talking with three customer-service reps who were unable–whether as a matter of policy or because of incompetence she doesn’t know–to answer her questions.
That experience led her to the following conclusion: “The Affordable Care Act has not necessarily, at least not yet, made the workings of insurance companies any more transparent or accountable than they ever were.” That would seem to indicate a failure of what was billed as a “comprehensive reform” of health-insurance regulation. Talbot seems to perceive it dimly as such, but she is unwilling to face up to the conclusion, as she demonstrates with her equivocal language. (If we were her editor, we’d have cut the five words from “necessarily” through “yet.”)
But she doesn’t dwell on the point. Instead she gets on the website of the District of Columbia’s insurance exchange, which evidently is functional, to shop for plans. The cancellation notice is followed by sticker shock: “The only options for my family that had no deductible, as we currently had, would cost more than the $1,300 we paid currently per month, between about $200 and $800 more, depending on the plan, and would come with a higher limit to our out-of-pocket costs than we presently have–as high as $12,700.”
Talbot went to bed and “reported these figures to my husband.” They both went to sleep and spent the night dreaming “uneasy dreams.”
Now we come to the dramatic climax of the story, and it is remarkable. Talbot takes the laziest plot device known to man – “Suddenly, she woke up, and it was all just a dream” – and flips it on its head. Suddenly, she woke up, and it was all just reality.
Or, as she puts it: “And then, this morning, I remembered my values.”
She goes on to deliver a sanctimonious recitation of those “values.” Here’s a sample:
The new health-care law exists for the common good, not just the individual consumer. We are better off as a society – more compassionate, but also healthier – when we can all get the care we need.
So yes, I’ll subsidize someone else’s prenatal coverage. And I’ll remember to be relieved that my own access to health care is guaranteed. But they had better work out the problems with the A.C.A. [Affordable Care Act, the euphemism for ObamaCare]; if they don’t, and it doesn’t fulfill its promise of insuring the uninsured, I’m really going to feel like a chump.
Faced with the ugly reality of ObamaCare so far, Talbot redoubles her efforts to deny it. She implicitly promises to keep redoubling those efforts for as long as she can hold out, whereupon, if “they” are still failing to fulfill her expectations, she will “feel like a chump.” We’re sure that prospect keeps Obama and his men up nights.
Here is a classic example of how the cynical exploit the gullible – by appealing to notions of “value” ungrounded in reality. And on the cost side, consider the case of Erin McDonald, as reported by the Daily Caller:
The Department of Health and Human Services has crowned a YouTube video entitled “Forget About the Price Tag” as the grand prize winner in a contest meant to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare.
Without a hint of irony, McDonald sings her chorus: “Ain’t about the, uh, cha-ching cha-ching. Ain’t about the, yeah, bla-bling bla-bling. Affordable Care Act. Don’t worry ’bout the price tag.”
This is somehow supposed to persuade young, healthy adults to pay inflated premiums so as to subsidize old and sick people’s price-controlled policies.
ObamaCare is in large part a scheme for redistributing wealth from the young to the middle-aged. It’s a crazy and impracticable idea even if you don’t object to redistribution on moral grounds. Middle-aged Americans have much more wealth to begin with than young ones do. To a substantial extent, ObamaCare’s price controls are a tax on the poor to subsidize the rich.
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, reporting from Kentucky – a state with its own exchange that ObamaCare supporters have been touting as a great success – offers a prime example of the kind of fanciful thinking that goes into rationalizing this absurd scheme:
Audrey Haynes, secretary of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, offered figures suggesting how expanding health coverage can dent inequality. Among Kentucky’s uninsured, 61 percent have a high school education or less; only 7 percent are college graduates.
Now, we are prepared to believe – in fact, we’d be surprised if it turned out not to be the case – that there is a robust direct correlation between the propensity to be insured and one’s level of education. But Haynes and Dionne’s suggestion that the former causes the latter -that you can substantially increase college enrollment (and therefore “dent inequality”) by “giving” people health insurance – is bizarre.
We’d go so far as to say the converse – more education causes a greater propensity to be insured–is also a cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Our hypothesis would be that educational and insurance status are both effects, and that the main causal factor is a combination of intrinsic ability and motivation.
Then again, the experience of higher education may be the greatest cause to be hopeful for those who would like to see young people follow Erin McDonald’s advice and “forget about the price tag.” Heeding such advice, often unwittingly, is how the young and formerly young racked up over $1 trillion in student debt.
Yet whereas taking out a loan is a way of deferring cost, ObamaCare exacts its costs immediately and painfully. That may not be enough for Margaret Talbot, who shields herself from reality with “values” honed lovingly over decades. We doubt she’s ever “going to feel like a chump,” no matter how much worse ObamaCare gets. She’ll rationalize away reality by blaming it on Republican “sabotage” or corporate greed or racism or whatever. We wouldn’t be surprised if she writes a piece years from now arguing that ObamaCare didn’t fail – it was never tried.
But the gullibility of the young is not generally so willful. Rather, it is the product of inexperience, and the “values” of the inexperienced are more apt to change on contact with reality. Perhaps we will find that a salutary effect of the Obama era has been to instill a healthy cynicism into the generation that gave him some 70% of its vote because it didn’t know better.