This is what I have heard over and over and over again from so many people as justification for their support of (if not all out fawning love for) the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka, “Obamacare.” They argue this point with passion and vigor. They are emotionally invested in this analogy because, on the surface, it sounds like an identical situation.
That’s one of the main problems with the average American citizen today — the lack of ability to delve below the surface and question the underpinnings. Many will accept what has been cut up into easily digested sound bites as absolute fact. News sources have to package the news in these small nuggets, devoid of depth in favor of a sexy headline or a bottom-of-the-screen crawl that fits in a Twitterish 140 characters or less.
Let’s take a bit of direction from one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. When asked about his position on skepticism, he said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
Since reason is one of the primary ingredients here, let us scratch below the surface of this specious assertion that being forced by the federal government to buy healthcare insurance is the same thing as having to buy automobile insurance.
First, there is NO law mandating that everyone must own car insurance. Look it up. In all 50 states in this great nation, there is no law, statute, ordinance or ruling that says, as a citizen of the United States of America, you must buy car insurance.
This is when the cradle-to-gravers interject, of course, if you don’t own a car, you don’t have to buy insurance. But the moment you buy a car, the state mandates insurance.
Onto point two!
Second, even if you own one or more vehicles, there is still NO law mandating the purchase of insurance. You can buy 100 vehicles today and you will not have to show anyone your proof of insurance — unless you plan to drive those cars home on the public roads. You can have those vehicles delivered to your home and drive them back and forth in your driveway all day long and not a single police officer can cite you. Moreover, if you own a ranch or a farm or just have a larger piece of private property, you can drive those vehicles all over your property and never be in danger of being ticketed for lack of insurance. In fact, you could have thousands of square miles of land and make your own racetrack and drive as much as you want and never once pick up the phone to purchase auto insurance and the state cannot do a thing about it.
You can see the furrows now in the brows of the zealots. Then they say, that’s an extreme example! Everyone has to drive on the roads.
Well…not “everyone.” Let’s delve further into this observation. We have taken the sum of the population of the United States and backed out anyone who does not own a vehicle or anyone who does not drive on the public roadways. We have effectively demonstrated that the comparison of health insurance to auto insurance cannot hold water by simply showing auto coverage does NOT apply to everyone. But, let’s continue to play the game to its final conclusion.
This is where we need to remind everyone that there is no right to drive. It is a privilege. Should you receive too many infractions or break the laws of our land, you will lose that privilege. There is a relationship — a tacit agreement — between the state and the private citizen in order to use the public roadways . The citizen agrees to enter into this relationship of their own accord and agrees to adhere to the confines established by the state. Obeying traffic laws is one of these confines. Purchasing automobile insurance is another.
A ha! I hear the audience shout. See? The government can force you to buy insurance!
The failure of most citizens to understand the meaning of words astounds me (and will likely be the subject of a separate blog). Does it take a college education to understand the difference between a citizen who enters into an agreement ‘of their own accord’ and a citizen being forced against their will? Do we honestly need to break out Webster’s?
More importantly, when you enter into this agreement, what are you actually buying and why? To answer the former, you are asked to buy liability insurance. Nothing more. As to the latter, you are being told to buy liability insurance because of the possibility that you will inflict harm on someone else. There’s a distinction worth repeating. You agree to buy liability insurance in the event you hurt a fellow citizen. So, in actuality, the product you are purchasing, at it’s core, is not intended for you. The state, in an effort to protect its citizens, wants to ensure you can provide adequate financial compensation in the event you harm, either accidentally or willfully, another person. Again, it’s not for you, the policy holder, but to protect someone else.
With that being said, how can this be applied to government mandated health insurance, a product that is meant, at it’s core, just for you? We have shown that the privilege to drive on the public roads is granted via an agreement to purchase liability insurance and follow the rules of the road. So, what privilege are you gaining by entering into an agreement with the state when they deign the need for health insurance? Diane Auer Jones, columnist for The Chornicle of Higher Education ponders, “…the mandatory health insurance proposal would essentially require that, in exchange for the privilege of … citizenship? Residency in the U.S.? Life? … one must procure health insurance for herself and her family. Can pedestrians ‘opt out’ of mandatory health-insurance coverage…?” Are we really supposed to believe that we must enter into an agreement with the state, predicated on a requirement to purchase health insurance, in exchange for citizenship, residency, or life?
A reasoned and logical understanding of these two very different scenarios reveals the inherent and tragic flaw in trying to use one to define and justify the other. At face value, it sounds like a solid argument. In reality, it is no more useful than a screen door on a submarine. Sure, it’s a door and can be closed and, on the surface, acts like any other door…but when you delve just below the surface, it’s easy to understand that it will not hold water, any more than the car insurance argument can, when applied to mandatory health insurance.