March 23, 2010
Danny Westneat Doesn't Think You Should have The Same Freedoms He Had

And the Seattle Times columnist is honest enough to admit that.  When he was younger, he chose, from time to time, not to have health insurance.

What if you just don't want to have health insurance?  Should you have the freedom to say no?

There were a couple times when I was younger that I risked it and went insurance-free.   I couldn't afford it.  I figured if I had a problem I could scrape up some money after the fact.  (Good thing I didn't come down with, say, cancer.)

But Westneat does not think we should have the same freedoms he had.

This mandate is one of the most sweeping ever, but in the details it's not all that onerous.  You'll have to declare you have health insurance on your IRS tax forms.  Your insurer may also file a statement to the IRS, much as financial companies file your year-end investment summaries.

(Actually there are a few more restrictions on our freedoms in the bill.)

Let me commend Westneat for admitting the obvious; the Obama-Pelosi-Reid monstrosity will decrease our freedoms.  And let me commend him for his honesty in admitting that he doesn't want the rest of us to have the freedoms he had.  But I think he could have gone a little further and explained why he doesn't think the rest of us deserve those freedoms.  There are perfectly respectable ways to make that argument; for example, economist Greg Mankiw mentions one here:   Some people, perhaps including Westneat, are willing to trade freedom for greater economic equality.

If that's what Westneat believes, then he should say so.

But if he does, he should consider this point:  In general, measures that increase economic equality through the government decrease political equality.  When we give more power to government officials, whether to make us more equal economically or for some other reason, we lose some of our own political power.   And we usually lose much of it to unelected, and almost unaccountable, bureaucrats.

Perhaps that increase in political inequality doesn't bother Westneat, but it does bother me, and should bother anyone who has seen what too-powerful governments and bureaucracies can do.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(In earlier columns, Westneat has shown a poor understanding of basic insurance principles.  I would suggest that he — and anyone else who wants to understand our cost-control problems — read this article.)

Posted by Jim Miller at March 23, 2010 12:47 PM | Email This
1. Jim,
No where in this world, and certainly not in the USA under the constitution, is there a right to absolute freedom. All freedoms have limits, and most have associated responsibilities.

There is nothing in the HCR Law that mandates one have health insurance. You and anybody you know can choose not to have health insurance.
Yes, the law does change how you will file your (legally mandated and constitutional) tax return, and does offer incentives to those who comply with the intent of nearly universal coverage and assign costs to those who do not. The law does not provide for imprisonment in the case of non compliance.

If the approach of this new law bothers you, it is a pity. Nobody has a constitutional right not to be bothered, not to be upset with , not to be angry about rules, regulations and law.
If you can find a majority of others who feel as you do, you can help elect majorities which can use our constitutional legislative process to modify (even repeal) laws you want changed or enacted. You can even run yourself! THIS is your CONSTITUTIONAL right.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 23, 2010 01:21 PM
2. Everyone should read to link to "few more restrictions". It is sickening what is now the law of the land. And these are only a few of the surprises inside this bill. Yet you only hear the Democrates' talking points about all the things this law is going to do to help people. The MSM will never let the ugly side of the law see the light of day.

Posted by: RKJ on March 23, 2010 01:23 PM
3. So the millions of illegal aliens and people currently working under the table who do not file Federal Income Taxes have absolutely no reason to buy into the health insurance pool. So much for covering and additional 30 million people. The so called penalty will not drive them to do it and they will simply sign up for coverage when they are sick.

The entire program is to develop a non-sustainable model in the private sector Insurance companies and "force" the government to step in after a 5-10 year period.

Posted by: Smokie on March 23, 2010 01:25 PM
4. You are twisting Westneat's meaning. His implication is that he wishes he hadn't had those "freedoms".

I don't want the "freedom" to not have healthcare coverage any more than I want the "freedom" to not have police protection if I'm being assaulted. The principle may be important to you, but it's not to me, or to most people. (Nor do I think this "freedom" is guaranteed by the constitution, but that's a separate question.)

Posted by: Bruce on March 23, 2010 01:27 PM
5. My goodness you terrorist loving idjits are dumb. Yesterday you wish our elected leaders a painful death and today you post non-sense that shows you have NO understanding of the unerlying issue. The reason you should be "forced" to buy health insurance is that if you don't and you do something stupid and end up in the ER, the rest of us don't want to pay your hill. I think it's the hate that gets in your way. You are so full of hate it doesn't allow you to think at all.

Posted by: John Gault on March 23, 2010 01:29 PM
6. you do something stupid and end up in the ER

Again, ER costs are less than 3% of all medical costs. It's insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and not a factor as to whether this legislation has merit.

You and anybody you know can choose not to have health insurance.

True, and then you'll pay an additional tax, which would go to private health insurers to subsidize others. There's a good Constitutional argument here for an illegal taking.

The better legal argument against Constitutionality of this bill is how the individual mandate reconciles with the Commerce Clause that they are using to justify their authority to implement this.

How does NOT buying something affect interstate commerce? The government will argue that not buying insurance will increase premiums/costs on others, but this is not true of someone who can afford to pay for whatever health care they seek on their own without insurance. All they need is one such person to bring a case like this (Rush Limbaugh? lol), and present arguments to SCOTUS.

Posted by: Palouse on March 23, 2010 02:02 PM
7. Libs, fire up the kneejerk namecalling reactors for this but I can take it.
When the government fully takes over the financing of healthcare and wants to restrict your behavior that ends you up needing it, you'll eventually cry foul. Taxing BigMacs won't hurt now will it? But how about restricting the acts that cause the spread of AIDS.
Lefties screamed about "phone tapping". What will they say about bedroom peeping?

Posted by: PC on March 23, 2010 02:09 PM
8. When I was in my early 20s, I had coverage through Group Health. I remember getting a notice about a discount for healthy behavior, specifically if I promised to stay in shape by getting a certain amount of physical exercise, I would get a discount on my insurance. I do not know if Group Health still has that or not, but it was a really good idea. I jogged around Green Lake four times a week.

It sounds like that incentive or discount for healthy behavior is not a part of the Obama plan.

I wonder if someone can buy a policy that does have a lifetime cap on spending, or some type of a cap?

Posted by: Stuart Jenner on March 23, 2010 02:38 PM
9. Some people, perhaps including Westneat, are willing to trade freedom for greater economic equality.

To be honest, that's not really it at all.

Westneat isn't willing to trade his freedom for greater economic equality. He's willing to trade my freedom for his greater economic equality.

What a weasel.

Posted by: No Thanks on March 23, 2010 02:48 PM
10. Bruce@4

You are twisting Westneat's meaning. His implication is that he wishes he hadn't had those "freedoms".

In a way you are right. He apparently wishes he could be protected from his own bad choices.

I don't want the "freedom" to not have healthcare coverage any more than I want the "freedom" to not have police protection if I'm being assaulted.

Your analogy totally does not fly. If you said rather "I don't have the freedom to not pay into the universal heathcare pool and so forgo medical treatment any more than I don't have the freedom to not pay my police protection taxes and thus forgo police intervention when I am being mugged." you might have at least made a logical connection.

The government does have a vested interest in maintaining defense and civil peace, so military and police are surely easily arguable as appropriate uses of tax revenue.

It's just a little harder to make the same claim on making sure everyone purchases a private plan that includes a laundry list of "maintenance" provisions for their overall health. That is much more intrusive than our Constitution usually allows. If we go down the argument that the personal health IS a concern of the public, then there is no end to the "reach" of government in that arena. Because if the government can mandate health coverage on the basis of shared expense, they can mandate health choices on the same grounds. While you like the first 10 feet of the slide into Orwellian government, you may not care so much for the following 100 feet but you may find yourself incapable of stopping the slide.

As you know, all legal decisions are based on precedence. If you win this one, you will open the door for any other argument that uses the same logic. You have to follow the whole path of the direction this takes you. You cannot simply state "this far and no farther" when it comes to our legal system.

Posted by: Eyago on March 23, 2010 03:16 PM
11. Well, if it looks like fraud, racketeering and extortion?...should be unlawful shouldn't it? Common sense folks. It's pure pressure applied from the top down.

The states AG's will "appear" to defend our rights but really after the Supreme Court affirms the legality of the package, the effect it will have will be to block all other challenges thus allowing prompt implementation without delays. The states cover their collective butts and kill popular dissent at the same time. I do not expect the mandate to be struck down.

"Nothing takes away your personal freedom quite like the military draft"

The Selective Service System is active, maintained, fully funded and legal. I expect to see the the launching of civilian and military drafts so actually they may well be in the process of taking your freedom away. Whatever you do, if you got those bennies, don't get fired.

Posted by: Don Swanson on March 23, 2010 04:09 PM
12. Wait till the bill for the states comes into play.
Just how much debt can we run up.
Get ready for the tax hikes.

O-yeah. O-bummer didn't tell you that did he.

Now who is the fool?

Posted by: Medic/Vet on March 23, 2010 07:45 PM
13. Why should we let people choose anything? We force them to pay into Social Security to fund an unsustainable payout to people that didn't begin to pay into the system what they're taking out. We force people to pay into Medicare despite having their own retirement medical plans through their employers, or savings of their own that they have earned and set aside to care for themselves with. Heck, we make people fund failed public schools who pay again to put their kids into private schools.

No, this is the Progressive way. Suck the incentive and innovation out of the society so politicians can give away free stuff to the voters who keep them in office. Then they pretend to care about the society they're destroying while they really get their jollies out of feeling important and wielding power in the lives of everyone else.

None of it is sustainable, but all these Progressive/Socialist/Communist fools think they are just smarter than the rest of us. They think they can keep the house of cards from collapsing by just cheating their way passed every dose of reality.

Well, when things come to their inevitable collapse and history exposes their insanity and stupidity, it will come as little solace to future generations that they starved along with the rest of us.

Posted by: Reality on March 23, 2010 10:09 PM
14. Reality. Funny that should be your would expect that you would have a grasp on it.

We force people to pay into social security, because it provides a base level of retirement security. The majority of people are NOT smart enough to handle their own investments, or retirement, so this prevents our society from having millions of old people sleeping on the streets.

We force people to pay into Medicare, because the vast majority of people no longer have retirement medical plans for their employers..who have dropped this, along with pensions in order to maximize profits and shareholder returns.

Medicare and Social security both provide a BASE level of subsistence to our older generation. The government also encourages savings through tax deffered, and tax free retirement plans (401k, etc). Private retiree medical insurance, because of Medicare, is typically much cheaper than it would be otherwise.

IN other words, the government provides the basics..the bare necessities, and its up to us to provide the rest. This is how it should be.

Or..would you argue that the tens of millions of retirees who ONLY survive on social security should be thrown out into the streets? Or that we should deny them medical care? Or, perhaps Grandpa should work to his last breath as a Wal-mart greeter making minimum wage at age 90? I'm sure Jesus would approve...

Posted by: Proteus on March 24, 2010 09:08 AM
15. In retrospect, Danny (you pipsqueak comsymp), it's a shame you didn't come down with, say, cancer.

Posted by: murk on March 24, 2010 01:05 PM
16. Westnest didn't use his "right" to go without health insurance when he was younger, he couldn't afford it. I also skipped insurance when I went to college, but being priced out of something is hardly an exercise in freedom and choice.

The bill fixes the affordability question. Tens of millions choose not to pay ridiculous premiums, but that doesn't mean those people are choosing to go without insurance.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 24, 2010 04:24 PM
17. Proto puss the acquisitive bullshitter (petty thief),

We force people to pay into Medicare, because FDR and others fu*ked up our economy so badly that many people needed help. There are and were better ways to provide needed help, but liberals appealed to the stupidity that resides peculiarly within the realm of their own limited thinking processes and assume that others are as proto puss terms "NOT smart enough to handle their own investments, or retirement . . . "

The house of cards created by liberals is collapsing and they want to prop it up with more of the same idiotic socialist solutions that cannot work and will not work except to give power to a few and take liberty away from the many. The big problem with this is that liberal socialism can only survive if capitalism finances it and those who make the capitalist wheels turn are tiring of the idiotic lies told by the left.

Social Security, Medicare and this HC Bill monstrosity will all collapse soon because the liberals are accelerating the inevitable collapse of their structural inefficacy.

Capitalism works well and socialism does not unless severely restrained to specific circumstances. Liberals argue that our economic meltdown was a failure of capitalism only because they are thoroughly and blissfully ignorant of the workings of market economics. They use its benefits like it is the only thing that exists but criticize to look trendy and smart with their idiot friends.


My grandparents were fine through the Great Depression because they didn't look around for handouts but opportunities to provide goods and services to others at a reasonable price. When n the new depression reaches its zenith people like Proto-puss will be looking around for any opportunity he can find to cheat others out of their and expect it as though he is entitled to it.
I hope he comes to my house with his demands because he will walk away empty handed or not at all.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on March 24, 2010 05:56 PM
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