Obamacare – Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness?

Obamacare reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, and more specifically of Ivy and Gerald Starnes, and the Twentieth Century Motor Company that they run into ground, by their rule of From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

I read that during the recession of 2007, the sales of Atlas Shrugged climbed. I can imagine why. Among all kinds of dystopian worlds that writers dream up and write about, Ayn Rand’s visualization is the most plausible. While I don’t think that Obamacare is the final nail in the coffin of the American way of life, I do think that it has set the ball rolling.

Bluntly put, what Obamacare symbolizes is:
If my neighbor can pay to stave off my death and if government can pay to feed me – why must I work?
And also,
I can’t swim but I am tied to the ankle of the guy who can swim, who wants to live, and who probably has the strength to pull my weight along, why should I learn to swim?

What Obamacare effectively does is – it punishes people to be work hard, earn more, and stay healthy – and it rewards people to do the opposite. It takes away people’s right to choose and people’s need to be productive, because it promises to fulfill the safety needs of people without their having to raise a finger. Maslow’s hierarchy establishes the basic needs as physiological needs and safety needs…and everyone would work to fulfill these needs – except when they are fulfilled automatically. Doles of all kinds result in auto-fulfillment of these needs – and yet I am not against doles per se. Why? Because they allow people to fulfill their basic needs and allows some of them to break out of poverty. Others who don’t want to work because they’ve got habituated to the easy life, become less disruptive, because their basic needs have been fulfilled. So doles do help in keeping societies together.

What I am against however is disguising a dole under a veneer of an “earned” right. If you earn more you pay a higher premium regardless of whether or not you need a health insurance cover. If you don’t earn, despite having never taken care of your health a single day of your life, you pay a lower premium – you get a waiver. And yet both get exactly the same treatment when they need it, if they need it.

  • Does it make sense?
  • How does it make any sense?

Theoretically, this could’ve been achieved by increasing the taxes, or perhaps by revisiting the tax structure and by grading it to make it easier for the low-earning members of the society to make ends meet. But then a dole would still be called dole and if the administration had gone about doing it honestly, a lot of people would have resisted it. It wouldn’t have worked.

Theoretically, this could’ve been done by asking people to be more charitable and people generally are charitable, but when they earn they prioritize and nobody puts his neighbor’s kids before his kids – even when he loves his neighbor. Obamacare requires that you do that – except that you put your money in a kitty with many others…and then that money is drawn and used by many others…and nobody knows anybody else.

So people who could pay were made to swallow the bitter pill by putting it inside a coating of sugar and chocolate. People were told that those who were happy with their plans could keep them…but from what I hear, this isn’t happening. Many Americans have been left holding the short-end of the stick!

To make matters worse, the Obamacare website keeps failing. A gentleman who is my FB friend recently posted his experience with the Obamacare website. He tried for many hours before he could add the information for his wife, and then suddenly it all disappeared. Just like that!

Here’s an illustration that I did around the concept of the failing healthcare website, for the March 2014 Issue of The American Spectator Magazine.

???af_dialog.Label_OK??? by Ira Stoll - Illustration for The American Spectator Magazine March 2014

Accompanies the article “???af_dialog.Label_OK???” by Ira Stoll  (Click the image for larger view.)

I see a lot of similarity between The Twentieth Century Motor Company of Atlas Shrugged and The United States of today. What has made the United States the country it is – is the will of its people to earn an honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work. In the long run, schemes such as Obamacare dry up that will to work, because hardworking people who create value are smart too, and in time they see through any veneer that the administration may use…and when they do realize, something similar to what happened at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, could happen.

If you haven’t read the book, this is what happened at that factory.

All the hardworking people got fed up of seeing the money that was made of their sweat and blood, ending up in the pockets of those who were able to make a case of how needy they were – they got fed up of working to fulfill their neighbor’s need.

In Ayn Rand’s fictitious dystopia, there still was hope – for the prime movers had united and they intended to build America back – but that was fiction and a manifestation Rand’s obsession with super-heroes. What would happen in reality? Who are the prime movers? Are there any prime movers at all?

If America doesn’t go back to its original values, one day the declaration of Independence might be replaced by another declaration – the declaration of co-dependence, and the words “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” will stand changed to “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness.”

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