05 April 2010

Why this and not that?

Cato Chairman Robert Levy, "Obamacare's Unconstitutional Coercion"

So what's the rationale behind the insurance mandate?  If you have things like guaranteed issue and community rating you need a mandate to keep premiums from growing. So essentially the mandate exists to keep the price down for other consumers and/or the fisc.

If keeping prices down for people who do want something is a legitimate justification to mandate that I buy a product from a private company there is literally nothing else they couldn't require me to purchase in addition to health insurance.

Why not force me to buy a new, more efficient car?  The economies of scale will make cars cheaper for everyone else, and it will keep the government from having to spend money on buses.

The "National Broadband Plan" has been making waves recently.  Since there are positive network effects to getting more people online, and building out networks is cheaper if you can get 100% of households to sign up, why not just require everyone to purchase broadband?

Why not force us to buy newspapers to keep the fourth estate in business and keep the citizenry informed?  Or force us buy books to keep library and school spending in check?  Life insurance is more efficient and cheaper with a larger pool, so why not require that as well?  How about exercise equipment, gym memberships and health food?  Smoke detectors?  Solar panels?

A lot of that sounds like typical far-out slippery slope exaggeration, but consider that the administration has already floated proposals to require IRAs and 401(k)s to include treasury-backed annuities.  Even at the height of WWII no one was forced to buy war bonds.  I don't see what principle puts this over the line but makes mandating insurance in bounds.

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